DMU Research Symposium offers rich learning opportunities

Matthew Hayden enjoys driving discovery.

The ninth annual DMU Research Symposium on Dec. 6 was a feast for the brain, with a record 99 poster presentations, four oral presentations, approximately 550 attendees, numerous awards, 12 images submitted for an inaugural scientific photo competition, countless highly engaged discussions and a keynote speaker who seemingly is a medical miracle.

Poster presenters ranged from high school students to doctoral degree holders who shared their explorations in anatomy/paleontology, biomedical science, education, clinical practice, movement science and public health. They represented eight organizations.

“I’m so proud of the research conducted by DMU students and faculty. One of DMU’s four vision statements is to become ‘a cultivator of distinctive faculty and student researchers who discover and disseminate new knowledge.’ There is no event that captures this vision better than the annual Research Symposium,” says Jeffrey Gray, Ph.D., DMU’s vice president for research and global initiatives. “The symposium is a great place for students to discuss their research, receive constructive feedback from affiliated faculty and fellow students, and establish relationships with future peers in the health professions. For many students, the symposium is their first step into the more formal world of research and academia. The symposium demonstrates the strong research that is occurring on the DMU campus and in our community.”

DMU students who presented their research included Matthew Hayden, a first-year student in DMU’s master of biomedical sciences degree program. He was the first author of a poster he presented, titled “The leucine metabolic enzymes BCATc and BCATm are targets of the oncogene c-Myc in lymphoma cells.” It explained research on the gene regulation of enzymes that might be used to develop treatment for lymphoma cancer.

“It’s cool to say you’re driving discovery,” he said.

Dr. Terry Wahls with Jeffrey Gray, Ph.D., DMU vice president for research and global initiatives

It also was cool to have Terry Wahls, M.D., M.B.A., as the symposium’s keynote speaker. A clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, she described her diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2000 and how her health declined in the following years, eventually confining her to a tilt recline wheelchair. Determined to fight this incurable autoimmune disease, she dug into research on multiple sclerosis and drugs in trial that might counter the disease. Since those drugs were years away from governmental approval, she developed a long list of vitamins and supplements that benefitted the brain, tracked those substances to foods that contain them and then shaped her diet around those foods. She now is able to ride her bicycle to work.

“It changed how I practice medicine,” said Dr. Wahls. “I talk less and less about drugs and more and more about nutrition and lifestyle.”

She founded the Wahls Institute PLC and developed the Wahls Protocol™, an integrative approach to healing chronic auto-immune conditions. She’s written two books and a cookbook about the approach. She changed how she practiced medicine and secured funding to test her interventions on others with progressive multiple sclerosis. She gave a TEDx talk about her experience, “Minding Your Mitochondria,” which has received more than 1.5 million views online.

In her keynote at DMU, she reviewed research on dietary interventions for multiple sclerosis, her own nutritional approach and improvements experienced by her patients who also have changed their diets. She encouraged students to practice similar self-care.

“It’s all about following a therapeutic lifestyle,” she said. “The most effective treatment of disease is creating health, which involves diet, lifestyle, exercise and social connectivity.”

(NOTE: Save the date for the 2019 DMU Research Symposium on Dec. 5!)

Students and faculty were invited to submit images for an inaugural scientific photo competition. Based on votes cast by symposium attendees, the winner was LiLian Yuan, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at DMU, for her image of cerebellar purkinje cells in mice, below.

Dr. LiLian Yuan’s winning image

The symposium gave the University the opportunity to promote its Mentored Student Research Program (MSRP), a competitive program in which DMU students as well as undergraduates work alongside DMU faculty mentors on research projects in areas such as microbiology, pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry, public health and physical therapy.

The majority of the program takes place over an eight-week period between Memorial Day and the end of July and includes additional learning opportunities such as research presentations from DMU faculty and a closing program that includes a guest speaker as well as oral and poster presentations by MSRP program participants.

MSRP participants are paid $12.25 per hour and may work up to 40 hours per week during the summer, 20 hours per week during the school year, and up to 320 hours total during the program.

  • Information for DMU students – DMU students must inquire with individual mentors about the option of applying to work with them. Mentors will have the application, and it will be submitted to the Office of Research by them directly.
  • Information for undergraduate students – Selection of applicants is based on academic performance in the sciences, statement of career and academic goals, and a letter of recommendation from a biology or health science faculty member. Participants are paid an hourly wage; no housing is provided.

The application period for the 2019 Mentored Student Research Program is from Dec. 6, 2018, to Feb. 11, 2019, at 8 a.m. Late and incomplete applications will not be considered. For more information or to submit your application, visit the Office of Research website here.


View more photos from the Research Symposium via Facebook.

Posted by Des Moines University on Friday, December 7, 2018

Disclaimer: This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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