The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is an educational opportunity for undergraduate students formed by a collaboration between UNMC departments, colleges, student services, and graduate specialty areas. The program provides 10 weeks of hands-on research experience for students to work on a project under the direction of a faculty mentor and become part of a research team. Three students were funded this summer by the IDeA-CTR, and hosted by the Department of Internal Medicine with projects that focus on agricultural based occupational research.
Gabrielle Lutt, a biology pre-med major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), has been working with Dr. Bryant England, MD, an Assistant Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, to further examine the association of inhalant exposures with rheumatoid arthritis severity among participants in the national VA Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry. Individuals were mailed a questionnaire to gather information on a variety of occupational, agricultural, and military-related exposures. Preliminary results from this effort have shown that certain inhalant exposures appear to influence autoantibody concentrations that serve as a marker of more severe disease. Gabrielle has learned about different clinical and epidemiologic study designs, the conduct and analysis of survey data, and the interpretation and reporting of research data. Gabrielle shared that she greatly enjoyed her time in the program. “Not only did I get the opportunity to work with great mentors, but I also was able to learn a variety of new skills to help strengthen my knowledge of medical research,” she said.
Matt Schefcik will be a junior at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) this fall and has already been accepted into medical school at UNMC. He was matched with Dr. Daren Knoell, PharmD, FCCP Chair and Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. His project focused on the role of zinc (and its deficiency) in immune function and host defense against bacterial infection. Matt has been working on a proof-of-concept project examining the use of cell lines as a model to understand the biologic effects of zinc that, if successful, would significantly enhance future experiments from Dr. Knoell’s laboratory.
Peyton Bash, a sophomore at UNL, is majoring in biological sciences and nutrition services, and plans to attend medical school. He was mentored by Dr. Todd Wyatt, PhD, a Professor in the Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep & Allergy Division. Peyton’s research focused on determining inflammatory pathways that are triggered in inflammatory cells in response to organic dust extracts, a common agricultural exposure that has been linked with chronic lung diseases. According to Peyton, “The SURP program has been an excellent learning experience, and one that will certainly be useful as I continue my education. I have learned a great deal of information, not just about lung macrophages, but about the research process and UNMC. I am very thankful for the time I spent in the SURP program, as well as the people who helped to support me while I was here.”
The summer program concluded with a poster presentation on August 8th in the Truhlsen Events Center.
To learn more about the SURP program click here.