Stowers researchers rack up awards

Once again, KUMC graduate students conducting research in labs at the Stowers Institute were awarded prizes at the University of Kansas Medical Center Student Research Forum. This multi-day event, similar to the Stowers Young Investigator Research Days, highlights the research of students studying in medical and biological disciplines

Naomi Tjaden, an MD-PhD student based in the Trainor Lab received a first place award for her poster in the Poster Session II competition. The winning poster described Tjaden’s research of retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, which affects the migration of neural crest cells to locations in the intestinal tract. When neural crest cells don’t develop properly and colonize the nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract a condition known as Hirschsprung disease may result. This disease occurs in 1/5000 live births, and typically requires surgical resection of the bowel. Tjaden believes that gaining a greater understanding of the role of retinoic acid to intestinal development may lead to innovative non-surgical treatment approaches to reduce the occurrence of this common congenital disease.

Conaway Lab student Rushi Trivedi received the Joe R. Kimmel Award. This award recognizes the most outstanding research presentation by a student in the University of Kansas Medical Center Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. Trivedi captured the prize with his presentation on the regulation of ALC1 (Amplified in Liver Cancer 1), encoded by a suspected cancer-causing gene and a member of the SNF2 ATPase superfamily of proteins that contains a SNF2 ATPase domain and a regulatory macro domain. Trivedi’s project focused on a small patch of amino acids that was previously thought to act only as a simple linker of these domains. His research revealed within that linker potential regulatory elements including a DNA binding region that could facilitate communication between two structurally independent domains and help regulate the SNF2 ATPase. With this discovery Trivedi is concentrating on better understanding the regulatory mechanism of ALC1 which could ultimately be useful in developing drug therapies for liver cancer.