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Students gain lab experience with faculty

by Connor Watkins
Public Relations
If the audience had their eyes closed, they would think that the students giving presentations on their research projects July 17 were graduate students instead of rising high school seniors attending the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM). This summer, 14 GSSM students traded their days at the beach to conduct research and analyze data alongside MUSC faculty as part of the College of Graduate Studies’ Summer Program for Research Interns (SPRI).
Dr. Perry Halushka, right, congratulates Ramiz Hamid on his completion of the College of Graduate Studies' Summer Program for Research Interns.

 “It’s a delight for us to have the Governor’s School students here every summer,” said Perry Halushka, M.D., Ph. D., College of Graduate Studies dean. “The faculty really invests in the students during the research program.”
The SPRI gave as many as 70 students from GSSM an opportunity to complete a six week, hands-on experience in an area of science that they are interested in such as cancer research, biomedical experiments and computer science. Once they’ve chosen a field and mentor, students spent their internships at corporate research and development labs, hospital cancer centers and research universities working under an established scientist-mentor.
Victor Brown, who experimented with the affects of vitamin D on multiple sclerosis, made the most of his time with his mentor, Narayan Bhat, Ph.D., a neurosciences professor.
“I enjoyed being able to work in the lab. Having hands-on experiences, working with someone who knew so much about a particular field and being able to learn from them is what I enjoyed the most about this experience,” said Brown.
“This is an extraordinary experience,” explained Murray Brockman, Ph.D., GSSM president who attended the research presentations. “The increased intellectual maturity of the students is remarkable as they go through an actual research experience.”
Ramiz Hamid, a Beaufort resident pursuing a career in clinical health care, chose to explore the field of cancer immunology, focusing on prostate cancer. Under the supervision of Azizul Haque, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Hamid tested to see how re-inserting a protein, Gamma-interferon-Inducible Lysosomal Thiol reductase (GILT), into prostate cancer cells affects cytokine gene expression. The results suggest that induced GILT expression in prostate cancer cells may restore immune function by down regulating inhibitory cytokines. This may result in the detection and destruction of cancer cells by the immune system.
Like other mentor-scientists, Hamid appreciated the support and help of student contributions to his lab and research throughout these past six weeks.

“The graduate students really helped me see the big picture,” he said. “Besides watching and learning the day-to-day techniques, they showed me how those techniques apply to the research goal as a whole, which was to create a cancer vaccine.”
In the Gazes Research Auditorium, SPRI participants presented their data and findings to their family members, fellow students and MUSC faculty.
Hadi Hamid, father of Ramiz Hamid, was one of several parents sitting in the auditorium that day. “I was amazed at the amount of knowledge he had gained and impressed by the way he was presenting it,” he said. ”I’m very proud of him.”
Though the program has ended, the students continue to build on their research throughout the upcoming academic year. SPRI participants will read books and articles relating to their research focus and ultimately translate that knowledge into a report that they will complete by February 2010.


Friday, Aug. 14, 2009

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