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K Students’ Research Relevant to Prescription Drug Discovery

Four Kalamazoo College chemistry students from Professor Laura Furge’s lab attended the Great Lakes Drug Metabolism and Disposition Discussion Group annual meeting on May 4 and 5 in Kalamazoo. The entourage included three – Sarah Glass ’17, Christi Cho ’17 and Cydney Martell ’19 – who presented their research regarding enzymes that help the human body interact with and process prescription drugs. Their research is relevant to prescription drug discovery and treating diseases, especially in predicting how individuals will respond to their medications.

Student Research Relevant to Prescription Drug Discovery

Cydney Martell ’19 is one of three students who presented their research regarding enzymes that help the human body interact with and process prescription drugs at the the Great Lakes Drug Metabolism and Disposition Discussion Group annual meeting. Their research is relevant to prescription drug discovery and treating diseases, especially in predicting how individuals will respond to their medications.

Cho – a chemistry major from Anchorage, Alaska – says her studies could help advance clinical research that ensures drugs won’t build up to toxic levels or negatively interact with other prescription drugs. She will attend the University of Washington as a graduate student starting this fall, where she has received a Graduate School Top Scholar Award to help fund her education. Yet K has made an impression on her.

“The faculty make a really good effort to create a friendly learning environment,” Cho said. “Chemistry be challenging at times. They try to bring the fun into every aspect of it.”

Glass – from Shelbyville, Mich. – in addition to presenting research, organized and planned the event’s luncheon, providing students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and pharmaceutical industry representatives with networking opportunities. Glass majored in chemistry at K, minored in math with a biochemistry concentration, and finished her undergraduate studies in December after just 3 1/3 years. She will start pursuing a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University this fall.

At K, “all the chemistry faculty are extremely helpful and knowledgeable,” Glass said. “Students get a lot of hands-on experience through labs and have opportunities to get involved in research early on.”

Martell – a chemistry major from Gull Lake, Mich. – plans to further her research in K labs this summer.

“For me the annual meeting was a great experience to see how the topics I have learned in biochemistry and through research can be used to understand and critically think about current research in industry and academia.” Martell plans to attend graduate school after K, where she will earn a Ph.D. She is leaning toward teaching research in her professional career.

K chemistry major and Furge lab research associate Sabrina Leddy ’19 also attended the meeting. K Visiting Professor Kyle Furge took the 13 students from his advanced biochemistry course to the meeting’s opening plenary.

The Great Lakes Drug Metabolism and Disposition Group website says the group:

  • provides opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and senior-level associates from regional universities to meet pharmaceutical scientists and pharmacologists from various academic and industrial backgrounds;
  • promotes regional visibility of the discipline of drug metabolism and disposition science;
  • facilitates informal dialogue between pharmaceutical partners and academic laboratories; and
  • enriches interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for those interested in drug metabolism and disposition.