The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) hosted its annual Summer Accelerated Biomedical Research (SABR) program from May 31 to August 4 for 16 aspiring researchers. The program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to intern with GSBS faculty researchers and gain valuable research experience while conducting their own research project.
The interns, many of whom are local or Texas residents, were paired with researchers in all areas of focus within the GSBS. The group explored a range of topics, including the dynamics of cancer cell biology, infectious diseases, nanomedicine, population genetics of psychiatric disorders, degenerative neurological diseases and genetics of the special senses.
The SABR program is a unique experience in that it immerses participants in a real-world situation where they are expected to operate on a full-time schedule and produce their own lab results. This can be challenging for a number of reasons, especially for those who have never experienced the workings of a full-time lab.
The 10-week-long program culminated with the students presenting their research projects to fellow interns and GSBS faculty. Also in attendance were GSBS staff and family members of the interns. The parents of Janahi Nevarez, an undergraduate at the University of Texas at El Paso and future applicant to the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM), watched proudly as she presented her findings on SIV (the simian form of HIV) envelope glycoproteins.
Another intern, Troy Belcher, an undergrad at the University of Arizona, might not be headed to the PLFSOM like Nevarez, but the skills and understanding he has gained over the course of the program will aid him as he moves into the field of physical therapy.
“In our lab [Dr. Perez’s lab] we look at neurodegenerative diseases,” Belcher explained, “and physical therapy has to do with movement of the body and muscles. Learning how movement takes place in the brain will be beneficial to future work that I might encounter.”
Belcher’s presentation, titled “Evaluation of Immunosuppressive Effects of TY720 and Derivative FTY720 Compounds in Mice,” highlighted research on Parkinsonian mice (mice with simulated Parkinson’s conditions) in reducing the side effects of a modified drug used in treating Parkinson’s disease.
Other presentations covered research topics like eye disease, breast cancer, group demographics and even gene manipulation.
The SABR program teaches interns the fundamental principles and techniques used in biomedical research. These newly-acquired skills were displayed not just through their presentations, but also in how the interns fielded expert questions from GSBS faculty.
Many former SABR interns have returned to either the PLFSOM or the GSBS to pursue higher degrees. This intern class includes two students, Mona Heydarian and Thuraieh Khayou, who will both be returning to the GSBS this fall as master’s students.
If you would like information on becoming a SABR intern in 2017, email the GSBS main office at GSBSEP@ttuhsc.edu or call 915-215-4157.