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2015 SOM Student Summer Research Program

Program Description

The School of Medicine Student Summer Research Program – 2015 is an 8-week program from June 8 to July 31, 2015 designed to help students gain experience in an area of research interest. First-year medical students in Lubbock are encouraged to coordinate with interested faculty members on project proposals that are to be submitted for approval to the Office of the Dean. A stipend in the total amount of $2,240 will be paid to each participating student in accordance with this guideline, and students are required to present information regarding summer research activities during the Student Research Week in the Spring 2016.

Download Program Guidelines

Library Support for Research

Once you have matched with a mentor and a project, if you would like, please schedule a one-on-one session with one of our librarians to assist you with the literature research that you may need. Depending on your topic we will introduce you to appropriate databases and suggest search strategies as well as introduce you to bibliographic software to aid you in organizing your citations. Using this software you will be able to embed citations within word documents and create references or bibliographies in the style that you need.

Please contact Margaret Vugrin, MSLS, AHIP, Reference Librarian at or 806-743-2241 to schedule your session.


Proposal/Project Abstract

The Student Summer Research Project Proposal Form should be filled out and submitted to the Office of the Dean and the Associate Dean for Research at the beginning of May 8, 2015. Preferably, a form is submitted jointly by a student and faculty member who have coordinated the details of a research project for the summer; however, forms will be received from an individual for possible research projects. The Office of the Dean and the Associate Dean for Research will coordinate to assist in locating and matching interested students and faculty. Note: The proposed project should have appropriate institutional approval (IRB, IACUC, etc.) prior to the start of the program.

Download Student Summer Research Project Proposal Form
Summer Research
Matching Opportunities (Projects and Faculty Mentors)

Faculty Mentor

Potential Project Description

Contact Information

Potential Positions

Guillermo A. Altenberg, MD, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Connexins are the proteins that form the gap-junction channels that mediate cell-to-cell coupling. A connexin hexamer from one cell forms a hemichannel, and head-to-head docking of hemichannels from adjacent cells forms a gap-junction channel. Gap-junction channels and hemichannels play important roles in normal cells as well as in genetic and acquired disorders. For example, opening of Cx43 hemichannels under ischemic conditions contributes to the damage in cardiac infarct and stroke. Unfortunately, there are no good hemichannel inhibitors. This is the consequence of the fact that the available assays for hemichannel function are not suitable for high throughput screening (HTS) of chemical libraries used for the discovery of inhibitors. The goal of the project is to develop and test HTS methodology amenable for the identification of selective and isoform-specific connexin hemichannel blockers that can be used as pre-therapeutic leads.

Dr. Guillermo Altenberg,, at 743-2531


Candy Arentz, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery

Breast cancer research.

Dr. Candy Arentz,, at 743-2460


Pablo Artigas, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

The Na/K pump builds Na and K gradients essential for excitability, nutrient uptake, and cellular homeostasis. Na/K pumps are heterodimers formed by association of one of four α subunit, with one of three beta subunit isoforms, all with tissue specific distribution. Also in a tissue specific manner, FXYD proteins may associate to the αβ complex to modulate Na/K pump function. Malfunction of Na/K pump isoforms due to spontaneous or inherited mutations is responsible for forms of migraine,  parkinsonism and hypertension. We aim to find the reason for the large number of isoforms, to understand their regulation by FXYDs and to uncover the mechanisms of illness induced mutations. We would like one medical student to join these studies, where she/he will use immunohystochemical, electrophysiological and/or biochemical techniques to address the post translational regulation of Na/K pump isoforms.A second study where another student could join is a collaborative project where he/she will use a combination of molecular biology, protein biochemistry and electrophysiology to study excitablity of human myometrial cells, to address the clinically relevant question: why does labor stagnate in some women but not others?

Dr. Pablo Artigas,, at 743-1142


Michael Conn, PhD, Sr. Vice President for Research, Associate Provost and Professor of Internal Medicine and Cell Biology

Our laboratory is interested in the trafficking of receptors as the basis of new therapeutic approaches. See related research at PUBMED.

Dr. Michael Conn,, or Shelley Stevens,, at 743-3600


Kumuda Das, MSc, PhD, Anesthesiology

Research methodology and development of hypothesis-driven research. The major aim is to understand how cardiomyocytes and the endothelial cells in the heart communicate in stress situations such as myocardial infarction induced by reperfusion injury. The project involves cell culture of primary endothelial cells and embryonic cardiomyocytes and determination of mechanism of secretion of soluble factors from endothelial cells that binds to receptors on cardiomyocytes. The techniques involve western analysis, real-time PCR, and cell culture methods.

Dr. Kumuda Das,, or Brandon Salinas,, at 743-2981, ext. 230


Cheryl Erwin, PhD, JD, Director, Center for Ethics, Humanities & Spirituality, Department of Medical Education and Psychiatry

Investigation of topics in medical humanities, ethics, policy, or spirituality in healthcare. Topics may include narratives of illness, ethics of emerging technologies, public health ethics and policy, or spiritual dimensions of care.

Dr. Cheryl Erwin,, at 743-6772


Tommie Farrell, MD and Kelly Klein, MD, Hospice and Palliative Medicine/Family & Community Medicine

Choices during critical illness, such as cancer or advanced heart failure can be difficult for both patient and physicians. A recent Institute of Medicine Report claims that there is a chasm between the expectations of patients and physicians in this regard. Our team is interested in exploring what patients/physicians believe are important to them in making these choices.

Dr. Tommie Farrell,, at 743-2757


Lan Guan, PhD, Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics

Membrane carriers play crucial roles in many aspects of cell function. The long-term goal of our research is to understand mechanisms of solute/cation symport. Currently, we are studying bacterial melibiose permease (MelB), a model system, to understand Na+/sugar symport by utilizing an integrated approach, including X-ray crystallography, thermodynamics, and other biochemical & biophysical analyses. We are also developing novel protein-capture reagents that, like an antibody, bind to a target protein and modulate its function.

Dr. Lan Guan,, at 743-3102


Michaela Jansen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell Physiology & Molecular Biophysics, Center for Membrane Protein Research

Research in the Jansen laboratory focuses on structure and function studies of diverse membrane proteins, specifically, ligand-gated ion channels and transporters. We use biophysical (electrophysiology, spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography) and biochemical methods to study these proteins at a molecular level. We are especially interested in the superfamily of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGIC) that includes the nACh, GABA, 5HT3, and Gly families. The pLGICs function mainly as neurotransmitter receptors, transforming the chemical signal contained in the neurotransmitter into an electrical signal.

Dr. Michaela Jansen,, at 743-4059


Matthew Lambert, PhD, Sr. Director for Research, Principal Investigator Project FRONTIER, F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health

Students will have the opportunity to develop a research protocol utilizing data collected for our community-based research project, Project FRONTIER, to examine health and aging in rural West Texas populations.

Cathy Hudson,, at 743-5601


Naima Moustaid-Moussa, PhD, FTOS

Professor, Nutritional Sciences & Director, Obesity Research Cluster

Research on Nutrigenomics, Inflammation & Obesity. More information at:

Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa,


Kevin Pruitt, PhD, Immunology & Molecular Microbiology

As tumors progress toward malignancy several epigenetic alterations are acquired that render them less sensitive to normal growth control cues. One focus of the Pruitt laboratory is on identifying the mechanism(s) responsible for increasing intra-tumoral estrogen production. High levels of estrogen within tumors drive cancer progression. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens and it is frequently increased in breast tumors, yet the mechanistic basis for this is unknown. Because overexpression of aromatase has been linked with overproduction of estrogens, we want to define how this occurs. Thus, we are interesting in defining the genetic and epigenetic basis for aromatase overexpression in human breast tumors and breast cancer cell lines.

Dr. Kevin Pruitt,, at 743-2334


Latha Ramaligam, Reseach Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Sciences, TTU

Research focuses on the role of Angiotensinogen in type 2 diabetes. Angiotensin II (Ang II), a major regulator of blood pressure and fluid balance, is generated from the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) and also has been associated with diabetes. Angiotensinogen (Agt), the precursor of Ang II, is also secreted locally in beta cells with elevated levels observed under obesogenic conditions; however, its role in beta cells in not explored yet. Hence, we hypothesize that enrichment of Agt in beta cells leads to activation of inflammatory cascades and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, thereby contributing to diabetes. To test this hypothesis, gene and protein expression studies will be conducted in beta cells treated with angiotensin ii or Agt inhibitors.

Latha Ramalingam,, at 834-0841


P. Hemachandra Reddy, PhD, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Garrison Institute on Aging, Professor of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Neuroscience/Pharmacology and Neurology

The Reddy Lab at TTUHSC Garrison Institute on Aging is looking for highly motivated and interested medical students to investigate the role of synaptic damage, oxidative stress/mitochondrial dysfunction in relation to amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau in the progression and pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease.

Dr. Hemanchandra Reddy,, at 743-2385


Surendra K. Varma, MD, Pediatrics

Iodine Levels in Pregnant Women in West Texas

Dr. Surendra Varma,, or Cris McElwee,, at 743-6639


Shu Wang, MD, PhD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Sciences, TTU

Research focuses on using biocompatible and biodegradable nanocarriers to enhance bioactivities of phytochemicals to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and obesity

Dr. Shu Wang,, at 834-4050


Departmental Responsibilities

Processing of all paperwork to ensure appropriate payment of stipends will be the responsibility of a participating department. Steps to be taken are:

  1. Process an ePAF for each student using the pooled position HSC Student Intern (0 FTE and 0 salary).
  2. Please note: The Department is responsible for processing the full stipend amount of $2,240.  The Department account will be used for half ($1,120) and the Dean’s account for the remaining amount ($1,120).  The FOP can be obtained from Shalene Vick at 743-1830.
  3. Process EOPs prior to June 18th for the first month and July 18th for the second month.
  4. Process ePAF to end job for each student.


The research activities of this program are expected to provide meaningful experience and knowledge that contribute to the student’s medical education. Faculty members should offer appropriate instruction and assistance in order for the student to be successful. Students are required to complete a presentation of their research activities during the Student Research Week in the Spring 2016 . The Office of the Clinical Research Center is providing an opportunity for students to gain better knowledge of the development of protocols for clinical research by attending scheduled lectures early this summer. This will assist the student in understanding the searching of literature, roles and responsibilities of the research team and governing regulations, protection of subjects (consents), data collection (from charts), role of the IRB (risks & benefits), study monitoring and dealing with audits. Additional presentations will be offered throughout the summer on developing a hypothesis, how to give a presentation and writing an abstract. Research seminars presented by TTUHSC faculty members and graduate students will also be presented.


Any questions regarding this program can be referred to Ernestine Gregorcyk in the Office of the Dean at 743-7163.