Archive for February, 2011
We had another BUSY week in Biomedical Science courses.
- Freshman-level BIMS 1300 Intro to Scientific Research students learned how to use their Tablet PCs to gather data from a “Brain Test” all students took (determined analytical vs. creative, auditory vs. visual) and calculate standard error of the mean, as well as linear regression analysis of data sets. In the lab, students finished up their observation projects that will be presented in the coming week.
- The new microbiology course for allied health majors, BIOL 3403 Fundamentals of Microbiology participated in a webinar hosted by McMurry alumna Mary Lynn Smith (’83) on biofilms in healthcare. This was an example of how experts and professionals a thousand miles away can contribute to our students’ education.
- In BIOL 3410 Microbiology, students finished the identification of Gram positive bacteria found in their cars. They are working on research posters describing their studies and will turn those in next week. In short, they took samples from the HVAC and interior surfaces of their cars, isolated and purified bacteria, and pursued identifications of the Gram positive cocci found using conventional tests and the BD-BBL Crystal(TM) Rapid ID panels. Follow-up tests included testing for oxacillin-resistance, an indicator of community-borne MRSA.
- In BIMS 4391 Advanced Microbiology, students moved forward in their development of antibiotic-producing bacteria. They completed the identification of their endospore-formers using microscopy, conventional tests, and BD-BBL Crystal(TM) Rapid ID panels. Then, they grew their bacterium in batch culture, removed the cells and spores by centrifugation and filtration, and challenged six microbes (two Gram negative rods, two Gram positive cocci, two yeasts) with the filtrate in disk diffusion tests. Those antibiotic producers with the most promise will be grown in our new benchtop fermenters and their products characterized by chemical, physical, and physiological means to learn more.
- In our BIMS 4201 Capstone Research class, senior students began cultivating the Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain genetically-modified with human estrogen receptor as a prelude to the use of the YES assay for monitoring the presence of estrogen-mimics in the environment.
All this may sound way beyond the reach of normal college students in normal college classes. Not so! We find that students are more engaged in learning techniques and information when there’s a reason or goal – a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! It is at the heart of the skills-laden, research-rich approach taken in teaching BIMS courses.
McMurry involvement in cancer research was showcased recently when student Heather Whitehead presented a poster on her research at the Undergraduate Research Day at the Texas Capitol on February 14, 2011. Texas Legislative representative for Abilene (District 71), Mrs. Susan King, stopped by to quiz Heather on her research. King, a registered nurse, was well prepared to discuss Heather’s project from an informed position. There were 81 posters from 53 schools at the event. Heather’s poster, entitled “Potential Anticancer Agents targeting Arginine Biosynthesis”, was one of three invited posters from Abilene Universities.
Heather’s research targets cancer, the second most common cause of death for Americans. An estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the US during 2010. One of the most promising areas for the development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics is arginine biosynthesis. L-Arginine is the substrate of the enzyme arginase which converts it to orinithine. Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) then produces putrescine which is a precursor of polyamines. Based on this evidence, the research team hypothesizes that ODC inhibitors will reduce proliferation of cancer cells. They will present synthesis of a 2-amino-5-(hydroxyimino)pentanoic acid (AHPA) and biological activity with MCF-7 cells (Michigan Cancer Foundation – 7). The growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in the presence of the compound AHPA appears to be significantly reduced. In addition, in the docking study of geometric isomers of AHPA oxime functionality, E isomer binding with ODC was determined to favorable over its Z-isomer. These results demonstrate that AHPA is a potent ODC inhibitor against cancer. Heather will continue to synthesize new ornithine analogs with various functional groups. Biological activities with different cancer cells will be investigated further. Dr. Hyunshun Shin, a faculty member in the McMurry Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, supervises the research. Dr. Spencer at the University of San Francisco has also contributed to this research.
Once again, students at McMurry stand toe-to-toe with those from the largest state universities in the quality of their educational and research experiences. Heather plans to attend pharmacy school upon graduation this May.