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Clarkson University Grad Student Wins Award for Autism Study

Clarkson University graduate student Armand Gatien Ngounou Wetie has won an Eastern Analytical Symposium Graduate Student Research Award for his study of autism spectrum disorders.

Armand Gatien Ngounou WetieA Ph.D. student from Cameroon working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie and Research Assistant Professor Alisa G. Woods, he is invited to present his research at the symposium and exhibition that takes place from Nov. 17 to 19 at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, N.J.

Ngounou’s research involves analyzing the protein profiles of saliva samples to identify biomarkers in children with ASD compared to children without ASD. He said he wants to continue his work using samples from a larger population to confirm his findings.

“We have found some interesting proteins that are different from children with autism compared with controls, and I think the next stage would be to increase the pool of samples to confirm those findings,” he said.

Ngounou said biomarkers can be used to screen children for ASD before onset of symptoms. Children who are diagnosed earlier have better treatment outcome, he explained.

“So far the children are diagnosed with behavioral tests, which are prone to false positive or false negative tests, so our goal is to come up with a biomarker that can help physicians detect autism before onset of symptoms develop,” he said.

Ngounou said he looks forward to presenting his research and meeting with other students, scientists and employers.

The Eastern Analytical Symposium introduced the graduate student research award this year, and Ngounou is one of four recipients. Almost 2,500 participants attended the Eastern Analytical Symposium in 2013.

Darie, who nominated Ngounou for the award, said Ngounou has a strong publication record and has been researching this topic, as well as a protein called Tumor Differentiation Factor, for three years. He said he encourages all his students to attend as many meetings as possible to gain experience. In fact, seven members of the Darie lab in June are attending the international American Society for Mass Spectrometry meeting in Baltimore.

“Only four students were selected this year, and one of them was Armand, so that’s a big deal,” he said. “I think it’s good.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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