Three Kalamazoo College chemistry majors presented at the 2015 Experimental Biology meeting, a joint meeting of six different societies including the American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) as well as societies for physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, pathology, and anatomy. More than 15,000 scientists attended the meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
Rina Fujiwara ’15, Sarah Glass ’17, and Victoria Osorio ’16 shared results of the research they did in collaboration with Professor of Chemistry Laura Furge. Their presentations were part of both the Undergraduate Poster Competition and as part of the regular scientific session for ASBMB. Some 300 undergraduate posters composed the ASBMB competition from students across the country and from a variety of college and universities.
Fujiwara’s work, part of her Senior Individualized Project (SIP), showed how the work of two human liver enzymes vital to the body’s processing of medicines is halted by two small molecule inhibitors. The research took place in the Furge lab at Kalamazoo College and was published in Drug Metabolism and Disposition (Fall 2014). Other co-authors included Furge, Amanda Bolles ’14, and Erran Briggs ’14.
Glass and Osorio presented a poster that centered on recent work in the Furge lab with variants of an enzyme responsible for metabolism (or processing in the body) of about 15 percent of all medicines. The presence of these enzyme variants in different individuals can lead to vastly different responses to some pharmaceutical drugs, including cough syrup, the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, and many more. Though not present at the meeting, Mike Glista ’06) and Parker de Waal ’13) were co-authors on the posters.
This summer Fujiwara will enter the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. Osorio and Glass will continue research with Furge this summer. Both plan to attend graduate school after graduating from Kalamazoo College.
At the Boston meeting Professor of Chemistry Regina Stevens-Truss once again directed her highly acclaimed HOPES project, connecting science teachers with practicing scientists to enhance the quality and hands-on authenticity of primary and secondary classroom science instruction.
Professors Furge and Stevens-Truss are members of the ASBMB and attend the meeting every year. Travel to ASBMB for students Fujiwara, Glass, and Osorio was supported by grants from the Richard J. Cook Research Fellowship Fund (Fujiwara), an award from the ASBMB Student Affiliate (Fujiwara), the Provost Office (Glass, Osorio), and a grant to Furge through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Travel for Furge and Truss was supported by the Hutchcroft Endowment as well as NIH and grants from ASBMB.