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Symposium Highlights Biotech Students' Research

Woman showing man research

The 9th Annual Research Symposium brought together teenage students just starting to delve into research, master’s degree students ready to take their research to the next level and a highly regarded alumnus who is now a vice president at Secant Medical.

The research symposium, held at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County Campus, is an opportunity for the Center for Biotechnology Education to showcase its strengths in the area of biotechnology education and research. The event was an evening of networking, poster presentations and speakers.

Participants in the poster session included:

  • National Cancer Institute fellows in the Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery Technologies concentration of the Master of Science in Biotechnology degree
  • United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases fellows in the Biodefense concentration of the Master of Science in Biotechnology degree
  • A Noblis fellow in the Master of Science in Bioinformatics degree program
  • Students who have completed research projects in bioscience and bioinformatics as part of their degree requirements for the Master of Science in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bioscience Regulatory Affairs degrees
  • Wootton High School students who pursued research projects as part of internships and
  • Faculty members who have completed research in the field of biotechnology, bioinformatics, regulatory science or biotechnology enterprise.

Approximately 20 students participated. Students researched topics including treating prostate cancer, the molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease, targeting energy metabolism in liver fibrosis and issues surrounding lung squamous cell carcinoma.

“Biotech has a bright future if you saw any of their posters tonight,” said Dr. Kris Obom, director of the Center for Biotechnology Education and director for the Master of Science in Bioinformatics and for the Master of Science in Biotechnology program. The Center for Biotechnology Education is part of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Advanced Academic Programs.

The research symposium began nine years ago as part of a partnership between Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute. Each year NCI supports three to five master’s students in the molecular targets and drug discovery technologies concentration.

The partnership, Obom said, has produced great research and great researchers.

peter gabrieleFollowing the poster presentations, Peter Gabriele, vice president, research and development at Secant Medical, offered keynote remarks. Gabriele holds four master’s degrees, including a Master in Biotechnology degree from Johns Hopkins. He talked about how his degrees led to his career today and the need for professionals to make sure they have the education they need to stay fresh and current in their fields.

Gabriele also gave the students a mission: “You are going to hear a lot of ‘bios,’ a lot of ‘techs,’ a lot of ‘engineering. You have to put it all together. Your work is relevant. You can make something out of this and bring it to commercial reality.”

Gabriele’s speech, titled “Mummery Be Not A Cure,” focused on what he says is the science of the future: regenerative medicine. He said the goal in medicine should be to regenerate diseased or destroyed organs and tissue rather than using artificial materials in the body. The body reacts poorly, he said, when synthetic materials – which he described as “man-made disaster” -- are used.

He showed slides of chrome and iron seeping into tissue as the result of the installation of an artificial hip joint. He talked about the red lesions on a colleague’s body after titanium pins were inserted in her back; she had titanium poisoning. He described how the body can react negatively to breast implants. Metals, he said, change the protein structure of the body.

“Hopefully, you’re going to solve some of these problems,” Gabriele said, adding, “I’ve used everything I’ve learned in this program. Everything.”

CATEGORY: Academics, Research