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Waldorf University’s Biology Dept. Making Strides in University of Iowa FUTURE in Biomedicine Program

9/7/2018

FOREST CITY, IOWA, Sept. 5, 2018 – This past summer, Waldorf University biology sophomore Jennet Hojanazarova, and Dr. Carol Fischer, biology faculty, participated in the Fostering Undergraduate Talent – Uniting Research and Education in Biomedicine (FUTURE) in Biomedicine Program at the University of Iowa where they spent the summer researching cleft lip/palate in the lab of Dr. Robert Cornell, a professor in Anatomy and Cellular Biology. Hojanazarova and Dr. Fischer spent two months working side by side at the laboratory bench. As members of the Cornell lab, they also participated in the lab’s weekly journal club, including taking their “turn” presenting their research and current state of knowledge in the field. Near the end of July, they each presented the results of their research to other program participants at the FUTURE in Biomedicine Research Symposium. Hojanazarova also presented a poster at the University-wide Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium along with about 160 other students from other University of Iowa departments.

The focus of the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program is to provide access to the University of Iowa laboratories for Iowa liberal arts professors and their undergraduate students, foster collaborations between these schools, and mentor talented undergraduate students who are interested in research. The program included mandatory weekly educational workshops for students (and professors). Topics included the graduate school application process, how to prepare for various graduate and professional programs including the medical scientist training program (MD/PhD), and talks by faculty from various University of Iowa biomedical research programs. 

Dr. Fischer is the second Waldorf University faculty member to participate in this program with a student. During the summer of 2011, Dr. Gary Coombs and Cody Barnes participated in the program in the laboratory of Dr. Dawn Quelle (biochemistry department) studying two newly characterized tumor suppressors. This research established a collaboration with Dr. Lori Wallrath, (biochemistry department), which led to a second summer of research in 2015 for Dr. Coombs and Maria Valdes. This research focused on a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Several other students, including Rick Young and Gulnara Novbatova have had opportunities to participate in this research at the University of Iowa, and various collaborative projects have also been performed at Waldorf University by classes and individual students. Dr. Fischer has obtained reagents, cell lines, and new research instruments that will allow her and her students to continue collaborations with Dr. Cornell in Waldorf’s laboratories. Two students, Sydney Beasley and Hannah Ashley, are planning to work on this project as part of their senior research 
requirement this year, and Hojanazarova plans to continue working on the project as time allows.

The FUTURE in Biomedicine program provided much of the funding for the research completed by the student-faculty pairs, some of the funding was also provided by the host labs. Funding that supported Jennet’s participation was provided by Waldorf University’s Student Senate.