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News & Events

News

May 2021 – RISE Awards

Each year RISE celebrates the accomplishments of some of the students who have worked with us. The George deStevens Award for RISE Research honors the memory of the founding director of RISE. The 2021 recipient is Yusef Shibly, C’21, a chemistry major, who has been an active member in the RISE laboratory since his sophomore year. Jonathan Crowther is Yusef’s mentor. Yusef helped start-up Jonathan’s laboratory by installing laboratory equipment and learning HPLC instrumentation. Yusef developed two unique assays for accurate measurement of bilirubin species in neonatal samples which is diagnostic of potential disease states. Yusef also used HPLC/MS to further identify additional bilirubin specie. Yusef is attending medical school this fall.
Vanessa Raab, C’21 received this year’s Sidney Udenfriend Prize, named in honor of the second director of RISE. Vanessa, a biology major, has been working in our research laboratory for two years, including a DSSI summer session. Her research involves improving the production of a new antibiotic, kibdelomycin, to address the antibacterial resistance crisis. Vanessa has isolated several new mutants that significantly increase the production of the antibiotic. In addition, she has used DNA sequencing techniques to identify the mutations that cause the increase in antibiotic production. John Perkins is Vanessa’s mentor. Vanessa has accepted a research position in a biotechnology company in Pennsylvania.


May 2021 – Specialized Honors

If a student has accomplished a significant amount of research and has written and successfully defended a substantive thesis on this topic, students are awarded Specialized Honors at graduation. This year three RISE students completed honors theses:
Karishma Patel, C’21, under the guidance of Marvin Bayne, successfully defended her senior specialized honors project in neurology in the spring of 2021. Her thesis was entitled “Modeling and Manipulating Mutant Neurexin-Neuroligin Binding Interactions in Caenorhabditis elegans.” Karishma was accepted into several medical schools and will begin her career in medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School this fall.
Shivani Mody, C’21, under the guidance of Marvin Bayne, successfully defended her senior specialized honors project in neurology in the spring of 2021. Her thesis was entitled “The Search for Reliable Behavioral Assays to Model Parkinson’s Disease in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.”
Benjamin Strickland, C’21, under the guidance of Vince Gullo, successfully defended his senior specialized honors project in computer assisted drug design. His thesis was entitled “In Silico Discovery of FtsZ Inhibitors for the Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus”. Benjamin was accepted into several graduate programs and decided to join the University of North Carolina this fall in their medicinal chemistry Ph.D. program.


May 2021 – Honors Science Seminar

RISE members serve as mentors for the Honors 202, the Baldwin Honors Science Seminar in Natural Sciences. The final research papers prepared by the students are of very high quality. Two research papers from the Spring 2020 class were selected for publication by the editors of the Drew Review. The Drew Review is the annual research journal for the undergraduate research from the previous calendar year. The mission is to showcase the intellectual vibrancy of the students of the CLA. The two selected papers were the following:
“Sonodynamic Microbubble Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer: Properties, Applications, and Outcomes” Laila Serraj
“A New Model of Anxiety: Proposal and Outline of a C. elegans Behavioral Study” Cristabella Fortna


January 2021 – Scholarships

Three RISE students working in our laboratories received scholarships from the Independent Colleges and Universities for New Jersey (ICFNJ) organization.
Shivani Mody, C’21, neuroscience major; chemistry minor, received the Becton Dickinson Healthcare Scholarship for her work on worm models of Parkinsons disease.
Stephanie Wang, C’22, neuroscience and biochemistry & molecular biology major; French and public health minor received a J & J Pre-Professional Healthcare Scholarship for her work on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) genes using worm models.
Benjamin Strickland, C’21, biochemistry major, won an ICFNJ Scholarship, the Novartis Science Scholar Award. Benjamin also won the BioSolveIT Scientific Challenge, an annual contest for students conducting drug discovery research, that provides select students with software to aid their research. For more details see this Drew Stories link.


October 2020 – Heroes in Drug Discovery

The third Heroes in Drug Discovery Award lecture was celebrated honoring the groundbreaking work of Dr. Peter Senter and his team at Seagen Pharmaceuticals for the discovery and development of three marketed cancer drugs using antibody-drug conjugates. For more details see this Drew Stories link. This event was made possible through a grant from Independent Colleges and Universities for New Jersey supported by Pfizer.

Past recipients include:

Drs. Ann Weber and Nancy Thornberry and the team at Merck Research Laboratories for their contributions to the discovery and development of Januvia for the treatment of type II diabetes. (2019)
Dr. Mark Miller and the team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals for the discovery and development of a combination of drugs to treat cystic fibrosis patients. (2019)


May 2020

Each year RISE has the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of some of the students who have worked with us. The George deStevens Award for RISE Research honors the memory of the founding director of RISE. The 2020 recipient is Benjamin Strickland, C’21, for his research on the synthesis of new antibacterial compounds to address the antibacterial resistance crisis. Benjamin has synthesized the most potent antibacterial discovered in our laboratory thus far. From this work, Benjamin has independently initiated a new project using Computer Assisted Drug Design (CADD). This work allowed Benjamin to propose a new compound that is predicted to have excellent antibacterial activity. We look forward to synthesizing this new compound. Vince Gullo is Benjamin’s mentor.

Stefanie DeFronzo, C’20 received this year’s Sidney Udenfriend Prize, named in honor of the second director of RISE. Stefanie, a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, has been an active member in the RISE laboratories beginning in the summer of her freshman year modeling human neurological diseases in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. She has contributed both to the Parkinson’s Disease project and the Autism Spectrum Disorders project. She worked in the lab all four years and two DSSI sessions using another summer to attend the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine studying myelodysplastic syndrome. This spring Stefanie successfully defended her specialized honors thesis in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology “Worms on the Brain: the role of Autism-related genes nlg-1 and nrx-1 in thermotactic and chemotactic behavior of C. elegans”. Marvin Bayne is Stefanie’s mentor.


January 2020

Four students in working in the RISE laboratories were granted scholarships through the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ). These scholarships celebrate achievements and dreams for lab research. These students are Junhui Huang, C’20 (Celgene’s Sol J. Barer Scholarship for Life Sciences), Shivani Mody, C’21 (Becton Dickinson Scholarship), Karishma Patel, C’21 (J&J Pre-Professional Health Care) and Vanessa Raab, C’21 (J&J Pre-Professional Health Care). In all, ten Drew students were awarded scholarships through ICFNJ. Congratulations to all! https://www.drew.edu/stories/2020/01/24/drew-students-rake-in-scholarships/


October 2019

The second Heroes in Drug Discovery Award celebrated the groundbreaking work of Mark Miller and his team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals for the discovery of Kalydeco, lumacaftor and texacaftor that treat cystic fibrosis (CF). The hour-long seminar came one day after Vertex received FDA approval for this three-drug combination therapy, Trikafta. This drug will treat 90 percent of CF patients in the US many of whom have no other treatment options. For more details see: https://www.drew.edu/stories/2019/10/23/drew-celebrates-heroes-in-drug-discovery-award-vertexs-cystic-fibrosis-research/. This event was made possible by a grant from Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) supported by Pfizer.


June 2019

RISE Fellow Neal Connors co-founded and served as the Chief Technical Officer of Kalion, Inc. from 2014-2017. Kalion won the EPA’s Green Chemistry Challenge: 2019 Small Business Award for Microbially Produced High-Purity Glucaric Acid for Diverse Uses (https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/green-chemistry-challenge-2019-small-business-award).  These awards promote chemical technologies with environmental and economic benefits that incorporate the principles of green chemistry.  The production of glucaric acid using synthetic biology-derived microbes replaces a harsh, toxic, and non-selective chemical oxidation process for producing glucaric acid from glucose.


May 2019

The Drew Review, the annual research journal for the undergraduates of the Drew University College of Liberal Arts (CLA), publishes the undergraduate research from the previous calendar year. We aim to showcase the intellectual vibrancy of the students of the CLA. RISE members serve as mentors for the Honors 202 Science Seminar.  The 2019 issue of the Drew Review contains an article by Kelly Maegerlein, C’21, based on her research project with RISE mentors Andy Evans and Sam Kongsamut.  The project dealt with “Exploring the Hatred of Sound: A Review of Misophonia”.

Each year RISE has the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of some of the students who have worked with us. The George deStevens Award for RISE Research honors the memory of the founding director of RISE. The 2019 recipient is Janaya Reeves, C’19, for her research that uses CRISPR technology to “humanize” the C. elegans worm to model diseases such as autism and Parkinson’s disease.  Marvin Bayne is Janaya’s mentor.

Emilio Penate, C’19, received this year’s Sidney Udenfriend Prize, named in honor of the second director of RISE.  Emilio has been involved in cancer research under the direction of RISE Research Fellow, Bimal DasMahapatra for several years. Their research focused on reactivating the tumor suppressor gene p53, the guardian of the genome.

Ryann Callaghan, C’19, who received an Undergraduate Research Symposium award from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey the previous year, completed her Honors thesis in 2019 on the same subject entitled “Production of the antibiotic kibdelomycin by fermentation of the bacterium Kibdelosporangium sp.” under the guidance of Neal Connors.


April 2019

This year we initiated a new event, Heroes in Drug Discovery thanks to a grant from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) supported by Pfizer. The goal of this event was for students to learn about the exciting research that goes on in pharmaceutical laboratories and the major impact that this work can have for society. In addition, we wanted to honor and celebrate scientists for their work leading to drugs that have significantly improved the lives of millions of patients.  Our first awardees were Ann Weber and Nancy Thornberry for the discovery and development of Januvia to treat type 2 diabetes while at Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. Weber presented an inspirational lecture on real world research including practical advice for our students. For more details see: http://www.drew.edu/stories/2019/04/15/leading-drug-researcher-on-discovering-her-mission-and-reaching-her-goals/.


March 2019

Zarina Akbary, C’19, received an Undergraduate Research Symposium award from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey for her research on ancient yeast strains.  She presented the results of her research in March 2019 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.  Zarina also completed her Honors thesis entitled “Biocatalysis using Ancient Yeast Strains” under the guidance of RISE Research Fellow Neal Connors.


February 2019

An important component of RISE mentoring is for students to learn to use current sophisticated instrumentation.  This month we obtained a SeqStudio DNA sequencer from Thermofisher that will allow rapid DNA sequencing capabilities at Drew. We thank RISE Fellow Marvin Bayne working with the support of Thermofisher for making this possible.


May 2018

The Drew Review, the annual research journal for the undergraduates of the Drew University College of Liberal Arts (CLA), publishes the undergraduate research from the previous calendar year. We aim to showcase the intellectual vibrancy of the students of the CLA. RISE members serve as mentors for the Honors 202 Science Seminar.  The 2018 issue of the Drew Review contains an article by Mason Scher, C’20, based on her research project with RISE mentor John Eickmeyer.  The project dealt with “The Importance of Proxies in the Determination of PCO2 for the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum” and why they are important for understanding the history of climate change.  Alexander Pearce, C’19, also published an article in Drew Review on his research project with RISE mentor Sam Kongsamut. His project dealt with “Opioid Treatment: An overview of available treatment options for pregnant women in relation to NAS outcome”.

Erin Connors, C’18, was singled out by the NJ Tech Council for her promise as a future STEM scientist.  She received a 2018 Innovator to Watch Award from the council.  The award was presented at a Winner’s Circle Reception at Bell Works in Holmdel.

Each year RISE celebrates the accomplishments of students who have worked with us. The George deStevens Award for RISE Research honors the memory of the founding Director of RISE. The 2018 recipients are David Van Dongen, C’19, for his research on central nervous system disorders and Ryann Callaghan whose research involves natural product antibiotics. Ron Doll served as David’s RISE mentor and Neal Connors as Ryann’s.

Allison Ramos, C’18, received this year’s Sidney Udenfriend Prize, named in honor of the second Director of RISE.  Allison has been involved for several years on antibiotic research under the direction of RISE Research Fellow, Arny Demain. Their research has focused on Streptomyces platensis, a bacterium that produces the antibiotics platensimycin and platencin.


April 2018

On April 26, 2017, RISE Fellow, Arny Demain turned 90.  The Demain family, along with colleagues, friends, and former students, worked together to establish the Dr. Arnold L. Demain RISE Fellowship Endowment to support students engaged in research with RISE. Over 65 organizations and individuals from around the world contributed to the Demain Fellowship. Thanks to “Arny’s Army” and many other admirers.  These funds will provide support for RISE students for generations to come.

As additional recognition of Arny’s five decades long career as a microbiologist, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, honoris causa, at Drew’s 2018 commencement in celebration of “his service to students and his international connections that continue the momentum for his research.”


March 2018

Ryann Callaghan received an Undergraduate Research Symposium award from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey.  She presented the results of her research on the production of the antibiotic kibdelomycin by fermentation of the bacterium Kibdelosporangium sp. at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Ryann worked under the guidance of Neal Connors.


February 2018

RISE Honors class student Katelynn Fleming’s articles in the Science & Technology section of The Drew Acorn are becoming a fixture! Her article, “New Test Detects Alzheimer’s Disease”, describes how this new development can impact treatment of the disease, and her article, “RISE Alum Returns to Share His Journey in the Development of a Cancer Drug”, describes visit by Lou Lombardo, RISE student Class of ’82, now a group director of oncology chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb.


December 2017

RISE Associate Research Fellow, Dr. Bill Campbell, visits his alma mater, Trinity College in Dublin, to deliver keynote speech:

http://www.universitytimes.ie/2017/12/how-william-campbells-passion-for-parasites-won-him-a-nobel-prize/


September 2017

RISE student Ryann Callaghan received an Undergraduate Research Symposium award from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. She will present the results of her research on March 5, 2018 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Her research investigates the use of cumulative aminoglycoside antibiotic resistance mutations for increasing the production of kibdelomycin, a novel antibiotic previously discovered by Merck & Co.  RISE Fellows Dr. Neal Connors and Dr. Vince Gullo are her co-mentors, and the work is being carried out in collaboration with Sulagen, LLC.


May 2017

The May 2017 issue of The Drew Review contains three articles that stem from research done by members of last year’s Honors Science Seminar: Examining the uses of bacteria in oil spill bioremediation by Josephine Emanuelli, C’19; Self-injury and pain: Analysis of non-suicidal self-injury and the effects it has on the neurological processing of pain by Darci Gautam, C’19; and Cross-media metrics: The shift in audience measurement by Zarina Akbary, C’19.


April 2017

Two special events from the RISE Honors Science Seminar took place in April. Nobel Laureate Bill Campbell talked with students about “poem, paint, and parasite” or how to have a satisfying and productive time as an artist as well as a scientist. The class also had the opportunity to make a field trip to the labs of Celgene in Summit and to learn first-hand about the drug development process.

Each year RISE has the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of some of the students who have worked with us. The George deStevens Award for RISE Research honors the memory of the founding director of RISE. The 2017 recipient is Matthew Owen, a chemistry major. His work has concentrated on a RISE oncology project for which he has done compound synthesis and helped set up and refine membrane transport assays. Ron Doll serves as his mentor. This year’s Sidney Udenfriend Prize, named after the second director of RISE, was awarded to two RISE students, Erin Connors, C’18, and Diana Lourenco, C’17, both of whom are being honored for their work on antibiotics projects. Erin was mentored by RISE Research Fellow Vince Gullo and Diana by Arny Demain.

On April 26, RISE Fellow Arnold Demain turned 90. Recognition of his extensive contributions to science and mentoring were underscored by many of his colleagues around the world, who are known collectively as “Arny’s Army & Friends.”  The March 2017 special issue of Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology is a “tribute to [him] for his lifelong pioneering contributions to biochemical engineering.” An editorial in the April 2017 issue of Applied Microbiology and biotechnology mentions his mentoring work at Drew “to pass on his knowledge to undergraduate students and to ‘inoculate’ them for their future careers.”


March 2017

RISE Associate Fellow Bill Campbell was one of five people inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.


February 2017

RISE was awarded a grant from the Fred J. Brotherton Foundation to help support several of our summer students in the 2017 Drew Summer Science Institute (DSSI) program.