12 posts categorized "Cell and Molecular Biology"

10/05/2015

Lifestyle Factors Could Put College-Age Women at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer, Says USciences Prof

IMercier_250x350Breast cancer prevention needs to become a shared conversation among women of all ages because it can strike at any age and is generally more aggressive when diagnosed in women under the age of 50, said Isabelle Mercier, PhD, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at University of the Sciences. With hopes to spark that discussion, Dr. Mercier compiled some key prevention awareness tips for young women.

“Unfortunately, college-age women generally do not consider themselves at risk for breast cancer,” said Dr. Mercier. “However, there are several risk factors that contribute to the development of breast cancer that need to be understood early in life to prevent the development of breast cancer down the road.”

By the end of 2015, more than 231,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. Of those cases, approximately 40,000 individuals will not survive, said Dr. Mercier. Women in their early 20s need to become aware of some key risk factors associated with breast cancer:

  • Check your family tree. A family history of breast cancer, particularly in a mother or sister, can increase the chance for developing breast cancer. Genetic testing is recommended for young women with prevalence of breast cancer in their families.
  • Watch your weight. Obesity is responsible for up to 20 percent of cancer-associated deaths in women. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer by creating a cancer-friendly environment through fat cells.
  • Exercise regularly. Women who strive for at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity activity – like brisk walking – reduce their risk of breast cancer by 18 percent.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. According to research from Washington University School of Medicine, if a female averages a drink per day, her risk of breast cancer increases by 11 percent. Studies show that alcohol possesses estrogenic activity, thus promoting the growth of breast tumor cells.
  • Annual doc visits. Although mammograms are not recommended for women under the age of 40, young women should still see their primary care doctors each year for clinical breast exams. They are also encouraged to conduct self-examinations throughout the year.
  • Limit tobacco use. Women who smoke have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially if they become smokers early in life. Smokers have increased levels of both estrogen and testosterone that might disrupt the endocrine signaling in women and contribute to the development of these tumors.

An important part of Dr. Mercier's research focuses on cancer prevention. The role of vitamin C intake on breast cancer development, progression, recurrence and response to anti-cancer therapy remains unclear. That’s why Dr. Mercier and her research team at USciences are currently studying the role of dietary supplements on cancer risk, as well as evaluating new biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer. 

Media exposure:

KywOct. 8, 2015
Healthy College Lifestyles Can Help Women Prevent Breast Cancer
Audio1

Breast cancer is rare among college-age women, but lifestyle choices made during those years can be life-saving years later.

08/12/2015

College-Bound Students: Don’t Forget to Pack These Necessities, Says USciences Prof

Hewitt-3189Thousands of students across Greater Philadelphia will soon start the next chapter of their lives as they begin their college journeys away from home. But with their new freedom comes the exposure to millions of germs while living and studying in close quarters with others, said Stacey Gorski, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

“Because students share many of the same spaces and items in places such as residence halls and dining areas, many germs can spread quickly and easily,” said Dr. Gorski, who specializes in immunology. “It’s scary when you think about it, but the more you know about their risks, the better you can protect yourself.” 

So as students pack their bags with necessities like clothing, bed linens, accessories, and electronics, Dr. Gorski also encourages them to remember to pack the following items to help minimize their contact to germs:

  • Flip flops for the shower. Communal bathrooms in residence halls—thanks to their generally moist nature—are breeding grounds for germs, such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Shower sandals can help protect students from catching viruses that can cause warts and fungi that commonly cause athlete's foot.
  • Laundry detergent. Students are probably unaware that they are sharing their bed with bacteria, yeast, and other fungi that can lead to skin infections and respiratory issues. Regularly washing bed linens, changing pillows, and showering at night can help reduce the number of germs in a student’s bed. Students should also avoid using their beds as seating areas for guests.
  • Disinfectant wipes. Viruses like the norovirus—commonly associated with gastrointestinal disease on cruise ships, but also a rising cause for concern on college campuses—can live and potentially infect a person for up to 7 days after being deposited on a surface. That’s why it is a good idea to wipe down shared objects, such as eating areas, desks, doorknobs, and keyboards, daily with disinfectant wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer.  Although soap and water works best for killing germs, alcohol-based hand gels can work in a pinch, especially for individuals who use public transportation, or do not have access to a sink for extended periods of time.

On a more serious note, Dr. Gorski also urges college-bound students to consider getting the HPV and influenza vaccinations. Both males and females should receive the three-dose HPV vaccine to protect themselves against preventable cervical, mouth, and throat cancers. She also added that flu shots are the best way to protect students against influenza and possibly missing weeks of class due to the highly-contagious virus. 

MEDIA COVERAGE:

HealthAug. 21, 2015:
Add Germ Fighters to College Packing List

05/01/2015

Chemistry Prof Earns Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Chemical Science

MadhuMadhu Mahalingam, PhD, assistant chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of the Sciences, has been named the recipient of the Philadelphia Local Section of the American Chemical Society's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Chemical Science. She will accept her award during a ceremony held at the University on Thursday, May 21.

“My main goal as an educator is to improve my students’ understanding of chemistry, as well as expand their ability to apply their lessons to new situations and enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills,” said Dr. Mahalingam.

This distinct honor recognizes Dr. Mahalingam’s excellence in undergraduate teaching in chemical science at USciences, where she instructs a large general chemistry course to students in the pharmacy, physical therapy, and biology programs. She is the first professor from USciences to receive this award, which was established in 2003.

To be eligible to receive the award, a professor must teach at an academic institution within the geographical boundaries of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Chemical Society—which includes the counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks in Pennsylvania and Burlington and Camden in New Jersey.

10/28/2014

USciences Prez, Students and Faculty Attended Life Sciences Future in Philly

PABioLSF14_-138University of the Sciences President Dr. Helen-Giles Gee, as well as students and faculty from USciences, joined hundreds of life sciences leaders and innovators during the Life Sciences Future Conference on Oct. 13-14 in Philadelphia.

Life Sciences Future was a two-day event designed by Pennsylvania Bio to reflect the rapidly-evolving landscape in healthcare - which includes biopharma, medical device and diagnostics, healthcare IT, contract research organizations, medical research institutions, and the investment community.

The first day of the event kicked off with Life Sciences Future Symposium: Partnerships in Science, which was designed for an exclusive audience of academic researchers, such as USciences students and faculty, to explore best practices for engaging business development representatives at large companies as well as the next steps in developing their technologies. The second day of the conference was jam-packed with speakers, topics and features all related to advancing science and healthcare industries.

Dr. Giles-Gee and students had the opportunity to meet and speak with Michael Sofia, inventor of Sofosbuvir – known by the brand name Sovaldi, a hepatitis C therapy drug approved by the FDA last December.

“The sessions were outstanding and much appreciated by the faculty and students who attended," Dr. Giles-Gee.

10/27/2014

USciences Well-Represented at Annual UMBC Research Symposium

Bio research University of the Sciences was well-represented at the 17th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences held at University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Saturday, Oct. 25.

This annual event – sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health – showcased dozens of mentor-approved contributions from undergraduate students who investigated various aspects of chemistry, biology and biochemistry. 

Ashley Stewart MB'15 and Reecha Pandya BISci'15 joined Drs. Peter B. Berget and Matthew Farber, both professors in the Department of Biological Sciences, as they presented their research.

Stewart’s research, “Blood Sensors: Development of Biosensors for the Measurement of Factor Xa and Thrombin Concentrations in Blood,” aimed to advance diagnostic testing methods by creating a protein-based “detector” that can directly assess clotting measures in a patient’s blood. Dr. Berget, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, served as her research advisor for the project.

Pandya’s research, “Effect of Fermentation Parameters on Protease Activity in Beer” was intended to optimize beer fermentation conditions that minimize potential protease release, ultimately benefiting quality control for home brewers and commercial breweries. She conducted her research under the guidance of Drs. Farber and Berget. Dr. Farber is currently a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Berget specializing in cell biology and protein purification. 

06/18/2014

Nearly 100 Philly Middle Schoolers Explore STEM Careers at USciences

IMG_1861As part of an ongoing commitment to Philadelphia schools and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, University of the Sciences hosted its first Career Day for Middle School Students on May 9.

Held in conjunction with state Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), University City Science Center, and three local middle schools, a half-day program focusing on STEM careers was developed by USciences faculty and staff for nearly 100 local students from Samuel B. Huey School, Jubilee School, and The City School.

University president Helen Giles-Gee, PhD, kicked off the day with welcome remarks, which included her hope and expectation that one day the young students would attend USciences. The fifth-graders were also given a tour of USciences’ campus by student ambassadors, and participated in a science expo held by students and faculty from chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, pharmacy, and pharmacology/toxicology programs.

IMG_1829They had the opportunity to participate in hands-on demonstrations and experiments highlighting the STEM academic disciplines, and then experienced lunch in a college dining hall. The day wrapped up with a presentation on career interest and exploration.

Click here to see all photos from the day.

Participating staff and faculty, included: Kimberly Bryant, director of career services; Kevin Wolbach, interim associate dean of Misher College of Arts and Sciences; Catherine Bentzley, PhD, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Grace Farber, PhD, assistant professor of biology; Carl Walasek, statistics instructor; Scott Greene, director of the Student Excellence and Professional Preparation programs; Mary Kate McGinty, director of government and community affairs; and Danielle Stollak, program manager of University City Science Center's STEAM Initiatives.

06/11/2014

USciences Launches Free Open, Online Courses on iTunes U

ItunesuPeople of all ages and backgrounds across the world are one click away from experiencing a free education from University of the Sciences. That’s because the University recently launched two open, online courses on iTunes to allow individuals to explore the interdisciplinary teaching styles of some of its professors.

“These open, online courses are a tremendous opportunity for universities, like USciences, to draw attention to our high-quality curriculum and outstanding faculty,” said Mark H. Nestor, PhD, associate provost and chief information officer of academic affairs. “This type of forum also allows us to project our brand globally."

Available through a free app in the iTunes Store, iTunes U provides access to thousands of courses prepared by instructors worldwide, including the USciences courses which cover the topics of AIDS and the history of time. These courses are openly available to the public and are made up of several modules, or “lectures.” While enrollment for these online courses is not required, an iTunes account is needed to access them.

Muprhy
Dr. Murphy

Although the concept of the AIDS course was initially developed by Kevin Murphy, PhD, chair of the Department of Humanities; it was further enhanced by including a total of 33 lectures from an interdisciplinary team of USciences faculty. Michelle Ramirez, PhD, MPH, associate professor of anthropology; Samuel Talcott, PhD, assistant professor of philosophy; and Margaret A. Reinhart, director of the Medical Laboratory Science Program, each contributed lectures to this well-rounded course.

“By providing lectures from the medical science, anthropologic, and philosophic perspectives, participants of this course will be able to gather four different and pertinent angles to this international problem,” said Dr. Murphy. “Our course covers topics ranging from the cellular and medical dimensions of AIDS to the gender and ethical elements of the disease.”

Robson
Dr. Robson

Similarly, the second USciences course offered on iTunes aims to introduce students to the complex, mysterious, and often elusive nature of time. Spearheaded by history professor, Roy Robson, PhD, students who participate in this course will have the opportunity explore time through a multidisciplinary, historical, and multicultural approach covering diverse fields such as physics, medicine, psychology, sociology, religion, art, and philosophy.

“Although this free service provides self-paced courses without assessment or acknowledgement of completion, it has the potential to encourage students to continue their educations at USciences,” said Dr. Murphy.

Andrew Esposito, instructional designer in the Office of Academic Technology at USciences, developed and produced these courses on iTunes. To access USciences’ free courses via iTunes U, visit http://bit.ly/1kzQvTz.

Click here to listen to KYW Newsradio's June 18 segment regarding USciences' open, online courses.

04/11/2014

VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

 
 
6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
 
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students

02/24/2014

Alumni Seminar Series features Dr. Richard C. Remsing C’08

RemsingThe Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry brings prominent graduates back to their alma mater through its Alumni Seminar Series. On Feb. 17, alumnus Richard C. Remsing C'08, PhD, joined USciences for an accepted students “Chemistry Day.” He engaged prospective scholars with an active panel discussion and lectured for current students.

 “I hope to join a university faculty, begin teaching, and continue research,” Dr. Remsing said on his future goals. “I want to provoke passion in students about the incredible field of chemistry.”

After graduating from USciences in 2008, Dr. Remsing earned a doctorate degree in chemical physics from the University of Maryland. He currently holds a postdoctoral research position at University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering.

As an undergraduate commuter, Dr. Remsing had to fill a significant amount of time between classes with on-campus activities. Research fit this schedule nicely, and he published eight papers before completing his bachelors degree.

The team Dr. Remsing worked with during those years was the first to demonstrate an ecological method of extracting cellulose from wood – in other words: eco-friendly paper pulp. Dr. Remsing then moved from studying ionic liquids and other aspects of physical chemistry to the field of theoretical physics.

Today, he is a theorist: using computer systems to explain the principles governing molecular interactions and building models describing these findings.

“Statistical Mechanics was my favorite class at USciences,” said Dr. Remsing. “It was a preview of what I do now with computer simulation, and introduced me to a different type of research that I continue to use.”

02/06/2014

The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."

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