Research Spotlights

Click down arrrow to learn more

Timothy Barker, 2022 DRP Recipient

College of Charleston, Chemistry/ Biochemistry


PROJECT TITLE

Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of 5-HT antagonists


PROJECT INFORMATION

This project uses computational software to model organic compounds that could be used for the treatment of depression as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  The best compounds from the computational modeling will be prepared in the synthetic lab and evaluated with in vitro assays.

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

The outcome of this project would be to validate our computational methods and progress towards identifying the best molecules in the in vitro assays. Ideally with a promising lead compound in hand, we would find a collaborator to continue the biological testing.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

SC INBRE grant funding has allowed me to spend more time in the lab, preparing the desired compounds alongside my undergraduate researchers. I have also had more time researching the serotonin reuptake receptor because pursuing a medicinally focused project has been a new direction for my research lab.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

I am a violinist with little time to practice myself, but I do enjoy helping my two sons practice violin. I have been known to serenade my organic sections on my mandolin with organic chemistry lyrics to Beatles tunes. My family also enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors.

Meghan Breen, 2021, 2022 DRP Recipient

Furman University, Chemistry


PROJECT TITLE

Effects of Pdr1 phosphosites on azole resistance in Candida glabrata


PROJECT INFORMATION

My lab studies a protein called Pdr1 in the pathogenic yeast Candida glabrata. This protein plays an important role in the development of resistance to antifungal drugs, so we want to know what is occurring at the molecular level to regulate this process. My DRP project explores the hypothesis that phosphorylation at specific sites in Pdr1 affects “turning on” drug resistance.  

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

Long term, a better understanding of how drug resistance is regulated could inform the development of future therapeutics to treat drug resistant infections. 

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

Besides the scientific goals of the research, an important part of my project is training undergraduate students. SC INBRE funding has paid undergraduate students to work full time in my lab over the summer and has helped me be able to bring students to national conferences.   

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

I grew up in a military family, and that definitely created a love of travel. Some highlights have been spending a summer during college working at an archeological dig in Belgium and seeing the northern lights in Iceland a few years ago.

Heather Dunn, 2022 DRP Recipient

Clemson University, Bioengineering


PROJECT TITLE

Novel Investigations of Breast Cancer Racial Disparities Based on Deep Learning and Bioinformatic Analysis

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

The incidence of breast cancer is not evenly distributed across racial groups. African American’s are diagnosed with aggressive sub-types of breast cancer almost twice as often as Caucasian patients. There is limited data that suggests genetic variability in breast tumors from different races, but this area of research is lacking. The goal of this project is to investigate racial disparities associated with breast cancer using artificial intelligence and bioinformatic approaches.   

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

The results of this project could eventually lead to reduced incidence, early diagnosis, and improved outcomes from patients diagnosed with breast cancer.  

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

The financial support from SC INBRE has allowed me to obtain laboratory resources to conduct my research, fund part of my graduate student’s efforts, and travel to conferences to present our data. Professional support from INBRE has provided training and mentor connections where I am confidently preparing an NSF CAREER submission for Summer 2023 and NIH R01 submission early 2024. I have already gained immense knowledge of funding from INBRE, and I look forward to sharing my success with INBRE in the near future.    

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

I’m addicted to endorphins. I’ve run 20+ marathons and completed 9 Ironman’s. On my easy days I enjoy an hour of hot yoga. An early morning sweat session is the perfect start to my day.  

Mindy Engevik, 2022 DRP Recipient

MUSC, Regenerative Medicine & Cell Biology


PROJECT TITLE

Microbial suppression of intestinal inflammation and oxidative stress

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

My lab is interested in the cross-talk between microbes and the gut epithelium. We found that a commensal "friendly" human gut microbe called Bifidobacterium dentium can secrete a molecule called y-glutamyl-cysteine. This compound can enter gut cells and then become glutathione- the most powerful antioxidant in the human body. To make y-glutamyl-cysteine, B. dentium must use cysteine and glutamate from the diet. We hypothesize that a diet high in cysteine will allow B. dentium to produce a large amount of y-glutamyl-cysteine. We speculate that y-glutamyl-cysteine will enter gut cells, elevate gluthatione levels and then suppress our chemically induced model of intestinal inflammation.  

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

We anticipate that this project will connect diet, microbiome and inflammation and provide a new strategy for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease — a life-long illness characterized by uncontrollable intestinal inflammation.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

The SC INBRE grant will allow me to explore the novel hypothesis that the diet influences microbial metabolites that can suppress intestinal inflammation and provide preliminary data for an R01 application. This award will also provide my research with increased visibility and be a valuable steppingstone for my career.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

I love to travel!

Veronica Flores, 2022 DRP Recipient

Furman University, Psychology


PROJECT TITLE

The impact of innocuous taste experience on long-term taste-learning and memory persistence

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

Humans and animals alike often learn to make food decisions by factoring in the consequences of their past eating experiences. However, my research has shown that even inconsequential taste experiences can impact future food decisions. In this project, we will use a rodent model of learning to shed light on how inconsequential taste experience impacts neural plasticity mechanisms that can ultimately lead to enhanced taste-related learning and memory.  

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

A deeper understanding of the role of previous taste experience on future learning and neural mechanisms is critical to the understanding of how the brain learns about tastes. This can impact our knowledge of appetitive disorders which often lead to a wide array of serious health conditions.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

SC INBRE funding allows my undergraduate students to earn hands-on research experience that will help prepare them for their future career goals. Furthermore, this award allows me to form collaborations with renowned scientists around the US and acquire the necessary equipment, supplies, and solutions to perform our behavioral experiments and analyze neural tissue.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

When not working, I like to hike with my husband and dog, travel, bake, play video games, and make espresso drinks.

Meredith Frazier, 2022 DRP Recipient

College of Charleston, Chemistry/ Biochemistry


PROJECT TITLE

Structural and Functional Characterization of Viral Ribonucleases

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

My project aims to uncover new information about the function of important enzymes in coronaviruses and related nidoviruses. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown we need to develop effective treatments for this virus family, since coronaviruses have the capability to cause serious disease in humans. These viruses share a common set of proteins that help them replicate and evade our immune system. Understanding the basics of the structure of these proteins and their function at a detailed level will inform future drug design. We will specifically focus on a group of viral nucleases to build a catalog of their properties.  

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

As a PI at a primarily undergraduate institution, providing enhanced mentoring experiences is my biggest goal. With this project, students will gain experience with cryo-EM, a cutting edge structural biology technique, as well as learn fundamental biochemistry. Additionally, we will be studying viral ribonucleases that have never been structurally and functionally characterized before. Our data will help fill out the larger picture of nidoviral evolution and understand how certain properties of coronavirus nucleases arose.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

This grant will help me start my lab and generate data for future NIH/NSF grants. The DRP award will allow me to train more students during the summer, so they can work independently during the academic year. It will also help me purchase equipment and collection time to bring cryo-EM to the state of SC!

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

During my postdoctoral training, I was introduced to the wonderful sport of curling! Even though we were far from Canada or Scotland, there was a thriving curling club in the area. I started playing on a rec team with people from work and got hooked. Charleston has a curling club as well, so I am excited to meet new curlers and get involved here!

Linnea Freeman, 2022 BIPP Recipient

Furman University, Biology


PROJECT TITLE

Fecal microbiome evaluation in a mouse model of autism

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

This BIPP-funded project builds on a previous project funded by an NSF EPSCoR Stimulus Research Program (SRP) grant. The NSF EPSCoR SRP grant brought together researchers from across the state of South Carolina to investigate the biological underpinnings of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with a focus on metabolic dysfunction. Our laboratory utilized a valproic acid mouse model of ASD and applied a metabolic intervention, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), to increase mitochondrial energy production. We measured sociability and anxiety behavior and we are continuing to analyze cellular effects in the brain. To build on these experiments as well as another interest in the laboratory, we will analyze the fecal microbiome of male and female mice from the ASD study in order to determine if there are sex differences, effects from the valproic acid model of autism, and/or effects from the metabolic intervention on fecal microbiome composition and diversity. We expect decreased fecal microbiome diversity in the ASD model and at least a partial rescue in the NAD-treated mice.  

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

We plan to publish the results of this project, including the completed behavioral data as well as results from this fecal microbiome investigation.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

This fecal microbiome investigation is made possible thanks to the BIPP funding.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

I love to cook and bake, and I get inspiration from watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks. I also love to hike.

Breanna Pederson, 2021 SIRP Recipient

USC School of Medicine Columbia, Cell Biology & Anatomy


PROJECT TITLE

Predicting Outcomes of Femoral Endarterectomies from Protein levels

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

Peripheral Arterial Disease is a common disease associated with aging in which the blood flow to the lower limbs is reduced, often affecting mobility. A common treatment is a femoral endarterectomy surgery, in which a plaque is removed from the femoral artery to help increase blood flow.  In this study we investigated the concentration of six proteins in the blood of patients undergoing this procedure and compared them to healthy individuals. We also quantified the amount of calcium in the patient’s arteries as well as in the plaque which was removed. We are using this information to try to predict the outcomes of PAD in patients as well as to identify the relationship of the proteins to calcium amount.

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

We want to use this information to be able to differentiate between PAD patients and healthy individuals and therefore have a cheap and independent diagnostic tool. Additionally, we would like to use this data to predict which patients will benefit from femoral endarterectomies.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

The funding from the SC INBRE grant allowed us to quantify the protein concentrations in our patient blood samples.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

Outside of the classroom I really enjoy traveling, especially to historical places, and high-ropes courses, which are like obstacle courses elevated off the ground.

Daniel Stovall, 2021, 2022 DRP Recipient

Winthrop University, Biology


PROJECT TITLE

Role and Regulation of Ring1 and YY1 binding protein in Glioblastoma Multiforme

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

We are studying the role of a chromatin-modifying protein, RYBP, in an aggressive type of central nervous system cancer called glioblastoma. RYBP functions as part of a network of transcriptional regulators that control gene expression; the loss of this regulation contributes to cancer development and progression. Since cancer cells preferentially reduce RYBP levels, we seek to determine what tumor suppressive effects may be achieved by restoring RYBP expression in glioblastoma cells. We are also investigating the various mechanisms that cancer cells use to inhibit RYBP function.

 

POTENTIAL OUTCOMES

Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal form of tumor in the central nervous system, with a median survival rate of approximately 12 months. Most patients are either not responsive or develop resistance to current therapies. We expect our work to elucidate molecular pathways that are responsible for driving or contributing to glioblastoma progression, thereby leading to the development of more informed and effective therapeutic approaches in the treatment of glioblastoma patients.

 

HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH

Funding from SC INBRE has allowed us to involve so many undergraduate biology majors at Winthrop University in biomedical research! Funds are also used to purchase the necessary supplies and reagents needed, without which this work would not be possible.

 

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB

When I am not in the lab or classroom, I enjoy spending my time reading, traveling, and sketching.

Click blue link to learn more

College of Charleston

2019 Goldwater Scholarship Recipients

College of Charleston

Journal publication

Medical Univ of SC and SC State Univ

SCSU BRTCUM at MUSC Proteomics Core

Presbyterian College

2019 Graduate School Scholarship Recipients

Drs. Adi Dubash and Will Richardson

NIH INBRE-COBRE Collaboration Grant

SC INBRE Leadership

UofSC School of Medicine Dean’s Distinguished Service Award - Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

USC Aiken

2019 Discover USC Winners

Ann Taylor Adams

Converse College

Dr. Mark Blenner

Clemson University

Dr. Mark Blenner

Clemson University (PECAS award 2019)

Dr. Karen Buchmueller

Furman University

Dr. Will Case

Converse College

Anna Crosby

Presbyterian College

Dr. Daping Fan

UofSC School of Medicine

Emma Gray

Presbyterian College

Johnnie Hodge

University of South Carolina

Steffi Kong

Converse College

Skylar Lambert

Furman University

Dr. Sue Lessner

UofSC School of Medicine

Dr. Onarae Rice

Furman University

Dr. Alison Roark

Furman University

Preston Robinette

Presbyterian College

Dr. Mark Sarzynski

University of South Carolina

Olivia Shirley

Coastal Carolina University

Dr. Austin Shull

Presbyterian College

Dr. Mark Uline

University of South Carolina

Dr. Erin Wamsley

Furman University

Dr. Naohiro Yamaguchi

Medical University of South Carolina

Dr. Tong Ye

Clemson-MUSC Joint Program