Convincing Cancer Cells to Quit
or the last 15 years Nancy Krucher, PhD, a professor in the Department
of Biology and Health Sciences on the Westchester Campus, has
been studying what causes cancer cells to live or die. She was recently
awarded a three-year grant of more than $380,000 from the National Institutes
of Health that will allow her to continue her research at Pace. "With this grant,
we will be asking questions about how cancer cells signal to commit suicide, or
how they kill themselves," says Krucher.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her research work is working closely
with students, says Krucher. "It's just me and the undergraduates working on
this project," she says, adding that her laboratory trains undergraduates in
scientific techniques and helps them learn how to prepare hypotheses, design
and analyze experiments, and eventually present their results at regional and
national conferences. In addition, Krucher and her students publish papers on
For some students, the experience has helped define their future career paths.
"I had one student who graduated in 2009 and now he's doing his PhD at Duke
University in cancer biology," says Krucher. "He's going to dedicate his life to
cancer research. That's what really makes me the happiest."
Basking in the Glow
ow are purple, golf-ball-sized, glow-in-the-dark
squid making a difference at Pace? They're helping
Andrew Wier, PhD, assistant professor of biology
and health sciences, better understand how bacteria can
thrive in an organism without causing suffering or infection.
The tiny tropical Hawaiian bobtail squid piqued the interest
of Wier because of the unique symbiotic relationship they
share with a bioluminescent bacteria. After hatching, the
nocturnal squid collect the microbes they need to survive.
The bacteria, which Wier says act as a cloaking device,
essentially erases the shadow of the squid, allowing it to
hunt its prey in stealth mode. Each dawn, before burying
itself in the sand, the squid ejects up to 95 percent of the
bacteria from its light organ.
"The bacteria is related to Vibrio cholerae, which cause
diseases in humans. We see this in countries like Haiti
that can't get clean water," says Wier. Understanding the
symbiotic relationship between the squid and bacteria could
be the key to gaining a better understanding of human
bacterial diseases, he explains.
Also helping with Wier's research are the biology students
who do in-lab research as part of their Capstone course.
"They find that the value of working in a lab, getting to know
their professors, and getting this real-world experience puts
them head and shoulders above the crowd," says Wier.
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