Published May 2, 2018
John C. Biber III, a first-year student in the master’s program in anatomical sciences, has received a Mark Diamond Research Fund (MDRF) grant to support his thesis work in the laboratory of Yongho Bae, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences.
Biber will study how changes in arterial stiffness affect vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and fundamentally contribute to the progression of cardiovascular disease.
The goal of the study is to elucidate the role of survivin, an integral protein in the survival of cells, in regulating vascular cell proliferation and migration, Biber says.
“I want to examine if and how survivin fundamentally contributes to the diseased state of arteries in cardiovascular disease from a mechanical standpoint in the case of tissue stiffening,” he adds.
Biber’s research will expose arterial cells to stiff environments in order to mimic diseased arteries which will then be observed for changes in cell proliferation and migration.
“I will then use molecular biology techniques to probe and turn off the molecules that I believe are involved in switching survivin on to see how exactly survivin is differentially regulated in stiff environments,” he says.
Biber says receiving a MDRF grant shows that people are excited about the research he is passionate about, and they see the translational potential in the answers to the questions he is asking.
“It’s a privilege to be funded by MDRF, and the capability of this fund to support scientists in training like myself is invaluable,” he says.
“This grant will have an instrumental part in crafting my master’s thesis and helping me achieve my goals.”
Bae notes the research’s targeting molecule, survivin, has dramatic influences on the behavior of cancer cells, but its role in healthy and diseased vessels is unexplored.
“I believe John’s thesis work will have a major impact on our understanding of many vascular conditions,” he says.
Biber’s research work in the laboratory has been excellent, and his level of understanding of the material is well beyond that of a standard master’s student, Bae says.
“He is the lab member who most frequently comes to me with new ideas and recent papers of interest since he is always striving to find the most interesting and novel aspect of a research topic,” he adds.
The MDRF was renamed in 1986 to honor a former graduate student and fund director who perished in an automobile accident.
The fund was an initiative started by the Graduate Student Association in 1971 to help students gain access to funds needed in order to complete their research goals.