NFR recognizes BRIN Scholars with award
Six first- and second-year Poster Presentation
BRIN Scholars who placed First place -- Lynsey
first, second and third in the Crosby, of Albion,
oral and poster presentations Neb., Nebraska
were recognized with cash Wesleyan University,
awards from Nebraskans for “Development of an
Research (NFR) at the annual immunofluorescent assay
BRIN conference in August. for the detection of HHV-
NFR is a statewide 8 antibodies in human
organization that promotes, serum using recombinant
supports and advocates for viral proteins expressed
research in all fields. in insect cells.”
Its members created the Second place -- Katy
“Future Scientist Award” to Emanuel, of Dodge,
further recognize and reward Neb., Nebraska Wesleyan
students participating in the University, “Over-
BRIN Scholars program for expression of GL11 in
their hard work. Future Scientist Award winners left to right: Katie Wilcox, Lynsey Crosby, Carol B-chronic lymphocytic
“These students represent Russell (president of NFR), Kelly Westfall, Natalie German, Stephanie Brady, leukemia patients with
the future of research in the and Katy Emanuel. poor clinical outcomes.”
state of Nebraska. We must Third place -- Katie
nurture these students who have the potential to be our future Wilcox, of Doniphan, Neb., Doane College, “The use of circular
scientists. Nebraskans for Research are proud to recognize and dichroism spectroscopy in the detection of commonly abused
reward their achievements,” said Carol Russell, president of chiral narcotics.”
NFR. Oral Presentation
Russell said the board of directors felt this was a particularly First place -- Kelly Westfall, of Omaha, University of
appropriate group of individuals to honor with the monetary Nebraska at Omaha-Biology, “Development of amygdalar and
awards, which totaled $1,700. hypothalamic pathways in the chick brain.” Mentor: Dr. L. Bruce,
“The BRIN Scholars work hard all summer on their research Creighton University Medical Center.
projects and present their work at this annual conference,” said Second place -- Natalie German, of Humphrey, Neb., Creighton
James Turpen, Ph.D., vice chairman for Genetics, Cell Biology University, “MicroRNA expression and function in mouse inner
and Anatomy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and ear hair cells.” Mentor: Dr. G. Soukup, Creighton University
principal investigator of the Nebraska INBRE program. Medical Center.
“The recognition that Nebraskans for Research provided will Third place -- Stephanie Brady, of Omaha, University of
go a long way to reinforce the importance of this experience. We Nebraska at Omaha-Computer Science, “Stimulation of lung
appreciate the support NFR has shown for our program.” fibrobasts-mediated collagen gel contraction by lysophosphatidic
A listing of the 2007 NFR Future Scientist Award winners acid.” Mentor: Dr. M. Toews, University of Nebraska Medical
Volume 4, Issue 2 October 2007
BRIN scholars captivated by keynote speaker at annual conference
with premature babies who are kept in
“It has been observed that the cognitive
growth of these babies is slow. Could
it be that the constant light delays the
development of their natural rhythm?” Dr.
Questions yet to be answered include, are
all cells circadian pacemakers, how do they
synchronize, why so many clocks, and are
there treatments and prevention methods
for timing disorders, he said.
Later in his presentation, Dr. Herzog
said he was impressed with the dedication
of the INBRE faculty and the excellence of
“I don’t know of any other program for
undergraduate students that provides this
quality of feedback on projects,” he said.
Keynote speaker, Erik Herzog, Ph.D., a circadian rhythms expert from Washington Univer- “I’m also impressed with the caliber
sity in St. Louis, wowed the audience at the annual INBRE meeting in Grand Island. of students and the work they’ve done on
Pictured with Dr. Herzog are Richard Hallworth, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor at their presentations. I loved that one student
UNMC and James Turpen, Ph.D., director of the INBRE program at UNMC. studied circadian rhythms. I hope some
students consider applying to Washington
University for their graduate studies,” Dr.
Anticipation and excitement filled the Washington University, St. Louis, who Herzog said.
conference rooms at the Holiday Inn in presented, “For whom the bells toll: The
Grand Island in August as 49 undergraduate circadian network in the brain.”
students explained their research at the sixth A neuroscientist and bioengineer, Dr.
annual Nebraska Biomedical Research Herzog explained the process he and the
Infrastructure Network (BRIN)/ Networks graduate students working in his laboratory The Nebraska INBRE is funded through a
of Biomedical Research Excellence went through to discover the mechanism grant from National Center for Research
Resources, a division of the National
(INBRE) conference. of the circadian network, the internal clock Institutes of Health.
These first- and second- year BRIN that regulates the body, and what external
students represented nine different colleges cues are used to adjust the clock. Director: Program coordinator:
Jim Turpen, Ph.D. William Chaney,Ph.D.
from across Nebraska. Many are destined Using transgenic rats, mice and hamsters, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
for a future in the health professions, but all Dr. Herzog’s group found that the brain
of them are eager to learn. contains multiple cellular circadian Grant coordinator: Editor:
And they’re learning from the best oscillators and that they synchronize with Penni Davis Lisa Spellman
scientific minds in Nebraska. Students are each other. firstname.lastname@example.org UNMC Public Affairs
teamed up with researchers at the University “This system regulates daily rhythms 402.559.3316 402.559.4693
of Nebraska Medical Center, the University at many levels of biology in the body,
of Nebraska at Omaha, the University improving precision, plasticity and the Participating Ph.D.-granting institutions:
University of Nebraska Medical Center,
of Nebraska-Lincoln and Creighton power of those rhythms,” he said.
Creighton University, University of Ne-
University. They develop a project, work When the natural rhythm is ignored, there braska-Lincoln
with their mentor and conduct research. are problems, such as decreased cognitive
By the second year, their level of performance, loss of neurons, more mood Participating undergraduate institutions:
knowledge has increased to the point they disorders, obesity, accelerated tumor the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the
are able to present their findings at the growth and even a shortened lifespan. University of Nebraska at Omaha, the
University of Nebraska at Kearney,
conference, read scientific journals with “Studies have shown there is a 36 percent Creighton University, Nebraska Wesleyan
ease and actually feel enthusiastic about increase in accidents with physicians who University, Chadron State College, Doane
discussing the inner workings of an obscure work more than a 36-hour shift. And nurses College, Wayne State College, Little Priest
biologic system. (See story on Kaylee collected detailed data indicating decreased Tribal College and Western Nebraska
Troxel, page 3.) performance occurred when shifts changed Community College.
So it was no surprise that the students from day to night,” he said.
were captivated by the keynote speaker, So when do our internal clocks first
Erik Herzog, Ph.D., professor of biology, become regulated? A clue may be found www.unmc.edu/inbre
Summer research opens door to world of biology
Kaylee Troxel is a smart girl. binding affinities of different proteins and This fall Troxel will work with Erin
You’d have to be to major in chemistry what that really means,” she said. Wilson, Ph.D., a biochemist at Doane,
in college. Troxel, a junior at Doane College, spent studying the collagen and mineral matrix
But even 10 weeks working with Dr. Sorgen as a that is found in bones.
Troxel was BRIN scholar, an experience she describes She also will be looking at how bone is
stumped the as amazing. formed, the differences between bones in
first time “I loved working in the lab with the arm, leg and skull and the quantity and
she read the Dr. Sorgen. It really showed me how quality of bones affected by osteoporosis.
scientific interesting biology can be,” she said. Along with her course work, Troxel
journal article At first, Troxel said she didn’t think she works three part-time jobs – as an
written by her would like doing biological research all activities specialist at a middle school in
soon-to-be summer long, but after her first year with Crete, conducting phone interviews at the
BRIN mentor, BRIN she has set her sights on pursuing a Bureau of Sociological Research at the
Paul Sorgen, Kaylee Troxell graduate degree in biochemistry. University of Nebraska-Lincoln and as a
Ph.D., assistant “I’m hoping to attend UNMC,” she tutor in chemistry and biology at Doane.
professor of biochemistry and molecular said. “The mentors were amazing there.” . But what she is looking forward to
biology at UNMC. Troxel has long loved science, from the doing the most is her INBRE research
“I had no idea what Surface Plasma crime shows she would watch with her with Dr. Wilson.
Resonance or SPR is or what the specifics mother as a child, to the chemistry and “INBRE really opened the door to
of gap junctions were before this anatomy classes she took in high school. biology and showed me the link between
summer,” Troxel said. “I loved it all, the labs, building models, it and chemistry,” Troxel said. “I see now
“Now I understand how SPR actually anything hands-on. That’s what was so how the techniques you use in biology and
works and the theory behind how the great about this past summer; I was in the chemistry compliment each other.”
results can be interpreted to figure out lab, doing the research,” she said.
INBRE associate receives first NIH grant, credits program
A $215,250 R15 grant from the National riboswitches.
Institutes of Health (NIH) may not seem Riboswitches or ribonucleic acid (RNA)
like a lot of money, but to Julie Soukup, control elements that turn bacterial gene
Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at expression on or off depending on how
Creighton University, it’s momentous. they interact with cells, Dr. Soukup said.
As a researcher at an undergraduate “Our work on one specific riboswitch
institution, NIH grants are hard to come by dissects the molecular interactions
and this one is enough to fund her research between the RNA and a specific
for the next three years. metabolite in the cell that are functionally
“I never would have been able to collect important,” she said. “The riboswitch
the preliminary data to write that grant we study controls a gene important
without the financial support of INBRE,” for cell wall biosynthesis in at least 18
said Dr. Soukup, who graduated from different Gram positive bacteria, including
UNMC with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and Bacillus anthracis, a bioterror threat,
molecular biology in 1997. and Staphylococcus aureus, an emerging
The program is doing exactly what antibiotic-resistant super bug,” Dr. Soukup
Julie Soukup, Ph.D., said the money she
it’s suppose to do, she said, and that’s said.
received from the NIH will support her and
to provide funding to build research and several undergraduate students.
Dr. Soukup’s focus on riboswitch
infrastructure in states that traditionally structure and function has been aided by
have not received a lot of NIH funding in INBRE/BRIN program. “The students her collaboration with Ron Breaker, Ph.D.,
the past. in Dr. Soukup’s laboratory are now a professor of molecular, cellular and
“The receipt of this award is an participating in cutting edge research at developmental biology at Yale University.
excellent example of what can happen the highest national level and experiencing Dr. Breaker has discovered nearly all of
when talented undergraduate faculty first hand the excitement of research.” the riboswitches identified to date.
members are provided with the This grant will focus on developing Dr. Soukup received the grant in
opportunity to conduct research at their novel antibiotics to fight bacterial July and already has six undergraduate
undergraduate institutions,” said James infections, which compliments the work students, some BRIN scholars, working in
Turpen, Ph.D., director of the Nebraska she’s already done with INBRE support on her lab on this project.
INBRE program celebrates successes
The beginning of the 2007-2008 outside of Nebraska.
academic year provides us with an Three of our graduating scholars are now in Ph.D. programs
opportunity to assess our progress in one at the University of Colorado, the University California at San
important area of the INBRE goals. Diego and Emory University in Atlanta.
That area is the recruitment of BRIN Each of these students indicated that their experience as BRIN
scholars to pursue careers in biomedical Scholars was instrumental in their admission to these programs.
research. Moreover, all of them had multiple offers from numerous
The group of BRIN Scholars who programs.
graduated in 2007 have provided us with The experience they received in the research laboratory, their
the latest data to evaluate this major experience in making oral and poster presentations at regional
objective. and national levels and their experience in talking about their
James Turpen, Ph.D.
Eight graduating BRIN Scholars science at a professional level were important components of
have enrolled in graduate programs. Five of these scholars their career development.
have enrolled in graduate programs in Nebraska including We also had five students admitted to professional schools
Ph.D. programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the in the health professional areas of medicine, allied health and
University of Nebraska Medical Center. pharmacy. All of these programs are highly competitive and
Several additional students have indicated that they plan to reflect very well on the quality of students who participate in our
pursue advanced degrees in the biomedical sciences after taking a scholars program.
year off from their academic studies. Congratulations to all the faculty on the undergraduate
Another, slightly different, indicator of success are those campuses who have been so essential in the development of these
students who were recruited to graduate programs at universities scholars.
PERMIT NO. 454
Omaha, NE 68198-6395
986395 Nebraska Medical Center
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Nebraska INBRE Administrative Office