Mentor Search_Summer 2018 Projects

Christiana Care Health Systems

Alfred Bacon — Infectious Complications of Injection Drug Use (IDU)

To investigate the full array and severity of bacterial infections leading to hospitalization in the Injection Drug user (IDU) population at one center.
Since 2010 with the burgeoning epidemic of injection drug use (IDU) a perception exists of increasing resources being required to manage and treat infectious disease complications of IDU. The increasing use of injection drugs and widening techniques of delivery have been recently identified (reference). The IDU population has typically demonstrated a wide distribution of infections including bacteremia, endocarditis, spinal epidural abscesses, and skin and soft tissue {1,2,3). Pathogens historically include Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA and MSSA), Pseudomonas spp , gram- negative rods, and streptococcal spp (1,2,3 ). Habits and behavior patterns can be reflected in pathogens such as Eikenella corrodens associated with needle licking behavior.
We seek to explore the current/recent status of these infectious complications of IDU in the CCHS admission population with these disease states. This retrospective study will evaluate these infectious disease diagnoses back to 2010-felt to be the ""beginning"" of the accelerated time frame of the IDU epidemic. Specific disease states to be studied will include bacteremia, endocarditis, septic phlebitis, cellulitis, cutaneous abscess, epidural abscess, meningitis and spinal osteomyelitis.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Michelle L Axe — Integrating geriatric, physiatry and exercise physiology sessions into senior health: A retrospective evaluation of a falls prevention program at Christiana Care Health System

Most falls by seniors are due to balance, gait and vision problems; medications; environmental issues such as clutter and poor lighting; muscle weaknesses; and chronic conditions that affect joints, feet and legs.
With the collaboration of clinicians who specialize in geriatrics, physical medicine and falls rehabilitation; exercise physiologists; social workers; and nurse navigators, Safe Steps addresses each of these factors and provides comprehensive medical evaluations and individualized treatment plans.
The physicians evaluate the following fall prediction measurements during the patients’ initial visit and during their 4-6 week follow-up visit: the Timed Up and Go Test with Gait Observations, the 30-Second Chair Stand Test, Environment Evaluation and the Falls Efficacy Scale.
It is hypothesizes that the individualized treatment plans provided by Safe Step clinicians will improve the fall prediction measurements' scores, therefore reducing the risk of falls. Furthermore, these treatment plans are hypothesized to be associated with a significant reduction in emergency room visits (with and without fracture) and hospital length of stay due to falls.
Student will need to familiarize themselves with the program through on-site observational visits; develop electronic surveys in REDCap; code, enter, and clean data; and conduct pre/post analyses.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Luis Cardenas — Goal Directed Fluid Therapy Management In Large Ventral Hernia Patients Improves Outcomes

Fluid management in the surgical patient is critical to maintain normal hemodynamic status. Normalized hemodynamic status has been shown to improve outcomes and decrease complications. Under resuscitation often leads to decreased cardiac output, decreased tissue perfusion and the need for ionotropic agents and often ICU admissions. Over resuscitation can lead to similar complications, such as increased need for ventilatory support, poor wound healing and prolonged hospital stays. Optimized surgical care strives to achieve euvolemia to obtain homeostasis and avoid complications. Historically, this has been difficult to achieve secondary to inability to monitor fluid status in real time. Goal directed fluid therapy, utilizing stroke volume (SV), allows us to overcome this limitation. We plan to look at complex, large ventral hernia repairs during the perioperative and operative periods to determine if SV directed fluid management improves outcomes in this high risk patient population compared to our historical norms.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Melanie Chichester — Evaluating third stage of labor in second trimester deliveries 2017.

The purpose of this study is to determine at what point/after how long a retained placenta is unlikely to spontaneously deliver after second trimester delivery, so that intervention may take place in a timely manner to reduce maternal risks. We will compare spontaneous 2nd trimester deliveries, those which are inevitable but augmented, and additionally inductions for intrauterine fetal demise occurring in the 2nd trimester to see if there are differences in the failure curves between these three groups. Additionally, this study will examine the prevalence of retained placenta after second trimester delivery based on cause (preterm labor, cervical insufficiency, PPPROM, etc.). With the recent ability to add mifepristone to care, a comparison will be made looking at those patients who have been given this medication and length of third stage of labor. We hypothesize that by using a failure curve, a determination can be made after what time interval the placenta is unlikely to spontaneously delivery and intervention, whether manual removal or surgical removal, should commence to reduce maternal risks and allow for discharge planning.

This mentor works the midnight shift at CCHS. The student must be able to work at least 50% of their time with this mentor during her shift.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Melanie Chichester — Emergency and inpatient health services received by women during the postpartum period.

The purpose of this study is to 1) Quantify the use and cost of emergency and inpatient care by women during the first postpartum year, and 2) Identify risk factors for emergency and inpatient care by women during the first postpartum year in order to make recommendations for identification of at risk women and make recommendations for practice changes.

This mentor works the midnight shift at CCHS. The student must be able to work at least 50% of their time with this mentor during her shift.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Melanie Chichester — LARC Use fter adverse pregnancy outcomes

LARC Use fter adverse pregnancy outcomes - Choice of contraception after a preterm birth, 2nd trimester pregnancy los, or stillbirth, then subsequent pregnancy/birth spacing.

This mentor works the midnight shift at CCHS. The student must be able to work at least 50% of their time with this mentor during her shift.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Melanie Chichester — Effectiveness of Fetal Kick Counts - Did we make a difference?

Effectiveness of Fetal Kick Counts - Did we make a difference?  Look at pre/post implementation and stillbirth rates.

This mentor works the midnight shift at CCHS. The student must be able to work at least 50% of their time with this mentor during her shift.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Mark Cipolle — Decompressive Craniectomy for Patient with Severe Traumatic Brain Injury, Predicting Outcomes

Background Information:
Decompressive craniectomy for the management of traumatic brain injury continues to be an evolving therapy within the current treatment guidelines of TBI. It currently is viewed as a last resort following failure of medical therapy. More recent studies have started to evaluate the role of early decompressive craniectomy for the treatment of severe traumatic brain injury with mixed results. However these studies have not addressed those patient characteristics that may help predict patient response to a decompressive craniectomy. At our institution we have a significant experience with patients with severe traumatic brain injury and have a large cohort of patients that have undergone a decompressive craniectomy for management of their injury.
Purpose:
The purpose of this study is to determine the utility of decompressive craniectomy in patients with severe TBI as well as to identify patient and injury characteristics that may help predict both positive and negative responses to decompressive craniectomy in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. Outcomes include mortality as well as functional outcomes as described by the Extended Glascow Outcome Score which will be conducted by a phone interview with the patient or their surrogate.
Hypothesis:
Our hypothesis is that decompressive craniectomy improves both mortality and functional outcomes in patients presenting with severe TBI.
Risk and Benefit:
This study is retrospective and therefore poses no increased risk to the patient enrolled. The potential benefit is improved knowledge regarding which patients with severe traumatic brain injury will benefit from decompressive craniectomy.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Mark Cipolle — Right Patient, Right Place, Right Time: Field Triage and Direct Transfer of Trauma Patients to Level I Trauma Center

Introduction and Background: Care of the trauma patient is predicated on the idea of expedient evaluation and triage to a facility capable of handling the complexity of injuries sustained. As such, the Center for Disease Control as well as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma have established guidelines for the appropriate triage of patients from the site of injury to an appropriate level of care. However, these guidelines are recommendation alone and individual programs in each state are responsible for the process of triage in the field.
It is also established that patients who require transfer to a higher level of care have worse outcomes compared to patients who are triaged directly to the highest level trauma center within the system thus precluding the need to transfer from one hospital to another. Field triage has also been evaluated with regards to patient outcomes and there have been variable results for patients who ultimately require transfer to a higher level of care.
Hypothesis: Patients who require transfer to a higher level of care will have similar outcomes to those triaged directly from the field to a level I trauma center.
Patient Selection Criteria:
Retrospective cohort study of adult patients with traumatic injury treated in Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware from 2013 to 2017.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Andrew Doorey — Professional Communication

Multi-year assessment of adequacy of communication for orders in cardiac catheterization lab (ie., closed loop read-back) and various QA attempts to improve. As part of this study, a trained observer records the response of staff to all physician orders and responses are categorized.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Justin Glasgow — Disparities in care of LGB patients

The study will be exploring a nationally representative survey (NHANES) to identify disparities associated with the care of lesbian, gay, and bisexual patients. The survey data covers approximately a decade of surveys and allows assessment for disparities in the rates of acute and chronic conditions as well as assessment of how providers have communicated with patients regarding care and management of these chronic conditions. The research opportunity would include the opportunity to explore research regarding implicit bias in healthcare as well as analyze data regarding a chosen chronic condition.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Jennifer Goldstein — Over-The-Counter Insulin: How big of a problem is this?

Eight years ago, Walmart and Sam’s Club began selling an inexpensive brand of insulin called Relion, which is available over-the-counter. Insulin can be a potentially dangerous, in fact deadly drug and if used without medical supervision. It is unknown how many patients use over-the-counter insulin. The objective of this study is to obtain data from pharmacists at Walmart and Sams’ Club across the country regarding the frequency of sale of over-the- counter insulin. The student will be responsible for administering surveys by phone to pharmacists regarding over-the-counter insulin, collecting and analyzing the data.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Raymond Green — Predictive Patterns in Traumatic Pelvic Fractures within a Level 1 Trauma Center

This will be a retrospective review of trauma patients who sustained pelvic fractures, to determine if there are predictive patterns to incidence of fracture. The study will also look at what part of the trauma response the fracture was identified in and if there is a difference in the sensitivities of different assessment tools such as physical exam, x-ray and CT scan. Data will be compared over the last several years with data compiled after a new screening modality using pelvic x-rays in the Emergency Dept. (ED) is instituted in January 2018.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Caitlin Halbert — Utilization of Very Low Calorie Diet in Obese General Surgery Patients

The utilization of very low calorie diets (VLCD) has been widely accepted in the bariatric surgery population. It is used to provide rapid weight loss, in particular reducing excessive intrahepatic deposition of fat, thus facilitating a safer technical surgery. Studies have shown a trend towards reduced perceived difficulty and intraoperative complications with use of the VLCD preoperatively. VLCD has also been shown to improve fasting glucose in diabetics and reduce severity indices in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Small prospective studies have shown a reduction in technical difficulty procedures, such as laparoscopic surgery, in the obese population.
Our team would like to organize a prospective study comparing the use of VLCD regimens preoperatively in obese patients (BMI > 35) undergoing general surgery to our current standards. We would enroll patients
during their initial consultations with the general surgeons and randomize them to either VLCD or control arms. The surgeons will be blinded to the randomization. We will be following clinical outcomes such as
operative length of case, hospital length of stay, blood loss and 30-day complications and readmissions. We will also survey surgeons regarding their perceived technical difficulty of the case.

This internship will take place at Wilmington Hospital.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Daniel Meara — Subjective changes in mood and pain, status-post IV Ketamine for outpatient Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery procedures.

The Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Christiana Care Health System performs approximately 400 intravenous sedations per year and often employs Ketamine for its sedative and pain reduction properties. Further, recent reports suggest that patients with a diagnosis of depression have noted improvement of symptoms after IV Ketamine. Also, Ketamine is being employed for chronic pain management. Thus, the goal of the INBRE study would be to assess subjective changes in mood and pain after IV Ketamine for outpatient oral surgery.

This internship will take place at Wilmington Hospital.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Sandra Medinilla — Violence Board at CCHS

According to the CDC’s report on Wilmington’s gun epidemic, patients are at an increased risk of being involved in firearm violence if they have previously been brought to CCHS with a gunshot wound, stab wound, assault, suicide attempt or any escort to the ER by police. National evidence and best practices for firearm violence reduction revolve around hospital-based violence intervention programs that quickly and tenaciously connect patients at the time of injury in the ED to a variety of social services that then prevent violence perpetration or re-victimization.
Following the publication of the CDC’s findings, the Community Advisory Council has already convened several high level stakeholders from across multiple community, city, and state agencies including the Departments of Justice, Education, Public Health, and Labor,
CCHS, Nemours, school districts, and the United Way. The Community Advisory Council’s express purpose is to streamline access to services; however, the council’s ability to identify individuals and to implement meaningful, actionable feedback has been very limited due to barriers related to data sharing.
A new group of concerned physicians, nurses, social workers, and other hospital leaders has been created to address violence within the City of Wilmington. This new group, the Violence Injury Review Board, is tasked with looking upstream from the trauma bay to identify clinical scenarios when the patient affected by gun violence could have had an intervention. This will serve as a template for how the Violence Injury Review Board can intervene with its partners. The purpose of the board is similar to a “tumor board” and will include high level stakeholders from across the community to identify trends and new risk factors in violent injuries.
The INBRE scholar will be asked to review the trauma database for cases of patients who have been shot and may even be calling some of our patients for feedback on their care. This is part of a larger grant that has not yet be

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Shirin Modarai — ALDH isoforms in colon cancer stem cells

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer affecting both men and woman, and it is estimated that there will be 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer annually. While current anti-cancer therapies increase patient survival rates, one of the major problems still associated with colorectal cancer is tumor recurrence, which has a 20% recurrence rate.
The chemotherapeutics that are used for treatment of colorectal cancer target the actively diving cells but miss the dormant, slow growing cancer cells of the tumor that can give rise to new tumors later on. The goal of my research is to identify the specific subset of these dormant colon cancer cells that are responsible for tumor initiation and progression.
We are able to procure human patient samples from the hospital and analyze individual cells from patients normal and cancerous colon tissues, and see what specific proteins (i.e. ALDH isoforms) the cells express.
Moving forward, we can analyze specific proteins of interest (ALDH isoforms) in the lab and perform experiments to see what role each protein plays in the initiation, progression, metastasis and recurrence of colorectal cancer. The ongoing experiments will require experience in techniques such as cell and tissue culture, siRNA knockdowns to test functionality of proteins, western blots to look for protein changes, RT-PCR to look for mRNA changes, flow cytometry to isolate and analyze individual cells, and finally drug treatments to measure how changes in specific proteins render cancer cells sensitive to various chemotherapeutics.
Ultimately, this will lead to a better understanding of colon cancer biology and to more innovative targeted therapies to prevent colorectal cancer recurrence.

This internship will take place at the Helen F. Graham Center in Newark.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Roshan Modi — Does reducing the dose of intravenous contrast reduce the risk of contrast-induced nephropathy for CT scans?

With patient that have reduced kidney function, we sometimes reduce the volume of iodinated contrast given however it is unclear if this actually reduces the risk that the patient develops contrast-induced nephropathy. I would like to retrospectively do a chart review comparing the kidney function tests of patients that received a full dose of intravenous contrast compared to those that received a reduced dose to see if there is a statistical difference.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Stephen Pearlman — Antropometric measurements in growing premature infants

Providing adequate nutrition for optimal growth can be a challenge in preterm infants. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious and potentially life threatening illness that affects primarily preterm infants. One of the risk factors for NEC is rapid advances in feeding.
Weight is traditionally the measure of growth most relied upon, perhaps because it is easiest to measure. Length and head circumference are more difficult to standardize and show greater variation. Yet there are data that show that long term neurodevelopmental outcomes are closely linked to linear growth and head size.
Our study proposal is to standardize the methodology for measuring a population of stable preterm infants who no longer require respiratory support. The student will learn to measure head circumference in a consistent fashion using a head circumference lasso. These measurements will be compared to those done by the nurses who will use the standard measuring tape method. The student will also be instructed on how to measure length using a length board. The amount of variation in the two methods will be statistically compared.
Furthermore, the student will collect information regarding each baby’s daily intake of nutrition. The total caloric intake, protein, carbohydrate and fat will be calculated based on the type and quantity of milk intake including any additives to the milk. Correlations will then be performed between growth parameters and daily intake of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates to help determine the optimal amount and type of feeding for this population of preterm infants.
With supervision the student learner will be able to:
• Reliably perform anthropometric measurements in babies
•Collect and organize data using Excel
• Carry out simple calculations and elementary statistical analysis
• Draft a manuscript describing the findings suitable for publication.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Jennifer Piaskowski — Pilot Study for the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Trial: An evaluation of the use of TENS for early discomfort in laboring patients

Studies on the effectiveness of TENS for pain control have shown conflicting results. A review of four randomized control trials describing the effectiveness of TENS on chronic low back pain suggested that TENS is not clearly more effective than a placebo. A pilot study will be conducted and 50 patients enrolled to train nurses, midwives and doctors on the use of TENS in labor. The research team will also analyze maternal perception of pain control and satisfaction from 37 weeks of gestation throughout labor with use of the TENS unit as compared to standard analgesic to determine the optimal timing of TENS placement to achieve the most effective pain relief and satisfaction for the patient. The specific objectives of this study will be to:
• To be the resource person who assists staff on the correct application and use of TENS equipment for laboring women.
• To assess the overall impact on pain control and satisfaction ratings of the labor and delivery process in mothers following the implementation of using an issued TENS units for early labor pain management from in the OB Triage department.
• To determine optimal timing of enrolling patients into prospective TENS study.
To provide mutually beneficial experience for Mentor, Mentee and obstetrical team via providing support in getting patients enrolled in the study.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Adam Raben — Investigating the outcomes of moderate de-escalated approach to HPV-HN of the tonsil and base of tongue.

Investigating the outcomes of moderate de-escalated approach to HPV-HN of the tonsil and base of tongue.

Location of internship will be at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Bradley Sandella — Bone health and fragility fractures

Every year two-million fragility fractures are caused by osteoporosis. Patients suffering fragility fractures are at a higher risk of additional fractures. In addition, they have many co-morbidities and are an increased mortality risk.
Simple interventions can decrease the risk of a fragility fracture. Multidisciplinary bone health programs like The Strong Bones Program at Christiana Care Health System have significantly lowered fracture risk in our community by educating patients about osteoporosis and falls while coordinating care with primary care physicians and orthopedic surgeons.
As we move closer to our goal of dramatically reducing fragility fractures we would like to create a registry of all the fragility fracture patients that interface with our system. Once a comprehensive list is created, we can analyze the data to evaluate for trends, additional risk factors, and social determinants that place this population as well as future patients at risk. In addition, this information can help prove the hypothesis that hip fractures increase morbidity and mortality

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Jennifer Sims Mourtada — Disparaties in breast cancer risks and treatment

The state of Delaware has a high incidence of an aggressive form of breast cancer known as Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). In the united states and in Delaware, TNBC is occurs more frequently in African Americans. Moreover, African American breast cancer specific mortality is higher than that for Caucasians. The goal of this project is to identify risk factors that may lead to TNBC, or may affect outcomes of therapy and identify any potential racial disparities. We will examine potential differences in comorbidities, access to care and genetic screening, and other risk factors that may affect breast cancer patients in Delaware.

This internship will take place at the Helen F. Graham Center in Newark.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Sherry Sixta — Blunt Cardiac Injury in Trauma

Blunt cardiac injury (BCI), as the name implies, involves injuries to the heart sustained by blunt trauma (think a chest crashing into a steering wheel in a high-speed motor vehicle collision). These injuries range from silent to transient arrhythmia to deadly. Reported clinical injuries have been found less than in autopsy. This may mean that clinically silent injuries go diagnosed or that blunt cardiac injuries lead to more deaths. Diagnosis generally is performed with EKG and serum troponin as these methods are fast and inexpensive. In our improvement project, we aim to show the feasability of TEE in trauma patients who may have an undiagnosed BCI.
Because these injuries are often associated with other traumatic injuries such as rib fractures, sternal fractures (breast bone fractures), pulmonary contusions (bruising), and pneumothorax (collapsed lung), our project aims to identify patients who have not been diagnosed with a BCI but have a higher probability of suffering from this process. We are hoping to find that this improves outcomes for our most critically ill patients.
We are currently in the data-collecting phase of this project. As the student working on this project, your job would be to assist in data collection and analysis. You will be part of a team comprised of Dr. Sherry Sixta, trauma surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth McCarthy, surgical resident, Dr. Sarah Shaw, Surgical Critical Care Fellow, and John Getchell, trauma research nurse supervisor.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Shannon Virtue — Psychosocial Adjustment and Coping after Cancer Treatment

The focus of this research program is to better understand trajectories of psychosocial distress and coping among individuals who are completing curative cancer treatment in order to inform psychological interventions during this critical transition period. There is research and anecdotal literature suggesting the months immediately following the end of cancer treatment can be marked by disruption and distress. There is a need to develop brief psychological interventions during this transitional period that promote long-term quality of life and adaptive coping among cancer survivors. The research program involves three goals: 1) examine the trajectory of psychological distress and quality of life among individuals prior to and immediately following completion of cancer treatment, 2) identify an optimal time for psychological intervention aimed at reducing distress and improving coping during the transitional period, 3) describe patient perspectives on psychological needs during this time period, and 4) develop a brief intervention aimed at promoting psychological adjustment and coping during the transitional period from active treatment to survivorship among cancer patients. The research program involves collecting survey data from cancer patients, utilizing statistical software to analyze data, and program development.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Robert Dressler — Improving Patient Education about Opioid Analgesics

This team aims to increase patients’ understanding of opioid analgesia and increase knowledge of opioid alternatives for all patients cared for on the surgical trauma intensive care unit that are given an opioid analgesic during their hospital stay. The long term goal is to reduce the overuse of opioid analgesia to manage pain in this population.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Robert Dressler — CLABSI Reduction through Improved Monitoring of the Care and Maintenance of Central Venous Access Devices

This project aims to decrease the number of central line associated blood stream infections (CLABSI) on a medical unit by 50% within 12 months. CLABSIs are preventable harm which can lead to mortality, extended length of hospital stay and increased costs of care. Previous efforts have focused on insertion techniques and improved selection of intravenous devices and early removal. This team plans to focus on standardizing the care and maintenance of central venous access devices.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Robert Dressler — Neuro Patient Outcomes Initiative

Currently, there is no process in place to assess and understand the longitudinal clinical outcomes of our neurological patients. This team will implement a workflow to track clinical outcomes using a validated neurological patient-reported outcome scale and use this data to improve practice group and/or individual provider performance.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Michael Guarino — Lung Cancer Registry

We would like to start an ongoing computerized repository of all lung cancer patients seen at the FGCCC (approx. 450/year) with demographics, treatments and outcomes. We would need the INBRE student to work with Medical Oncology,Thoracic Surgery, Radiation and the Research Departments.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Michael Guarino — Clinical Research App and Web Based Site

We would need the INBRE student to help design and get up and running an app for physicians for cancer research studies and also develop a similar web based up-to-date site for the public to use. We currently have about 120 active cancer clinical research trials in the HFGCCRI.

Email: lpigeon@christianacare.org

Core Facility Training Intern

Jeffrey L Caplan — Cutting-edge microscopy methods development in the Bio-Imaging Center

The Delaware Biotechnology Institute's Bio-Imaging Center is a core facility at the University of Delaware that provides access to advanced microscopy expertise and instrumentation. Then center assists hundreds of researchers each year on a wide variety of projects. One aspect of the core facility is to develop or modify methods for the hundreds of researchers that use the center each year. Undergraduate researchers will have the opportunity to be involved in these methods development projects that range from correlative electron and light microscopy, live-cell imaging in plants and animals, and the development of quantitative super-resolution methods.

Location: University of Delaware

Email: JCAPLAN@UDEL.EDU

Michael T. Moore — Advanced Imaging with microscopy of biological samples, and image analysis with advanced imaging software.

The Student will help develop a technique of sectioning plant seeds that preserves the lipids, and proteins. Staining with appropriate stains, for various biological molecules and image with Confocal and Polarized light microscopy will be performed.
Confocal image stacks will be characterized and analyzed with various software packages.
Student will be trained on how to perform an experiment from start to finish in microscopy. The student will be trained on how to prepare samples, sections samples with a microtome, and how to image with a Confocal Microscope. Furthermore, the student will learn how to use various types of imaging software.

Core training location is at Delaware State University

Email: mmoore@desu.edu

Delaware State University

Anthea Aikins — Yeast Genetics and Microbial Characterization.

One of the ongoing projects in my lab is to understand the role and function of two yeast cyclins (Pcl6 and Pcl7). Additionally, there are other projects in the lab where students will characterize microbial load isolated during five known decomposition stages of life.

Email: aaikins@desu.edu

Alberta Aryee — Encapsulation of Astaxanthin and its Characterization

Interest in bioactive compounds derived from natural sources continue to drive the search for newer sources and processes to increase stability and bioavailability. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with potential antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used as dietary supplement in humans and animals. However, the stability of astaxanthin is compromised once extracted. In this project extracted astaxanthin will be encapsulated in a food grade hydrogel and the particle size, morphology, gastrointestinal pH stability and storage stability will be studied. The hydrogel may improve the stability and bioavailability of astaxanthin in functional food products.

Email: aaryee@desu.edu

Hacene Boukari — Quantitative Cellular Imaging: Assessing Effects of Intracellular Crowding on the Behavior of Nanoparticles

The goal of this project is to develop and apply a protocol for assessing the interactions of fluorescent nanoparticles (e.g. nanodiamonds, quantum dots, GFP) embedded in intracellular environments (e.g. adenocarcinoma cell line). We will use primarily time-lapse confocal microscopy, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and lifetime-time imaging to image and monitor movements and fluorescence dynamics of the nanoparticles. We will apply different image analysis tools to quantify the time-lapse images and fluorescence fluctuations to extract relevant properties such as the mean-squared displacement and the translational diffusion coefficient, and the binding constant. The results of this project will lay the ground for the development of tools appropriate for quantitative imaging of live cellular systems.

Email: hboukari@desu.edu

Harb Dhillon — Epigenetics of behavior development: Effects of embryonic neuronal development on adult behavior

My students and I utilize a reductionist approach to understand behavior. Insights into the molecular and cellular basis of learning and memory are particularly important in understanding the neural functional design of normal human memory, as well as in age related deficits and complex neural pathologies such as Schizophrenia and other psychoses. Towards this goal, our lab is looking at developmental consequences of nervous system function [Mersha et al., 2105 Behavioral & Brain Functions 11(1): 27] and its epigenetic basis of disease development in adults [Harbinder et al., 2103 Herediary Genetics doi 10.4172/2161-1041.S2-005]. The student researchers will work on behavior, genetics and optical imaging of C. elegans mutants.

Email: hsdhillon@desu.edu

Michael Gitcho — Selective expression of TDP-43 in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model

Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent form of dementia, accounting for 70 to 80% of all cases. The greatest risk factor for AD is aging; an estimated 30 million people are living with AD and over the next 30 years it is projected to increase to over 130 million worldwide. One in three seniors dies with AD or another dementing disease, and since 2000, deaths from AD have increased 89%. African Americans are two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This increase in susceptibility has been linked to vascular disorders that are more prevalent in the African American population.
The pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) consists of extracellular amyloid-beta (Aß) plaques and intraneuronal aggregates of the microtubule-associated protein tau, which is hyperphosphorylated in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neuritic plaques (NPs). Similar to tau, pathological TDP-43 becomes hyper-phosphorylated and is present largely as aggregations in neurons, or less frequently in glial cells. Pathological TDP-43 has been reported as an age-related copathology in up to 50% of late-onset sporadic cases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Research has indicated that TDP-43 pathology contributes to the cognitive impairment seen in AD . The overall goal of this project is to determine how expression of TDP-43 influences pathological outcomes in memory, metabolism, and cellular correlates of memory in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.
Student researchers that join our lab will have an opportunity to participate and learn a variety of techniques that evaluate memory, sociability, anxiety, pathology, and biochemistry. The students will gain a better understanding of mechanisms that lead to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and/or ALS.

Email: mgitcho@desu.edu

Mohammad Khan — Breath-Sense – Next Generation 3-D Bio-printed Micro Ring -Resonator Cavity for Wearable Sensors and Human Health Monitoring

Human body continuously produces several bio-chemicals from various bodily functions including exhaled breath, perspiration and bodily fluids that are indicative of overall state of the human health. In many instances such bio-chemicals can be considered as bio-signatures of human disease. There is strong evidence that volatile compounds (VCs) and disease signatures in exhaled breath are “fingerprints” of specific diseases such as lung cancer- leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the world. In the United States, lung cancer leads to more deaths than colon, breast, and pancreatic cancer combined; however, there is a 73% survival rate if detected at initial (1A) stage. Better understanding of the correlation between specific disease and metabolic processes, with a consistent model that establishes this link to unique set of VCs will significantly improve our ability for early detection and disease intervention. Exhaled human breath, which predominantly contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, also contains trace amounts of over 1000 different compounds [1-5]. These molecules have both endogenous and exogenous origins and provide information about physiological processes occurring in the body as well as environment-related ingestion or absorption of contaminants. As such, detecting and characterizing these bio-signatures is essential to identify important components of disease proliferation and to improve therapeutic strategies to control the disease. Therefore, a miniature sensor based technology that can be easily integrated or worn with the human body with ability to detect such chemicals could open new pathways to next-generation human health sensing.

Email: mkhan@desu.edu

Adam Kuperavage — Foot orthosis in relation to lower extremity injuires: Management of Distal Lower Extremity Injuries Measuring Efficacy of Prophylactic use of Non-Custom Foot Orthosis in Collegiate Sports

Non-custom foot orthotics (NCFO) are worn to provide stability and postural support for the foot and muscles in the leg. The purpose of this study is to investigate the long-term effects of monitored prophylactic application of NCFO on collegiate athletes. This study tests two hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that the application of NCFO will significantly decrease distal lower extremity injuries regardless of footwear type. The second hypothesis is that the application of NCFO will significantly improve subject performance in static and dynamic balancing tasks. Both hypotheses are supported by the Preferred Movement Pathway Paradigm which states that foot orthotics do not change the skeletal alignment of the body but rather alter the “muscle tuning” of the lower extremity, thereby producing changes in muscle activity that dampens soft tissue vibrations within the lower extremity muscles.
This is study is an ongoing, multiyear collaboration with Dr. Von Homer, Dr. R. Christopher Mason, and Dr. Adam Kuperavage. In 2017 we began the first year of data collection on the use of NCFOs in DSU athletes, focusing on the DSU football team. Over the 2017 Summer we successfully mentored an undergraduate student, Aaron Griffith, who has gone on to present his research at the 2017 Black Doctoral Network Conference. This study provides an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to benefit from mentored research experience. I look forward to mentoring undergraduate students in 2018 INBRE Summer Scholars Program.

Email: akuperavage@desu.edu

Cheng-Yu Lai — CAM Model, Mesoporous Stellate Nanoparticles, Colon Cancer, APC proteins, Fluorescent imaging

The proposed work aims to utilize stellate MSN nanoparticles for therapeutic APC protein delivery in colon cancer simulated in a Chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model. The project involves the synthesis, purification and fluorescent labeling of Stellate MSN nanoparticles (either in situ or post-synthesis) followed by the loading of APC protein in their pores.
The pre-labeling will be used for imaging of vascular structure ex-ovo and for intravital vascular mapping in developing colon cancer in CAM. Imaging studies will be conducted over time.

Email: cylai@desu.edu

Hakeem Lawal — Synaptic Neurotransmission in the Central Nervous System: Effect of Changes in Acetylcholine Release on Locomotion Behavior

The goal of this project is to use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the molecular mechanisms that control acetylcholine (ACh) release from neurons. We are using mutations in the vesicular acetylcholine transporter, which packages and transports ACh for exocytosis, to control ACh release; and the Drosophila locomotion circuit as a powerful readout for neuroransmitter release. Interested undergraduates will join a dynamic research team that uses a combination of genetic and pharmacological tools to tackle a fundamental and highly relevant problem in neuroscience.

Email: hlawal@desu.edu

Qi Lu — Understanding the interactions between nanoparticles and lipid membranes for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications

Dr. Qi Lu’s current research project aims to understand the interactions between nanoparticles and lipid membranes for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications such as nano-photonic imaging of cells and tissues, targeted delivery of drugs and antigens, photothermal therapy of cancer, etc. We started our investigation by using gold nanoparticles, the most extensively studied nanoparticle for biomedical applications thanks to its biocompatibility and unique quantum effects. We tested how gold nanoparticles affected the lipid packing in lipid vesicles, which are model membrane systems devoid of the complexity of embedded proteins and the variability among different cellular lines. These experiments allowed us to find out if gold nanoparticles impart regulating effect on lipid packing, which is one of the key physicochemical features of biological membranes and plays an important role in providing anchorage for the orchestrated function of cell signaling. Some drugs, e.g. Losartan, are known to take effect by altering membrane viscosity. We use such techniques as spectrofluorometry, fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy, etc., to characterize how gold nanoparticles affect lipid packing in model membrane systems. Currently, we are varying the size and concentration of gold nanoparticles. In the future, we will prepare dual-type lipid vesicles to vary the membrane surface charge. Further down, cholesterol will be partitioned in the vesicles to control the integrity of membranes as well. The findings of this research will hold promises for the development of gold nanoparticle-integrated drug and delivery systems.

Email: qilu@desu.edu

Sokratis Makrogiannis — Medical Image Analysis Methods for Tissue Identification and Characterization

The summer research student will participate in research work related to development and testing of mathematical methods and computer algorithms for medical image analysis. One of our central topics is tissue identification and characterization for disease diagnosis and therapeutic intervention using clinical imaging data. Applications include tissue quantification for studies of aging and age-related diseases from MRI and CT scans of the abdomen and lower extremities. Our goal is to develop automated techniques using model-based, graph-theoretic, or atlas-based segmentation to delineate soft and hard tissues, namely muscle, inter-muscular adipose tissue and connective tissue, subcutaneous adipose tissue, and cortical and endostial bone. In the atlas-based methods we generate a statistical atlas of the tissue types and use linear and non-linear registration techniques to find spatial transformations that will map a single or multiple tissue templates to each subject to perform segmentation. Furthermore, we aim to compute volumetric and shape characteristics to be used for identification of morphological changes because of aging, or pathologies such as type-2 diabetes, sarcopenia, and muscular dystrophies. The tissue quantification and characterization methods will be validated against reference masks and labeled data points for each category (healthy or disease). Another application of pattern analysis and classification is the computer-aided diagnosis of diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer from digital radiographs. An additional research project is related to the development of automated cell segmentation and tracking techniques in time-lapse fluorescence microscopy imaging. The segmentation and tracking performance is validated against manually generated reference standards over synthetic and real image sequences.

Email: smakrogiannis@desu.edu

Yuriy Markushin — Nano particle based point of care immuno-test development

Nano particles (i.e., Gold nanoparticles and Nano-Diamonds) based point of care immuno-test development to detect biomarkers.

Email: ymarkushin@desu.edu

R. Christopher Mason — Improvement of the neuromuscular control and efficiency of the ankle joint in collegiate athletes by utilizing non-custom foot orthotics

Management of Distal Lower Extremity Injuries Measuring Efficacy of Prophylactic Use of Non-Custom Foot Orthosis in Collegiate Sports:
Non-custom foot orthotics (NCFO) are worn to provide stability and postural support for the foot and muscles in the leg. The purpose of this study is to investigate the long-term effects of monitored prophylactic application of NCFO on foot and ankle injuries, as well as the neuromuscular control of the ankle joint in collegiate athletes. This study tests two hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that the prophylactic application of NCFO will significantly decrease distal lower extremity injuries regardless of footwear type. The second hypothesis is that there will be significant improvements in the subject performance for those receiving NCFO in static and dynamic postural stability and balancing tasks. Both hypotheses are supported by the preferred movement pathway theory which indicates that foot orthotics do not significantly change skeletal alignment of the body but rather alter input signals through mechanoreceptors in the skin and muscle of the plantar surface. This causes change in “muscle tuning” of the lower extremity, thereby producing a change in muscle activity that dampens soft tissue vibrations within the lower extremity muscles.

Email: rmason@desu.edu

Karl E Miletti-Gonzalez — Cancer Research/Signal transduction: CD44-mediated regulation of gene expression

Analysis of the CD44 intracytoplasmic domain (CD44-ICD)-mediated signal transduction pathway in cancer cells and how it regulates gene expression.

Email: kmiletti@desu.edu

Michael T Moore — Advanced Imaging with microscopy of biological samples, and image analysis with advanced imaging software.

The Student will help develop a technique of sectioning plant seeds that preserves the lipids, and proteins. Staining with appropriate stains, for various biological molecules and image with Confocal and Polarized light microscopy will be performed.
Confocal image stacks will be characterized and analyzed with various software packages.
Student will be trained on how to perform an experiment from start to finish in microscopy. The student will be trained on how to prepare samples, sections samples with a microtome, and how to image with a Confocal Microscope. Furthermore, the student will learn how to use various types of imaging software.

Email: mmoore@desu.edu

Hwan Kim — Neuroprotective effects of SUMOylation in Parkinson's disease models

A form of Post-translational modification (PTM), Small Ubiquitin Modifier (SUMO) has not been well studied in Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathology. Although SUMOylation may increase the solubility of alpha-synuclein, SUMOylated proteins including a-synuclein have been detected in the halo of Lewy bodies. Thus it is still unclear in understanding the role of SUMOylation in dopaminergic neurons. Here, we assess the role of SUMO conjugase, Ubc9 as a critical post-translational modifier to regulate the solubility, stability, and function of dopamine transporter (DAT), a-synuclein, and LRRK2 in dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in vivo. The objectives of this work is to elucidate the mechanisms of SUMOylation in preventing a-synuclein mediated protein aggregation and enhancing dopamine uptake via DAT and kinase activity from LRRK2 in dopaminergic neurons. This implies that pathological changes in the SUMOylation of DAT and/or a-synuclein may lead to alteration in dopamine reuptake and acute regulation of protein (mis)folding or aggregation, which is related to the neuropathology of PD. Our in vitro preliminary results demonstrated that Ubc9 over-expression protects rat N27 dopaminergic cells against MPP+ induced oxidative stress and prevents DAT and a-synuclein degradation via inhibition of proteasome and lysosome. In the MPTP-lesioned mice, the chronic treatment substantially reduces the level of SUMO1 conjugated to a-synuclein in the mouse striatum. This suggests that pathological changes in the SUMOylation of DAT and a-synuclein result in significant alteration in dopamine clearance and protein (mis)folding or aggregation, respectively. Therefore, SUMOylation of DAT and a-synuclein can be potential therapeutic targets for neurological disorders such as ADHD, depression, and PD.

Email: yhkim@desu.edu

Gulnihal Ozbay — Food Safety & Human Health; Bacterial detection in food and the product shelf life for consumption

Potential intern will focus on a project deals with food safety and quality. We are targeting dairy products and will have the student do both microbial and chemical testing of the food for the quality and shelf life over time.

Email: gozbay@desu.edu

Junglim Lee — Food safety and biotechnology:The risk of pathogen contamination on produce under dynamic environmental conditions

The project will compare temporal changes in pathogen levels and associated bacterial communities in different raw manure sources stored and used as soil amendments during organic fresh produce production.

Email: jlee@desu.edu

Nemours A.I. DuPont

Stephanie A Deutsch — Evaluation of Neuro-developmental and Educational Outcomes Among Substance Exposed Youth

Prenatal substance exposure has been associated with significant long-term negative health outcomes; impact of intrauterine substance use specifically on neuro-developmental and educational outcomes is largely unknown. Limited available literature suggests an association with more frequent diagnoses of mental and developmental-behavior issues including psychiatric conditions and learning issues.
We will describe neuro-developmental and educational outcomes for prenatally substance exposed youth, hypothesizing that youth with poly-substance exposure histories will more severe/multiple diagnoses compared to those with single substance exposure, and that relationships may exist between certain exposures (ie cocaine, opiates and amphetamines) and worse neuro-developmental outcomes. We aim to answer, what are mid/long-term neurodevelopmental and educational outcomes for prenatally substance exposed youth?
We will partner with Delaware’s Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) for this retrospective chart review. Our study population will be children, ages 3-8 years old either in foster care currently/with history of foster care placement and prenatal substance exposure. We will contact the child’s legal guardian for consent to obtain/review scholastic records through Department of Education, and create a database inclusive of age, grade, psychiatric/neurodevelopmental diagnosis, need for occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, IEP/504 plan. Basic descriptive statistics and regression analysis will be used to identify associations between prenatal substance exposure and our outcomes of interest.
We anticipate that our summer visitor will: 1. Create a database for this project with variables of interest 2. Harvest/abstract data through retrospective chart/review with the assistance of a law clerk through OCA. It is our intention to submit an IRB protocol and obtain consent from study subject families prior to student arrival.

Email: sd0054@nemours.org

Reid Nichols — Asymmetry in Children with Arthrogryposis

Lower limb contractures and muscle weakness are common in children with arthrogryposis and result in foot deformities and gait deviations. Both conservative management with serial casting and orthotic use as well as more invasive surgical intervention is common in this population to improve functional outcome. While children with arthrogryposis typically present in infancy with symmetrical limitations, with growth, the emergence of asymmetry in contractures, movement and foot deformities are common. The frequency and etiology of this asymmetry in presentation is unknown. Specific aims of this study include: 1)To assess the symmetry in foot posture and flexibility in children with arthrogryposis.
2)To determine the frequency of asymmetrical presentation in children with arthrogryposis.
3)To determine the factors associated with the development of an asymmetrical presentation.
A retrospective review will be completed of passive range of motion (PROM) and foot pressure analyses in children with arthrogryposis. PROM measures are collected by physical therapipists utilizing goniometers and dynamic foot pressure analysis is completed using a pedobarograph (foot pressure mat). Statistical analysis will be completed to assess symmetry and determine associated factors.
Weekly the student will observe with Dr Nichols in clinic and the operating room to gain experience and knowledge through direct patient contact with children with arthrogryposis. Daily students will complete retrospective review of data collected during patient evaluations in the gait lab for children with arthrogryposis. The student will be responsible for data review, analysis and assisting in writing up the results for presentation at a national meetings and publication.

Email: Reid.Nichols@nemours.org

Julieanne Sees — Rectus Femoris Transfer vs. Resection in Patients with Cerebral Paslsy with Stiff Knee Gait

Stiff knee gait is common among children with cerebral palsy (CP). Increasing knee flexion during swing phase can be achieved through reducing knee extensor over activity. This goal can be realized surgically by rectus femoris transfer or resection. The purpose of this study is to evaluate and compare the effects of rectus femoris transfer and resection on a matched-cohort of children with CP and stiff knee gait with gait analysis.
A retrospective matched cohort study will be conducted to compare two groups of children with cerebral palsy and a stiff knee gait who underwent rectus femoris resection or rectus femoris transfer with concurrent multi-level surgery. Children will be matched based on age, walking velocity, and preoperative knee kinematics from gait analysis (knee flexion/extension range of motion, peak knee flexion in swing phase, and timing of peak knee flexion in gait cycle). Outcomes will be determined from kinematics and physical exam measurements comparing pre and post-operative gait analyses.
Weekly the student will observe with Dr Sees in clinic and the operating room to gain experience and knowledge through direct patient contact with children with cerebral palsy. Daily students will complete retrospective review of data collected during patient evaluations in the gait lab for children with CP who underwent rectus surgery. The student will be responsible for data review, analysis and assisting in writing up of the results for presentation at a national meetings and publication.

Email: jsees@nemours.org

Soonmoon Yoo — Local maturation of pre-miRNAs in sensory neurons

This is a part of ongoing research project in the Molecular Regeneration and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Nemours. We hypothesized that cis-acting elements within axonally enriched precursor miRNAs target themselves to distal axons where they are locally processed into the corresponding mature miRNAs after injury. Using the modified Boyden chamber and RT-qPCR methodologies, we propose to separate distal axons from the cell body and measure the remaining precursors and the corresponding mature miRNAs as a function of time after separation. This will demonstrate directly that specific precursor miRNAs localized in distal processes of neurons will be autonomously processed to give rise to the corresponding mature miRNAs.

Email: syoo@nemours.org

Sharon Gould — Forensic Imaging: Analysis of Pediatric Mortality Based Upon Postmortem CT and MRI

Traditionally the autopsy has been the standard for medicolegal death investigation. With the decline in autopsy rates and the availability of high resolution cross sectional imaging by computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), utilization of these studies is increasingly being accepted to augment the death investigation process. The goal of these studies is to determine how and when non-invasive imaging might be used as an adjunct or sometimes even in lieu of autopsy.
The AI duPont Hospital for Children has instituted options for autopsy that include imaging. Also under provisions of the State of Delaware Memorandum of Understanding for the Multidisciplinary Response to Child Abuse and Neglect, postmortem imaging studies are performed for the Delaware Division of Forensic Science, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
A database for pediatric deaths has been established to incorporate the demographics, imaging findings and results of autopsy. This affords scientific comparison of imaging and autopsy and permits determination of strengths and weaknesses of imaging. We anticipate the summer research student will (1) Continue population of the database by extracting critical information from hospital charts, imaging reports and autopsy reports, (2) Assist in the analysis of data for investigations in progress,
(3) Formulate a question of his/her own and retrospectively use the database and simple statistical methods to seek an answer. It is our aim to show that postmortem imaging can streamline pediatric medicolegal death investigation without compromising accuracy.

Email: sgould@nemours.org

Shirley Viteri — Pediatric Sepsis; Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes (IPSO): A Children's Hospital Association Quality Collaborative

As per the Sepsis Collaborative website (https://www.childrenshospitals.org/sepsiscollaborative): "Sepsis kills almost 5,000 children annually in the U.S. — more than cancer — and accounts for 16 percent of all pediatric health care spending in the U.S. – around $5 billion. Children’s hospitals are at ground zero of the sepsis crisis: More than 60 percent of pediatric sepsis patients are treated in our hospitals." This collaborative aims to reduce sepsis deaths and severe sepsis throughout the United States by reaching the following goals by the year 2020:
- decrease mortality from severe sepsis by 75% in US Pediatric Acute Care Settings from a baseline of ~10% to 2.5%
- decrease the incidence of hospital-onset severe sepsis in US Pediatric Acute Care Settings by 75% from ~2% to 0.5%
This is a time-series project describing baseline data (historical control data) for quality of care metrics in the diagnosis and management of pediatric septic shock and demonstrating changes from baseline after the adoption of a quality improvement intervention bundle. Data for each individual patient meeting criteria for severe sepsis/septic shock will be collected from the electronic medical record. Implementation of the quality improvement intervention bundle will be overseen by the Nemours study team. The INBRE Scholar will be an integral part of the study team, helping to collect data from the electronic medical record, attending research meetings, and assisting with the implementation of quality improvement bundles.

Email: shirley.viteri@nemours.org

University of Delaware

Behnam Abasht — Genetics Genomics Bioinformatics: Identification of factors contributing to wooden breast disease in commercial broiler chickens

Bioinformatics analysis of RNA-seq data from affected and unaffected tissue samples to identify biological pathways essential for normal muscle growth and how they contribute to WB pathology.

Email: ABASHT@UDEL.EDU

Elisa S Arch — Optimizing the Design & Prescription of Prosthetic & Orthotic Devices

The overall goal of my research is to optimize the design and prescription of prosthetic and orthotic devices to enhance the mobility and function of patients with musculoskeletal injury of diseases. The INBRE Summer Scholars in my lab will be exposed to prosthetic and orthotic, biomechanics, and human movement research as well as 3-D printing technologies. Specifically, I have two projects available for Summer 2018. The first project aims to optimize the design of an ankle-foot orthosis (ankle brace) for individuals who have suffered a stroke. The second project aims to quantify how the natural foot moves during walking and begin to design a foot orthosis and/or prosthetic ankle-foot system that mimics the function of the natural foot. Both projects will include a combination of engineering/design (3-D printing, etc.) and biomechanics (optical motion capture, collecting data with human subjects, etc.). While each INBRE Summer Scholar will focus specifically on one of these two projects, both scholars will also have an opportunity to participate in other ongoing research in the lab including novel 3-D printing materials development and working with individuals with lower-limb amputations.

Email: SCHRANKE@UDEL.EDU

Mona Batish — Understanding the progression of Ewing's Sarcoma: Single molecule Imaging of RNA processing and transport in fixed cells

Ewing's Sarcoma is caused by a chromosomal translocation that leads to formation of EWSFLI1 aberrant transcription factor, which drives the cancer. There are no targeted therapies and the survival rate on metastasis is less than 30%. We have developed a diagnostic assay (Fusion FISH) to image the RNA of EWSFLI1 at high sensitivity and also working to understand protein-protein interactions of EWSFLI1 with its downstream target in effector pathways.
Our lab is very interdisciplinary and we heavily collaborate with different labs to understand the role of RNA in various biological contexts. Our technique of single molecule imaging of RNA molecules helps us to visualize RNAs in fixed cells and quantify them and thus help in functional characterization of role of RNA in different states of cell.

Email: BATISH@UDEL.EDU

Anjana N Bhat — Dance Intervention Group - Training Delivery and Data Analysis: Play Intervention Study

The broad objectives of this study are to evaluate the effects of creative movement interventions on the social communication and motor skills of children between 3-14 years of age. This study is along the lines of the yoga study in that we want to use a creative movement idea to promote greetings, social interactions, whole body coordination, posture/balance, and interpersonal synchrony. Various training activities include hello games, brain dance, idea dance, partner dance, creating/improvisation, and chance dance. 4 to 6 children with ASD between 5 and 12 years of age will receive appropriate, generalized and task-specific pre- and post-tests before and after 8 weeks of training. PT graduate students in my lab will help with the standardized testing. Undergraduate students with a dance background will help with the training delivery. We are open to taking 4 students on this project.

Email: ABHAT@UDEL.EDU

Anjana N Bhat — UD fNIRS Study

The broad objectives of this research are to evaluate brain-behavior interactions in children with and without autism as they perform a variety of tasks social cooperation and sway synchrony with a partner. Our goal is to examine interactions between frontal, temporal, and parietal cortex activation and how they differ across the various conditions. The overall message of this research is that socially embedded movement such as creative movement and cooperative play with peers significantly impacts social communication skills. For this project we are open to taking 2 students. Specifically, we are looking for students from varying backgrounds including engineering as these datasets involve significant data processing and software-based data manipulation.

Email: ABHAT@UDEL.EDU

Amy Biddle — Bioinformatics and microbial ecology: Equine Microbiome Project

Exploring the relationships between the structure of the equine gut microbiome and factors such as age, diet, breed, health history, and metabolic state.

Email: ASBIDDLE@UDEL.EDU

Esther Biswas — Applied molecular biology and biotechnology: Understanding the Genotype to Phenotype Correlation in Visual Disease

Our laboratory investigates the consequences of genetic variation observed in inherited visual disease on protein structure and function. We utilize a variety of including recombinant DNA technology, protein biochemistry, biophysical and bioinformatic analyses. Our findings are then compared to patient profiles available in the literature with the goal of creating a genotype-phenotype correlation.

Email: EBISWAS@UDEL.EDU

Ethna Fidelma Boyd — Vibrio evolution

Evolution of CRISPR-Cas systems
mechanisms of stress adaptation.

Email: FBOYD@UDEL.EDU

Thomas A Buckley — Assessments and Determinants of Concussion Recovery

Currently concussions are tested using a standard battery of tests including basic balance, vision, and cognitive testing as well as self-reporting concussion related symptoms. However, these tests are known to be limited by improvements with repeated testing and also rely upon the individual’s effort during the tests. This protocol uses more sophisticated and instrumented measures to identify both the presence of a concussion as well as to help identify recovery from a concussion. Further, the battery will be used to see if any of the tests can predict the outcome from concussion in terms of the time it takes for recovery. Finally, this study will access the role of physical and cognitive activity in predicting outcome.

Email: TBUCKLEY@UDEL.EDU

Jeffrey L Caplan — Cell biology, quantitative imaging, and microscopy: Cutting-edge microscopy methods development in the Bio-Imaging Center

The Delaware Biotechnology Institute's Bio-Imaging Center is a core facility at the University of Delaware that provides access to advanced microscopy expertise and instrumentation. Then center assists hundreds of researchers each year on a wide variety of projects. One aspect of the core facility is to develop or modify methods for the hundreds of researchers that use the center each year. Undergraduate researchers will have the opportunity to be involved in these methods development projects that range from correlative electron and light microscopy, live-cell imaging in plants and animals, and the development of quantitative super-resolution methods.

Email: JCAPLAN@UDEL.EDU

Sheau Ching Chai — Effects of fructose on blood pressure and cardiovascular health

The study is to determine the effects of fructose intake (low- vs. high-fructose diet) on blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health in older adults. Participants will be instructed to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours and collect urine for 24 hours after a 7-day low- and high-fructose diet. Fasting blood will be collected. Cold pressor test, flow mediated dilation and pulse wave velocity will also be administered. Biomarkers of vascular function will also be assessed.

Email: SCCHAI@UDEL.EDU

Jeremy R Crenshaw — Development of a comprehensive evaluation of postural control in children with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that is associated with impaired postural control. The long-term goal of this research is to establish interventions to reduce falls and enable physical activity in children with CP. The overall objective of this application is to develop a comprehensive framework to evaluate the relationships between postural control, mobility, and physical activity in this population. Our central hypothesis is that static and dynamic postural control will be impaired in children with CP, and will also be significantly correlated with physical activity in the free-living environment. We aim to 1) determine the inter-session reliability of postural control measures when applied to children with CP, 2) Identify specific deficits in postural control associated with CP, and 3) Establish the relationships between postural control and physical activity. We will address these aims using innovative and established assessments that include that of standing postural sway, dynamic stability maintenance during gait, and fall-recovery mechanics from laboratory-induced falls. The rationale for this study is that it represents the necessary first steps of a mechanistic approach to improving physical activity. By assessing postural control across static and dynamic tasks, paired with physical activity monitoring in the free-living environment, we will be well-positioned to sensitively determine the benefits of potentially impactful therapy approachest.

Email: CRENSHAW@UDEL.EDU

Emily Day — Engineering nanoparticles for cancer therapy

My group engineers nanoparticles (NPs) with unique properties that can be used to treat cancer. Various projects are available for summer 2018, which may focus in the following areas. (1) Creating nanoparticle-photosensitizer conjugates for dual photothermal therapy & photodynamic therapy. (2)Developing antibody-coated NPs to prevent circulating tumor cell docking to vascular endothelial cells (VECs). (3) Designing and evaluating nanoparticles for RNA delivery. (4) Creating cell membrane-wrapped nanoparticles for targeted cargo delivery to specific cells. (5) Engineering polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery to cancer cells.

Email: EMILYDAY@UDEL.EDU

Mary Dozier — Assessing Intervention Outcome in Middle Childhood

We are following children with whom we intervened in infancy. We are examining differences in peer relations, emotion regulation, and inhibitory control. Students will help with running participants.

Email: MDOZIER@UDEL.EDU

Melinda K Duncan — Mechanisms underlying Posterior capsular opacification

Cataract surgery is a true marvel of modern medicine which has greatly reduced the burden of blindness, particularly in developed countries. However, like all surgeries, cataract surgery is not without its side effects. Posterior capsular opacification (PCO) results when lens cells remaining behind after surgery proliferate, migrate into the visual axis, and produce scar tissue which distorts the patient's vision. While this, the most common negative outcome of cataract surgery, can be treated as well, each further intervention reduces final visual outcome, and can cause or exacerbate other blinding ocular conditions such as retinal detachments and glaucoma. We have discovered that some integrins and extracellular matrix molecules are critical for PCO development. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms by which these molecules drive PCO in the hopes of identifying clinical interventions to block this potentially blinding condition. This work is supported by the National Eye Institute.

Email: DUNCANM@UDEL.EDU

Randall Duncan — Early cell signaling in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis: The role of TRP channels in musculoskeletal systems

Osteoarthritis (OA), the degeneration of the articular cartilage that forms the articulating surface of joints, is a progressive and disabling disease that affects millions of Americans. While there are a number of risk factors associated with OA, aging is a dominant factor, impacting over 50% of adults over the age of 65. Unfortunately, the cellular mechanisms associated with OA remain unclear. Two signaling pathways are known to alter chondrocyte function; mechanical activation of TRPV4 channels and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) stimulation, although the molecular mechanisms responsible for their effects are not clear. In particular, their potential role in the aging process that predisposes older adults toward osteoarthritis remains unknown. We have recently shown that these pathways can interact and that IGF-1 suppresses TRPV4 activation through changes in the actin cytoskeletal organization of the chondrocyte. Because IGF-1 levels have been shown to be significantly reduced in older adults, we hypothesize that mechanical loads that would not lead to OA in young adults due to the presence of IGF-1 would result in OA in older adults.
In these studies, the student would learn cell culture techniques, calcium imaging of cells and some basic cell and molecular techniques such as PCR and western blotting.

Email: RLDUNCAN@UDEL.EDU

Dawn Elliott — Tendon and meniscus structure and mechanics: Measure tissue mechanical properties and structure and changes with damage

Tendon and meniscus are load bearing orthopedic tissues. Unfortunately these tissues become damaged with overloading and aging and injury. This results in loss of mechanical properties and disorganized structure and can cause loss of joint function and painful activities of daily living.
The summer scholar will work on projects related to these tissues in lab-based experiments.

Email: DELLIOTT@UDEL.EDU

Pak-Wing FOK — Mechanical Homeostasis in Arteries

The student will explore a mathematical model of mechanical homeostasis in a medium sized artery. The model accounts for release of nitric oxide (NO) from the endothelium that alters the homeostatic hoop stress in the media layer. The media layer grows or atrophies in response to NO to renormalize stress.
This model has already been implemented in a Matlab code. Some possible extensions that are suitable for a strong undergraduate student are:
- Including the transport and reaction of a vasoconstrictor
- Incorporating a model for cell movement/dynamics
The student would need to be adept in ordinary differential equations (MATH302 or equivalent), have strong programming skills and an interest in biology.

Email: PAKWING@UDEL.EDU

Chad E Forbes — Social neuroscience of Stigma

My research utilizes cognitive neuroscience methodologies such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how priming negative stereotypes associated with stigmatized individuals in our society, e.g. minorities and women, biases the way they perceive themselves and others perceive them. My research program revolves around two primary topics: 1) How negatively stereotyped targets’ motivation, attention, and memory is affected by situations that prime negative group relevant stereotypes both in the moment and over time, and 2) How factors such as contextual primes or genetic predispositions undermine a person’s ability to perceive novel, negatively stigmatized outgroup members in a non-biased manner. Current research examines how negative stereotypes alter the way targets and perceivers encode information in a given context, how negative stereotypic contexts undermine targets' domain identification over time and how individuals can be trained to overcome their implicit biases using techniques grounded in theories of neural function.

Email: CEFORBES@UDEL.EDU

Deni S Galileo — Characterization and Invasiveness of Glioblastoma Brain Cancer Stem Cells

We have patient-derived glioblastoma brain cancer cell lines that must be characterized for their marker expression, growth characteristics, proliferation rates, motility rates in vitro, invasiveness in a chick brain tumor model, and responsiveness to autocrine and paracrine stimulation by the L1CAM adhesion/recognition molecule. This project will entail cell culture, immunostaining, several types of microscopy, flow cytometry, microinjection, microdissection, and other techniques.

Email: DGALILEO@UDEL.EDU

Jason P Gleghorn — Projects in organ development and regenerative medicine

The Gleghorn Tissue Morphodynamics and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory is an interdisciplinary research group that is focused on understanding how cells assemble into functional tissues.  We develop and use microfluidic and microfabrication technologies to determine how cells behave and communicate within multicellular populations to form complex 3D tissues and organs.  In particular, we use developing organs, microfabricated 3D organotypic culture models, quantitative analysis, and computational methods to investigate the biophysical forces and chemical signals that drive tissue growth, homeostasis, and disease.  Our work integrates fundamental engineering, molecular, cell, and developmental biology, and materials science to delineate cellular behaviors and interactions at the cellular, tissue, and organ length scales.  The long-term goals of this research are to develop techniques to engineer physiologically relevant 3D culture systems with well-defined structure, flows, and cell-cell interactions to study tissue-scale biology and disease. These techniques in combination with what we learn in our studies of the native cellular behaviors and interactions in the embryo will be used to define new therapeutic approaches for regenerative medicine. We are currently seeking an independent and motivated undergraduate students to assist in research projects in tissue engineering and understanding the effects of mechanical forces on organ development. http://bme.udel.edu/jason-gleghorn/ Email: gleghorn@udel.edu.

Email: GLEGHORN@UDEL.EDU

Roberta M Golinkoff — Language Learning, Spatial Skills Learning, and Learning through Play

Our lab has two main foci: understanding children’s early language acquisition and exploring children’s developing spatial abilities. Studying how children learn language gives us the opportunity to learn not only about development, but also about the structure of language itself. Some of our current studies include: creating a digital screener for 2-year-olds’ language abilities, examining infants’ ability to learn new words from videos of their parents, and investigating 4-year-olds’ understanding of distinctions made in languages other than their own. Understanding trajectories of spatial awareness is also important because these abilities are strongly linked to early success in mathematics, and researching them through the lens of education allows us to consider potential interventions to increase these spatial and mathematical abilities. Some of our projects include: a study attempting to train young children how to improve their spatial skills, and a study examining how children best learn shape knowledge. We also have a number of projects exploring how children learn from play and media, including a study looking at the emotional benefits of eBook reading, and a study investigating how children conceptualize play and learning. Mentees will gain experience working on language and spatial projects in several different capacities, including recruiting families, assisting with running studies, entering data, and proposing related projects.

Email: roberta@udel.edu

Karin Grävare Silbernagel — Recovery of structure, mechanical properties, function and symptoms in patients with tendon injuries.

The Delaware Tendon Research Group is an interdisciplinary team focused on improving treatment outcomes for tendon injuries. Our approach is to evaluate tendon health and recovery by quantifying tendon composition, structure, mechanical properties, along with patient’s impairments and symptoms. This allows us to develop a better understanding of the factors that affect healing so that tailored treatment can be developed. The close connection between our Tendon Research Group and the Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic enables conceptual ideas generated in the clinic to be explored in our research and in turn implemented in clinical practice.

Email: KGS@UDEL.EDU

Emily Jean Hauenstein — Reducing Health Disparities in the Seriously Mentally Ill

This is an NIH funded project that examines individual, community, and health systems levels factors associated with high morbidity and mortality in the seriously mentally ill.
Other NIH and IRB approved projects are available in this laboratory all associated with mental health with a community focus.

Email: EHAUENST@UDEL.EDU

James Edward Hoffman — Neural Basis of Emotional Attention Capture

Emotional stimuli such as pictures of threatening animals appear to capture attention automatically, that is, even when we are trying to ignore them. We are studying the brain mechanisms underlying this phenomenon using EEG and fMRI.

Email: hoffman@udel.edu

Md Z Hossain — Osteoporosis: Mechanical basis of toughness degradation in bone

The objective of this project is to determine the molecular basis of osteoporotic fracture and unveil the implications of deficiency in chemical species and their arrangement in bone on its fracture toughness. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes more than 1.5 million fractures every year in the U.S. Yet osteoporosis continues to be underdiagnosed and undertreated, mainly due to the incomplete understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that govern the osteoporotic condition of a bone. Consequently, treating or preventing osteoporosis has not seen much clinical success – and the number of osteoporotic fractures keeps increasing at an alarming rate, particularly with the increased trend of our sedentary life- and work-styles. This proposal will investigate the root cause of fracture susceptibility, by examining the molecular details of the basic structural unit of the bone (called hydroxyapatite) and its interaction with the collagen matrix under different loading and deficiency conditions. Our overarching goal is to design and develop a predictive capability in the form of a software for direct use as a complementary tool in clinical diagnosis of the osteoporotic condition. The students involved with the work will contribute to running various computer simulations to determine the behavior of a few chemically deficient model-bones under various mechanical loading conditions. They will be trained on various computational techniques available to explore the mechanical properties of bone at various length scales. The students will learn how to use the state-of-the-art computing facility to determine the mechanical properties of bone. The PI will also meet with the students every week to discuss their progress on the project. A graduate student will be assigned to the student to provide any initial training required to start running some computer simulations. Also, the students will be assigned journal articles and asked to write short summary reports.

Email: ZUBAER@UDEL.EDU

Aimee Jaramillo-Lambert — Dissecting the topoisomerase II genetic pathway in C. elegans meiosis

The instructions that guide the normal operations of a cell are contained within its DNA. The DNA within each cell is packaged into structures called chromosomes. Cells constantly divide to produce new cells that replace cells that are worn-out. During the process of division, it is of utmost importance that the chromosomes remain intact and that the correct number of chromosomes is distributed to each new cell. Changes in chromosome structure and number within cells can disrupt basic cellular functions leading to cancer. It is also essential that the reproductive cells, eggs and sperm, have the correct number of chromosomes and that these chromosomes also have the correct structure. In the event that the chromosome structure or number is compromised in eggs or sperm, the resulting offspring may fail to develop properly. Cancer treatments often have negative side effects including secondary tumors and infertility. The DNA disentangling enzyme Topoisomerase II is an important target of several anti-cancer drugs. The normal function of this enzyme is to unknot and untangle DNA as cells go through mitosis (the cell division that creates new cells for ordinary tissue growth). Topoisomerase II is present in many different cells including cells that are undergoing the specialized cell division of meiosis (the cell cycle that makes sperm and eggs). The roles of Topoisomerase II have been extensively studied in mitosis, but much less is known about its normal function in the meiotic cell cycle. The goal of this project is to identify genes that interact with topoisomerase II in meiosis. This will be accomplished through the characterization of newly identified C. elegans mutant strains.

Email: ANJL@UDEL.EDU

Lisa Jaremka — Social and health psychology: The Married Couples Study

Married couples come to the lab for two separate visits and complete questionnaires, have their blood drawn, and do other various tasks. Research assistants would help with all aspects of this study, from preparation to running the study to data cleaning.

Email: LJAREMKA@UDEL.EDU

Curtis L Johnson — Magnetic Resonance Elastography of the Brain

Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is used to measure the mechanical properties of the human brain with MRI. This REU project will use MRE to examine the brain properties from populations currently studied in the lab, including cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and aging/dementia. REU students will be exposed to fields of imaging, mechanics, neuroscience, and neurology.

Email: CLJ@UDEL.EDU

Thomas W Kaminski — Sport-Related Concussions

NCAA/DoD Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium – Longitudinal Clinical Study Core
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and sport related concussion (SRC) are major public health problems. Although significant advances have been made in our understanding of concussion, to date, the natural history of concussion remains poorly defined, no objective biomarker of physiological recovery exists for clinical use, and athlete knowledge of the injury remains low. This investigation is poised to address the true natural history of clinical and physiological recovery of SRC, which has critical implications for improving safety, injury prevention, and medical care in athletes and military personnel. Objective: In keeping with the identified priorities of the NCAA and DoD, we propose the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium as a scientific and operational framework for the NCAA/DoD Grand Alliance. The primary aim is to conduct a prospective, longitudinal, multisite, multisport investigation that delineates the natural history of concussion in males and females by incorporating a multidimensional assessment of standardized clinical measures of postconcussive symptomatology, performance based testing (e.g. cognitive function, postural stability), and psychological health. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of concussions associated with sport participation on an athlete’s neurological health.

Email: KAMINSKI@UDEL.EDU

Allison E Karpyn — Food Insecurity in the US and Abroad

The internship will make use of current data to examine efforts to reduce food security in Delaware and in the island nation of the Bahamas. Project will culminate with one or more publications and intern will work with a team to summarize, review and write up findings.

Email: karpyn@udel.edu

Megan L Killian — Development and Adaptation of Musculoskeletal Attachments

Tendon-bone attachments are required for the functional transmission of muscle loads through tendon to bone. What are the gradient of cell-derived factors that regulate maturation at the tendon-bone attachment? How does the tendon-bone attachment adapt to muscle loading? When injured, can we leverage regenerative approaches for the return of a functional interface between tendon and bone? Our research focuses on identifying both the developmental cues and mechanical regulation that govern the growth, maturation, and healing of tendon-bone attachments in vivo. We utilize transgenic models, as well as advanced in vivo imaging techniques, biomechanical testing, and molecular biology to investigate hypothesis-driven questions and inform engineered strategies for musculoskeletal tissue repair.

Email: KILLIANM@UDEL.EDU

Salil A Lachke — Eye disease research: Investigation of cataract-linked genes using mouse as an animal model

Deletion of the gene Celf1 results in cataract in different vertebrate species. The goal of the project is to understand the molecular mechanism of Celf1-based gene expression control in the lens. Celf1 targets will be characterized and the nature of the interaction between the Celf1 protein and its mRNA or protein target will be investigated.

Email: SALIL@UDEL.EDU

Michele A Lobo — Design and Testing of Activities and Devices to Improve Activity and Cognition for Infants & Children With Movement Impairments

The primary projects in our lab currently include: 1) a multi-site, play-based early intervention study aimed at improving motor and cognitive abilities for infants and toddlers with delays, 2) a multi-site wearable technology project involving the design and testing of clothing with integrated textile sensors to track activity and of a user-controlled pneumatic exoskeletal garment to support the arms.

Email: MALOBO@UDEL.EDU

Jared Medina — Understanding Brain Plasticity and Cognitive Function after Stroke

After a stroke, individuals selectively lose different cognitive abilities, based on the location of brain damage. These deficits could involve sensorimotor processing, attention, language, memory, and other systems. In our lab, we are generally interested in two questions. First, how can deficits caused by stroke inform us as to how the mind is organized. Second, how does brain activity while doing various functions change after stroke. Broadly speaking, this research involves behavioral testing and neuroimaging with individuals with brain damage along with healthy participants. More specifically, we are interested in examining these questions with regards to how the brain represents the body.

Email: jmedina@psych.udel.edu

Susanne M Morton — Motor learning: Split-belt Treadmill Locomotor Adaptation

Healthy individuals can easily learn to walk on a novel split-belt treadmill in which the two legs are forced to walk at two different speeds. They can even learn to walk on split belts with one leg moving forward and the other moving backward! This illustrates the highly adaptive nature of walking and how neuroplasticity in the brain allows for rapid and task-specific learning. Our lab is undergoing several studies examining the behavioral, psychological and physiological factors that affect split-belt motor learning and we are testing how different brain regions contribute to various aspects of learning. Our studies are primarily conducted using biomechanical measures, such as motion capture, EMG, and force plates.

Email: SMMORTON@UDEL.EDU

Ramona Neunuebel — Host-pathogen interaction:Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis

My group focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie infection by intracellular bacterial pathogens. Specifically, we work on Legionella pneumophila, a bacterial pathogen that causes severe and even fatal pneumonia in people with a weakened immune system. People can contract this disease following inhalation of water droplets contaminated with this bacterium. Once it reaches the lungs, Legionella infects macrophages and survives inside the infected host cell by hiding in a vacuole. From within this vacuole, Legionella injects over 300 effector proteins into the host macrophage to avoid detection and degradation by these innate immune cells. Undergraduate students will be working to determine biochemical properties of Legionella effector proteins to begin deciphering how these bacterial proteins manipulate human pathways. Students will be learning and applying molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology techniques to complete their projects.

Email: NEUNR@UDEL.EDU

Vijay K Parashar — Bacterial signal transduction: Biochemical characterization of c-di-AMP signaling in bacteria

Biochemical characterization of c-di-AMP signaling in bacteria: A small signal molecule, cyclic-di-AMP, is central to physiology of multiple Gram-positive bacterial pathogens. In our laboratory, we use a combination of three-dimensional structure determination with biochemical and genetic analysis to accurately determine the details of how c-di-AMP second messenger exerts its affect on the activity of receptor proteins in mediating gene expression regulation. One of the summer intern will use gene cloning and protein purification methods coupled with our in vitro transcriptional activity assays to understand mechanisms of c-di-AMP function in bacteria.

Email: PARASHAR@UDEL.EDU

Vijay K Parashar — Bacterial signal transduction: High-throughput screening of small molecules targeting c-di-AMP degradation

High-throughput screening of small molecules targeting c-di-AMP degradation: A small signal molecule, cyclic-di-AMP, is degraded in bacteria by GdpP family of enzymes. Degradation of c-di-AMP by GdpP enzymes inhibits biofilm formation in many bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, a leading causative agent of dental caries. We have developed a real-time, fluorescence-based assay to monitor activity of S. mutans GdpP enzyme (purified in E. coli) in vitro. The summer research student will use this assay to perform a high-throughput screen for identification of small molecules that can inhibit the activity of GdpP proteins in vitro.

Email: PARASHAR@UDEL.EDU

Zhenghan Qi — Brain bases of typical and atypical language development

This project is designed to identify the developmental brain bases of core areas of language impairment in children with the two most prevalent complex developmental disorders: Language Impairment (LI) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a combination of neuroimaging and behavioral measures. We aim to link the neural substrates underlying sensory processing (visual and auditory) and sentence processing with individuals’ language abilities, thus leading to advances in the scientific understanding of language and communication deficiencies in children.
Students will:
-Experience first-hand how research is conducted
-Help collect behavioral and neural data from human subjects
-Data coding and data entry
-Participate in lab meetings

Email: ZQI@UDEL.EDU

Darcy S Reisman — Promoting Recovery Optimization with WALKing Exercise after Stroke (PROWALKS)

As a group, stroke survivors are more physically inactive than even the most sedentary older adults. Lack of physical activity has serious consequences in persons with stroke, including an increased risk of recurrent stroke, developing other diseases and mortality. Current rehabilitation interventions do little to improve real-world walking activity after stroke, suggesting that simply improving walking capacity is not sufficient for improving daily physical activity after stroke. Rather, we hypothesize that the combination of a fast walking intervention that improves walking capacity, with a step activity monitoring program that facilitates translation of gains from the clinic to the “real-world”, would generate greater improvements in real world walking activity than with either intervention alone.The specific objective of this proposal is to test whether and for whom combining fast walking training with a step activity monitoring program (FAST+SAM) is superior in improving real-world walking activity compared to fast walking training alone (FAST) or a step activity monitoring and feedback program alone (SAM) in those with chronic stroke. Using a randomized controlled experimental design, 225 chronic stroke survivors, will complete 12 weeks of fast walking training (FAST), a step activity monitoring program (SAM) or a fast walking training + step activity monitoring program (FAST+SAM).The primary (steps per day) and secondary outcomes will be assessed prior to initiating treatment, after the last treatment and at a 6 and 12 month follow-up.

Email: DREISMAN@UDEL.EDU

Shannon M Robson — Evaluating the Home Food Environment of Families

The home food environment, often defined as the availability of healthy and unhealthy foods at home, has been associated with dietary intake. Less is known about if differences exist between home food environments of families with mothers who are overweight or obese (BMI=25.0 kg/m2) versus a healthy weight (BMI=25.0 kg/m2). The primary purpose of this study is to assess the home food environment of families with an overweight/obese or healthy weight mother (=30 years-old) and a child 6-12 years-old who is living at home (at least 50% of the time).
Families interested in the study will have two research personnel come to their home. Informed consent and informed assent will be completed with all family members. One research team member will facilitate the mother’s completion of study measures. The second coordinator will complete an open inventory. In 25% of households three research personnel will go to the family’s home and two research personnel will conduct the open inventory to assure inter-rater agreement. An open inventory is an assessment method used to measure the home food environment by recording every food item in the home. This information will be analyzed using the Nutrition Data Systems for Research (NDS-R) software.
Upon completion of the questionnaires and open inventory, study personnel will obtain the height and weight measurements of the mother, the target child, and all other family members who have provided consent/assent using a portable scale and stadiometer. The mother will also be asked to complete 3 days of dietary records for herself and the target child and the Previous Day Physical Activity Recall (PD-PAR) for three days for her child. Mothers will also be asked to video record two family meals. Research personnel will set up a video recorder prior to the meal then remove it after the meal. This will take place on two separate days.

Email: ROBSON@UDEL.EDU

Tania Roth — Epigenetic and behavioral outcomes associated with infant-caregiver experiences

Students could work on projects in the lab that service two main lines of research. All of these projects utilize rodent models.
1) To explore the relationship between maltreatment from a caregiver, epigenetic alterations in the brain, and behavioral outcomes.
2) To explore the role of epigenetic mechanisms in CNS plasticity during early postnatal development. One project does this in the context of learning and memory that promotes infant attachment to a caregiver. Another does this in the context of maternal care and spinal plasticity supporting motor development.

Email: TROTH@UDEL.EDU

Gilberto Schleiniger — Mathematical Models of Tissue Structure

Mathematical models of tissue dynamics are to be developed with the aim of understanding the rules of tissue structure and renewal. The ultimate goal is to discover a set of rules that govern normal tissue structure and maintenance, and how perturbation of those rules lead to disease.

Email: SCHLEINI@UDEL.EDU

Karl R Schmitz — Biochemistry of ATP-fueled proteases: Characterization of inhibitor specificity against bacterial and mitochondrial Clp proteases

All cells possess ATP-fueled proteases that mechanically unfold and degrade protein substrates. These enzymes help cells respond to environmental changes, enforce protein quality control, and modulate specific cellular pathways. We study how these proteases function in bacteria, and we aim to discover small molecules that kill pathogenic bacteria by disrupting protease activity. This project will focus on Clp proteases, which are present in both bacteria and human mitochondria. We have characterized panels of small molecules that bind to and inhibit bacterial Clp proteases, but we currently do not know whether these compounds similarly target the analogous mitochondrial enzymes. The student will purify bacterial and mitochondrial proteolytic enzymes and will use a variety of biophysical and biochemical approaches to study their assembly, activity, and inhibition by small molecules in vitro.

Email: SCHMITZK@UDEL.EDU

Erica M Selva — Cell Signaling/Development/Biochemistry/Cell Biology: Analysis of the Dynamic Oligomerization of Wntless

The Wnt signal transduction pathway plays a critical role in organismal development and maintaining tissue homeostasis. Disruptions or abnormalities in the Wnt pathway can lead to various diseases such as osteoporosis, pulmonary fibrosis, type II diabetes, and cancer. This highly conserved signaling pathway is strictly regulated in both signal-producing and -recieving cells., Wnts, the signaling ligand of the pathway, are trafficked through the secretory pathway by the chaperone protein Wntless (Wls). Before Wnts can interact with Wls, this ligand is covalently lipid modified in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), causing it to become insoluble. Recent studies performed in the Selva laboratory have shown DWls (Drosophila Wls) oligomerizes before binding to Wingless (Wg), the prototypical Drosophila Wnt ligand. Crucially, DWls oligomerization has been shown to be necessary for Wg binding and thus, intracellular trafficking. While DWls oligomerization is essential for its interaction with Wg, binding of Wg is not requisite for DWls oligomerization. The goal of this project is to determine the mechanism of DWls oligomerization and its role in the trafficking and release of Wg in vivo. To study this, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), and non-reducing gel electrophoresis will be utilized. The photon counting will focus on the plasma membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), since experimental data has shown that Wls engages Wnt in the ER. Preliminary studies have led to the provocative hypothesis that may provide insight into Wls function. In the ER Wls engages Wnt as a dimer to escort it through the secretory pathway to the plasma membrane where it reverts to a monomer as a potential Wnt release mechanism.

Email: SELVA@UDEL.EDU

Fabrizio Sergi — Brain functional connectivity and robot-enhanced motor skill learning

In this project, the student will develop a force-controlled video game that will be run by an MRI-compatible wrist robot, and test its operation during experiments with healthy subjects undergoing functional neuroimaging before, during, and after exposure to these video-games.
The expectation is that the student will learn to use the software to develop these video games, implement modifications in the existing code, and then support a graduate student with data collection over this summer project.
Our goal is to understand how the brain modifies a motor plan when subjects are exposed to force-controlled video games. With future validation on neurological patients, this research project could improve current practices in neurorehabilitation after stroke and incomplete spinal cord injury.

Email: FABS@UDEL.EDU

J. Megan Sions — Musculoskeletal Imaging:Trunk Muscle Characteristics and their Association with Balance, Function, and Community Participation in Individuals with Lower-Limb Amputations

We are conducting a NIH-funded, cross-sectional study of 38 individuals with a unilateral lower limb amputation, i.e. 19 above-the-knee and 19 below-the-knee, who will be compared to 19 individuals without a lower limb amputation, i.e. controls. The study objectives are to determine (1) whether impairments and asymmetries in trunk muscle function that are evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound imaging are associated with the presence of a unilateral lower limb amputation and (2) the extent to which trunk muscle characteristics are associated with balance, physical function, and societal participation among individuals with lower limb amputations. Results will help determine whether trunk muscle impairments, which are amendable to exercise interventions, are associated with lower limb amputations and should be considered as potential modifiable factors in future clinical trials. Given the escalating prevalence of lower limb amputations and the associated negative consequences on function and participation, this research has the potential to positively impact public health by shifting post-amputation rehabilitation emphasis from the lower extremity muscles to the trunk muscles.
The summer scholar will assist with participant recruitment, data collections, and data entry. The scholar will be trained in data analysis, statistical analysis using IBM SPSS statistics, results interpretation, manuscript preparation, and presentation of study results in poster format at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Email: MEGSIONS@UDEL.EDU

John H Slater — Development of Vascularized, Tissue Engineered Disease Models

My lab is currently developing and validating vascularized, tissue-engineered constructs as disease models for cancer metastasis and stroke. We implement material science, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, cellular biology, microfluidics, and physiology to develop advanced models of disease.

Email: JHSLATER@UDEL.EDU

Jia L Song — microRNA regulation of development

Our lab is interested in examining the regulatory roles of small non-coding RNAs known as microRNAs. The overarching hypothesis is that microRNAs modulate gene expression levels of various biological process to ensure proper development. We use the sea urchin model to elucidate how microRNAs control gene regulatory network and signaling pathways. Our research serves as a paradigm of understanding the general function of microRNAs as important integrators of biological pathways to power development in making a functional embryo.

Email: JSONG@UDEL.EDU

Jessica Tanis — Identification of Novel Factors that Regulate Acetylcholine Signaling at the Neuromuscular Junction

At the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), post-synaptic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) transduce a chemical signal released from a cholinergic motor neuron into an electrical signal to induce muscle contraction. Defects in cholinergic signaling at the NMJ are the underlying cause of severe muscle weakness observed in congenital myasthenic syndromes as well as the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis. Formation and maintenance NMJ structure, regulated synthesis, release and breakdown of acetylcholine and precise clustering, abundance and function of AChRs is required for proper neuromuscular transmission. C. elegans body-wall muscles are comparable to vertebrate skeletal muscles and provide an excellent model for study of neuromuscular transmission. To identify novel factors that regulate post-synaptic acetylcholine signaling we carried out a genome wide RNAi screen in C. elegans for gene knockdowns that cause hypersensitivity or resistance to the AChR agonist levamisole. The project goal is to characterize a subset of the genes identified in our genetic screen in order to determine the mechanism by which they regulate post-synaptic signaling.

Email: JTANIS@UDEL.EDU

Timothy J Vickery — Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning to Attend, Remember, and Decide

We conduct behavioral and fMRI neuroimaging studies in a variety of domains related to basic aspects of cognition (perception, attention, memory). In particular, we are interested in different forms of learning and how learning interacts with those aspects of cognition.

Email: tvickery@psych.udel.edu

Mary P Watson — Organic Chemistry:Development of New Cross-Coupling Reactions

INBRE scholars will work to develop new cross-coupling reactions of use in the preparation of bioactive organic molecules.

Email: MPWATSON@UDEL.EDU

Shuo Wei — Regulation of ADAM metalloproteinases in cancer cells

The disintegrin metalloproteinases (ADAMs) are key regulators of cell signaling in development and cancer. Recently, we uncovered several pathways that control the trafficking and turnover of ADAMs in vivo. Current efforts are focused on understanding a) how these pathways function to regulate ADAM-mediated proteolysis, and b) how these pathways affect cancer cell migration/invasion and drug resistance.

Email: SWEI@UDEL.EDU

Yvette Yien — Studies on how red cells specifically regulate the function of mitochondrial heme synthesis enzymes for red cell development

While heme synthesis is a ubiquitous process that happens in all tissues, red cells produce especially large quantities of heme during their development for hemoglobin production. In recent years, we are finding that mitochondrial proteins currently associated with housekeeping processes such as respiration also play key roles in up regulation of heme synthetic enzyme activity during red cell differentiation. One such regulator is the mitochondrial protein unfoldase, CLPX. CLPX plays a key role in regulation of ALAS, the first and rate limiting enzyme in the heme synthesis pathway, by control of its protein stability and enzymatic activity. We have also found that CLPX may control other enzymes in the heme synthesis pathway. Undergraduates working on this project will carry out enzymatic assays in CLPX -/- erythroid cell lines to identify the heme synthetic enzymes that are regulated by CLPX. In addition, they will also investigate the developmental defects in zebrafish that are caused by loss of Clpx.

Email: YYIEN@UDEL.EDU

Tonya F. Gressley — Improving Dairy Cattle Health and Performance through Precision Feeding

Slow release urea products are fed to dairy cattle to provide ammonia to rumen microbes. Those microbes then convert ammonia into microbial proteins that are absorbed by the cow to support health and performance. The student will work with Dr. Gressley to develop an in vitro system to evaluate slow release urea products. Next, an animal study will be conducted to determine the ability of products selected via the in vitro system to optimize dairy cattle health and performance.

Email: GRESSLEY@UDEL.EDU

Cathy Wu — Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Exploratory projects to analyze disease genes, their functional features, and gene-disease-drug networks using data mining, text mining and bioinformatics approaches.

Email: wuc@udel.edu

Joshua P Neunuebel — Neural Basis of Social Behavior

My group is focused on revealing the function communication in social behavior and delineating the neural circuits that process social information. Our goal is to identify vocal signatures of individual mice during specific social contexts, as well as to discover the neural representations of these signatures. All the projects in the lab are designed to answer questions that are related to social communication. For specific details please contact me.

Email: JNEUN@UDEL.EDU

Christopher Price — Activity-Driven Solute Transport and Nutrition in Injured articular Cartilage

The objective of this project is to study the influence of both physical and compositional injuries to articular cartilage on the tissues ability to support activity driven solute and fluid transport into the tissue. Joint activities that include sliding of cartilage surfaces against each other have the ability to promote the recovery and sustenance of tissue hydration, mechanical properties, and low friction lubrication through a hydrodynamic process termed 'tribological rehydration'. In healthy tissues this process also drives active fluid and solute transport into cartilage, which will influence cartilage nutrition and perfusion. The purpose of this research is to identify if damage to cartilage that mimics either joint injuries or osteoarthritis can inhibit the biomechanical and transport properties of cartilage, possibly leading to accelerated mechanical and biological damage/wear.

Email: cprice@udel.edu

Wesley College

Malcolm J D'Souza — Correlation analyses

Three main focus areas:
1. Chemometric analyses; experimental study of the break-down of prodrug building blocks in polar protic and polar aprotic solvents.
2. (Q)SAR - Structure Activity Relationships
3. Public Health projects - obesity and disease occurrences within population subsets.

Email: malcolm.dsouza@wesley.edu

KellyAnn Miller — Synthesis and Evaluation of Natural Product Thiazolidine-2-thione Analogs for Biofilm Inhibition

The goal of this biofilm project is to identify compounds that have the potential to improve treatment of chronic infections. Novel drugs are needed to control biofilm formation as biofilms, which are found in ~80% of chronic infections, are resistant to many antibiotics and the immune system. The goal of this study is synthesis and evaluation of the properties of novel thiazolidine-2-thione analogs of natural products on bacteria that form biofilms. To accomplish this, minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) will be determined for planktonic cells to get a baseline for antimicrobial effectiveness starting with bacterial strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus mutans. Following the determination of planktonic MICs, biofilm assays will be performed to determine whether the same compounds are effective against biofilms. MICs of planktonic cells will be compared to activity against biofilms. It is hypothesized that the thiazolidine-2-thione analogs will show the ability to disrupt biofilm formation while having minimal effects on planktonic cells.

Email: kellyann.miller@wesley.edu

Kevin E Shuman — Effect of pharmaceutical drug precursors on aquatic microbes

Improper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. antibiotics) can lead to their introduction to the environment. The presence of these drugs can result in the selection of antibiotic resistance or their possible bio-accumulation. Current projects are focused on how the drug precursors sulfonyl chloride and sulfamoyl chloride and determining how these drugs affect microbial populations from the St. Jones River in Silver Lake Park (Dover, DE).

Email: kevin.shuman2@wesley.edu

Derald Wentzien — Analysis of Obesity Related Rates in the IdeA States

I will be mentoring Ph.D. student, Riza Bautista, with Dr. Malcolm D'Souza of Wesley College. We will be analyzing obesity-related death rates in the IdeA states using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wonder data. We will be using SAS to analyze trends in the obesity-related death rates and correlations between the rates and certain demographic information such as gender, race and income.
Dr. Malcolm D'Souza will serve as the primary mentor. I will assist with the statistical analysis.

Email: derald.wentzien@wesley.edu