Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 Receives $125,000 Grant from Commonwealth Health Research Board for Melanoma Research

Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 was recently awarded a 2-year grant for $125,000 from the Commonwealth Health Research Board to support his research program focusing on immune suppression by melanoma.  The aims of this grant are to investigate the nature and mechanism of melanoma-altered dendritic cell function and to explore how melanoma-altered dendritic cells influence the quality of T cell activation.  This work builds on previous research conducted by Dr. Hargadon and collaborating students at Hampden-Sydney College that had been funded by a Jeffress Memorial Fellowship from the Virginia Academy of Science.  Studies conducted with this earlier funding demonstrated that melanoma-derived factors are capable of altering the functionality of dendritic cells, an immune cell type that plays a critical role in the induction, maintenance, and regulation of T cell responses.  Because T cells have the capacity to eradicate tumors, it is important to understand factors that may impact their activation.  Funds from this CHRB grant will enable Dr. Hargadon to investigate both how melanoma tumor cells suppress dendritic cell function and how these altered dendritic cells impact the quality of T cell responses.  These studies will contribute significantly to our understanding of tumor immune evasion, and they have the potential to identify novel targets for immune therapies designed to prevent melanoma-associated immune suppression and promote robust anti-tumor immune responses.  Importantly, this funding will also enable Dr. Hargadon to involve several additional Hampden-Sydney College students in his research program.

The Commonwealth Health Research Board was founded in 1997 with a mission “to promote and protect the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth through human health research.” Since its establishment, the CHRB has funded over $12 million in research grants to institutions of higher education and other organizations that include the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, and William & Mary College, among others.  Dr. Hargadon’s grant is the first ever awarded to Hampden-Sydney College.

Congratulations Biology Class of 2014!

Majors:

Daniel Adams            J. Drake Bishop            David Coe

Walker Cole               Zachary Cranston         Tom Drury

Meade Edmunds       Will Funk                      Corey Geiger

Carter Guice              Jason Haas                 Jonathan Halmo

Brett Heyder              Blake Hutchinson        James Hughes

Thomas Isom            Nick Kuhlman              Christian Lehman

Will Midkiff                Hakeem Mohammed    Tyler Mullins

Chris Myers              Jackson Parker             Francis Polakiewicz

Dalton Renick           Putney Smith                Andrew Sperr

Harry Squire             Bryan Talbert                 Chris Thompson

Gio Torres                Will Turner

The 2014 majors as represented on cake

The 2014 majors as represented on cake

Minors:

John Dekarske          Alan Fish                    John Fitzgerald

Taylor Redmond       David Williams

 

A special congratulations goes to J. Drake Bishop for winning the Phi Beta Kappa Jones Prize at Commencement.  The Jones Prize is awarded to the best academic paper written by a Hampden-Sydney student during the academic year.  Drake is the third consecutive Biology Department graduate to receive this prize.

 

 

 

Biology awards at H-SC’s Final Convocation

Each year the College holds a ceremony to honor outstanding student achievement over the past academic year.  The Biology Department gives two awards at this ceremony each year.  This first award, the James R.T. Hewett Award, is given to the graduating senior “…for promise in research and meritorious service to the department.”  This year’s award went to J. Drake Bishop ’14, who has served the Biology Department since his first semester on campus in both support and academic capacities:

Dr. Ed Lowry, Assistant Professor of Biology, presents Drake Bishop '14 with the Hewett Award

Dr. Ed Lowry, Assistant Professor of Biology, presents Drake Bishop ’14 with the Hewett Award

The H.B. Overcash Award is given each year to the top premedical student in the rising senior class.  This year’s award was split between Chris Ferrante ’15 and Aaron Gilani ’15.

Dr. Lowry with Chris Ferrante '15

Dr. Lowry with Chris Ferrante ’15

Dr. Lowry and Aaron Gilani '15

Dr. Lowry and Aaron Gilani ’15

The Biology Department was also proud to witness another of its graduating seniors, Thomas Isom ’14, receive the Student Government Outstanding Club/Organization Award on behalf of Hampden-Sydney’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

Damien Sharp '15 presents the Student Government Outstanding Club/Organization Award to Thomas Isom '14

Damien Sharp ’15 presents the Student Government Outstanding Club/Organization Award to Thomas Isom ’14

 

 

Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 Publishes Editorial

Elliot Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 recently published an editorial article entitled “The Role of Tumor/Dendritic Cell Interactions in the Regulation of Anti-tumor Immunity: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” for a Research Topic in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Immunology.  Following his publication of an article in Cellular Immunology on melanoma-associated suppression of dendritic cells, Dr. Hargadon was approached by Frontiers in Immunology and asked to serve as Guest Editor for a special issue on tumor/dendritic cell interactions.  This special issue includes 17 articles from leading tumor immunologists around the world who are researching the interactions between tumors and dendritic cells, a cell type of the immune system that regulates anti-tumor immune responses.  In addition to his Editorial article, Dr. Hargadon published his own review article on tumor-altered dendritic cell function in 2013 as part of this Research Topic.  Other contributors to this special issue include Rolf Zinkernagel (the 1996 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) and investigators from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of Virginia, and oncology/hematology/tumor immunology research centers in Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.  Frontiers in Immunology is the official journal of the International Union for Immunological Societies, and this special issue is sure to bring focused attention both to recent advances in our understanding of tumor/dendritic cell interactions and to questions that remain to be answered in the field as these and other investigators aim to improve the quality of dendritic cell-mediated immune responses in cancer patients.

The Editorial for this Research Topic may be accessed at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fimmu.2014.00178/full

Two H-SC Biology Majors Secure Prestigious Summer Heart Institute Internship

Aaron Gilani ’15 and Evan Harris ’16, two Hampden-Sydney Biology majors, recently secured summer internships at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and Honors College Summer Heart Institute.  These students will work alongside Dr. Ranny Chitwood, an H-SC alumnus (class of 1968) and now Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Sr. Vice Chancellor at ECU.  Dr. Chitwood is recognized as the first heart surgeon to perform robot-assisted heart valve surgery in the United States.  Congratulations to Aaron and Evan on their selection to this prestigious summer program!

2014 Biology Honors Projects

This year, the H-SC Biology Department is proud to recognize 5 of its graduating seniors for their departmental honors research work.  J. Drake Bishop ’14 completed a project on tumor immunology and will attend Eastern Virginia Medical School in the fall.

J. Drake Bishop '14

J. Drake Bishop ’14

Brett Heyder ’14 investigated the identity of bacterial strains responsible for epidemics of dysentery in 17th century England.  He will attend Eastern Virginia Medical School in the fall.

Brett Heyder '14

Brett Heyder ’14

James Hughes ’14 worked on the genomics of a strain of mycobacteriophage isolated and characterized at Hampden-Sydney as part of a national Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) student research initiative.  He will attend the Mercer University School of Medicine in the fall.

James Hughes '14

James Hughes ’14

Christian Lehman competed a project involving the cloning of bacterial genes that could be used to develop a long-term treatment for lactose intolerance.  Christian will be applying to Ph.D. programs in molecular biology this fall.

Christian Lehman '14

Christian Lehman ’14

Francis Polakiewicz ’14 worked on the development of mathematical models that could predict the spread of disease through a given population.  He is deciding between masters degree programs in biomathematics for this fall.

Francis Polakiewicz '14

Francis Polakiewicz ’14

H-SC Biology Student Accepted to Summer Pre-Med Preparatory Program

Myshake Abdi ’16 has been accepted to the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio for the summer of 2014.  The Case Western Reserve SMDEP works “….. to identify, recruit, and assist in preparing as many highly talented, committed, and hard-working minority and economically disadvantaged students as possible for careers in dentistry and medicine. We hope to imbue our students with the confidence and skills necessary to allow them to return to school better prepared to perform well in more rigorous basic science and math classes.”  Acceptance to an SMDEP program is competitive and is offered to students who have shown great potential for a successful future in the biomedical sciences.

Myshake Abdi '16

Myshake Abdi ’16

 

An update from Dr. Werth

Dr. Alex Werth has been on sabbatical for the 2013-14 academic year, focusing on his research on feeding in baleen whales.  His work has recently been featured on a pair of websites dedicated to marine science.  The first, found at http://deepseanews.com/2014/04/why-do-beluga-whales-have-love-handles, describes work Dr. Werth did in 2012 to establish how beluga whales use abdominal fat pads to stabilize themselves.  The second, http://www.wildinblue.com/featured.html, comes from a website that bills itself as “Wikipedia meets TED talks” and features an interview with Dr. Werth describing his use of 3D printing with collaborators in The Netherlands to simulate baleen. Dr. Werth will spend April in Alaska working on his research and will return to full-time duty at Hampden-Sydney in the fall.

Wednesday afternoon at the Biology Department

Wednesdays are busy at the Biology Department on the first floor of Gilmer Hall–five laboratories are running concurrently. At the east end of the hall, Dr. Lowry’s ecology students are getting their hands dirty collecting the rhizomes of hops (Humulus lupus) plants from the pots in which they have spent the winter. The hops plants will be used in Dr. Lowry’s breeding program to develop a vigorous hops that will grow in this area and can be used to brew local beers. Just across the hall, Dr. Shear’s biodiversity students are constructing Baermann Pans they will use to extract meiofauna from samples of soil and moss. Later, they will spend most of the afternoon on a detailed dissection of a squid, an animal with a body plan radically different from our own. A little further down, Dr. Gorski is running a lab full of introductory students getting their first exposure to restriction enzymes and electrophoresis through a simulation of DNA forensics. Meanwhile, Dr. Wolyniak has his genetics class working with their laptops to find homologous sequences of a gene they are studying on BLAST in order to trace its evolution. At the west end of the hall, Dr. Hargadon’s  immunology lab works to purify RNA from dendritic cell lysates.  The lysates came from the spleens of mice that had received different treatments.  Over the next few weeks, the students will perform reverse transcription and real-time PCR to quantify the expression of the IP-10 chemokine gene.

Our department believes in giving undergraduate students a broad background in all areas of biology, as well as providing stimuli that will raise questions among students and encourage them to embark on their own research investigations.  A typical Wednesday afternoon is just one example of how we do this!

H-SC Students, Faculty Inducted into Sigma Xi

On Tuesday, March 18, five H-SC students and two H-SC Biology professors were inducted into the Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College Chapter of Sigma Xi, the international honorary Scientific Research Society!  These new members were recognized for their excellence in scientific research and their ongoing commitment to foster collaboration and communication among the scientific community.  The new initiates pictured below from left to right are: Giovanni Torres ’14, Dr. Ed Lowry, Christian Lehman ’14, Lee Ayscue ’15, Dr. Rachel Goodman, Emily Whitman (Longwood University), Heaven Cerritos (Longwood University), and Dr. Dale Beach (Longwood University).  Not pictured are John Dekarske ’14 and Dane Asuigui ’16.  Congratulations to our newest members of Sigma Xi!

Sigma Xi Initiates 2014