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The Beckman Research Scholars Awards are made possible by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in support of truly exceptional undergraduate students who are committed to a research-based career in Biology or Chemistry. The Beckman Scholars will complete an Honors Thesis on their research.

The Schering-Plough Corporation funds exceptional students in Biology and Chemistry who are interested in a research or medical career.  Recipients of this prestigious award not only conduct Honors Thesis research at UCLA during the academic year, but participate in a special internship at Schering-Plough laboratories in the summer.

 

2007-2008 Beckman Scholars

Mr. James Chen

Mr. Bac Nguyen

 

2007-2008 Schering-Plough Scholars

Mr. Kevin Chen

Mr. Adrian Garcia

 

 

Mr. James Chen
Mentor: Dr. Hong Wu
Funding: Beckman Scholar
Title: Role of Bmi-1 in Leukemic Stem Cell Self-Renewal Following Pten Deletion

(from left to right) Dr. Hong Wu, James Chen, Dr. Wei Guo

James Chen is a fourth year Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics major studying under the direction of Dr. Hong Wu and Dr. Wei Guo in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Dr. Wu’s laboratory has generated a leukemia mouse model in which Pten, a tumor suppressor gene, is deleted in the hematopoetic stem cell compartment. In this model, Pten deletion has been linked to stem cell exhaustion; however, strikingly despite this, they have identified a rare population of leukemic stem cells (LSC). For his project, James is studying the role of Bmi-1 in LSC self-renewal. Bmi-1, a proto-oncogene within the Polycomb Group family of proteins, has been implicated in self-renewal. Other groups have shown that c-Myc regulates Bmi-1 expression at the transcriptional level. In Dr. Wu’s model, c-myc is over-expressed as a result of an aberrant chromosomal translocation with TCR alpha/delta. After assessing whether Bmi-1 is disregulated in LSCs, he will perform RNAi and transplantation studies to determine Bmi-1’s role in LSC self-renewal in vivo.

James is studying for an MD/PhD (MSTP) and a career in biomedical research. He is thankful to Dr. Hong Wu as well as the Beckman Foundation for providing him with this remarkable research opportunity.

 

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Mr. Kevin Chen

Mentor: Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe
Funding: Schering-Plough Scholar
Title: Axis of Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cells in the Aorta-Gonad-Mesonephros Region

Kevin Chen is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. Kevin is conducting research on hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in the laboratory of Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe under the guidance of Dr. Ann Zovein. Currently, it is difficult to culture HSCs in vitro without differentiation occurring. Defining a niche that maintains HSC potential is critical in expanding our knowledge of these stem cells. This information can then be used in a wide array of HSC applications such as production for blood transfusions or simply for further in vitro research. Kevin is studying the origin of HSCs in a fetal mouse niche with hopes of better understanding hematopoiesis and differentiation.

This summer, Kevin participated in a research internship at Schering-Plough Biopharma in Palo Alto, California. He worked closely with Dr. Daniel Cua and Dr. Yi Chen to study the protective function of a T-helper cell subset during toxic colonic damage. To simulate the damage, Kevin used the dextran sulfate sodium mouse model in various knockout mice strains. He thoroughly enjoyed his summer experience and would like to thank Schering-Plough and the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center for the great research opportunity. He would also like to thank Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe, Dr. Ann Zovein, and the rest of the Arispe lab for their advice and support.

 

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Mr. Adrian Garcia
Mentor: Dr. Igor Spigelman
Funding: Schering-Plough Scholar
Title: GABA A Receptor (GABA AR) Plasticity After Chronic Ethanol Intoxication

Adrian Garcia is a fourth year Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics major. Adrian is investigating the time-dependent effects of EtOH intoxication on GABA AR composition and function in rats. The Spigelman lab investigates how the GABA AR complex undergoes profound molecular, functional, and location-specific alterations in response to chronic alcohol consumption. Though these changes are reversible in rats treated with a single intoxicating dose of EtOH, chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) treated rats remain altered in GABA AR subunit composition after 40-120 days. Adrian will investigate if these alterations persist 200 days post withdrawal. This investigation will help in understanding the chronic aspects of alcohol addiction.

Adrian participated in a research internship at Schering-Plough Biopharma in Palo Alto, California during the summer of 2007. Adrian worked closely with his mentors Martin Oft and John Mumm, whom research in the oncology department. The lab has shown that IL-10 has anti-tumor effects in vivo using rat models. Adrian took part in this investigation by determining interleukin-10’s (IL-10) effects on macrophages in vitro. He generated data that demonstrates that IL-10 activates macrophages in vitro in a concentration dependent manner. In addition, he showed that IL-10 in combination with INF-γ enhances the secretion of inflammatory and immunoregulatory chemokines.

Adrian would like to thank Schering-Plough and the UCLA URC/CARE for the rewarding Schering-Plough research internship opportunity and funding and additionally for the summer bridge program opportunity in summer of 2006. Adrian would like to especially thank his internship mentors Martin Oft and John Mumm as well as Lingling Wu and Jie Dai for continuing guidance and support. He would also like to thank Dr. Spigelman, Edward Meyer, Alana Abriam, and the rest of the lab for their advice and support here at UCLA.

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Mr. Bac Nguyen
Mentor: Dr. David Krantz
Title: Studying learning and memory through the characterization of a novel neurotransmitter transporter mutant in Drosophila

(from left to right): Dr. David Krantz, Bac Nguyen, and Graduate Student Lisa Brooks

Bac Nguyen is a fourth year Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics major conducting research in Dr. David Krantz’s Neuroscience and Psychiatry Lab. In this lab, which studies neurotransmitter transporters, Bac works directly with graduate student Lisa Brooks under the mentorship of Dr. David Krantz. Lisa Brooks’ project is to characterize a novel neurotransmitter transporter, “DVX”, expressed in the Drosophila mushroom bodies. Since neurotransmitter transporters are required for synaptic transmission and the mushroom bodies are important for learning and memory, we hypothesize that the DVX mutants may have a defect in learning and/or memory. Bac’s primary project is to adapt and apply a courtship-conditioning assay to the DVX mutants in order to quantify potential differences in learning and memory. In addition, Bac has been using Drosophila to model Parkinson’s disease, focusing on the neurotoxic effects of pesticides. Bac hopes to pursue a career in academic medicine in the future, in which he will practice medicine, train residents and perform research. Bac would like to personally thank Lisa Brooks and Dr. David Krantz for their help and guidance, and the Beckman Foundation for providing the opportunity to pursue this work and explore research at a level he could not have imagined.

 

 

Profiles of Students