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NIA/NIDA Poster Day Celebrates Decade of Student Learning

By Doug Dollemore

Photos by Doug Hansen

A few months ago, 18-year-old Bill Rogers knew little about aging. But after participating in the National Institute on Aging Summer Intramural Research Program, he has developed a clearer understanding of the aging process and its biological underpinnings.

Tiffani Bright, an information systems management major and Meyerhoff Scholar at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, explains her projects to NIA director Dr. Richard J. Hodes.

"Working on projects involving osteoarthritis reminded me of how insidious many age-related diseases are," Rogers says. "Every step I take increases the size of miniscule tears that will eventually open into gaping weaknesses in my cartilage that could plague me 40 or 50 years from now. So just because there is no pain doesn't mean the steady process of aging isn't occurring."

At the poster session, NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman and NIA MARC Coordinator Arlene Jackson (r) greet Louisha Barnette, NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program recipient for 2002. Barnette spent the summer working in NIA's Laboratory of Neurosciences.

Rogers, who will be a sophomore at Duke University this fall, is one of 42 students who participated in the NIA summer program and was among those who presented research findings at the 10th annual NIA and NIDA IRP Poster Day on Aug. 1 in the lobby of the Gerontology Research Center in Baltimore. Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research, was among the attendees.

Since its inception in 1993, more than 400 students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have presented results of their summer research projects on NIA and NIDA IRP Poster Day. This year's class, ranging from high school to medical students, presented findings from a cornucopia of research areas including bioinformatics, cellular apoptosis and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Sundeep Viswanathan (r) discusses his poster, "Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Induce Apoptosis in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma Cell Lines," with Dr. Dan L. Longo, NIA scientific director, and Dania Medina, a fellow student.

"One fundamental goal of this program is to stimulate, encourage and nurture a quest for knowledge in basic biomedical research among budding scientists," says Dr. Yolanda Mock, NIA biomedical recruitment coordinator. This year's participants say the program did that, and much more.

"My summer experience has far surpassed my goals," says Sundeep Viswanathan, a senior biochemistry honors student at the University of Texas, Austin. "Not only have I honed my scientific reasoning and learned valuable research techniques, but I have had the chance to speak with experts in many fields, which has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available in research."

Ted Florival-Victor (l), a third-year student at Howard University School of Medicine, discusses his poster on the "Labelling of the AF5 Cell Line with PKH26 to Identify Cell Profiles in Co-Culture Experiments and Differentiation of AF5 Cells to Gabaergic Neurons," with NIDA summer program coordinator Dr. Stephen J. Heishman.

Students interested in participating in the 2003 NIA or NIDA Summer Intramural Research Programs can learn more at http://www.grc.nia.nih.gov/students/summeropps.htm. They also can email Mock, mocky@grc.nia.nih.gov, or Dr. Stephen J. Heishman, NIDA summer program coordinator, sheish@intra.nida.nih.gov.

Sunipa Saha, a junior at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., presents her work from NIDA's Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch, titled "Duration and Intensity of Tobacco Craving Induced by Imagery Scripts in Non-Abstinent Smokers."


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