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BioBits Newsletter
University of Delaware

April 2012

In This Issue:
Alumni Weekend
Faculty News
Research News
Undergraduate Research
Student News
More News
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Welcome to the BioBits
E-Newsletter from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware.   We are excited to share our news!   

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Join us on Alumni Weekend
Biological Sciences Showcase
The Department of Biological Sciences will host its 2nd annual Biological Sciences Showcase during UD Alumni Weekend on Saturday, June 2nd from 11 AM-2 PM in Wolf Hall.  This year, you'll find us in the lobby of Wolf Hall, Room 100, and other nearby rooms.We will feature video clips from faculty about their research and teaching, posters of students' research projects, activities and  demonstrations.  Our Showcase overlaps with the Blue Hen Brunch on The Green in front of Wolf Hall, so please stop by and reconnect with BISC faculty and students and see what we've been up to! For more information and/or to register for Alumni Weekend Click here . . .
Dr. Smith with Mariano Duncan, former member of the LA Dodgers and other major league teams, in May 2006, reviewing the statistics of his playing career.


Faculty News . . .

When not teaching Microbiology or Genetics, advising countless numbers of undergraduates, or hosting visiting parents and prospective students, Dr. David Smith would probably admit that he's thinking about baseball, especially in April when the season begins. But Dr. Smith is not only a fan of the game, he is a master of baseball statistics. His accumulation and organization of baseball facts is so valued among fans, celebrities and sports historians that this year Dr. Smith was awarded the Henry Chadwick Award from the Society of American Baseball Research. How, you might ask, did a UD professor in biological sciences become a nationally recognized expert on baseball statistics? It began in 1958 when Dr. Smith witnessed his first Dodgers game and was immediately hooked on the statistical history of the sport. His collection of records from all major league games grew into his founding of Retrosheet in 1989, an organization which categorizes baseball information for fans who are equally passionate about the game.  To date, the complete play by play details of over 100,000 games are available on this encyclopedic website. In our department and at UD, Dr. Smith has always been respected as a popular teacher, productive researcher and ardent mentor of undergraduates. In fact, in 2005, he was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Advising Award. We are very excited that in the world of sports he is now receiving well deserved recognition for his contributions to the public's fascination with baseball.

(Pictured L to R)  Senem Kurtoglu, Tracy Riesenberger, Ken Jansson, Dr. Robert Sikes, Jomnarong Lertsuwan, Kornkamon Nopmonkul, Joe Morris.
Research News . .

Cancer kills about than 570, 000 Americans each year, which is approximately one third the number of new cases diagnosed. Most of these deaths will be the result of cancer spreading to other organs, a process known as metastasis. Prostate and breast cancer account for about 70,000 deaths annually. The goal of the Sikes lab group is to understand how prostate and breast cancers spread to bone. With this knowledge they believe therapeutics can be developed to interrupt the process and slow or kill the cancer. Dr. Robert Sikes, Associate Professor, joined the department in 2002 and is proud of the talented graduate and undergraduate students who work in his laboratory. Doctoral student Keith Jansson and Rachel Addo (M.S., 2012) are working to discover how prostate cancer uses nerves as a highway to spread to bone. Fayth Miles, M.S., Ph.D. (2012), discovered that TGF-β, a molecule involved in the spreading of cancer, is critical for the dynamic interplay between prostate and bone marrow to regulate bone colonization by the cancer. Doctoral students, Senem Kurtoglu and Kornkamon Nopmonkul, along with an undergraduate student, Joe Morris, are extending this research by working on other molecules that modulate bone: prostate cancer cell interactions. As they find the pathways involved in regulating the cancer: bone interaction, they are identifying more molecular targets for cancer treatment. Doctoral student, Jomnarong Lertsuwan, along with Master of Science student, Tracy Riesenberger, are determining the effects of extracellular nucleotides, such as ADP or ATP, on aggressive breast cancer growth and metastasis. One aspect of this work is revealing different responses to extracellular nucleotides in different pathological forms of aggressive breast cancer cells as well as those obtained from black versus white patients.Read more . . . 

Adam Reese presenting his poster at the ASBMB Poster Competition in San Diego
Undergraduate Research News . . .

This month Dr. John Gearhart from the University of Pennsylvania, whose research focus is Regenerative Medicine using stem cells, presented the Arnold M. Clark Memorial Lecture (see announcement in the March BioBits), so we find it worth noting that one of our own undergraduate researchers is a student of stem cell differentiation. Adam Reese, working in the cell signaling and dynamics laboratory of Professor Anje Nohe, has identified a protein (endoglin) on the surface of a progenitor cell which regulates whether that cell will become a fat or a bone cell. Regulating the production of that protein could have implications for both osteoporosis and obesity, two pervasive and disabling conditions in the U.S. population. Earlier this month, Adam presented a poster entitled "Endoglin is a Key Mediator of BMP2 Mediated Adipogenesis" at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Experimental Biology 2012, in San Diego.  Dr. Nohe's lab plans to continue this work by studying the signaling pathway used by endoglin , so that therapies might be designed to control its effect on differentiation. Read more . . .
(Pictured Front Row)  Gabriella Vasile, Secretary & Vandhana Reddy, Treasurer
(Back Row) Laura Powell, Vice President & Lauren Thompson, President 
(Not Pictured)   Enoch Cheung, Historian, Samuel Widmayer, Membership

Student News . . . .

Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) is a national biological honor society that offers an opportunity for members to interact with other interested students and biology professors through both academic and social activities. Currently, the University of Delaware's chapter of Tri-Beta has about 170 members, ranging from associate members (anyone with an interest in biology) to full members (who have 12 credits of biology at UD and a 3.0 GPA). So far, this spring's activities have included an information session for new member recruitment and the bi-annual Bagels, Banter, and Brew. At this event, the officers supply donuts and coffee to Tri-Beta members, professors, staff and interested students. It is a great networking opportunity for students and faculty, a nice informal way to discuss research opportunities, upcoming classes and possible letters of recommendation. Additional planned events include a Class and Research Panel, where the officers of Tri-Beta, answer questions from underclassmen regarding classes and research, a trip to either the Baltimore Aquarium or Philadelphia Zoo and a Tri-Beta t-shirt (designed by Tri-Beta members) sale. The May induction of new members will feature a guest speaker, which usually inspires members to get more involved in the Department of Biological Sciences! Tri-Beta has been a good avenue for underclassman to network in the department, and the faculty appreciates the sense of community that evolves from this group of dedicated students working together. Read more . . .   


Tri-Beta Bagels, Banter & Brew Event


More News . . . .
Dr. Jia Song & Family
The Department of Biological Sciences would like to welcome the arrival of Niko, the new son of our Assistant Professor Jia Song. Niko was born March 31, weighed 7 lbs 0.7 oz and was 20 inches long. The family is doing fine. Congratulations to them!





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Contact Info

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Delaware

105 The Green

118 Wolf Hall

Newark, DE  19716