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Biology Presentations

Presentations are listed in alphabetical order by the presenter's last name.

The Role Mir-124 in C. elegans has on Neurological Diseases
Neurological diseases impact modern society in significant ways, and yet we still know little about them. Micro-RNAs are regulatory genes that have been implicated in most diseases, including neurological diseases. In order to better understand the role of Micro-RNAs in neurological disease, I choose to work with Mir-124. Mir-124 is associated with certain neurological diseases that affect movement, such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Huntington’s disease is a hereditary disorder that can result in a decline in brain function. Parkinson’s disease is mostly in the elderly and can result in tremors and prevent the ability to move. Using C. elegans as a model, I am trying to better understand the role of Mir-124 by identifying its primary targets. In my project, I used computer algorithms to identify seven genes in Mir-124. I used certain techniques such as PCR, Gel electrophoresis, and DNA purification to confirm that the genes were present. The goal then is to transfer these genes into cell culture and C. elegans to understand the effect it can have on the overall health of the organism.
Presenter: Jameela Buchanan / Mentor: Michael Turner, Ph.D.
Assessing Growth Challenges and Chemotherapy Treatment of the Aggressive Metastasized SW620 Colon Cancer Cell Line
Since the start of humanity, cancer has been a debilitating disease that has stifled the scientific community. Malignant tumors (cancer) are cellular growth masses that invade surrounding tissues and eventually breakthrough the basement membrane layer to exceed proliferation. The metastasis of SW620 colon cancer was found in a Caucasian male of 51 years of age. Through genetic characterization, this cell line was found to contain several oncogenes including myc, and ras. It also contains a mutation in a key tumor suppressor gene, p53. This study investigated SW620 cell line in four different ways: proliferation, mitotic index, anchorage independent growth, and chemotherapy response. Proliferation, a normal cellular process, is the ability of cells to growth rapidly and continuous. Over only three days of growth, the SW620 cells showed an increase of 20 fold, making it the fastest growing cell line in the class. We will follow these results with experiments designed to assess the percent of cells in mitosis (mitotic index), where we expect to see a high percentage of cells in the process of dividing. Similarly, we expect that the SW620 cells will grow large under anchorage-independent conditions, a hallmark of aggressive cancers. In our final experiment, we will assess response of SW620 to different classes of chemotherapeutics used in the clinic. Ultimately, understanding how cancer cells behave and respond to therapy may help guide better treatment strategies for patients.
Presenters: Kiev Denby and Sindy Ortega / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Investigation of HeLa Cells: Striving for a World that LACKS Cancer
There are seemingly endless possibilities of mutations, translocations or gene amplifications that can cause different types of cancer. Studying patterns of how different changes in the genome of cancer cells have helped specify treatments to certain cancers. Our group is investigating HeLa cells, a cervical cancer cell line that has been used in research since they were first immortalized in 1951. Since then, HeLa cells have been used to test the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones, and viruses on the growth of cancer cells. The purpose of our study is to examine HeLa cell cancer in comparison to nine other human cancers with regard to proliferation, mitotic index, anchorage dependent growth, and response to chemotherapy. We first performed a CyQuant assay to find density increase of cells in cell culture. This will give us an idea of how proliferative our cells will be. We will then find our cell’s mitotic index using fluorescence microscopy. Lastly, we will examine our cell’s anchorage dependent growth and its response to chemotherapy. By the end of this research, we will have analyzed the in vitro characteristics of our cells when compared to others. Then, we will hopefully be able to use those findings and comparisons to explain why our cells react to chemotherapy in the way they did.
Presenters: Nicholas Einolf and Austin Petry / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Determining cell proliferation rate, mitotic index, and anchorage independence in the OVCAR3 cell line to determine effective chemotherapy treatments
Cancer is a collection of diseases characterized by uncontrollable growth of abnormally phenotypic cells that form tumors and will result in death if left untreated. Tumors can either be defined as “benign” or “malignant,” as in the cancers are either limited to existing in their tissue of origin or have broken through the basement membrane and spread to other parts of the body. One of the challenging things about finding treatments for cancer is that most treatments can harm normal, healthy cells in the body as well as cancerous ones. As a class, different malignant cancerous cell lines are being investigated with intention to gain a better understanding of cancer. Our group is specifically investigating OVCAR3, an ovarian adenocarcinoma originating from a 60-year-old Caucasian female patient. The cell line’s proliferation rate, mitotic index, anchorage independent growth, and effect of cancer chemotherapy on the cell line will be measured throughout this project. The cell line’s proliferation rate has already been found; four plates of OVCAR3 cells were incubated over various periods of time, and the proliferation rate was found to increase from 1.49 to 2.83, nearly 100%, over 24 hours. The study of chemotherapy treatments on the cell line is necessary to attempt to understand which treatment affects which of these characteristics of the cell line, and what is the most efficient way of treatment. Once we gain a better understanding of cancer though reviewing data compiled from all groups and finishing carrying out the other experiments, we hope to use this data to improve cancer treatments to give patients a better prognosis.
Presenter: Cara Gose / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
MCF10A as a Control for Measuring Cancer Cell Proliferation and Chemotherapeutic Toxicity
Cancer is as pervasive as ever, leaving shattered communities, friends, and families in its wake. Once diagnosed, it is a battle between malignant cells, chemotherapy, and non-tumorigenic cells. Cancer cells characteristics include uncontrollable division and metastatic growth. These characteristics are assessed via histology, proliferation assays, mitotic indexes, and anchorage-independence analysis. This class is analyzing these characteristics among different cancer cell lines as well as response to therapeutics. Our cell line, MCF 10A, represents control non-tumorigenic cells and therefore has a low proliferation rate compared to cancerous cell lines. We hypothesize similar results from the assessed mitotic index. Furthermore, we hypothesize MCF 10A cell’s to display anchorage-dependence and consistent responses to all chemotherapy treatment. The goal of chemotherapeutics are to maximize damage to cancerous cells while minimizing the effect on healthy cells; thus, these experiments will interrogate not only which chemotherapeutic agents are most efficient on which cancer cell line—as different cancers result from mutations in different pathways—but also which ones are least toxic to non-tumorigenic cells.
Presenter: Michael Hochstein / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Testing the efficacy of Calcium Propionate (CAP) on turfgrass phytopathogens
This research is about testing the efficacy of calcium propionate (CaP) as an antifungal agent on turf grass phytopathogens such as fungal organisms that causes disease in plants. Turf grasses are important in the ecosystem because they provide oxygen for humans through photosynthesis and they aid in stabilizing the nutrients in the soil. They also have significant commercial importance because of their common use in recreational landscaping including golf courses. Because of their commercial value, control of turf grass phytopathogens is a billion-dollar industry. CaP is an antifungal agent that is approved for use in baked goods where it acts to prevent fungal (mold) growth and extend shelf life. CaP has good record of safety for human consumption at low concentrations, suggest it might be an environmentally friendly treatment to prevent and or control phytopathogen infection. Because CaP can be consumed at low concentrations, we wanted to test CaP efficiency as an antifungal agent on turf grass phytopathogens. To determine whether CaP is effective as an antifungal agent against turf grass phytopathogens, four common fungi were grown in the presence and absence of CaP. Our data suggest that CaP may offer an environmentally friendly alternative to common turf grass infection treatment. These findings have been used to support filing of a provisional patent for CaP use in phytopathogen control.
Presenter: Malik Kadir / Mentor: Christine McCauslin, Ph.D.
Exploring chemotherapy treatments using aggressive cancer cell line MDA-231
Cancer is a collection of many diseases characterized by uncontrolled cellular growth that spreads to different locations in the body. Cancer cells have several distinguishing features. They have a high mitotic index and altered morphology. Additionally, cancer cells lose contact inhibition and do not show density dependent growth or anchorage dependent growth. If left untreated cancer ultimately results in death. We will be performing experiments using MDA231, which is a metastatic adenocarcinoma in breast tissue. It was originally harvested from the breast tissue of a 51 year old Caucasian woman. MDA231 is triple negative for ER, PP, and HER2 and is highly aggressive. We will be performing several different experiments using MDA231 that will allow us to observe its proliferation, mitotic index, anchorage independent growth, and response to chemotherapy in order to better understand cancer.
Presenter: Grace King / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Comparative Studies on MCF7 Cancer Cell Lines
MCF7 Cells are cancerous breast duct tissue that has been removed from a female middle-aged patient from Detroit, Michigan in the 1970s and immortalized for scientific research due to their ability to repeatedly divide in culture. Normal cell lines will normally last a few months, by comparison. Data gathered via CyQuant fluorescence assay reveals that this cell line has an aggressive growth curve in comparison to other cell lines yet does not form metastases easily when grafted into other animals. In addition to these characteristics, analyses of these cells will reveal their mitotic index (frequency of division), density dependence, anchorage dependence, and their response to chemical therapeutics. Comparisons to other cancer cell lines will reveal cancer’s uniqueness depending on the tissue type as well as the intensity, in addition to the struggles that come with treating the illness due to underlying chemical weakness or resistance to therapeutics, genetic rearrangement, or other methods of healing. These analyses will also outline the cell line’s use for research and highlight some of the underlying characteristics of breast ductal carcinoma in particular, such as the presence of hormone receptors, growth factor receptors, and more.
Presenters: Scott Korte and Aaron Slifer / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
T-47D Isn’t Going to Get the Best of Me: An Investigation Into The Relative Aggressiveness of the T-47D Cancer Cell Line
While all cancers are monoclonal in nature, each type of cancer contains its own unique combinations of mutations. Despite this, all cancer cells exhibit uncontrolled proliferation and many will ultimately develop the ability to metastasize. In this study, we investigated T-47D, a human breast cancer cell line. This ductal carcinoma comes from the mammary gland of a 54-year-old female, however the sample being examined in this study had metastasized and was pulled from the pleural effusion of the lung. This study seeks to analyze T-47D in respect to cell proliferation rates, mitotic index and response to chemotherapy. We hypothesize that T-47D will not be as aggressive as the other cancer cell lines due to early observations made in the lab. The objective of this experiment is to ultimately figure out the relative aggressiveness of T-47D in comparison to other cell lines within the study. Thus far in this study a Cyquant assay has been performed and the data suggests that our cell line is moderately aggressive with respect to rate of proliferation. We will soon explore the percentage of cells in mitosis, the growth potential in anchorage independent conditions, and the response of T-47D cells to common chemotherapies used in a healthcare setting. The goal is to gain a greater understanding of cancer and how it progresses and responds to treatment.
Presenter: Krischell Lewis / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Characterizing MCF10A, an Immortalized Cell Line
Cancer is a disease of runaway cellular proliferation, in which cells fail to obey normal checkpoints and signals, instead dividing excessively to form tumors and metastasize. Data collection on different cancer types is ongoing and often utilizes various cell lines. This poster examines the cell line MCF10A, an epithelial cell line taken from fibrocystic mammary tissue. This line is non-cancerous and provides a healthy, though immortalized, reference to which cancerous cell lines can be compared in four experiments. First, proliferation rates of the cells are established using a CyQuant assay. The second experiment uses fluorescent microscopy to quantify mitotic index, the percentage of cells in a sample actively undergoing division. A third characteristic of cancer cells in vitro, anchorage independence, is also examined. Lastly, the effect of chemotherapies on the cell line is described. Ultimately, this work will describe characteristics of non-cancerous immortalized cells, creating a profile to which cancer cells’ characteristics can be compared.
Presenters: Sierra Lookabill and Kerri Czekner/ Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
The Biological Evaluation of Immortalized Cell Line MDA-MB-435
The field of cancer research is ever-evolving with the aim to improve methods of detection and treatment. The use of cell lines assists in such research and evaluation of cancerous growth. MDA-MB-435 is an immortal cell line used when studying cancer as it possesses attributes of active cancer cells. Throughout the semester, our lab group will evaluate MDA-MB-435 proliferation rates, mitotic indices, and chemotherapy responses, and how each relates to cancer progression and patient prognosis. The various lab experiments give insight into the clinical considerations made by healthcare professionals for diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.
Presenter: Sophia Lookingbill / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Characterization of Human Colon Carcinoma Cell Line HCT116
Cancer is an aging disease rooted in genomic damage that comes in a myriad of varieties. Carcinomas are one of the major types of cancer, alongside sarcomas, lymphomas, and leukemias. These carcinomas are cancers of the epithelial tissue, which includes the skin and the linings of the body’s various organs. This poster will present the results of four studies conducted on the human colon carcinoma cell line HCT116: a cell line originally isolated from a 48-year-old male. Data presented will include information gathered on the cancer cell line’s proliferation rate, and once completed, mitotic index, anchorage independent growth rate, and response to chemotherapy. The completed proliferation assay utilized CyQuant staining and phase-contrast microscopy to show a roughly 4-fold average growth over four days. This fold average growth was comparable to other cancer cell lines tested by other groups in the same lab. Gathering this data will add to the existing scientific literature on HCT116, better characterizing a cell line that may one day serve as a model for novel treatments for human colon cancer.
Presenter: John Owens / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Mir-1 Target Validation Studies
Through research, findings indicate that most, if not all, cellular processes involve microRNA (miRNA). Their main function is to regulate the expression of genes by binding to the 3’-UTR region of its target and thus inhibiting translation. miRNAs are unique because they are able to bind to the 3’-UTR region of its target without perfectly base pairing. Computationally, we are able to predict the targets of each miRNA, however, since the miRNA do not need to base-pair perfectly, the algorithms used for prediction may be wrong. Therefore, through experimentation, the genes that miRNA are predicted to regulate are able to be validated. C. elegans is an easily manipulated model organism that allows the effective study of the miRNA within various molecular pathways that regulate cellular function. This presentation will focus on the techniques we are using to validate miRNA target interactions using C. elegans miRNA mir-1 as a model.
Presenter: Colette Robinson / Mentor: Michael Turner, Ph.D.
An Examination of the Aggressive Nature of the PC-3 Cancer Cell Line
For Cancer Biology, our class is researching the different characteristics of cancer cells. Specifically, our research group is examining the PC3 cancer cell line. PC3 cells were isolated from a patient with Stage IV prostate cancer and they provide a model for prostate cancers in culture. Such in vitro models allow for investigations into this specific cancer subtype as well as investigations into the molecular genesis of cancer more generally. Our group is performing experiments that examine PC3 cells along with the following parameters: proliferation rate, mitotic index, survival in an anchorage-independent state, and reaction to chemotherapy. These characteristics are crucial in distinguishing certain attributes of cancer cell lines, such as their aggressiveness and treatability. These results will be compared to other cancer cell lines that other research groups within the class are investigating in order to obtain a more diverse picture of different types of cancer and their behaviors.
Presenters: Colette Robinson, Bradley Owen and Ethan Pham / Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.

Biochemistry Biology Business Chemistry Communication Computer Science Conflict, Peace and Social Justice Criminal Justice Economics Elementary Education English Environmental Science Health Sciences History Mathematics Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) Political Science Psychology Secondary Education Sociology Theology

Faculty Presentations