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901/333-STCC *

DATE: August 2, 2001

CONTACT: Calvin Burns, 901/333-5338 or Marilyn Duncan, 901/333-4247

STCC Building Bridges for Biomedical Students; 
Presentations Set for NIH Conference

Southwest Tennessee Community College will be well represented by 10 of its students at the Sixth Annual Southeastern Regional National Institutes of Health Sciences Bridge Conference (NIH), August 3-4, at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The NIH Bridge Program is a national initiative designed to get more minority students involved with Biomedical Sciences research.

Presenters at the conference focus on research conducted during the summer. The research is on-going, and covers the areas of data processing, application, computer skills, analysis, laboratory, clinical and field work.

The students making presentations are:

Okima Kilgore, Determining the Effects of Gamma Sterilization of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), Research Advisor, Dr. Shah Jahan, University of Memphis;

Rhonda Langley and Anne Sweeny, Investigation of Ras-Gap Activity in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells, Research Advisor, Dr. K. U. Malik, University of Tennessee;

Amanda Clayborne and Laura Allen, The Use of Self-grooming as a Form of Communication in Meadow Voles, Research Advisor, Dr. Michael Ferkin, University of Memphis;

Cheryl E. Stokes, Tissue and Cell Culture of Madagascar Periwinkle, Research Advisor, Dr. M. Uddin, LeMoyne-Owen College;

Maya Ervin, The Creation of the Anatomical Esophagus for Electrical Defibrillation of the Heart, Research Advisor, Dr. Amy De Jongh, University of Memphis;

Tom Olando, Thermal Stabilization of Gamma-Sterilized Polyethylene Components of Total Joint Replacements, Research Advisor, Dr. Shah Jahan, University of Memphis;

Corry Tunstall, The Effects of Exercise on the Expression of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase in the Sensory Motor Cortex, Research Advisor, Dr. A. Olahedin, University of Tennessee; and

Torre Thomas, Ethanol Consumption vs Water Consumption in Mice, Research Advisor, Dr. Kristin Hamre, University of Tennessee.

In September 2000, NIH awarded a three-year grant of $530,000 to the Natural Sciences Department at Southwest Tennessee Community College, to fund the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program. STCC is the managing institution of the grant. The University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, the University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College also are participating in the project.

STCC's Bridge Program Continued

Saeid Baki, department head for Natural Sciences at STCC, also serves as principal investigator for the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program. He credits a team effort by a dedicated faculty for being largely responsible for NIH awarding the grant to his department.

"Our team members are doing a tremendous job with the program," Baki said. "And our students must be commended for their outstanding achievements. The dedication that they exhibit to pursue educational goals is an inspiration to all of us."

The primary objective of the initiative is to increase the number of minority students who successfully transfer from STCC to four-year colleges and help them establish careers in the areas of Biomedical and Natural Sciences, Baki said. Since its inception in 1995, more than 30 students at the College have completed the program and transferred to four-year colleges and universities to earn a Bachelor of Science degree.

Maya Ervin, a sophomore at STCC and a graduate of Raleigh-Egypt High School, is a prime example of the positive impact the Bridge Program is having on students. Ervin's research advisor, Dr. Amy De Jongh, was so impressed with the summer research that she invited the student back to the University of Memphis this Fall to continue the project.

"The Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program is providing an excellent opportunity for me to develop career skills," Ervin said. "I plan to attend medical school at the University of Tennessee, and eventually become a doctor. Thanks to this innovative program and the caring instructors, I feel the chances of obtaining my goal have been enhanced."

Dr. Indiren Pillay, assistant professor of Natural Sciences, serves as co-director of the project. Dr. Sam Chang, professor of Physical Science, is the faculty mentor. Louis Moses, associate professor of Natural Sciences, serves as the orientation coordinator, and associate professor Kathy Germain is the student coordinator.

For more information about the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program, call Southwest Tennessee Community College at (901) 333-5220.

Southwest Tennessee Community College is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.