Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon, 5 H-SC Students Publish Cancer Research

Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 recently published a major research article on melanoma-altered function of dendritic cells in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology.  Published by Nature Publishing Group, one of the leading publishers of scientific and medical journals, Immunology and Cell Biology places particular emphasis on the cellular biology of the immune system.  Dr. Hargadon’s article, entitled “Melanoma-derived factors alter the maturation and activation of differentiated tissue-resident dendritic cells,” includes 5 Hampden-Sydney College student co-authors who have worked on various aspects of this project in his lab over the past 3 years.  These student authors are Drake Bishop, Jay Brandt, Charlie Hand, Yonathan Ararso, and Osric Forrest.  Osric Forrest is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Immunology Graduate Program at Emory University, Drake Bishop and Jay Brandt are both pursuing an M.D. at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Yonathan Ararso is in the process of applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs.  The research reported in their article (http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/icb201558a.html) describes how aggressive melanomas compromise the function of dendritic cells in a way that may ultimately promote tumor escape from host immune responses.  Dr. Hargadon’s research program is currently funded by a grant from the Commonwealth Health Research Board.

Two H-SC Students Conducting Melanoma Research

This summer two H-SC students, Jefferson Thompson ’16 and Travis Goodloe 16′, are conducting melanoma research in the laboratory of Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01.  In addition to support from the College’s Honors Council and a Commonwealth Health Research Board grant to Dr. Hargadon, both students have also received external funding for their work.  Travis Goodloe received a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research for a project entitled “Validation of a Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)-based Method for Detecting Lymph Node Metastasis by Melanoma Cells.”  He is developing an assay to measure the spread of regional melanomas into tumor-draining lymph nodes, and this work will serve as a foundation for future studies that aim to investigate how lymph node involvement by melanoma cells impacts the induction of immune responses to this tumor.  Jefferson Thompson received a Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Undergraduate Science Research Fellowship for a project entitled “Generation of a Foxc2 Gene Knockout Murine Melanoma Cell Line via CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing Technology.”  CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing has revolutionized the field of genetic engineering since its discovery in 2013, and Jefferson is the first student to employ this technology at Hampden-Sydney College.  He will be editing the nucleotide sequence of the Foxc2 gene in a mouse melanoma cell line so that the protein encoded by this gene is no longer produced.  This “knockout” cell line will be used in future studies to investigate the role of the FOXC2 transcription factor in regulating melanoma metastasis, and those studies will utilize the metastasis assay being developed by Travis.  If the FOXC2 protein is shown to promote melanoma spread to lymph nodes, it may serve as both a clinical marker for the progression of this cancer as well as a novel therapeutic target for cancer treatments designed to eradicate metastatic melanoma.  Both Jefferson and Travis plan to attend medical school upon their graduation from H-SC!

Jefferson Thompson and Travis Goodloe

Jefferson Thompson ’16 (right) and Travis Goodloe ’16 (left) hard at work in the lab!

Jefferson has become a pro at gel electrophoresis!

Jefferson has become a pro at gel electrophoresis!

Travis Goodloe

Travis dissecting a melanoma tumor-bearing mouse!

5 H-SC Sophomores Accepted to Medical Schools through Early Assurance Programs

Five Hampden-Sydney College sophomore students were recently accepted into medical schools through Early Assurance Programs that the College has established.  James Lau ’17 was accepted at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Brant Boucher ’17 and Will Echols ’17 were both accepted at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, and Benjamin Lam ’17 and Robert Kerby ’17 were both accepted at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.  Through articulation agreements established between Hampden-Sydney College and each medical institution, competitive students apply during their sophomore year for admittance into medical school.  Once accepted, successful students complete their 4 years of undergraduate work at H-SC and have guaranteed admission to medical school following their graduation.  Congratulations to this year’s successful applicants and future doctors!

Stephen Woodall ’15 Receives Award for Melanoma Research at National Research Conference

Senior Biology major Stephen Woodall ’15, who presented his Departmental Honors research in March at the 2015 National Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Boston, MA, was recently named the recipient of the Thematic Best Poster Award for the conference’s theme on Molecular Mechanisms of Infection and Immunity.  Stephen’s poster was selected by theme organizers from among 84 posters in his category for its outstanding research, which involved the genetic engineering of a mouse melanoma cell line for the purpose of evaluating anti-tumor CD8+ T cell immune responses.  Stephen’s poster was selected from presentations from graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research scientists from around the world.  Stephen conducted this research in the laboratory of Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01.  He will be attending N.C. State in the fall for a Master’s in Physiology Graduate Program.

The ASBMB annual meeting is recognized for the breadth of the science covered. Held in conjunction with Experimental Biology 2015, the ASBMB sessions and events at this year’s conference represented an unrivaled opportunity to learn about the latest discoveries in the range of subdisciplines that fall under the biochemistry and molecular biology umbrellas.

Stephen Woodall '15 and his award-winning poster entitled "Genetic Engineering of the Murine Melanoma D5.1G4 to Express a Model Antigen for Evaluation of Anti-tumor CD8+ T Cell Responses"

Stephen Woodall ’15 at the 2015 National ASBMB Meeting and his award-winning poster entitled “Genetic Engineering of the Murine Melanoma D5.1G4 to Express a Model Antigen for Evaluation of Anti-tumor CD8+ T Cell Responses”

 

Travis Goodloe ’15 Receives Sigma Xi Grant for Cancer Research

Travis Goodloe ’15 was recently awarded a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research for his summer research project that he will be conducting in collaboration with Elliott Asisstant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01.  Travis will be developing an assay to measure melanoma cell metastasis to tumor-draining lymph nodes, and he will use this assay to investigate the rate of lymph node metastasis by melanomas of differing tumorigenicity.  Lymph node metastasis is often associated with immune suppression in melanoma patients, and the assay developed by Travis will therefore be a useful system for investigating factors that regulate the spread of melanomas to regional lymph nodes and for assessing the quality of anti-tumor immune responses in tumor-free versus tumor-involved lymph nodes.

The Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) program has provided undergraduate and graduate students with valuable educational experiences since 1922. By encouraging close working relationships between students and mentors, the program promotes scientific excellence and achievement through hands-on learning.

9 Students Inducted into Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society

On March 24, five Hampden-Sydney College and four Longwood University students were inducted into Sigma Xi, the international honorary scientific research society.  Founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and to encourage collaboration among researchers in all fields of science and engineering, the Society now consists of over 500 chapters at academic, industrial, and government research institutions and has nearly 60,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world.  The Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College chapter of Sigma Xi was reactivated in 2013, and the two institutions now alternate hosting an annual Sigma Xi Research Symposium that features a keynote speaker and student poster presentations highlighting recent research activities on both campuses.

2015 Sigma Xi Initiates. From left to right: Back row - Stephen Woodall II, H-SC '15; Bryan McQueen, LU '15; Davis Carter, H-SC '15.  Middle row - Adam Lynch, LU '16; Aaron Gilani, H-SC '15; Brant Boucher, H-SC '17; James Lau, H-SC '17.  Front row - Sara Jacobson, LU '15; Kelsey Trace, LU '15.

2015 Sigma Xi Initiates. From left to right: Back row – Stephen Woodall II, H-SC ’15; Bryan McQueen, LU ’15; Davis Carter, H-SC ’15. Middle row – Adam Lynch, LU ’16; Aaron Gilani, H-SC ’15; Brant Boucher, H-SC ’17; James Lau, H-SC ’17. Front row – Sara Jacobson, LU ’15; Kelsey Trace, LU ’15.

Six H-SC Students Selected to Participate in New H-SC/Centra Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program

Six Hampden-Sydney College students were recently selected to participate in the newly established H-SC/Centra Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program.  Benjamin Lam, Brant Boucher, DJ Bines, Jake Farrar, James Lau, and Robert Kerby will begin their rotations this semester and will have the option to continue their shadowing in the Fall 2015 semester as well.  Through this program, these students will be exposed to various fields of medicine as they rotate through departments that include: Family Medicine, General Surgery, Cardiovascular Medicine, Emergency Medicine, the ICU, Gastrointestinal Medicine, OB/Gyn, Radiology, and Pharmacy.  The shadowing experience afforded by this partnership will provide these students with valuable healthcare exposure hours that will increase awareness of potential career paths in healthcare and enhance preparation for graduate and professional programs in medicine and the health sciences.  Together, these benefits will provide H-SC students with a competitive edge as applicants to medical and health professional schools.

The H-SC/Centra Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program will be ongoing, and applications will be solicited in the Fall 2015 semester for a new set of rotations to begin the following spring.

H-SC's Spring 2015 students selected to participate in the Centra/H-SC Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program.  Pictured left to right: Benjamin Lam '17, Jake Farrar '16, DJ Bines '17, James Lau '17, Brant Boucher'17, and Robert Kerby '17

H-SC’s Spring 2015 participants in the Centra/H-SC Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program. Pictured left to right: Benjamin Lam ’17, Jake Farrar ’16, DJ Bines ’17, James Lau ’17, Brant Boucher’17, and Robert Kerby ’17

2nd Annual Sigma Xi Symposium a Huge Success!

On November 13, the Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College Chapter of Sigma Xi hosted the 2nd annual Sigma Xi Research Symposium.  Sigma Xi is an honorary research society that promotes excellence in scientific investigation in all fields of the life and physical sciences.  The Symposium was held at Longwood University’s Chichester Science Center and featured a keynote speaker and poster presentations by undergraduate students from both institutions.  Dr. Pieter deHart, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Virginia Military Institute, delivered the Symposium’s keynote address entitled ““Feeding the Beast:  Explorations into the Feeding Ecology of Apex Predators.”  This engaging talk focused on work that Dr. deHart has conducted with several undergraduate students at VMI and included ecological studies on the feeding habits of a wide variety of predators, ranging from praying mantids to coyotes.  Following his keynote address, Dr. deHart interacted with several students during the Symposium’s poster session, which featured research conducted by undergraduates at both Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University.  12 H-SC students and 13 Longwood University students from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry presented their work, and this session provided an excellent opportunity for close interaction and sharing of ideas between students and faculty from both institutions.  To follow up on the success of the Symposium, Hampden-Sydney College will host an initiation ceremony in Spring 2015 for the induction of new student and faculty members to the Society.  

Keynote speaker Dr. Pieter deHart delivering his address to a full house!

Keynote speaker Dr. Pieter deHart delivering his address to a full house!

  

Just a sample of predators studied by Dr. deHart and his collaborating students!

Just a sample of predators studied by Dr. deHart and his collaborating students!

Dr. deHart interacting with students during the poster session

Longwood University student Jessica Littlefield presenting her research to Dr. deHart

Myshake Abdi '16 presenting his summer research to Wes Eure '16 and Jefferson Thompson '16

Jefferson Thompson ’16 (middle) presenting his summer research on free readicals to Myshake Abdi ’16 and Wes Eure ’16

Jay Brandt '15 presenting his research on immune responses to melanoma to James Lau'17

Jay Brandt ’15 presenting his research on immune responses to melanoma to James Lau’17

Stephen Woodall '15 explaining his research on prostate cancer to Dr. Nick Deifel from the H-SC Chemistry Department

Stephen Woodall ’15 explaining his research on prostate cancer to Dr. Nick Deifel from the H-SC Chemistry Department

Daniel Osarfo-Akoto learning about NKG2D signaling in T cells from tumor immunologists at Longwood University

Daniel Osarfo-Akoto ’15 learning about NKG2D signaling in T cells from Longwood University student and tumor immunologist Kelsey Trace

Several Longwood students presenting research conducting through the University's PRISM Summer Research Program

Several Longwood students presenting research conducting through the University’s PRISM Summer Research Program

Jay Brandt ’15 Presents Cancer Research at State Microbiology Meeting

On November 7, 2014 Jay Brandt ’15 presented his summer research at the Virginia Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology at James Madison University.  Jay’s poster, entitled “Ex vivo Analysis of the Impact of Melanoma-altered Dendritic Cells on CD8+ T Cell Differentiation,” was based on his work through the H-SC Honors Council’s Summer Research Program.  Jay worked in collaboration with Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 and studied the effector cytokine production and cytolytic activity of CD8+ T cells stimulated by melanoma-altered dendritic cells.  Jay will be attending Eastern Virginia Medical School following his graduation in 2015!

Jay Brandt '15 presenting his poster!

Jay Brandt ’15 presenting his poster!

Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 Publishes Major Review Article on Dendritic Cells

Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01, recently had a major review article published in the journal International Reviews of Immunology.  The article, entitled “Murine and Human Model Systems for the Study of Dendritic Cell Immunobiology,” highlights the tools and strategies employed by immunologists to study dendritic cells, a key regulatory cell type of the immune system that is critical for both the induction of immune activation and tolerance.  These cells play major roles in immunity to pathogens, transplant acceptance/rejection, autoimmunity, and anti-tumor immunity, and their impact on the field was the basis for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine that was awarded to three investigators who discovered and offered in-depth functional characterization of these cells.  In addition to emphasizing methodologies that have enabled experimental analyses of dendritic cells, Dr. Hargadon’s review also offers insights as to how the model systems currently in use to study these cells might be manipulated going forward to gain better a better understanding of the development and function of dendritic cells.  International Reviews of Immunology is published by Informa Healthcare and is one of the leading review journals in the field of immunology.  Dr. Hargadon’s research program focuses on the modification of dendritic cell function by tumors and how tumor-altered dendritic cells impact the quality of anti-tumor T cell responses.