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Beloit Summer Biomedical Research Scholars Program

The Beloit College Biomedical Research Scholars Program is an 8-week program of mentored laboratory research for current Beloit College students. Biomed Scholars will receive a stipend, must enroll in one unit of Biology 392: Independent Research in Biology, and pay summer tuition for this course. Scholars may contract with the college for room and board. The stipend has been calculated to cover these costs.  The program will run during June and July.

To apply, students should

Application materials are due on March 20, 2015, for full consideration.

2015 Projects

Retrograde axonal signaling and axon maintenance, Professor Rachel Bergstrom

In addition to the propagation of electrical signals required for efficient synaptic transmission, the axon provides a highway for the transport of cell surface receptor signals from the synapse back to the neuron cell body and nucleus. The interruption of these signals has been observed in several neurodegenerative diseases. This project will focus on an in vitro model to address the question of cell surface receptor signaling in neurodegeneration, axonal maintenance, and neuronal survival. The student will employ multiple techniques, including tissue culture, fluorescence microscopy, and western blotting, to investigate the role of specific growth factor signal trafficking in neuron survival and neurodegeneration. 

Molecular and bioinformatic investigations of plant disease resistance mechanisms, Professor Amy Briggs

Previous studies have shown the importance of folypolyglutamate synthetase (FPGS) enzymes in early plant developmental pathways, and preliminary bioinformatic studies indicate that this enzyme may also be essential for proper immune response activation. The Arabidopsis thalianagenome encodes multiple FPGS proteins, and so the project for this summer will involve genetic screening for double and triple knockouts of FPGS genes and the testing these of knockouts for dysfunctions in various plant immune responses (such as cell wall reinforcement and bacterial pathogen growth). This project will also include the bioinformatic analysis of global gene expression changes in plants undergoing a variety of immune stressors, in an attempt to identify novel mechanisms of transcriptional activation during plant defense responses.

Oxygen binding to hemoglobin, Professor Ted Gries

The biomedical scholar will study the relationship between pressure and the equilibrium between the T and R conformations of hemoglobin in aqueous, anoxic solution. These experimental observations will allow the scholar to determine the molecular volume change accompanying the hemoglobin conformational change, which is connected to how the pressure of the surrounding environment effects the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin, and thus blood. The presence of oxygen is well known to induce the T and R state conformational change in hemoglobin; however, the intrinsic effect of pressure alone on the conformational state of hemoglobin is understood less well.  Applications of this research reach into areas of negative-pressure wound therapy and understanding animals that experience various altitudes and water-depths throughout their life cycle.

Developing small molecule inhibitors of antibiotic resistance enzymes, Professor Kristin Labby

Antibiotic resistance is, unfortunately, an evolutionary process that selects for bacterial strains with enhanced capacity to survive in the presence of antibiotic drugs. Studies of resistance of one particular class of antibiotics, the aminoglycosides (AGs), have revealed the presence of a family of enzymes within many bacteria called aminoglycoside modifying enzymes (AMEs). AMEs are responsible for modification and subsequently inactivation of these AG antibiotics. Hundreds of AMEs exist and are potential targets for small molecule inhibition. Due to its clinical prominence, I am interested in synthesizing small molecule inhibitors of one particular AME, AAC(6’). The Biomedical Scholar’s role in this medicinal chemistry project would include design and synthesis of AAC(6’) inhibitors, over-expression and purification of AAC(6’) protein, and assaying the inhibitors against AAC(6’).

Research opportunities in university labs may be possible

Placement of students in a research university lab may be possible depending upon applicant interests and availability of openings. If you are interested in a university placement, contact Professor Yaffa Grossman at and describe your interests in your application.