Vol. 4 No. 1 September 2005

BE Major Welcome 


Bioengineering Options

Letter to the editor

BE Celebration

Student Research Spotlight
Science Symposium

Calendar of Events

Printable Version

The BioTECH Quarterly

New England Science Symposium 2005 Showcased Research


   The Fourth Annual New England Science Symposium (NESS) took place at the Conference Center of Harvard Medical on March 4, 2005. It was sponsored by the Biomedical Science Careers Program and the Harvard Medical School Minority Faculty Development Program.

   Each year, the Symposium seeks to reach out to more researchers, particularly those from the ethnic minorities. Medical, dental, graduate, and undergraduate students, or sometimes even post-doctoral fellows present their research, either orally to an audience or in person at a poster session. Presenters had to apply. Otherwise, admission was free.

   This year, Eric Huang, a medical student from Brown Medical School, began the series of presentations. His research was titled “Intratumor Injection of Fas Ligand Vesicles Triggers Innate Immunity.” He hypothesized that an intratumor injection of transmembrane FasL microvesicles would induce vigorous inflammation, tumor rejection, and long-term systemic protection from metastases.

   The researcher injected tumor cells to the back of the eyes of the mice in a control group and observed that all of them had succumbed to metastasis disease by the thirteenth day. The diseased animals were euthanized.

   On the other hand, 30% of the mice that received mFasL microvesicles along with tumor cells exhibited tumor rejection. The survivors showed protection against a follow-up subcutaneous challenge of tumor cells, suggesting a tumor-specific immune response. Huang concluded that early inflammation is critical in terminating immune privilege and initiating rejection of ocular tumors.

After a lunch break, oral presentations continued, followed by a poster session. Representing MIT was Cindy Xi ’05, who presented her work titled “Uridine Increase Neurite Outgrowth in Nerve Growth Factor differentiated PC12 cells.” The work was done in collaboration with graduate student Amy Pooler in the Wurtman lab of the MIT Brain & Cognitive Sciences department.

   Later on in the evening, five panelists discussed their careers in medical science. In short, some physicians and medical scientists eventually take on administrative responsibilities, namely in hospitals and in government agencies such as the National Institute of Health (NIH).

   On the other hand, Benjamin Ortiz, a graduate of Hunter College, has returned as an assistant professor of Biological Sciences at his alma mater. Having completed a PhD and some post-doctoral work, Ortiz now tries to integrate teaching, research, and administration.

   The fifth panelist, Max Tejada, PhD, is a scientist from the quality control department of Genentech, Inc. Lately he has become interested in the business aspect of biotechnology. He also emphasized the importance of networking.

   At the end of the day, four judges, including Professor James Sherley from MIT, finished rating the performance of the presenters. The oral presentation winner was Joeli Marrero, a PhD candidate from Tufts University School of Medicine. The title of her presentation was “Cell-Cell Interactions Mediated by Inner Membrane Proteins Prevent Conjugal DNA Transfer Between Donors.”

   The winner of the poster session, and the first and the second runner-ups in each of the two types of presentation were also named.

   The Symposium afforded researchers with an unique opportunity to present their ideas. A few doctoral candidates talked about writing the event in their CVs. Attendees not making any presentation could learn about biomedical research and meet representatives from Biogen Idec, Genentech, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or any of the presenters and speakers.

“NESS is a smaller symposium with presenters from many areas of science, so it was very low-stress and a great
learning experience. It was interesting to hear the questions that people had, because they become less obvious to you
after you’ve been working on the same few problems for so long.”

Cindy Xi '05

Cindy Xi ’05 interacted with an attendee at the New England Science Symposium (NESS) poster session. Her poster title was “Uridine Increase Neurite Outgrowth in Nerve Growth Factor-differentiated PC12 Cells.” The work was done with graduate student Amy Pooler in the Wurtman lab of the MIT Brain & Cognitive Sciences department.

Professor James Sherley, serving as a judge at the NESS poster sessions, listened to Nicole Reynolds, a graduate student from Tufts, as she explained her research.

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