BIMS

Tag: cancer research

Cancer Research at the Capitol

by gwilson on Feb.15, 2011, under A Day in the Life...

Whitehead_KingMcMurry 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.

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Substitute Teacher

by gwilson on Oct.12, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

Chili the Wonder DogToday was one of those days where you are drawn in a million different directions, and yet somehow manage to get it all done.  I’ve had this date circled on my calendar for weeks, as I agreed to step in and cover Dr. D’s classes while she was at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Diego.  Had it only been that simple!

Sure, I was prepared for the lab this afternoon.  I should have been after Friday’s meeting with Heidi and her lab assistant Amanda, getting all the prep work done Saturday, and all my worrying yesterday.  The plan was simple.  Heidi and Amanda led the students in the Molecular Cell Biology lab through initial phases of a cloning project.  All that remained today was purification of their PCR product, and then my part - helping them get their bacterial cultures going for the ligation and transformation steps to be done next Monday.  I got the media made for them this weekend and rehydrated their strains today.  Heidi gave me a last minute call from the San Diego airport to ask if everything was fine – yes, we’re good to go.   Kinda reminded me of mom checking in to see how the babysitter was doing!  :-)   The students did their work without incident and all work was completed ahead of schedule.

So what’s the big deal, you might ask?  In the midst of it all, I had a report to generate for a state agency’s visit to campus, a prospective student and her family to speak with, several loose ends to attend to for my own class (related to the E. coli in vegetables project and the MRSA study), a SNCS meeting to plan for Thursday, preparations to follow up on for Homecoming this weekend, AND my dog needed a trip to the vet for a skin infection.  I’ve never been known as being much of a multi-tasker, instead reminding folks of M.A.S.H.’s Colonel Winchester who famously said, “I do one thing, I do it well, and then I move on.”  I find it hard to give my best effort when my mind is split among several needs.

The outcome?  I managed to get everything done and get home early enough to empty my tail light of water (did I mention its been raining?).  The student and her family were delightful, class preparation was easier than anticipated, planning for later in the week went very well, and I managed to get my faculty moving in the right general direction expected on their state agency report.  My dog?  Chili is now on antibiotic therapy.

Bottom line?  We can do more than we think we can.  Time spent helping a friend is never wasted.  Everything got done without a panic, without anyone getting yelled at, without sacrificing one thing for another.  I got to spend a fun afternoon with bright and talented college students, and you just can’t beat that.  Maybe I’ll have to substitute more often!

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Summer Course Update

by gwilson on Jul.14, 2009, under A Day in the Life...

arm microscopeHere are some things that are happening in the BIMS program this summer.

1.  BIMS 1300.  Introduction to Scientific Research is the first BIMS course taken by freshmen.  It is an introduction to thinking about science in a different way – science as a process to engage in, not a bunch of facts to memorize.  Dr. Tom Benoit is busy this summer adjusting its approach based on last year’s initial version to make it even more successful.  The seminar portion will be completely re-done to expose students to what’s new in biomedical sciences around the world.

2. BIOL 1301.  Unicellular Organisms is Dr. Benoit’s other course this fall.  The course is so unique that finding an appropriate textbook is difficult.  Expect the course to adjust its approach slightly to focus more on how cells work in order to emphasize what’s common to unicellular organisms, rather than on differences between various species.

3.  BIOL 3410.  Dr. Wilson is completely re-doing Microbiology this summer.  The lecture will be aligned more closely with the textbook to help students study for exams, and the lab will feature 4-5 research projects within which all skills and knowledge for the lab portion of the course will be taught.  Two projects will be a survey of fresh foods for the presence of coliforms and a survey of McMurry students for the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

4.  BIOL 3460.  Genetics will jump into high gear this year as Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca begins to orient students to the use of molecular biology technology at our disposal.  Expect use of the DNA sequencer and rt-PCR in the lab.

5. BIMS 4320 and BIMS 4250.  Junior and senior level BIMS courses will benefit from new equipment to support student research projects, and from a year of maturity in the program.  Dr. D had students get the lab going last year and took baby steps in bringing it up to full capacity.  This year we’ll hit the ground running. 

6.  BIMS 4201.  The capstone course has been restructured to allow students to sign up with a BIMS faculty member to work on a project in their area of expertise.  We can expect a wider variety of research projects this year as students join the research in their areas of interest.  Cancer research, genetic engineering, bacterial spore physiology, and public health should all be represented by the end of the year.

The BIMS faculty will hold a retreat this summer to focus and connect our efforts.  More updates will be coming on other aspects of BIMS improvements made this summer.

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