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Putnam Science Center

New Hampshire Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NH-INBRE) at Keene State

Experience the Art of Biomedical Scientific Discovery


The New Hampshire IDeA Network of Biological Research Excellence (NH-INBRE) is a state-wide initiative led by the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College designed to:

  1. increase opportunities for students and faculty at Partner institutions to participate in original scientific research;
  2. expand the base of ongoing research and research capacity at the Lead and Partner institutions and support the associated research cultures;
  3. increase the frequency at which students who graduate from Partner institutions continue doing biomedical research in graduate education or employment;
  4. enhance the science and technology training of the NH workforce;
  5. enhance the bioinformatics infrastructure that is required for modern biomedical research.

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. For more information about the INBRE activities around the state, visit

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:

  • Research training activities. This includes money for faculty members engaged in biomedical research 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.
  • Research projects. In addition to addressing important scientific questions, these projects directly engage our undergraduates in the process of discovery, giving them valuable hands-on experience.

NH-INBRE funded Research Projects at KSC

The Effects of PAH Exposure on Early Development

Project Leader: Dr. Susan Whittemore

Liz Richardson, photo by John Gilbert Fox
Liz Richardson, photo by John Gilbert Fox
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.

The mentor for Dr. Whittemore’s pilot project is Dr. Leslie P. Henderson, Professor of Physiology and of Biochemistry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.

Light-Induced Pigment Cell Apoptosis

Project Leader: Dr. Jason Pellettieri

Dr. Jason Pellettieri

Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Jason Pellettieri (shown middle with research students Emily Neverett and Brad Stubenhaus) is leading a study of the effects of intense visible light on pigment cells in planarians (Schmidtea mediterranea), aquatic flatworms with an amazing ability to regrow lost body parts. Preliminary data suggest that planarian pigment cells die when exposed to bright visible light for extended periods of time. Further research may have implications for human health and understanding disease mechanisms. For human health, a normal number of pigment cells are critical. Skin melanocytes, for example, normally provide protection from the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, but stimulate the growth of too many melanocytes, and you’re a candidate for melanoma.

Following his NH-INBRE supported project, Dr. Pellettieri was awarded an EAGER grant from the National Science Foundation (IOS-1445541) and an Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA/R15) from the National Institutes of Health (R15GM107826). The EAGER program supports “potentially transformative research ideas or approaches,” and the R15 program supports meritorious health-related studies that engage undergraduates in top-quality research. Dr. Pellettieri and his research students will be investigating a possible novel mechanism for clearing dead or damaged cells from animal tissues, using the freshwater planarian Schmidtea mediterranea as a model organism.

The mentor for Dr. Pellettieri’s NH-INBRE project was David Mullins, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.

Publications: Stubenhaus, B. and Pellettieri, J. Detection of Apoptotic Cells in Planarians by Whole-Mount TUNEL Staining. Methods in Molecular Biology (in press).

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)

Jarrett Miller, photo by John Gilbert Fox
Jarrett Miller, photo by John Gilbert Fox
Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Loren Launen led 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. The major means of PAH removal from salt marshes 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, the results of this project will be useful in understanding what factors limit or enhance bioremediation of PAH-contaminated salt marshes.

The mentor for Dr. Launen’s pilot project was Dr. Stephen Jones, Research Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire Marine Program.

Contact the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research

Please visit our staff page for a directory of contacts for various sponsored projects and research functions.

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