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HOMETOWN RELEASE: Palestine Residents Recognized for Clinical Research

June 1, 2007

Two University of Texas at Tyler biology students were recognized for their clinical research, Dr. Ali Azghani, UT Tyler associate professor of biology, announced.

While a UT Tyler undergraduate, Curtis Clark attended the American Society for Microbiology, Texas Branch, Conference. His presentation was about bacteria - induced lung cell injury. He placed second in a competition there with 14 students from other universities, including Baylor and UT Houston.

“Curtis’ research involves one aspect of our investigation on the interactions of  pseudomonas aeruginosa with human lung cells in culture” said Azghani. “This bacterium is an opportunistic pathogen, as such, it causes pneumonia, among other problems, in people with underlying diseases such as cancer or cystic fibrosis. The bacterium can cause disease in different fashions, and we believe that a bacterial enzyme known as elastase is involved with Pseudomonas infection process. Curtis is trying to find out how elastase binds to human cell, and what are the consequences of this interaction in terms of infection and inflammation. His findings on the mechanism of infection process should assist us in the discovery of novel prevention and treatment modalities.”

The pre-med student graduated from UT Tyler this May with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology and continues conducting biomedical research in Azghani’s lab this summer.

UT Tyler junior, Abigail Green, presented her research findings at the Alpha Chi National Conference in San Antonio as well.

“Abigail’s research is involved with antibiotic therapy of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections,” Azghani said. “We’re trying to see how effectively we can stop bacterial infections in the lungs. In this project, we are collaborating with Dr. Omri’s  lab in Laurentian University in Canada to encapsulate existing antibiotics in small biological devices called liposomes. Our purpose is to find a way to speed up treatment processes and decrease drug toxicity. ” 

Green, a pre-vet student, is double-majoring in chemistry and biology.

“This is a great exposure for UT Tyler. Participating and presenting in scientific meetings will put us on the map in terms of the type and quality of research activities that are conducted here at UT Tyler. In addition, the fact that we have undergraduate students involved in research could attract serious undergraduate and graduate applicants to our campus,” Azghani added.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of nearly 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

Hannah Buchanan
The University of Texas at Tyler
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