New Hampshire Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NH-INBRE) at Keene State College
The New Hampshire IDeA Network of Biological Research Excellence (NH-INBRE) is a state-wide initiative designed to:
NH-INBRE is funded by NIH Grant Number 8P20GM103506 from the IDeA program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, and is a collaborative network of 2 year and 4 year colleges in the State of New Hampshire. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements.
In addition to Keene State College, NH-INBRE partners include: Colby Sawyer College, Dartmouth Medical School, Franklin Pierce University, Great Bay Community College, New England College, Plymouth State University, River Valley Community College, Saint Anselm College, and University of New Hampshire.
For more information about the INBRE activities around the state, visit the NH-INBRE website hosted by Dartmouth Medical School, which generously shared information for use on our website.
Here at Keene State College, NH-INBRE is supporting advances in scientific discovery and training the next generation of researchers in a number of ways:
Pilot research projects. Currently, KSC has two NH-INBRE-funded pilot projects headed by Dr. Loren Launen (Biology) and Dr. Susan Whittemore (Biology). In addition to addressing important scientific questions, these projects directly engage our undergraduates in the process of discovery, giving them valuable experience. For more information about these specific projects, please click on the "Current INBRE projects at KSC" tab below.
Research training activities. This includes money for faculty to hire student research assistants both during the academic year and the summer, funds for research travel, and supplies. In many cases, students can spend a summer working on a research project alongside a faculty mentor, rather than seek other summer employment.
Access to research resources. Additionally, through the NH-INBRE network, our faculty and students have access to colleagues, training, research instrumentation, and other research-related resources and experiences around the state.
Pilot Project: A Molecular Characterization of the Structure and Function of Aromatic Hydrocarbon Degrading Microbes Present in the Tidal Wetlands of the Great Bay Estuary.
Project Leader: Dr. Loren Launen, Keene State College, Project Collaborator : Dr. Sinéad Ní Chadhain (visiting scholar).
Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Loren Launen is leading a study of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) degradation in Great Bay Estuary salt marshes.
PAHs are a group of highly toxic pollutants produced whenever fossil fuels are burned. They are released into the atmosphere, soils and surfaces and due to their chemical stability, the levels of PAHs in soils and sediments are increasing globally. This is particularly problematic in salt marshes, which are highly sensitive ecosystems that do not tolerate aggressive means of PAH removal such as tilling or burning.
In salt marshes the major means of PAH removal is through microbial degradation by indigenous microbial communities. However, our understanding of the structure and function of these microbial communities is limited. Drawing on a combination of Dr. Launen's experience characterizing PAH degradation by salt marsh microbes, and collaborator Dr. Sinéad Ní Chadhain's expertise in molecular microbiology this study will use molecular biology techniques to study the indigenous microbial community and the PAH degradation genes they possess.
Of particular interest is determining how the microbial community responds to PAHs in the presence and absence of oxygen. In addition to providing basic information on the microbiology of PAH contaminated sites, the results of this project will be useful in understanding what factors limit or enhance bioremediation of PAH-contaminated salt marshes.Student investigators working on Dr. Launen's project include:
The mentor for Dr. Launen's pilot project is Dr. Stephen Jones, Research Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire Marine Program.
Pilot Project: The Effects of PAH Exposure on Early Development
Project Leader: Dr. Susan Whittemore
Professor of Biology Dr. Susan Whittemore is leading a study of the effects of PAH exposure on early development. Phenanthrene, pyrene, fluoranthene, and naphthalene are common contaminants, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, deposited into soil, water, and air as a result of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing compounds.
Research students in the Whittemore lab are using the model organism the African Clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) to assess the toxicity of PAH exposure during development. In addition, students are examining the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in mediating the toxic effects of PAHs and whether AhR activation affects steroid hormone production by steroidogenic tissues like testes and ovaries.
KSC Graduate, Jade Halsey
(to learn more about Jade's experience working on this project, click here)
Student investigators working on Dr. Whittemore's project include
The mentor for Dr. Whittemore's pilot project is Dr. Leslie P. Henderson, Professor of Physiology and of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School.
The Society for Neuroscience is one of the largest professional science organizations in the world, and includes scientists working on everything from molecular neuroscience to behavior and cognition. There are local, state-wide chapters of this organization in almost every state in the U.S.
A New Hampshire Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience has just recently been created, and the announcement not only describes this chapter and its activities, but also invites all interested Faculty, Post-doctoral fellows, Graduate students, and Undergraduates at our NH-INBRE Partner institutions to become members (Keene State College is a NH-INBRE partner institution). Please feel free to distribute this information to any students and colleagues you believe might be interested.
Note that while the enclosed description includes a list of the annual fees for membership ($20/yr for Faculty; $15/yr for postdocs, $10/yr for graduate students, and undergraduates for free), the NH-INBRE will cover the membership fees for any of our Partner faculty, Postdocs, Grad students, or undergraduates who are interested in joining the New Hampshire Chapter.
Individuals interested in joining the New Hampshire Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience should contact Dr. Michelle Sama in the Neuroscience Center at Dartmouth (michelle.sama@Dartmouth.edu; tel: 650-4589). Be prepared to provide your name, status (faculty, Postdoc, Grad student, Undergraduate), institution, and E-mail address. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Sama or Chuck Wise in the NH-INBRE office (Chuck.Wise@Dartmouth.edu; tel: 650-1932).
In addition to the two fully-funded pilot projects listed above, the impact of NH-INBRE is felt more broadly across campus as faculty researchers are able to access funds enabling additional students to engage with the ongoing research projects of the faculty member. Below are examples of faculty research programs benefitting from NH-INBRE.
Environmental monitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in lichen using capillary electrophoresis and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
Lichen have been previously demonstrated to be effective biomonitors of environmental change, and more recent reports use analytical techniques to measure accumulated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in lichen exposed to pollution. The objective of Dr. Kraly's research is the development and application of capillary electrophoresis (CE) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) methods for the quantitative determination of PAH compounds in lichen samples collected from the Monadnock region of Southern New Hampshire. Analytical methods that can determine the extent and distribution of PAH exposure are crucial for understanding the impact of fossil fuels use on our environment. 16 PAH standards were used to optimize the separation methodology for conventional CE and GC-MS systems, and to generate calibration curves for quantitative determination. Quantitative profiles from local lichen species are used to assess PAH accumulation in samples collected in proximity to expected sources of pollution, and to demonstrate the usefulness of CE and GC-MS methods for environmental monitoring of PAH in lichen and monitoring environmental pollution. The instrumental methods developed in Dr. Kraly's lab can also be used for quantitative PAH determination in other environmental or biological samples such as soil, water, microbial cultures, and aerosol or exhaust samples.
Jacob Meier (senior)-- BS Chemistry Major, Independent Laboratory Research Project. Jacob will continue an independent research project to monitor the accumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) by lichen species. As a member of Keene State College's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program in Chemistry, and a voluntary researcher during the fall 2010 semester, Jacob worked to develop a standard curve for 16 PAH compounds using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) with selected ion monitoring. In spring 2011, Jacob's goal is to use extraction techniques to isolate PAH fractions from collected lichen samples, and apply the calibration curve to quantify levels of PAH in environmental samples. In addition, Jacob's substantial work on this project is beneficial to other on-going PAH studies by INBRE supported faculty (Launen, Traviss). (to learn more about Jacob's experience working on this project, click here)
Andrew Abeleira (junior)--BS Chemistry Major, Independent Laboratory Research Project. Andy will continue an independent research project investigating the use of capillary electrophoresis to separate mixtures of PAHs using mixed cyclodextrin modified micelle buffers. As a member of Keene State College's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program in Chemistry, and a voluntary researcher during the fall 2010 semester, Andy worked to develop optimal buffer and instrumental separation conditions for maximum resolution of complex PAH mixtures. Andy's goal in spring 2011 is to continue developing a method for full resolution of a complex PAH mixtures, and to prepare a calibration curve for quantitative analysis of PAH in environmental and/or biological samples.
Student Presentations at Conferences
Andrew Abeleira and Jacob Meier both presented posters of their KSC supported summer research at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) regional meeting at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA on October 22nd, 2010. Andrew and Jacob also will co-present an accepted poster at the 2011 Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) in Atlanta, GA on March 17th, 2011. The poster is titled "Environmental monitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in lichen using capillary electrophoresis and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry" and will be presented during the ‘Environmental Analysis: Organic Constituents' session.
Genetic Analysis of Planarian Regeneration
The goal of the field of regenerative medicine is to develop new treatments enabling the replacement of lost or damaged body parts. Some animals naturally exhibit this capacity and therefore provide ideal experimental subjects for studying basic cellular and molecular mechanisms of regeneration. Our research deals with one such ‘model organism' – the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. This aquatic flatworm has the remarkable ability to form entirely new individuals, complete with nervous, digestive, and reproductive systems, from tiny body fragments. We are using the recently completed S. mediterranea genome sequence to investigate genetic pathways of regeneration in planarians. Specifically, we are exploring how a genetically programmed form of cell death reshapes planarian tissues following amputation. Student projects involve training in a variety of modern laboratory techniques, including gene cloning and fluorescence microscopy. This work will provide new mechanistic insight into animal regeneration, and potentially, new avenues for the development of clinical interventions in the field of regenerative medicine.
Anna McLean (senior) – Anna is using an experimental approach called RNA interference to explore the consequences of inhibiting gene function during regeneration. We hope this project will lead to the identification of new genes that enable planarians to replace missing tissue and, in turn, a better understanding of how different genes work together to drive this fascinating process.
See Anna McLean's presentation of her work on this project:
Joshua Seppala (freshman) – In collaboration with Dartmouth College's Genomics and Microarray Laboratory, Josh will be using state-of-the-art sequencing technology to look for genes that get turned "on" and "off" during regeneration. This work will reveal how planarians respond to injury at the molecular level, an important prelude to characterizing basic cellular mechanisms of regeneration.
For Additional Information Contact Susan Ericson-West, Office of Sponsored Projects & Research (603-358-2046)