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Collmann Endowment Gives Students Research Experience

Medical students spent their summer working in UT Graduate School of Medicine laboratories to learn bench research methodologies and how this research affects patient care through the I. Reid Collmann, M.D. Medical Student Educational Endowment. Former Dean I. Reid Collmann initiated the endowment to build a foundation for medical research within future physicians. This year, students from the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine and East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine participated in research related to Type II Diabetes dietary intervention; a method to inhibit the development of vascular disease; and an assessment of current treatment protocols for mothers and babies when mothers are diagnosed with unexplained fever during labor.

Travis Potter is a medical student at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. He worked in the Vascular Research Lab under the direction of Deidra Mountain, PhD, and Stacy Kirkpatrick. His project focused on RNAi, or the use of short interfering RNA (siRNA) to degrade mRNA in the cytoplasm and transiently attenuate intracellular proteins, which shows promise in the inhibition of vascular pathogenesis. In this study various polymer classes were screened in vitro for their cellular toxicity and silencing efficiency compared to our laboratory's standard transfection methods. His aim was to establish polymeric carrier molecules for targeted RNAi in the treatment of vascular pathogenesis.

Ben Pomy is a medical student at the UTHSC College of Medicine. He researched under the direction of Michael Karlstad, PhD. His study addressed the possibility that a diet restricted in methionine would decrease diabetes frequency using the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse, a genetically susceptible autoimmune model. In his study, Pomy proposed using female NOD/ShiLtJ mice fed a commercially-available methionine-restricted (MR) diet for 12 weeks. To date, NOD/ShiLtJ female mice develop T1DM at a frequency of between 70-80% by 18 weeks of age. This made female NOD/ShiLtJ mice useful for testing the hypothesis that MR dietary intervention will suppress the islet inflammation that drives destruction of the pancreatic beta-cell.

Casey Smith is a medical student at the UTHSC College of Medicine who worked with Nikki Zite, MD, in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her project was evaluating fever in labor. This was a retrospective review of all women delivering at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in the last three years that had a fever while in labor. Currently, if mothers are diagnosed with an unexplained fever, the mothers are assumed to have an infection. Then the baby has to start antibiotics, be taken away from the mother and undergo serial testing. Most of the mothers do not truly have an infection. The goal was to determine what markers are valuable in helping to diagnose babies that are truly at risk of infection and prevent so many babies from being separated from their moms during the critical first hour of life.

Posted September 22, 2014

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