Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Dyson Year in Review 2011-2012

Dyson College of Arts and Sciences - Year in Review 2011-2012

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Convincing Cancer Cells to Quit F 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 their findings. 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 H 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. Year in Review 2011-2012 | 7

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