WRITER: LENA BAKER
CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: June 24, 2002
Students participate in UI infectious diseases summer research program
Three visiting undergraduate students are participating in the Infectious
Diseases Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Iowa,
which started June 10. The program, which was initiated by the infectious
diseases division in the UI department of internal medicine, was formally
launched in 1999. Its goal is to interest students in biomedical research
in the broad field of infectious diseases.
Stephen Thompson from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Tara Miller
from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and Heba Iskandar from Augustana College
in Rock Island, Ill., were selected from a pool of approximately 50 applicants.
They will work with UI researchers in the infectious diseases division: David
Kusner, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor; William Nauseef, M.D., professor;
Dan Diekema, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor (clinical); Larry Schlesinger,
M.D., associate professor, and Jerrold Weiss, Ph.D., professor, on a variety
of research projects.
The students are studying the molecular mechanisms that regulate oxidative
antimicrobial defenses of white blood cells; the factors that allow staphylococcal
bacteria to resist killing by antibiotics and how those antibiotic-resistant
bacteria spread to people in Iowa; and the regulation of toxic antimicrobial
enzymes by proteins produced in the lung during inflammation.
The program was begun informally by members of the infectious diseases division
when students expressed the desire for such a program, said Bradley Britigan,
M.D., UI professor of internal medicine and division director.
"The program started when students from outside the UI began approaching
faculty about doing research or working in their laboratories. Initially,
we used internal funds to create the undergraduate research program, and by
this mechanism provided two students with a means to travel to and reside
in Iowa City while they participated in a research project," Britigan
Approximately 50 students apply annually for the program. Most are out-of-state
students, although some are from within the state of Iowa. The two previous
summers two students were accepted for the program, with funding coming from
within the division. However, this summer, Pfizer, Inc. is fully funding the
program, which allows a third student to participate.
"I thought this program would be something different to do," Miller
said. "I thought it would give me great exposure to a laboratory setting
rather than a clinical setting."
Lee-Ann Allen, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of internal medicine and director
of the undergraduate research program, said that though college students of
all levels may apply, the program primarily accepts juniors and seniors.
"We prefer juniors and seniors because they have taken a broader array
of science courses than younger students," Allen said.
The students begin the program by stepping into already existing research
projects. The program lasts for eight weeks and runs in conjunction with the
16 other UI Biosciences Summer Research Programs. A special seminar series
and various social events further enhance the students' experience.
"It has been a wonderful educational opportunity for both students
and faculty," Kusner said. "Several students have reported that
these summer research experiences were critical to their decisions to pursue
further training in the biomedical sciences."
For more information about the Infectious Diseases summer research program
or any other Bioscience research program, visit www.medicine.uiowa.edu/biosciences/summerprograms.htm.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and
Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and
services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.