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Ten Eckerd Students Selected to Conduct Research at Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research

posted on 05/03/2010

Ten Eckerd College students have been selected to conduct research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research during summer 2010. Mass General is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Research at the Center for Human Genetic Research (CHGR) is focused on understanding the molecular and genetic causes of diseases including Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease and disorders of the nervous system. This unique research opportunity is made possible by a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant written by CHGR scientist Dr. Susan Slaugenhaupt '85, an Eckerd alumna and member of Eckerd's Dean's Council on Science.

Students selected to participate in this research are Kate Rost '11 (Marine Science), Stephanie Kyle '11 (Biomolecular Sciences Concentration), Thomas Battey '11 (Marine Science), Zoe O'Donoghue '12 (Marine Science), Adrian Bruce '11 (Biology and Sociology), Kristine Crowe '12 (Biology and Psychology), Shannon Bean '11 (Neuroscience Concentration), Dylan Finneran '12 (Biochemistry and Physics), Lauren Van Woudenberg '12 (Marine Science) and Evan Playle '11 (Biology).

Each student will receive a $4,800 stipend. This ten-week summer research program will provide students with the opportunity to work in laboratories performing cutting-edge research in the largest academic research center in the U.S. Sample research projects target the delineation of mechanisms of pathogenesis in Huntington's disease; the clinical, neuroimaging and genetic characterization of patients with stroke; and, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying cognition and cognitive disorders.

About the Center for Human Genetic Research (CHGR)
The CHGR is a multi-disciplinary cross-departmental center whose central mission is promotion of the genetic research cycle. This research uses heritable disease characteristics and powerful molecular genetic strategies to identify the underlying DNA sequence variations that confer susceptibility to a disorder or modify its expression. The genes/proteins implicated are then characterized in the laboratory using model systems, from the test tube and cultured cells to genetically modified model organisms. Human genotype-phenotype relationships provide the basis for assessing the disease relevance of these findings, which together help to define the specific molecular mechanisms that produce the disease phenotype.

About Dr. Susan Slaugenhaupt, Ph.D.
Dr. Slaugenhaupt is currently a principal investigator in the Center for Human Genetic Research, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Assistant Geneticist in the Department of Neurology/Molecular Neurogenetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also Co-Director of the Genetics and Genomics Unit of the MGH Clinical Research Program. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Eckerd College in 1985. She obtained an M.S. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She obtained her first faculty position at Mass General in 1995 and has built a strong research program aimed at understanding the genetic basis of human disease.

The overall goal of the Slaugenhaupt lab is to bring the study of genetic disease full circle: from the initial collection of family data, to the cloning and characterization of the culprit gene, and back to the patient via development of improved diagnostics and effective therapies. She spoke at Eckerd earlier this semester as part of a Sigma Xi-sponsored lecture entitled, "From Genes to Treatments: The Potential of Our Genome."

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