Three Scholars featured at TGen symposium

August 17, 2005

By hammersmith

Three Flinn Scholars recently presented their work at a daylong Translational Genomics Research Institute symposium, the culmination of a summer of intensive research.

Howard Chu (’04), Amy Alabaster (’05), and Ty Rosensteel (’05) were among the 60 interns showcasing their research with presentations in the morning and poster sessions in the afternoon.

Arizona State University philosophy sophomore Howard Chu, who began his internship with TGen this summer after returning from the Eastern European seminar, worked in the Translational Drug Development Division. Chu’s research, titled “Comparison of cellular effects of the inhibition of Aurora A and Aurora B using antisense oligonucleotides,” looked for treatment for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

“I think drug development is really important,” said Chu, who plans to continue working in the lab this year. “It will actually affect human beings immediately.”

For Alabaster and Rosensteel, two members of the newest class of Flinn Scholars, research with TGen began long before summer.

Alabaster, who will attend University of Arizona, has been working in TGen’s Neurogenomics Division since November. Her project, “Untangling the mystery of neurofibrillary tangles,” explores the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicts an estimated 4.5 million Americans.

As a researcher in the neurogenomics lab, Alabaster was able to use TGen’s high-tech equipment to look for infected genes in order to determine possible therapeutic targets.

“The most valuable part of this internship would definitely be the hands-on experience, learning what it would be like to work in a lab like this,” said Alabaster, pointing out one of the $400,000 machines she had the chance to use for research.

“It’s a lot different to see it than to read about it,” she said.

For all three Scholars, the possibility of science breakthroughs attracted them to the lab.

“We’re trying to push the envelope to stop diseases,” said Rosensteel, who has been working at TGen for four years.

Earlier this year, Rosensteel’s project, which researches ways to stop neuroblastoma cancer cells from spreading into normal parts of the brain, won fourth place in the biochemistry division of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

He presented his award-winning project, “Identification of promoter elements required for transcriptional induction of motility related genes,” at the symposium.

Rosensteel is still two years away from finishing his project and plans to continue working at TGen while exploring potential majors at ASU. He has been awarded a research fellowship by ASU that is not only paying him to do research but is also giving him money for new equipment.