Selected students from all academic disciplines will have the opportunity to present their research posters to state legislators, lobbyists, and the general public. They are also encouraged to network with each other and explore other areas of research.
Ashley Stewart MB’15 will present, “Blood Sensors: Development of Biosensors for the Measurement of Factor Xa and Thrombin Concentrations in Blood.” Her research aims to advance diagnostic testing in the healthcare field by creating a protein-based biosensor, or detector, that can directly measure amounts of proteases in the blood. This would allow doctors to prescribe safe doses of blood thinners to their patients.
"Blood thinners, or anticoagulants, reduce blood clots and associated heart attacks and strokes. They work by decreasing the activity of two enzymes, known as proteases, in the blood,” said Stewart, noting no method currently exists for doctors to measure concentrations of active proteases in the blood of patients taking anticoagulants.
“Unfortunately, doctors have no quantitative way to determine if the patient’s recommended dose is sufficient, which can be dangerous for the patient,” Stewart added. Her research advisor is Peter B. Berget, PhD, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.
Additionally, Melissa Lieu PH/TX'14 will present, “BRAF Inhibition Stimulates Melanoma-associated Macrophages to Drive Tumor Growth.” Her research partner and advisor is Tao Wang, MD, PhD, senior scientist at Melanoma Research Center at The Wistar Institute.
“In the immune system, macrophages – or important white blood cells – are part of the body’s first line of defense, and they are also abundant surrounding the tumor in melanoma, but play a different role,” said Lieu. “Tumor-associated macrophages can be critical in helping tumors survive, grow, and spread to other parts of the body.”
Leui said her research investigated whether targeting tumor-associated macrophages, as part of a combination therapy, would be appropriate to reducing drug resistance, which is often seen when treating melanoma.
This event brings together the two different worlds of governmental policy and academic research by fostering a commonality of purpose – the desire to produce a better tomorrow, said state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. For more information regarding this Undergraduate Research Day, visit http://www.pasen.gov/URCPA/index.htm