Biomedical Sciences

If you enjoy science and its practical application, particularly in health-related career, a project in the Biomedical Sciences could be just what you want. You could work on a research project in a lab or hospital setting working directly with patients; or you could also be doing background research to prepare a health-related marketing campaign.  Research projects in this field are numerous, therefore a select sample are listed below for your reference:

Sample Project 1: The Role of HTLV-I Tax in the Development of Leukemia

The objective of this project is to further characterize the role of the viral (HTLV-I) Tax protein in causing leukemias and lymphomas in humans.  These studies include molecular biology analysis of interactions between Tax and cellular proteins (including oncogenes), tissue culture experiments and studies in mice.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities

1) Perform laboratory experiments, tissue culture work, and possibly work with small animals (i.e. mice).
2) Maintain a laboratory research notebook.
3) Prepare chemicals and reagents for experiments.
4) Library and computer database work.

Hours Per Week: 12

Minimum Qualifications

1) Background in mathematics and science laboratory work.
2) Dedication to gaining new skills and knowledge.
3) Initiative, drive, and an excellent work ethic.

Sample Project 2: Artemis human disease gene in DNA repair processes

The objective of this project is to characterize Artemis, a DNA endo/exonuclease with roles in repair and recombination.  Patients with mutations in the Artemis gene are either predisposed to tumors or immunodeficient.  The project will involve an examination of how different types of mutations affect Artemis activities.  The methodology will include purification of the mutant forms of Artemis, biochemical characterization of DNA nuclease activities, and analysis of how the activities are regulated via post-translational modifications.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities

Initially, the student(s) will be responsible for culturing cells to express the proteins, building mutant plasmid constructs, purifying the DNA and transfecting the constructs into cells for expression.  As the student and project develop, responsibilities will be added accordingly, including performing experimental assays using the purified proteins.

Minimum Qualifications

Prior experience in a research laboratory, major in the Biological Sciences, interest in scientific research.

Sample Project 3: Structural Studies of Neurexins

Neurexins are cell-surface proteins found exclusively in the brain and play a role in synapse organization and adhesion. LNS/LG domains in neurexins undergo extensive alternative splicing at the mRNA level, to produce protein isoforms that bind different protein partners. The splice sites map close to each other in the protein, in loops located at one end of the module, likely forming part of a binding surface. We plan to solve structures of neurexin LNS/LG domains with their naturally occurring splice inserts. We will discover through these structures what happens to the protein fold if the splice inserts are accommodated. These structures should reveal not only how alternative splicing affects the LNS/LG protein fold, but also tell us how the recognition of binding partners and neuron adhesive properties are modulated.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities

Protein over-expression in E. Coli, protein purification (AktaFPLC), protein crystallization, basics of crystal handling, x-ray diffraction and structure determination if time permits

Minimum Qualifications

Ability to make and pH buffers, run SDS-PAGE gels, measure protein concentrations, use sterile techniques to work with E. Coli, any experience in protein purification is welcome but not required. If the student is able to be in the lab 12 -15 hours per week, the minimum qualifications are less important. A lot can be learned quickly at the lab bench through hands on experience. But if he/she is in the lab but a few hours per week the minimum qualifications become crucial in order to be able to jump start a project and get to the fun experiments that yield results.

Sample Project 4: Prevention Research Center Community Health Surveys

The Prevention Research Center's Speak to Your Health Community Survey is a multifaceted survey that is conducted every two years in Genesee County, Michigan. Topics include physical and mental health, perception of neighborhood conditions, participation in community activities, health promoting and health adverse behaviors, and other topics that vary across waves of the survey. We are also working on an infant mortality reduction project. These projects are conducted in collaboration with community partners to enhance the practical benefit of the survey in addressing the needs of the community.  We have also recently begun survey projects in other Michigan counties.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities

Research team members will facilitate the preparation of reports based on the data collected in 2005 and 2007 as well as assist in the preparation for the next wave of the survey in 2009. Team members will conduct reviews of the literature and help identify possible topical areas and techniques of interest. Student analysis of survey data based on personal research interests is a possibility, but not a requirement. Other responsibilities may arise based on project needs; however no data collection or entry will be necessary.

Minimum Qualifications

Candidates should be responsible, be able to work in a team, be able to find and process information from library sources, etc. No statistics experience is necessary, we will train as needed. 

Sample Project 5: A Program of Decision Science in Health Care

A group of faculty have been sponsored by a grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research to develop a Program of Decision Science in Health Care.  The collaborating faculty all have independent research projects that involve patients and their families making health care decisions - from assisted fertility decisions, to cardiovascular treatment decisions, breast cancer and end of life.  We would welcome a student to become involved with this team to conduct literature searches, help us synthesize and critique the literature, assist with preliminary data analysis, and to be involved in group discussions.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities

Students will have a host of scholarly and administrative responsibilities that will support the development of new grants, data analysis of existing projects, and scientific papers.

This  project would be a good experience for someone interested in Information Management, Psychology, Nursing, or Social Work.

Minimum Qualifications

Word Processing Skills, Skill at searching and retrieving literature, Responsible and accountable behavior, Able to work well in a team format, Able to work independently with clear instructions.