The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy sponsored 11 pharmacy research summer interns for its 2016 summer program. The interns spent eight weeks doing one-on-one faculty-mentored pharmacy and biomedical research projects that included topics ranging from clinical to basic science. The summer program included PCSP pharmacy students and pre-pharmacy students from other states and countries.
Mayte Sola from the University of Alcala in Spain and Otto Pimentel from Landivar University in Guatemala conducted basic research and studied functions of immune cells under inflammatory conditions. In addition, the program hosted students from Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C.; California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
“This year, our summer research program doubled in size thanks to the new SC-INBRE grant, which allowed us to increase the opportunities for our students to conduct research during the summer,” said Dr. Alfonso Romero-Sandoval, director of research at PCSP and coordinator for the Pharmacy Research Summer Intern and SC-INBRE programs. Both the Pharmacy Research Summer Intern program and SC-INBRE programs were very competitive, and the selection process for our 21 students was difficult.”
This year, the Pharmacy Research Summer Intern program was run in parallel with the new SC-INBRE summer research program. This is a new program sponsored by the PC SC-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence grant, which funded 10 additional PC undergraduate and pharmacy students who were mentored by PC and PCSP faculty.
“We have never hosted that number of students from other institutions, which is a reflection of how far our research efforts are reaching,” Romero-Sandoval added. “We had students from California, Florida, and Guatemala, along with a student from Spain through our partner institution, University of Acala. Having 21 students during our weekly workshops was challenging, but it was certainly much more exciting due to the vivid interactions of our student body”
Summer research students participated in weekly group workshops on how to read, write, search, and interpret scientific literature, which provided them with a solid background of theory and real science. They finished the program by completing a scientific report and a poster and/or oral presentation of their work during the Summer Research Symposium at PC.
A highlight of the program was a visit from Dr. Juan Cubillos-Ruiz, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, N.Y.
Cubillos-Ruiz has been recognized with several awards including the Stand UP to Cancer Innovative Research Grant, the Daedalus Fund for Innovation Award, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute. He has received more than $2 million in research funding in the last year.
Cubillos-Ruiz spoke to faculty and students about the regulation of anti-cancer immunity by abnormal ER stress responses. Following his lecture, he participated in a roundtable discussion with the students.
“We are honored to have a scientist of Dr. Cubillos-Ruiz’s stature on our campus,” Romero-Sandoval said. “Not only did he share the team’s research with us, but he also discussed scientific questions with our summer program students in a very friendly atmosphere. I am positive that this experience will resonate with our students and inspire them to further explore their potentials as future scientists.”
Presbyterian College is located on a striking 240-acre campus in Clinton, between Columbia and Greenville, S.C. Offering challenging academics and a culture of honor, ethics, and service that prepares students to be leaders in communities, PC offers its students the benefit of engaging with an exceptional faculty who take individual interest in their students’ well-being, both personally and in the classroom. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy opened in 2010, and is dedicated to the ideals of leadership, honor to the profession, and service to the community. For more information about Presbyterian College, visit www.presby.edu.