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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.

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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 743-2525 1
Pablo Artigas, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics The Na/K pump builds Na and K gradients essential for excitability, nutrient uptake, and cellular homeostasis. Na/K pumps are heterodimers formed by association of one of four α subunit, with one of three beta subunit isoforms, all with tissue specific distribution. Also in a tissue specific manner, FXYD proteins may associate to the αβ complex to modulate Na/K pump function. Malfunction of Na/K pump isoforms due to spontaneous or inherited mutations is responsible for forms of migraine,  parkinsonism and hypertension. We aim to find the reason for the large number of isoforms, to understand their regulation by FXYDs and to uncover the mechanisms of illness induced mutations. We would like one medical student to join these studies, where she/he will use immunohystochemical, electrophysiological and/or biochemical techniques to address the post translational regulation of Na/K pump isoforms.A second study where another student could join is a collaborative project where he/she will use a combination of molecular biology, protein biochemistry and electrophysiology to study excitablity of human myometrial cells, to address the clinically relevant question: why does labor stagnate in some women but not others? Dr. Pablo Artigas,, at 743-1142 1-2
Kathy Chauncey, PhD, Clinical Professor, Family & Community Medicine Evaluation of changes in skin carotenoid scores in medical students following a dietary supplement-based intervention: A study is proposed to measure changes in antioxidant status in medical students by a dietary supplement-based intervention. Resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS), a non-invasive method for assessing carotenoid (antioxidant) status in human skin will be utilized. Student research interns will be involved in subject recruitment, consent, randomization, and intervention. Dr. Kathy Chauncey,, at 743-2757 2
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 1
Kumuda Das, MSc, PhD, Anesthesiology
Research methodology and development of hypothesis-driven research. The major aim is to understand how cardiomyocytes and the endothelial cells in the heart communicate in stress situations such as myocardial infarction induced by reperfusion injury. The project involves cell culture of primary endothelial cells and embryonic cardiomyocytes and determination of mechanism of secretion of soluble factors from endothelial cells that binds to receptors on cardiomyocytes. The techniques involve western analysis, real-time PCR, and cell culture methods.
Dr. Kumuda Das,, or Brandon Salinas,, at 743-2981, ext. 230
Michel Diab, MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
The research is to study the effectiveness of a perop stability test of supracondylar humerus fracture type 3 that, when it shows presence of stability, will save the patient the placement of a medial pin that is regularly done for most type 3 supracondylar humerus fracture and carries risk of nerve damage by the wire. The study consists of comparing the results of type 3 SCH fracture treated with medial pin and without medial pin when stability test revealed stable during surgery.
Nancy Swinford,, at 743-2465 1
Cheryl Erwin, PhD, JD, Director, Center for Ethics, Humanities & Spirituality, Department of Medical Education and Psychiatry
Investigation of topics in medical humanities, ethics, policy, or spirituality in healthcare. Topics may include narratives of illness, ethics of emerging technologies, public health ethics and policy, or spiritual dimensions of care.
Dr. Cheryl Erwin,, at 743-6772  1-2
Tommie Farrell, MD and Kelly Klein, MD, Hospice and Palliative Medicine/Family & Community Medicine Choices during critical illness, such as cancer or advanced heart failure can be difficult for both patient and physicians. A recent Institute of Medicine Report claims that there is a chasm between the expectations of patients and physicians in this regard. Our team is interested in exploring what patients/physicians believe are important to them in making these choices. Dr. Tommie Farrell,, at 743-2757 1
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 1
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 1-2
Jerry Grimes, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery
Observational study of the relative efficiency of different configurations of digital radiographic equipment in the Foot and Ankle practice.
Nancy Swinford,, at 743-2465 1
Josee Guindon, DVM, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Will study and investigate the long term effect of chemotherapy treatment on physiological processes, on peripheral neuropathy and its correlation with psychological state using a mouse animal model. See previous publications by Dr. Guindon on PubMed.
Dr. Josee Guindon,, at 743-6745 1
Abdul Hamood, PhD, Professor of Immunology & Molecular Microbiology Research interests:

1) Examining the effect of trauma (including severe burn) on the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Our unique approach involves growing P. aeruginosa in whole blood from healthy volunteers and patients with severe injuries. We would then isolate the bacterial RNA and examine the global expression (all the genes) using RNA-seq technique. Our results so far suggest that very specific sets of genes are either very significantly induced or very significantly repressed. The second most important finding is that the influence of blood from different patients is very similar. This is not the case with blood from human volunteers. This suggests that certain trauma-induced factors whining blood are induced and influence bacterial virulence.

2) In an effort to identify new and novel treatments for P. aeruginosa infected wounds, we are examining the effectiveness of toxins produced by P. aeruginosa to kill other bacteria. These are called pyocins. Our preliminary results showed that partially purified pyocins are effective in eliminating P. aeruginosa biofilms. Encouraged by these results, we formulated the pyocins in a cream and used the cream to treat wounds in the murine model of wound infection. The formulation was very effective. We are conducting further experiments with other pyocins.
Lavoyce Nabors,, at 743-2370  1
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 1
Cynthia A. Jumper, MD, Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Medical-economic policy or public health project. Rita Tecmire,, at 743-3107 1
Mark Lacy, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine Hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures to reduce transmission of nosocomial pathogens but it is not consistently applied. In 2014, UMC compliance with hand hygiene protocols was <40% (personal communication, Anna Parker, RN). No follow-up data has been provided and the method for obtaining that baseline has many limitations. This proposal entails multi-focal observations by a discrete (medical student) observer applying accepted criteria for compliance before and after patient contacts. The baseline data will be followed by several interventions, including peer-to-peers education. Post-intervention observations will be made to assess efficacy of the interventions and displayed/reported in the appropriate settings. Dr. Mark Lacy,, at 743-3155 1
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 1-2
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 2-3
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, 1-2
Alan Peiris, MD, Internal Medicine Gender disparity in healthcare. Dr. Alan Peiris,, at 743-3155 1-2
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 1
Afzal Siddiqui, PhD, Immunology & Molecular Microbiology Research is focused on developing a vaccine against the human parasitic disease, Schistosomiasis – a disease which is endemic in 74 developing countries. An estimated 200 million people are infected and 800 million people are at risk of acquiring Schistosomiasis. Studies are targeted to move a Schistosomiasis vaccine forward for the next phase of vaccine development leading to IND filing with the final goal of Phase I/II human clinical trials. Dr. Afzal Siddiqui,, at 743-2638 or Anna McGregor,, at 743-2421 1
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 2
James A. Tarbox, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Departments of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Surgery Evaluation of cross-reactivity between amphibian and fish allergen. Dr. James Tarbox,, at 743-3155 1
Surendra K. Varma, MD, Pediatrics Iodine Levels in Pregnant Women in West Texas Dr. Surendra Varma,, or Cris McElwee,, at 743-6639 1

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.