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Honors Students Offer Presentations on Genesis Biotechnology Group Internships


WEST WINDSOR – From new therapies for asthma to experiments trying to identify an early detection method for prostate cancer, a group of Mercer biology and chemistry students received more than an internship – they received real hands-on experience in scientific research.

“We had a really good experience, and some really good skills,” said student Yuliya Tsebriy.

Tsebriy and four other MCCC students presented summaries of their work Thursday, Feb. 21, during the Honors Research Presentation at the West Windsor campus. All five completed internships over winter break with two Genesis Biotechnology Group (GBG) subsidiaries: HUMIGEN, and VENENUM Biodesign. Both are located in Hamilton.

Representing GBG at the presentation was Mercer alum Dr. Joseph Nickels, '82 (Radiology), who serves as Director of Target Biology and Validation for VENENUM Biodesign. He also served as advisor for Tsebriy and her co-presenter, Nicole Sullivan, during their internship.

“Our students worked very hard over the winter session,” said MCCC Biology Professor Diane Hilker. “We can’t describe how appreciative we are of the opportunity offered to our honor students.”

Student Yifan Zhao’s presentation, “Gene Expression from a Mouse Model of Acute Asthma,” focused on new therapeutic targets in the treatment of allergic asthma. The process involved the extraction of RNA from mice, converting it to DNA, with the goal of optimizing the therapeutic target. He said he found the work challenging and rewarding.

“It’s been great,” Zhao said. “I would recommend it to anyone.”

Biology student Fabiola Pincay’s presentation, “A Protein of Interest in Endometrial and Prostate Cancer,” outlined her work on identifying a specific marker that can be used in early detection of prostate cancer, and potential applications in treatment regimens, while Tsebriy and Sullivan gave a joint presentation on “Protein Purification and Subsequent Assays,” which has applications in the treatment of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Sarah Patterson, a Biology/Chemistry major, presented on her work in “Identifying Inhibitory Peptide Using Ribosome Display,” which focuses on blocking receptors that play a role in human autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Martin Adelson, GBG’s chief operating officer, said this was the first time the company has partnered with a community college in an internship program, and noted that the students “were more comfortable in the lab than some of our third and fourth-year college interns.”

The Honors Research Program is coordinated through MCCC’s science faculty members. To participate, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA in their science classes, be recommended by an MCCC professor, and devote a minimum of six hours per week in the research institution.

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Honors Students
From left: MCCC Biology Professor Diane Hilker, Honors students Yuliya Tsebriy and Nicole Sullivan, Dr. Joe Nickels and Dr. Kathryn Iacono of Genesis Biotechnology, Honors student Fabiola Pincay, MCCC Chemistry Professor Helen Tanzini, Honors students Yifan Zhao and Sarah Patterson.
Nicole Sullivan

Honors student Nicole Sullivan gives her presentation on "Protein Purification and Subsequent Assays," research into treatments for hardening of the arteries.

Yifan Zhao

Honors student Yifan Zhao explains his work in "Gene Expression from a Mouse Model of Acute Asthma."