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University of Iowa News Release

 

July 20, 2009

Photo: The inaugural FUTURE (Fostering Undergraduate Talent – Uniting Research and Education) fellows and students are working on research projects at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

New program fosters biomedical research and education across Iowa

A new program at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine provides a unique learning experience for a group of college professors from around Iowa.

This summer, seven faculty from undergraduate colleges across the state are the inaugural faculty fellows of the FUTURE (Fostering Undergraduate Talent – Uniting Research and Education) in Biomedicine Program. The initiative is building a network of scientists and science educators to benefit undergraduate science education and strengthen biomedical research in Iowa.

The faculty fellows are partnering with researchers in the UI Carver College of Medicine on a variety of research projects. In addition, the participants will develop new educational materials and opportunities for Iowa's college classrooms and laboratories. Five of the faculty fellows also are accompanied by an undergraduate student from their home institution.

"Our plan is that the FUTURE faculty fellows and, by extension, their home institutions will gain tangible benefits from participating in the program. It could be new research results or expertise, biological samples or materials to advance their own studies, or the background to develop a new course or technique to enhance their undergraduate science courses," said program director Madeline Shea, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry.

Shea also noted that developing closer relationships with Iowa's undergraduate colleges provides an opportunity to connect with talented undergraduate students who might be interested in pursuing careers in medicine or biomedical research.

At the conclusion of the program, the FUTURE faculty fellows will present their research in a symposium, and the undergraduate students will present posters of their work.

"This is a really exciting program that allows us to engage with talented science educators and students in Iowa's undergraduate institutions," said Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine. "We also see this program as a way to share our facilities and expertise more broadly with the people of Iowa."

The participants in the FUTURE in Biomedicine program are:

-- Karissa Carlson, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Northwestern College in Orange City. Carlson and Alex Menning, an undergraduate at Northwestern College, are working in the lab of Marc Wold, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry. They are developing a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based assay to examine protein-DNA interactions.

-- Randy Christensen, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Christensen and Brandon Hoffer, an undergraduate at Coe College, are working in the lab of Anton McCaffrey, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine. They are examining gene expression and the role of microRNAs in the progression of liver fibrosis.

-- Jodi Enos-Berlage, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Luther College in Decorah. Enos-Berlage and Aimee Villard, an undergraduate at Luther College, are working in the lab of Linda McCarter, Ph.D., UI professor of microbiology. They are investigating the role of calcium in bacterial biology using Vibrio parahaemolyticus as a model system.

-- Jerry Honts, Ph.D., associate professor and head of biology at Drake University in Des Moines. Honts is working in the lab of Madeline Shea, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry. His project aims to understand how calcium ions regulate the assembly of filaments that form the complex surface architecture seen in ciliated protozoa, a type of single-cell organism.

-- Shannon Mackey, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Mackey is working in the lab of Lori Wallrath, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry. They are using a genetic screen to uncover new genes involved in regulating chromatin packaging and gene expression. Factors that influence gene expression are essential for understanding abnormalities in human diseases such as cancer.

-- Daniel Pratt, Ph.D., associate professor and head of chemistry at Graceland University in Lamoni. Pratt and Ryan Sheehy, an undergraduate at Graceland University, are working in the lab of Raymond Hohl, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of internal medicine and pharmacology. They are investigating the potential anticancer activity of small molecules that disrupt protein modification in cancer cells.

-- David Speckhard, Ph.D., professor and head of chemistry at Loras College in Dubuque. Speckhard and Sujan Devbhandari, an undergraduate at Loras College, are working in the lab of Robert Piper, Ph.D., UI professor of molecular physiology and biophysics. They are investigating the role of a protein marker called ubiquitin in the cellular protein recycling process. By using yeast cells for their studies, the scientists can monitor these important and universal biological processes with a precision that is not possible in human cells.

For more information on the program, visit https://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/futurebiomedicine/.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, IA  52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124, jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS: Additional photos of the FUTURE in Biomedicine program participants are available upon request to Jennifer Brown, jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu, 319-356-7124.