BIMS

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Seniors Gain Valuable Experience at Receptor Logic

by gwilson on Oct.20, 2010, under Students

receptor logic McMurry’s Biomedical Sciences Program is blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with Abilene’s premiere biotech company, Receptor Logic.  This company is rather new to Abilene but has profoundly changed the industrial landscape of the city.  Their pioneering work in the development of T-cell receptor mimics for therapeutic purposes places them in rarified air as one of the few places internationally where such technology is being developed and tested.  The close friendship between RL’s founder, Dr. Jon Weidanz, and McMurry’s BIMS faculty has enabled the placement of McMurry students at RL facilities in the Abilene Life Sciences Accelerator for capstone projects that provide valuable real-world experience.

lauren bump

This semester, McMurry has three students working with RL’s scientists.  Lauren Bump, recipient of the Danny Cooley Award as the outstanding BIMS student, is completing her Honors research in the lab.  Her research will culminate in an Honors thesis this written and defended in December.  In this, she will demonstrate the knowledge and skills picked up in BIMS and applied in T-cell work done at RL.

karlie dieterich1Karlie Dieterich is working at RL this fall to gain experience in immunological research as she applies to graduate programs in immunology.  She was encouraged to visit with Dr. Weidanz, an immunologist, to discuss strong programs and career directions.  The meeting resulted in her joining his lab as an undergraduate to give her some practical experience in the field.  As an Academic All-Conference athlete and top science student, she is living proof that the high level of achievement seen in top athletes often spills over to high achievement in all arenas of life.

malaney lopez1Malaney Lopez has extensive experience in the molecular lab, having been one of the prime resources as an undergraduate assistant for prepping and delivering molecular-based courses at McMurry last year.  She wanted to hone her skills and give back to RL by volunteering this year without any course credit expected.  Her love for molecular work is evident and her future in the field is assured.

In each case, the generosity of Receptor Logic and their commitment to contributing to the education of future biotech scientists is demonstrated.  We cannot begin to express our thanks to Receptor Logic and Dr. Weidanz for their contributions to the education of our students.

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2010 Spring Commencement

by gwilson on May.08, 2010, under Students

VID00297[003]On May 8, 2010, McMurry held its spring commencement in Kimbrell Arena.  Among the 200+ graduates on this day was the FIRST graduate of the Biomedical Science Program.  Just two years old, the program has become a landing site for some students who have either changed from other majors or have transferred in from other colleges and found the collection of courses previously taken match best with the BIMS curriculum.  Today’s graduate began her college career elsewhere but found her home in our BIMS program.

Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca and her protege 2010 Graduate Amanda Miller

Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca and her protege 2010 Graduate Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller was raised in Merkel, TX, just a short drive from Abilene.  However, the road taken that would eventually lead to her McMurry degree took her tthrough Orlando FL to Belton TX to Lubbock TX before returning her to Taylor County.  She spent a year as Cinderella at Disneyworld, began her college career at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, continued it at Lubbock Christian University, and arrived in my office for advising during the summer of 2008 shortly after the BIMS program received faculty approval.  Looking at the collection of courses taken, considering how we might maximize their “fit” with our degree plans, and discussing where she wanted her life to go, we found a great opportunity for her in BIMS.  She has taken flight in the program, becoming Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca’s “go-to” student for help in preparing and delivering courses in molecular biology and genetics. Her plans?  To give back by serving the HIV-infected people of Africa as a member of the Peace Corps.  More evidence that a McMurry education is more about skills and knowledge – values and service are learned in extra measure.  We wish you well, Amanda.  Godspeed.

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First BIMS Internship Winds Down

by gwilson on May.02, 2010, under Students

Gina poster 1One of the key elements of the BIMS program and its approach to giving students an  experience-rich education was the intent to have all students complete a capstone experience.  We felt many students would opt for on-campus projects with faculty but that some would take advantage of opportunities with summer research programs and biotech companies to apply their skills and knowledge in different settings.  With the resources of the TTU School of Pharmacy’s graduate program in Abilene and biotech firms like Receptor Logic settling in here, it was only a matter of time before a student would complete their capstone work at one of those two venues.  However, with a program only two years old, we felt it would be at least another year before this happened.  Biology major Gina Ortiz surprised us all by choosing a BIMS capstone experience and working with TTU School of Pharmacy scientists this spring.  She thereby becomes the first BIMS capstone student, and the first to complete the work in collaboration with an outside agency.

Ortiz, a Nevada resident, is headed for a career in medicine or biomedical research and used this experience to further hone in a direction to follow once she graduates this May – a year early.  Her work was done at the School of Pharmacy in the lab of Dr. Jon Weidanz with direct supervision from his doctoral student Bhavna Verma.  Her project was entitled “Biodistribution of RL4B TCRm antibody in mice models”.  In her work, Gina became proficient in conducting enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) to screen whether therapeutic T-cell receptor mimics (TCR-m) used for fighting cancer tumors might target and bind healthy mouse tissues.  Such information would be valuable in completing an overall picture of how TCR-mimics impact the biology of a patient when used in treatment.

Gina poster 3Gina explained her research on Friday, April 30th before a group of students and faculty.  Among them was McMurry’s president, Dr. John Russell, who was impressed by the quality of work and polish of her presentation.  On behalf of all in BIMS, congratulations Gina on a job well done!

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