Other IRC research projects currently underway on campus feature:

  • Kaci Blumenstock, a chemical engineering major, is studying the non-classical actions of estrogen in the cell. She is creating mutant receptors to see how estrogen receptors "cross-talk" with components in the cell not typically associated with the classic mechanism of estrogen receptor action. The first task was to use site-directed mutagenesis to make estrogen receptor mutants that are unable to bind their classic DNA recognition sequence. Next, Blumenstock will used these mutants in estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cell lines to determine the role of the receptor in regulating the activity of other transcription factors. Specific research will examine the effects of various breast cancer drugs on these pathways, thus developing a better understanding of non-classical modes of estrogen receptor function.
  • Cody Austin, a 2010 biomedical engineering graduate, is working on the design, fabrication and testing of a device to perform electrospinning of collagen fibers. Essentially, this device will use a high voltage differential between an extruding syringe tip and a metal collecting plate to "spin" a collagen/solvent solution and create collagen scaffolds. The benefits of the new device will include faster collagen scaffold creation, smaller diameter collagen fibers in the scaffolds and also the ability to create scaffolds with varying degrees of preferred fiber orientations. This will better simulate tissues in the human body. Austin's next step will be to examine cell viability and remodeling of these new collagen scaffolds in long-term culture.
  • Rose Brewer, a chemistry major, is studying the kinetics of the monomer proteins LBD and Fusion dimerize to form the estrogen receptor in the presence of different concentrations of 4-amino-1-butanol (0.01 to 0.250 percent). She is monitoring this reaction by using the high performance liquid chromatography to determine the amount of each protein present at different time points over a 30-hour time span.
  • Spencer Fox, applied biology student, has been working on a project examining the biophysical regulation of macrophages at low oxygen conditions.   The research is being supported by IRC and the Indiana University School of Medicine's Terre Haute campus.
  • Amanda Jevons, a chemistry major, is studying the synthesis and testing of tamoxifen polymer conjugates. Tamoxifen is a commonly used drug to treat estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, but a common problem with this treatment is the development of resistance to tamoxifen. Previous studies has found that attaching tamoxifen to a polymer overcomes these resistance mechanisms. She hopes to prove that making new conjugates with more hydrophilic linkers will decrease aggregation and increase potency.
  • Adam Furore, a biomedical engineering major, has undertaken the construction and testing of a device to perform creep testing of both natural and created collagenous materials. Creep testing involves applying a constant load to a tissue and examining how it changes in length over time, and provides insight into the time-dependent properties of these tissues. The time-dependent response is critical to normal function. Specifically, Furore will be evaluating the viscoelastic response of fibers with different cross-sectional shapes. 
  • Vincent Biondo, a chemical engineering major, is examining processes to use hyperbranched polyglycerols to increase the potency of tamoxifen as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). His goal is to synthesize hyberbranched polygelycerols of defined sizes and attach tamoxifen derivatives to a percentage of the branches and determine their effects on breast cancer cells.

These summer research projects have been supported by Rose-Hulman Faculty Success grants, provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc.; the National Institute of Health's National Eye Institute; the Joseph B. and Reba A. Weaver Undergraduate Research program; and the Samuel F. Hulbert Endowed Biomedical Engineering Chair. Rose-Hulman offices assisting have included the Ecological Systems Laboratory, the Biophotonics Research Program, Rose-Hulman Ventures, Office of Academic Affairs, Office of Student Affairs, Department of Applied Biology and Biomedical Engineering, and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.