From the smallest life-forms to life’s big questions, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students win at Grad Show

From left: Associate Dean Dr. Sandra Quackenbush, Mike Mangalea, David Markman, Allison Cleymaet and Dr. Susan VandeWoude. The CSU Graduate School’s one-day conference highlighting research and creativity wrapped up Nov. 15 with 350 presentations, including 38 entries from graduate students in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Seven CVMBS entries took home awards in the categories of Top Scholar, Undergraduate Choice, Great Minds in Research. The CVMBS Top Scholar Award values discovery and celebrates development of the skill set to advance knowledge with original research. The college’s mission is to help animals, people and the planet through restorative and preventive strategies for the health of these systems – a One Health perspective. This award recognizes promising research students. The Great Minds in Research award is a collaboration of the Graduate School and the Office of Vice President for Research. This award recognizes graduate student submissions that contribute to the excellence and advancement of research, scholarship, and entrepreneurial efforts at CSU. The Undergraduate Choice Awards give undergraduates a chance to be jurors, exposing them to graduate-level scholarship and critical analysis. They are sponsored by the Graduate School and the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry. Evan Acerbo, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences (toxicology) Great Minds in Research Honorable Mention Histological Analysis of the Bacterial Infection Burkholderia pseudomallei in Mice Burkholderia pseudomallei, a bacterial pathogen native to Thailand and northern Australia is the causative agent of the fatal disease melioidosis. The pathology of the infection is not well understood and thus current treatment of the disease still results in fairly high mortality rates. Previous research from our laboratory has recently discovered a new potential treatment to the infection. A deeper histological analysis of the lung, liver, and spleen tissues of infected mice provides valuable insight into the success of the previous research by creating a better understanding the pathogenesis of this disease. Allison Cleymaet, Department of Clinical Sciences postdoctoral fellow CVMBS Top Scholar Opioids inhibit intrinsically-photosensitive retinal ganglion cells; Implications for opioid epidemic Opioid (ab)users suffer from circadian dysregulation that negatively impacts quality of life and retards opioid abuse therapy. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) are exclusively responsible for the photoentrainment of the sleep-wake cycle. Systemically administered opioids accumulate in the eye. We found that ipRGCs express opioid receptors and elucidated the molecular mechanism by which opioids inhibit light-evoked firing of ipRGCs. Characterizing retinal ipRGCs as a novel site of action for systemically administered opioids may have significant impact on addressing the challenges posed by the current opioid epidemic, with regard to therapeutic mediation of circadian rhythm pathology in opioid users. Albert Jeon, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology postdoctoral researcher Great Minds in Research Honorable Mention Small molecular adjunct strategy to potentiate antibiotics against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Controlling the global spread of tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a challenge due in part to the lack of new anti-TB drugs and the emergence of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). We hypothesized that 2-AI would reverse inherent resistance of Mtb against ß-lactam drugs and allow practical use ß-lactam drugs in TB therapy. When combined with 2-AI compounds, ß-lactam drugs showed improved bactericidal capacity. Additionally, we revealed reduced ß-lactamase activity and hypersensitivity against SDS for Mtb treated with 2-AI compounds. These data suggest that 2-AI based small molecules may be effective at reversing inherent drug resistance of Mtb to ß-lactam drugs. Mihnea (Mike) Mangalea, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology CVMBS Top Scholar Breaking Biofilms: nitrate inhibits biofilm formation in Burkholderia pseudomallei Burkholderia pseudomallei is a saprophytic bacterium inhabiting wet soils in tropical regions where it persists in biofilm communities. Melioidosis, the result of infection with B. pseudomallei, is a disease of high mortality that generally affects a wide variety of animals, immunocompromised people, and specifically targets agricultural workers. We discovered that nitrate inhibits biofilm formation in vitro and identified five genes responsible for sensing nitrate and altering biofilm growth. Our data implicates nitrate metabolism in the regulation of biofilm formation in response to environmental conditions. We propose a model for B. pseudomallei transition from its environmental reservoir to establish infections. David Markman, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology CVMBS Top Scholar Amoeba: The Next Hurdle for Disease Prevention and Detection The emergence of human and wildlife diseases are difficult to forecast due to complex interactions between pathogens, hosts, and their environment. Many pathogens are characterized by outbreaks followed by periods of dormancy. A critical question is ‘where do pathogens hide during dormancy?’ This research has identified amoeba in soil and water as a culprit. We discovered amoeba are capable of: 1) protecting certain pathogens over long time periods, 2) aiding in transmission of these pathogens, and 3) preventing modern disinfection measures from killing the pathogens. This research is instrumental for preventing disease outbreaks by targeting pathogens before human illness occurs. Bradley Nelson, Department of Clinical Sciences Top Scholar Undergraduate Choice - Research Early detection of osteoarthritis using cationic contrast-enhanced computed tomography Osteoarthritis is a debilitating and costly disease. Due to its progressive nature and the limited ability for cartilage to heal, the early detection of osteoarthritis is crucial to a successful outcome. However, current imaging methods are incapable of early detection. Using an equine model of cartilage injury, we have investigated and validated a new cationic contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CCECT) imaging method. The CCECT method accurately predicts the biochemical and mechanical properties of damaged cartilage reminiscent of early osteoarthritis, providing microscopic information through this imaging technique. This method will stimulate the development of new therapeutic strategies to combat this devastating disease. Rachel West, Department of Biomedical Sciences Great Minds in Research Honorable Mention Rethinking Oncogenes: The LIN28-Let-7-HMGA2 Axis Drives Placental Development There is a delicate balance between cell proliferation and cell differentiation in early placental development. Many oncogenes are essential in the maintenance of that balance. Inappropriate cell differentiation can lead to an insufficient amount of cells in the placenta. This cellular insufficiency can lead to placental insufficiency, causing placental pathologies including preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. This proposal will focus primarily on the oncogenes that make up the LIN28-let-7-HMGA2 axis.

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Outstanding CVMBS undergrads reflect and look ahead

Commencement is May 13-15, when 119 undergraduates in CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will receive their degrees. We’re celebrating by sharing just a few snapshots of students and their achievements. Congratulations to all our graduates! For complete information about commencement ceremonies, visit CSU's commencement webpage. Othman “Toomy” Alkubaisi, B.S., environmental health Alkubaisi came to CSU sponsored by Aramco, a Saudi Arabian oil company with a highly selective scholarship program. When he applied to U.S. schools, Alkubaisi was interested in Fort Collins for its beautiful weather. He quickly learned the city and university would mean so much more to him: “In the end, if I went back in time and had to choose again, I would choose the same major at the same university,” he said. Alkubaisi is developing a learning-based app for anyone studying to be credentialed as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist. After graduation, he will return to family and friends in Saudi Arabia and will pursue a career in environmental health. Advice for incoming students: “This is college! Ask questions, explore the world, and make great memories with great friends. And please stay safe. Nothing is worth wasting your life for.” Meagan Chriswell, B.S., biomedical sciences Chriswell is a scientist by day and pianist in her spare time, playing piano for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients at a local assisted living home. These experiences have helped her realize “life is best for me when I am making life a little bit better for those around me.” With that creed, she plans to pursue a combined medical degree and Ph.D. to focus on making effective and inexpensive treatments for infectious diseases. “I hope that my research and medicine can make life better for people who are down on their luck,” Chriswell said. Advice for incoming students: “Find something, no matter how small, that you can be happy doing for the rest of your life. It might be a little strange – for instance, I really like parasites – but that's absolutely alright.” Josh Ferreri, B.S., environmental health Ferreri was born and raised in Fort Collins, but he has crossed the ocean for environmental health research. He worked with Brooke Anderson, an assistant professor of epidemiology, to study health effects associated with severe environmental events and traveled to China this year to discuss and study the impact of the 2013 high-pollution episode in Beijing. Majoring in environmental health fueled Ferreri’s passion for understanding the relationship between humans and the environment, and his desire to serve others through research and medicine. After graduation, he will pursue degrees in medicine and epidemiology. Advice for incoming students: “Be bold in your time at CSU, and reach out to other students and faculty. You would be surprised by what doors can open through a simple question or interaction.” Jacob Machmer, B.S., biomedical sciences You could say Machmer is quick on his feet. As a dancer with Canyon Concert Ballet in Fort Collins, he has performed in numerous productions, including “The Nutcracker.” Machmer, a Fort Collins native, also enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking and yoga – part of the reason he stayed in his hometown to attend CSU. “My favorite part about CSU is that it accomplishes more feats, and impacts more people, than I am capable of understanding. Every day I continue to learn more about what this great institution does,” he said. Machmer will dance professionally for a while after graduation, and plans to later attend medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Prioritize balance in your life. Find passion in your academics, and complement that with the things that fill up your time outside of class.” Ronald Mills, B.S., microbiology and environmental health Mills is a first-generation student who traveled more than 3,000 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, to study microbiology and environmental health. He appreciated the influence of CSU professors. “Each professor has their own individual flare that makes them unique,” Mills said. “I will really miss interacting and learning from them.” He also learned off campus, with a job for the Dairy Farmers of America and an internship at the University of Northern Colorado. Advice for incoming students: “College in a science major can be really difficult, but don't give up. It's only a little part of your time at CSU. Just keep on trucking along, and you'll love the outcome!” Avery Olson, B.S., biomedical sciences Her friends say Olson has been a leader among peers since the day she unloaded her car and moved into the dorm as a freshman. She has volunteered each year with Care for Zumbo, a mobile medical clinic in Zumbo, Mozambique, in Africa. She is also an angler who works at St. Peter’s Fly Shop in Fort Collins. After graduation, Olson will return to Africa and will work for the mobile medical clinic before returning to the United States for medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Don't be afraid to explore your interests. Take random classes, join off-beat clubs, experience the world, and enjoy the journey. Now is the time!” Heidi Roche, B.S. microbiology http://source.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/heidi.roche_.jpgDuring Roche’s first year of college, her mother was paralyzed in an accident, prompting the freshman to transfer from the University of Colorado to CSU so she could become the primary caregiver for her mother and two siblings. Despite the extreme stress, Roche has seen one sibling off to college, has taught the other how to drive, and has helped her mother regain independence. “I now believe I am capable of anything,” Roche said. Roche has been accepted into the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and strives to become a world-class surgeon. Advice for incoming students: “Reach out to your faculty. They are wonderful people, and making relationships with them is one of the best things you can do for yourself; they support you, feed your passions, and help you reach higher.”  John Shannon, B.S., biomedical sciences Shannon missed nearly six weeks of his sophomore year at CSU after he broke his neck and spent nine days in the hospital — but that didn’t slow his quest to attend medical school. He joined the CSU Honors Program, spent time as a CVMBS ambassador and worked as a hospital volunteer. Shannon dove into undergraduate research, working at five different laboratories across the country, including at CSU, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vanderbilt University and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After graduation, Shannon will work at the National Institutes of Health researching viral diseases for one year before he applies to medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Study abroad, if given the opportunity. It’s an amazing opportunity and gives you a more holistic view.”

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