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05-28-2015

Clarkson University Doctoral Student Wins Travel Award for Breast Cancer Research

The Protein Society has awarded Clarkson University chemistry doctoral student Devika Channaveerappa up to $1,500 to travel to the annual symposium and present.

From left to right, chemistry doctoral student Devika Channaveerappa, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie, and chemistry doctoral student Kelly Wormwood research protein biomarkers at Clarkson University.The student from Bangalore, India, is one of three from Clarkson who will attend the symposium in July in Barcelona, Spain.

Channaveerappa, who collaborated with chemistry doctoral student Roshanak Aslebagh from Tehran, Iran, will present research on breast cancer biomarkers. Channaveerappa said they analyzed breast milk samples using gel electrophoresis to determine if certain proteins are indicators of breast cancer.

The researchers extracted the samples from the gel and then used mass spectrometry to study the chemistry and see which proteins were overexpressed or underexpressed.

"This should be done for many, many samples to tell if this could be a potential biomarker," Channaveerappa said.

A protein biomarker test would provide women with a non-invasive method to determine how susceptible they are to breast cancer and take precautions before they develop the disease, Channaveerappa said. She looks forward to visiting Spain and learning about protein research from around the world.

"This is my first time giving a presentation at an international conference outside the U.S. after the American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference, so that's a great experience," she said.

Chemistry doctoral student Kelly Wormwood also is traveling to the symposium to present her research on protein biomarkers for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and Smith-Lemli-Optiz syndrome, which is caused by a deficient cholesterol production. Wormwood, from Lowville, N.Y., said a protein biomarker test would help improve the accuracy of diagnoses.

"Right now, neurodevelopmental disorders are diagnosed only behaviorally, so there is some misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis," she said. "If we had a biological diagnosis instead, there would be no room for error. Either you have it or you don't."

Biomolecular science student Megan Borland '16 from Lake Placid, N.Y., will join Channaveerappa and Wormwood at the symposium. Borland is currently studying proteins abroad at the University of Constance in Germany.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie said Channaveerappa was selected for one of the travel awards out of many graduate students across the globe, and he is pleased to see both Clarkson graduate and undergraduate students presenting their research at the international level and increasing the profile of the lab.

"I think it's a good start, and it's growing stronger," he said.

For more information on the travel award winners, visit http://www.proteinsociety.org/2015travelawardwinners/ .

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 the health professions, 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.

Photo caption: From left to right, chemistry doctoral student Devika Channaveerappa, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie, and chemistry doctoral student Kelly Wormwood research protein biomarkers at Clarkson University.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/psec-2015.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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