• A Study of Human Skin Color, a Natural Sunscreen: Physiology, Molecular Evolution, Public Health and Student Learning

      Ayala, Juan; Mukhopadhyay, Soma; Biological Sciences; Mukhopadhayay, Soma; Augusta University (1/30/2020)
      Human skin coloration is a combination of pigmentation, ultraviolet (UV) exposure, gene expression and natural selection. Skin tone is also associated with several physiological processes, such as vitamin D synthesization, calcium homeostasis, maintaining proper blood folate concentration, and the production of serotonin. In recent years, the study of molecular evolution has become very significant not only to understand the human body but also becoming an integral part for understanding public health and other fields of medical science. Our goal of this project was to create an interactive course module for Anatomy and Physiology students to show how skin physiology was driven by evolutionary pressures. Also, the module was intended to show how exposure to some UV radiation is important for certain biological processes and to offer protection against cancer and on the other hand how overexposure might cause damage and lead to cancer. Students were introduced to molecular evolution of skin color and the production of different pigments, eumelanin and pheomelanin to shield DNA from harmful UV light. Additionally, UVAB and UVC irradiance were measured and compared to the UV index which indicates the strength of UV radiation for the day to make people aware of the environmental factors arou
    • Assessing Local Parks for their Infrastructure Issues, and Use.

      Shabu, Elizabath; Peritore, Nicole; Kinesiology and Health Science; Peritore, Nicole; Augusta University (1/29/2020)
      This research project assessed public park physical activity infrastructure use in Richmond and Columbia County. Prior research has shown that children not only enjoy outdoor time but also consider parks as a place for socializing. Further, research has shown that playground time positively impacts children imagination. The playground also aids in the physical fitness of children by offering interactive experiences that can add into the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Park assessments were conducted utilizing the Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) Tool and found that overall parks in both counties were well taken care of. Additionally, there was a wide variety of amenities available to utilize. There were some areas of concern in the parks however, which included cigarette buds, alcohol containers, trash and cracked sidewalks. In both counties, parks were observed to see how much children utilized the playground equipment. Observations concluded that the majority of the children utilized the different variety of equipment, with the swings and slides being the most commonly employed. In conclusion, this presentation will describe the diversity of amenities, challenges in maintenance, and the overall use of public parks in Richmond and Columbia Counties.

      Kumar, Aria (Arundhati); Appel, Joanna; Wyatt, Tasha; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine; Appel, Joanna; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Neuroanatomy requires students to acquire, assimilate, and apply knowledge of complex neuroanatomical structures. Three-dimensional (3D) physical models and computer-aided digital models are effective in promoting the development of neuroanatomical spatial representations. However, what remains unclear is exactly which tools benefit students the most. This study investigates whether there is a relationship between individuals' spatial abilities and their neuro-spatial knowledge, and to determine whether learning neuroanatomy is enhanced using one of three instructional tools. The spatial aptitude of undergraduate medical students enrolled in neuroanatomy was measured by tests previously validated as predictors of visual-spatial abilities, and a spatial aptitude profile was generated for each student. Students were given a pretest designed to assess critical spatial skills within the context of applied-neuroanatomy. Following the pretest, students attended a learning session where they interacted with one of three learning tools: a) 3D printed neuroanatomical models, b) 3D virtual neuroanatomical models, or c) hands-on deep-brain dissection. Effectiveness of each tool on student learning was evaluated by posttest. Preliminarily, all three instructional tools proved effective when assessing percentage change in pretest:posttest scores. Data is under analysis to determine if there exists an interplay between individual students' spatial abilities and the effectiveness of each learning tool.
    • ATAD3A: a critical driver for head and neck cancer

      Caleb Jensen; Yong Teng; Liwei Lang; Biological Sciences; Yong Teng; Augusta University (1/15/2020)
      For patients with head and neck cancer whose tumors are HPV negative HPV(-), current therapy does not lead to significant longevity and most succumb to loco-regional recurrence of the primary tumor. We discovered that HPV(-) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) highly expressed ATPase family AAA-domain containing protein 3A (ATAD3A). ATAD3A is the mitochondrial protein, which has been demonstrated as an oncogene in breast and lung cancer. However, nothing has been reported regarding its role in HNSCC. Using the HPV(-) HNSCC cell line HN12 as a cell model, we show here that knockout of ATAD3A expression by CRISPR-CAS9 in HNSCC cells, leading to reduced cell proliferation and decreased the ability of colony formation and anchorage-independent growth in soft agar. Importantly, ATAD3A loss also significantly suppressed HNSCC cells to grow in 3D culture. Together, these findings suggest the potential oncogenic role of ATAD3A in HNSCC cells, and implicate that ATAD3A represents a promising target for better treatment of patients with HPV(-) HNSCC.

      Zimmerman, Matthew; Bennetts, Stacy; Biological Sciences; Bennetts, Stacy; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Pediomelum piedmontanum, Dixie Mt. Breadroot, is a rare legume species that was discovered in 2006. Currently, there are only three known populations, which are growing in either serpentine or phyllite soil. Both soil types contain extremely high concentrations of Mg as well as some other heavy metals. Previous experiments have revealed that propagation of P. piedmontanum is unsuccessful in potting soil, with high levels of mortality approximately two months after germination. Since Mg is unusually high in both soil types, it was hypothesized that survivability and growth of seedlings would be greater with Mg enriched soil than in potting soil. In order to test this hypothesis, seedlings from a phyllite population (7 plants/pot with 3 replicate pots/Mg group and 2 pots/control) were transplanted into one of the following potting soil enrichments: 50μM MgSO4, 100μM MgSO4 or controls with no Mg enrichment. During 12 weeks, seedlings in 100μM Mg displayed the greatest survivability and shoot growth, with the lowest survivability in control pots. Atypical Mg requirements have been noted in the literature for some plants adapted to serpentine soil, but this is a unique discovery for a population adapted to phyllite.
    • Can fast fashion be sustainable and still be profitable?

      Miralles, Eva Miro; Medcalfe, Simon; Hull College of Business; Medcalfe, Simon; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Fast fashion is the approach to designing, creating, and marketing clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and available to consumers. It is destroying the world we live in, creating a big opportunity cost for society, because it is the second largest polluter after the oil industry. Can the giants of fast fashion keep earning the amount of money they earn if they start complying with the best environmental regulations and sustainable practices? Economic theory suggests that if consumers demand higher ethical practices from fashion companies then profits will rise. However, if these practices increase costs then profits will fall. The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report published by Baptist World Aid Australia gives grades to 130 fashion companies according to five different ethical management practices. This data is used to determine how fashion companies� profits vary with different metrics of ethic and sustainable practices and which have the biggest impact on profit.
    • Case Competition

      TBD; TBA; TBA; Augusta University (11/20/2019)
      The third Augusta University Case Competition, sponsored by the Hull College of Business, is a competition for student pairs to analyze a given business situation and advise the business's key decision-makers of the merits of their recommended course of action through a written memo. Topics include business processes, internal controls, and ethics. The top five student teams will proceed to a poster display and an in-person presentation to a panel of judges made up of local professionals in the accounting and finance fields. The top team will be named March 6, 2020, and (as discussed with Dr. Patel) the information will be provided for inclusion in the PKP Conference booklet and schedule.
    • CBD analysis in Oils and Foods

      Foley, Joanna; Chemistry and Physics; Myers, Stephanie; Augusta University (1/13/2020)
      Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a very prominent topic in the medical community and popular marketplace because of its widespread consumer use. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other similar molecules can be present in commercial CBD products, so testing is necessary to determine purity of the CBD. Existing methods of analysis for CBD oils are only known on GC-FID (gas chromatography - flame ionization detector) and these methods are not optimal for the wide variety of commercial CBD products available. Thus, I have optimized using a GC-MS method, based on a published GC-FID method, that can be applied to a wide variety of foods, gummies, and other items that may contain CBD and similar molecules. I have optimized the method by varying column temperature, ramp rates, and parameters within the mass spectrometer, to find a balance between run times, analyte detection, and resolution for the CBC/CBD/CBN, etc. cannabinoid molecules present in commercial CBD oil samples. I then used the optimized method on a variety of commercial and self-prepared CBD edibles to assess the recovery and degradation of CBD and other similar molecules.
    • Characterization of a Cyclic Peptide AD05 as a Novel Inhibitor of the Hsp90 Chaperoning Machine

      Fang, Wayne; Lu, Sumin; Jilani, Yasmeen; Debbab, Abdssamad; Chadli, Ahmed; Debbab, Abdssamad; Biological Sciences; Chadli, Ahmed; Augusta University; Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf (1/31/2020)
      Protection of oncogenic proteins is the foundation of many hallmarks of cancer. Based on this, hsp90 inhibitors have emerged as a potentially potent strategy for cancer treatment. The clinical efficacy of the earlier Hsp90 inhibitors remains unsatisfactory, in part due to their induction of heat shock response and anti-apoptotic mechanisms in cancer cells. To identify alternative therapeutic agents without these effects, we have developed a cell-free high-throughput screen (HTS) platform based on the folding of progesterone receptor (PR) by the core components of the Hsp90 chaperoning machine. During our initial screening of 175 natural products from North African medicinal plants, we discovered the cyclic peptide AD05 as a novel Hsp90 inhibitor. AD05 has shown a powerful antitumor activity against various cancer cell lines including HeLa, Hs578T, MDA-MB231, MDA-MB453, E0771, THP1, and U937. Western blot analysis revealed that AD05 destabilizes Hsp90 client proteins without inducing heat shock response as indicated by lack of upregulation of Hsp70, Hsp40 and Hsp27. Remarkably, AD05 does not induce apoptosis but rather triggers autophagy in various cell lines.
    • Characterization of Proton Sensitive G protein-Coupled Receptors

      Nam, Alisha; Okasha, Najeah; Spencer, Angela; Lambert, Nevin; Biological Sciences; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Chemistry and Physics; Spencer, Angela; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane-bound receptors that can stimulate an intracellular signaling pathway following activation by a ligand. According to the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) database, GPR4, GPR65, and GPR132 are Class A orphan GPCRs with protons reported as their putative endogenous ligand; however, these receptors are currently understudied. After confirming whether these receptors are pH-sensitive, the purpose of our study was to investigate the interactions between GPR4, GPR65 and GPR132 and G protein subtypes (G?s, G?i, G?q, and G?12) upon stimulation with an acidic solution. Using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET), we studied the coupling between luciferase-tagged GPR receptors and fluorescent protein (Venus)-tagged G proteins in response to pH changes. Data indicated that all three receptors responded to pH changes. Upon extracellular response to pH changes, the receptors activate different G protein subtypes and thus, different signaling pathways: GPR4 activates G?i, G?q, and G?12; GPR65 activates all four subtypes; and GPR132 activates G?i�and weakly activates G?q, and G?12. Identifying these receptors as true proton sensors leads the way in understanding the role they play in maintaining acid-base homeostasis and will be critical for the development of novel drugs combatting acid-base related disorders.
    • Competitive Balance in Women's Collegiate Golf

      Jones, Austin; Medcalfe, Simon; Hull College of Business; Medcalfe, Simon; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Since the implementation of title IX in 1972, there has been in increase in the organization and participation of women's collegiate sports teams. In 1982, which is when Women started competing in NCAA golf, participation was numbered at 739 and by 2008, there were a total of 2047 participants. This paper shows how the increase in participation among division 1 women's golf teams has affected the competitive balance in women's collegiate golf. The method of assessing this effect is to compare all the participating scores in past NCAA championships against the increase in participation over time. It is hypothesized that as participation increased, the scores have trended lower and therefore made women's golf more competitive. The division 1 men's golf team is used as a control to see that the effects are unique to the women's team.
    • Curcumin Conjugates as Potential Therapeutics for Breast Cancer

      Tran, Queen; Chemistry and Physics; Panda, Siva; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Breast cancer, the target of this study, is one of the most salient forms of cancer in the United States. Among U.S. women, 1 in 8 are diagnosed each year. Current treatment for breast cancer includes dichloroacetic acid (DCA), which is a prescribed for cancer therapy and is primarily effective at a specific high dosage, which leads to side effects such as neuropathy. In a search for an alternative solution with lesser negative effects, curcumin was studied. Curcumin is a component of the turmeric and has an array of health properties including the alleviation of gastrointestinal complications and certain pulmonary diseases and the inhibition of cancer growth. However, curcumin�s main drawback lies in its low bioavailability, thus allowing little to be absorbed into the body upon ingestion. The objective of this study is to design the synthesis for the improvement of DCA as well increased bioavailability of curcumin by conjugating the two components with an amino acid linker in between DCA and curcumin. Prior to synthesis of the amino acid-linked hybrid conjugates, the preceding procedures are standardized. Upon conjugation, it is anticipated that the overall bioavailability would increase, and the effective dosage would decrease, resulting in a potentially more effective breast cancer . The final synthesized compounds will then be analyzed and subsequently studied in breast cancer line cells and animal tests.
    • Data Driven Machine Learning Discovery of Fundamental Physical Laws

      Brady, Alexander; Datta, Trinanjan; Chemistry and Physics; Datta, Trinanjan; Augusta University (1/30/2020)
      Machine learning, which is part of artificial intelligence, has become an invaluable tool to manipulate, analyze, predict, and reveal trends and associations hidden within big data. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model of sample data in order to make predictions or decisions, whether simply filtering emails and recommending products in a search bar or discovering the fundamental laws governing highly sensitive chaotic systems. In this research investigation we apply the "Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator" (LASSO) method of data analysis that determines the relationship, or lack thereof, between variables, allowing for the removal of irrelevant features. The method is first applied to a generic system of differential equations, to demonstrate its applicability, before showcasing its application within the context of a chaotic Lorenz oscillator system. The generic coupled system is solved using the LASSO module available in Python's sci-kit-learn. A similar computational approach for the chaotic system with synthetic Gaussian noisy data successfully reproduces the original Lorenz attractor solution.

      Duncan, Leslie; Jensen, Caleb; He, Leilei; Lang, Liwei; Teng, Yong; Biological Sciences; Oral Biology and Diagnostic Sciences; Georgia Cancer Center; Teng, Yong; Lang, Liwei; et al. (1/16/2020)
      A promising arsenal of histone deacetylase (HDAC)-targeted treatment has emerged in the past decade, as the abnormal targeting or retention of HDACs to DNA regulatory regions often occurs in many cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, few has been studied regarding the beneficial role of HDAC inhibition in anti-HNSCC therapy and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is commonly expressed at high levels in HNSCC (more than 90%) and serves as a prime target for new anti-HNSCC therapy. Interestingly, Trichostatin A (TSA), one of HDAC inhibitors, not only inhibits EGFR phosphorylation, but also induces repression of EGFR total protein amount in HNSCC cells. We further show that TSA induces EGFR degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in HNSCC cells, which is associated with downregulated AKT and ERK1/2 signaling pathways. The study uncovers that EGFR is one of targets of HDAC-based treatment, providing mechanistic insight into the action of HDAC inhibitors. As there is an increasing interest in using HDAC inhibitors for cancer treatment in the clinic, the outcomes from the present study would be significantly beneficial for the development of new rational HDAC-targeted anticancer modalities.
    • Delusional Disorder in the Narrator of Maud

      Ravula, Havilah; College of Science and Mathematics; English and Foreign Languages; Sadenwasser, Tim; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Alfred Tennyson's poem, Maud, was written from the perspective of a narrator madly in love with the titular character. The narrator goes through different phases throughout the text during which his interpretations of his surroundings, including his natural and relational environments, change with each passing event. During these changes, the narrator exhibits symptoms of mental disorders, including PTSD, bipolar disorder, and various delusional disorders. The narrator's depressive yet frenzied moods and his obsessive thoughts, the majority of which point to delusional disorder evident in the erotomaniac and persecutory types, begin to push him towards insanity. This presentation aims to delve into each of the symptoms of the narrator and how his delusions distort his interpretations of his relationships. An analysis of the text shows multiple instances in which the narrator shares his intense feelings. The narrator has been scarred by his father's death to such an extent that the beauty of nature around him morphs into a disfigured, bleeding landscape. He loves Maud obsessively; he will do almost anything to be with her. Finally, he loathes her brother for obstructing his relationship with Maud. Eventually, his delusions leave him a tormented individual who cannot find respite from his troubled mind.
    • Design and Synthesis of Selective COX-2 Inhibitors as Potential Anti-inflammatory Agents

      Wade,Margaret; Chemistry and Physics; Panda, Siva; Augusta University (1/30/2020)
      Inflammation is a common immune response to harmful pathogens or damaged cells. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to treat inflammation as they inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzyme systems (COX). Selectivity for inhibition of the COX-2 pathway is an aim in the development of NSAIDs, as their adverse side effects are associated with the inhibition of the COX-1 pathway. We have designed and synthesized several hybrid conjugates of ibuprofen with various amino acid linkers showing promising anti-inflammatory properties and decreased gastric ulcer formation. The current developing new hybrid conjugates based on the rational drug design process. The details of the project will be discussed at the conference.
    • Design, synthesis and computational studies of isoniazid hybrid conjugates as potential antimycobacterial agents

      Thomas, Eyana; Chemistry and Physics; Panda, Siva; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial pathogen caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which generally causes pulmonary infection and is extremely pervasive within the lungs and between subjects. Pyrazinamide (PZA) and isoniazid are first-line anti-tuberculosis prodrug often used in combinational therapy with drugs like ethambutol, streptomycin and/or rifampicin. With prolonged administration of the recommended dose, harmful side effects have been reported: hepatitis, acute hypertension, thrombocytopenia, and gastrointestinal discomfort. To overcome the problem of toxicity and drug resistance, combination therapy has been used which utilizes the simultaneous administration of two or more antibiotics with independent modes of action and different biochemical targets in the bacteria. Recently, the concept of hybrid molecules has been introduced in anticipation that molecules of this type may overcome drug resistance. This multiple target strategy led to the discovery of various bio-effective hybrid molecules. We have synthesized several pyrazinoic acid hybrid conjugates with isoniazid via amino acid linkers with retention of the chiral integrity of the desired products. All the synthesized compounds were characterized by spectral studies. The details of the studies will be discussed at the conference.

      Hammond, Caroline; Agee, Brian M.; Chemistry and Physics; Agee, Brian M; Augusta University (1/29/2020)
      Recently, scientists have attempted to transform traditional synthetic procedures into ones that are more environmentally favorable due to the desire to circumvent the damage being done to our environment. A technique was recently developed in which satellite dishes were repurposed as solar reflectors that are capable of providing a focused source of solar irradiation.� The ability to use the solar reflector as the sole heat source for synthetic reactions has been analyzed for the synthesis of the commercially important polyamide, nylon 6,6.� Commercially, Nylon 6,6 is synthesized using a multi-step procedure, in which nearly all of the steps require the addition of heat in order for the reaction to occur.� Furthermore, the synthesis also incorporates some chemicals/reagents that are not environmentally friendly or consist of elements that are considered endangered and supply are in serious danger.� The exchange of these reagents with more environmentally friendly, sustainable substitutes has been analyzed for the total synthesis of nylon 6,6.� The incorporation of a solar energy heat source and use of environmentally friendly chemicals provides a new synthetic route to nylon6,6 that can be taught in teaching labs as a �green synthesis� experiment or scaled to fit the needs of industrial synthesis.
    • Development of Defined Culture Conditions For Human Wharton's Jelly Stem Cells

      Shaikh, Arika; Eroglu, Ali; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative Medicine; Eroglu, Dr. Ali; Augusta University (1/4/2020)
      Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multi-potent and capable of differentiating into various cell lineages. While MSCs have commonly been isolated from bone marrow for treatment of numerous diseases, alternative sources including adipose tissue and Wharton’s Jelly (WJ), an extra-embryonic umbilical cord tissue rich from hyaluronic acid (HA), are under study for establishment of safer, less invasive procedures. Typically, WJ-MSCs are cultured in undefined media containing fetal bovine serum, of which use has been associated with different complications, including transmission of infectious agents and induction of immunologic reactions. To facilitate clinical applications, this project aims to develop chemically defined and safe culture conditions for human WJ-MSCs. The hypothesis is that undifferentiated growth of WJ-MSCs will be supported by an HA-based extracellular matrix and fortified DMEM/F12 supplemented with macromolecules, antioxidants, and growth factors. This hypothesis will be tested by comparing the growth kinetics and plasticity of WJ-MSCs cultured under conventional undefined and defined conditions. WJ-MSCs will be isolated via either the “enzymatic digestion” or “tissue explant” methods from human umbilical cords. They will then be phenotyped by evaluating the expression of relevant markers using a MSC phenotyping kit and placed into one of six different culture media groups for experimental testing.
    • Developmental Biology of Zebrafish and Integration of Transgenic Lines to Study Microglia in Perspective of Glioblastoma

      O'Keefe, Anabelle; McCartney, Katherine; Kandepu, Umasai; Rajpurohit, Surendra; Biological Sciences; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Rajpurohit, Surendra; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Glioblastoma is a vicious cancer of the brain that is extremely invasive. Our innovative approach to studying glioblastoma utilizes zebrafish as model for scientific study because of their affordable maintenance, transparent body plan during embryo and larval stages, and genomic accessibility. We aim to use zebrafish as an organismal model to study how glioblastoma and microglial cells interact in the neural region. To achieve this, we are developing an all-encompassing in-vivo transgenic and transparent zebrafish modeling system to study microglia function and manipulation in the context of adverse conditions such as glioblastoma and inflammation. Microglia are the resident macrophages found in zebrafish and humans located along the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. These cells support the immune system by cleaning any foreign debris. The model will integrate Microglia, NF-kB, and Annexin-5 transgenic lines displaying which genes in the brain are activated via their corresponding fluorescent protein upon the introduction of glioblastoma. Furthermore, a mutant Casper line of zebrafish will introduce a transparent characteristic in adult zebrafish that allows for simpler visualization and observation in the final model. Ultimately, the transgenic model will utilize microglia cells as a mechanism to approach glioblastomas.