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2015 SOM Student Summer Research Program

Program Description

The School of Medicine Student Summer Research Program – 2015 is an 8-week program from June to August designed to help students gain experience in an area of research interest. First-year medical students in Lubbock are encouraged to coordinate with interested faculty members on project proposals that are to be submitted for approval to the Office of the Dean. A stipend in the total amount of $2,240 will be paid to each participating student in accordance with this guideline, and students are required to present information regarding summer research activities during the Student Research Week in the Spring 2016.

Download Program Guidelines

Proposal/Project Abstract

The Student Summer Research Project Proposal Form should be filled out and submitted to the Office of the Dean and the Associate Dean for Research at the beginning of May 2015. Preferably, a form is submitted jointly by a student and faculty member who have coordinated the details of a research project for the summer; however, forms will be received from an individual for possible research projects. The Office of the Dean and the Associate Dean for Research will coordinate to assist in locating and matching interested students and faculty. Note: The proposed project should have appropriate institutional approval (IRB, IACUC, etc.) prior to the start of the program.

Download Student Summer Research Project Proposal Form
Summer Research

Matching Opportunities (Projects and Faculty Mentors)

Faculty Mentor

Potential Project Description

Contact Information

Potential Positions

Guillermo A. Altenberg, MD, PhD and Luis Cuello, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Connexins are the proteins that form the gap-junction channels that mediate cell-to-cell coupling. A connexin hexamer from one cell forms a hemichannel, and head-to-head docking of hemichannels from adjacent cells forms a gap-junction channel. Gap-junction channels and hemichannels play important roles in normal cells as well as in genetic and acquired disorders. For example, opening of Cx43 hemichannels under ischemic conditions contributes to the damage in cardiac infarct and stroke. Unfortunately, there are no good hemichannel inhibitors. This is the consequence of the fact that the available assays for hemichannel function are not suitable for high throughput screening (HTS) of chemical libraries used for the discovery of inhibitors. The goal of the project is to develop and test HTS methodology amenable for the identification of selective and isoform-specific connexin hemichannel blockers that can be used as pre-therapeutic leads.

Dr. Guillermo Altenberg,, at 743-2531 or Dr. Luis Cuello,, at 


Michael Conn, PhD, Sr. Vice President for Research, Associate Provost and Professor of Internal Medicine and Cell Biology

Our laboratory is interested in the trafficking of receptors as the basis of new therapeutic approaches. See related research at PUBMED.

Dr. Michael Conn,, or Shelley Stevens,, at 743-3600


Vadivel Ganapathy, Ph.D.
Chair, Cell Biology & Biochemistry

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder associated with excessive iron accumulation in almost all organs in the body. Excess iron causes oxidative stress and also alters cell signaling. Our hypothesis is that accumulation of iron in tissues above normal levels as seen in hemochromatosis promotes colon and lung cancer. We will test this hypothesis using mouse models of hemochromatosis.

Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy,, or Andra Headley,, at 743-2701


Lan Guan, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Membrane carriers play crucial roles in many aspects of cell function. The long-term goal of our research is to understand mechanisms of solute/cation symport. Currently, we are studying bacterial melibiose permease (MelB), a model system, to understand Na+/sugar symport by utilizing an integrated approach, including X-ray crystallography, thermodynamics, and other biochemical & biophysical analyses. We are also developing novel protein-capture reagents that, like an antibody, bind to a target protein and modulate its function.

Dr. Lan Guan,, at 743-3102


Michaela Jansen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics, Center for Membrane Protein Research

Research in the Jansen laboratory focuses on structure and function studies of diverse membrane proteins, specifically, ligand-gated ion channels and transporters. We use biophysical (electrophysiology, spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography) and biochemical methods to study these proteins at a molecular level. We are especially interested in the superfamily of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGIC) that includes the nACh, GABA, 5HT3, and Gly families. The pLGICs function mainly as neurotransmitter receptors, transforming the chemical signal contained in the neurotransmitter into an electrical signal.

Dr. Michaela Jansen,, at 743-4059


Cynthia A. Jumper, MD, Chair, Department of Internal Medicine

Medical-economic policy or public health project.

Rita Tecmire,, at 743-3107


Matthew Lambert, PhD, Sr. Director for Research, Principal Investigator Project FRONTIER, F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health

Students will have the opportunity to develop a research protocol utilizing data collected for our community-based research project, Project FRONTIER, to examine health and aging in rural West Texas populations.

Cathy Hudson,, at 743-5601


Raul Martinez-Zaguilan, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Our working hypothesis is that Vacuolar proton ATPase (V-ATPase) at the cell surface determines cancer progression and tumor angiogenesis. As experimental models we use human cancer cell lines (prostate, breast, melanoma, pancreatic carcinoma) with different metastatic potential. We also use mouse models of cancer. Biophysical approaches, including fluorescence spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, and spectral imaging, are used to study V-ATPase function and distribution. Molecular biological approaches and pharmacological approaches are used to establish the significance of V-ATPase in angiogenesis and cancer progression.

Dr. Raul Martinez-Zaguilan,, at 743-2562


Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Ph.D., FTOS
Professor, Nutritional Sciences & Director, Obesity Research Cluster

Research on Nutrigenomics, Inflammation & Obesity. More information at:

Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa,


Kevin Pruitt, PhD, Immunology & Molecular Microbiology

As tumors progress toward malignancy several epigenetic alterations are acquired that render them less sensitive to normal growth control cues. One focus of the Pruitt laboratory is on identifying the mechanism(s) responsible for increasing intra-tumoral estrogen production. High levels of estrogen within tumors drive cancer progression. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens and it is frequently increased in breast tumors, yet the mechanistic basis for this is unknown. Because overexpression of aromatase has been linked with overproduction of estrogens, we want to define how this occurs. Thus, we are interesting in defining the genetic and epigenetic basis for aromatase overexpression in human breast tumors and breast cancer cell lines.

Dr. Kevin Pruitt,, at 743-2334


Bryan Sutton, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Limb-Girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) is a neuromuscular condition that results from mutations within the dysferlin gene. Patients diagnosed with LGMD may be able to walk for about 30 years after disease onset, but many will become wheelchair bound in their teens. We use X-ray crystallography to image each of the protein domains in the dysferlin protein to understand how point mutations can cause muscular disease.

Dr. Roger Sutton,, at 743-4058


Surendra K. Varma, MD, Pediatrics

Iodine Levels in Pregnant Women in West Texas

Dr. Surendra Varma,, or Cris McElwee,, at 743-6639


Departmental Responsibilities

Processing of all paperwork to ensure appropriate payment of stipends will be the responsibility of a participating department. Steps to be taken are:

  1. Process an ePAF for each student using the pooled position HSC Student Intern (0 FTE and 0 salary).
  2. Please note: The Department is responsible for processing the full stipend amount of $2,240.  The Department account will be used for half ($1,120) and the Dean’s account for the remaining amount ($1,120).  The FOP can be obtained from Shalene Vick at 743-1830.
  3. Process EOPs prior to June 18th for the first month and July 18th for the second month.
  4. Process ePAF to end job for each student.


The research activities of this program are expected to provide meaningful experience and knowledge that contribute to the student’s medical education. Faculty members should offer appropriate instruction and assistance in order for the student to be successful. Students are required to complete a presentation of their research activities during the Student Research Week in the Spring 2016 . The Office of the Clinical Research Center is providing an opportunity for students to gain better knowledge of the development of protocols for clinical research by attending scheduled lectures early this summer. This will assist the student in understanding the searching of literature, roles and responsibilities of the research team and governing regulations, protection of subjects (consents), data collection (from charts), role of the IRB (risks & benefits), study monitoring and dealing with audits. Additional presentations will be offered throughout the summer on developing a hypothesis, how to give a presentation and writing an abstract. Research seminars presented by TTUHSC faculty members and graduate students will also be presented.


Any questions regarding this program can be referred to Ernestine Gregorcyk in the Office of the Dean at 743-7163.