NFR recognizes BRIN Scholars with award

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					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 
follows.                                                                  Center.

  Volume 4, Issue 2                                                                                            October 2007
BRIN scholars captivated by keynote speaker at annual conference
                                                                                                with  premature  babies  who  are  kept  in 
                                                                                                bright light. 
                                                                                                  “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. 
                                                                                                Herzog asked. 
                                                                                                  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 
                                                                                                the program. 
                                                                                                  “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, 
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.                                    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   
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, Nebraska
                                                                                       Omaha, NE 68198-6395
          U.S. POSTAGE
                                                                                       986395 Nebraska Medical Center
                                                                                       University of Nebraska Medical Center
                                                                                       Nebraska INBRE Administrative Office

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