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SLU Investigative and Medical Sciences Students Present at National Conference

Saint Louis University’s Investigative and Medical Sciences (IMS) program – housed in the Clinical Health Sciences (CHS) department in the Doisy College of Health Sciences (DCHS) – recently sent six undergraduate students to present their research at the Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, CA. The Experimental Biology Conference is the annual meeting of five scientific societies comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and 25 guest societies.

IMS Students that presented at the Experimental Biology Conference

IMS faculty and students that attended the 2018 Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, CA.
(left to right) Dr. Uthayashanker Ezekiel, William Rupprecht, Victoria Mak, Megan Horita, Aravinda Ganapathy, Kayla Schmidt, Blake Bertrand and Dr. Rita Heuertz

The six IMS students – Blake Bertrand, Aravinda Ganapathy, Megan Horita, Victoria Mak, William Rupprecht and Kayla Schmidt – are each DeNardo Scholars as well as members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

As DeNardo Scholars, the students’ attendance at the conference and the research that they presented was funded by a grant from the DeNardo Education and Research Foundation. As members of the ASBMB, one of the five scientific societies that comprise the Experimental Biology Conference, the students have had opportunities to participate in undergraduate research competitions and poster presentations sponsored by the organization. Prior to the Experimental Biology Conference, the ASBMB presented Bertrand and Ganapathy with Travel Awards to help fund attendance to the conference; inducted Horita and Mak into Chi Omega Lambda (the ASBMB Honor Society) for being exceptional students that excel in scholarly achievement, research and outreach; and awarded Ganapathy a competitive undergraduate summer research grant.

For the research that they presented at the Experimental Biology Conference, each student had a faculty mentor that helped guide the research process. The faculty mentors involved in the research projects were Associate Professor Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., MB(ASCP), Professor Rita Heuertz, Ph.D., MT(ASCP) and Associate Professor Tim Randolph, Ph.D., MT(ASCP). The student research presentations were as follows:

Blake Bertrand mentored by Dr. Heuertz
Presentation: Use of Phytochemical Neem as a Component of Combination Treatment Against Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Biofilm

Aravinda Ganapathy mentored by Dr. Ezekiel
Presentation: Anticancer Effect of Cucurbitacin B on Head and Neck Cancer

Megan Horita mentored by Dr. Ezekiel
Presentation: Anticancer Effect of Silibinin B on Colorectal Cancer Cell Line

Victoria Mak mentored by Dr. Heuertz
Presentation: A Susceptibility Screen of Phytochemicals Against Staphylococcus Aureus

William Rupprecht mentored by Dr. Randolph
Presentation: Improving Accuracy of Falling Drop Hemoglobin Method via Modifications to Column Length

Kayla Schmidt mentored by Dr. Randolph
Presentation: Development of a Microscopic Method to Diagnose Hemoglobin C Conditions for Use in Developing Countries

CHS Chairperson Amy Harkins, Ph.D., was pleased to see the opportunities that arose from the students being able to work with faculty on research projects.

"It is through the mentorship and dedication of the IMS Program faculty to their undergraduate student research projects that allow students to participate in presenting their research at national society meetings,” Dr. Harkins said. “While they are working towards these national presentations, it is exciting to watch the students grow as researchers and as future laboratory science professionals."

Find out more information about SLU’s Investigative and Medical Sciences Program

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.