The current issue of the research journal Cellular Immunology features an article authored by Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian Hargadon and undergraduates Osric Forrest ’12 and Pranay Reddy ’11. The article entitled “Suppression of the Maturation and Activation of the Dendritic Cell Line DC2.4 by Melanoma-derived Factors” describes work conducted by Dr. Hargadon and his students over the past two years. This study demonstrates that melanoma tumors are capable of suppressing dendritic cells, an immune cell that is critical for the induction of anti-tumor immune responses. Importantly, Dr. Hargadon and his students demonstrated that the extent to which dendritic cells are suppressed by melanomas is dependent on how agressive the particular tumor is. These findings therefore suggest that the interactions that take place between melanoma tumor cells and dendritic cells may ultimately dictate the success of the overall immune response to the tumor. Dr. Hargadon and other undergraduate students working in his lab are continuing to investigating how melanomas suppress dendritic cell functionality and how such melanoma-altered dendritic cells shape the response of other anti-tumor immune cells. It is hoped that these studies will improve our understanding of tumor immune escape and identify strategies for interfering with tumor immune suppression and improving the quality of anti-tumor immune responses.
The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) recently gave its 2011 H. Hiter Harris, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching to Hampden-Sydney’s Dr. Alex Werth. The award is endowed by the family of the late Hiter Harris, Jr., a leading Virginia banker who was a member of the VFIC’s Board from 1973 – 1998. His son, H. Hiter Harris III, is a current VFIC board member, having joined the board in 2000.
The Harris Award includes a stipend to support Dr. Werth’s research on the physiology of feeding and thermoregulation in whales and reflects his strong, clear, and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences. Dr. Werth has taught classes across the spectrum of the biology curriculum at Hampden-Sydney as well as interdisciplinary seminars and courses in the Western Culture program.