• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

      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.

      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.
    • Diagnosis of Mental Illness in the Narrator of Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" Using the DSM-5

      Fang, Wayne; Sadenwasser, Tim; Biological Sciences; English and Foreign Languages; Sadenwasser, Tim; Augusta University (12/10/2019)
      Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" explores mental illness, freedom, and the faults of the rest cure by exploring the life of a wife who has been diagnosed with neurasthenia. With this story Gilman describes an increasingly common practice during her time, and how problematic it was for the individuals who were diagnosed. Through the wife's narration, Gilman shows how many women felt trapped since they were forced to undertake the rest cure due to one-sided relationship dynamics. Using this narrative of the wife's deteriorating mental health, Gilman argues for equality in relationships as well as better treatments for mental health. In this presentation, I will use the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as well as other scholarly sources to diagnosis the wife's mental illness. To do this, I will take the wife's narration and compare it to diagnostic criteria as presented in the DSM-5. By examining the narrator's thoughts and actions I will be able to examine the progression of her mental illness. Examining the wife's mental health can show how many women of her may have felt trapped. This in turn can explain how many women faced unequal power dynamics in their marriages.
    • Early Extubation in Infancy and Early Childhood Following Heart Surgery: outcome analysis and predictors of failure

      Esquivel, Raquel; Geister, Emma; Crethers, Danielle; Weatherholt, Danalynn; Sanchez, Maria Gabriela; Munoz, Gustavo; Polimenakos, Anastasios C.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; Department of Surgery; Polimenakos, Anastasios C.; et al. (1/31/2020)
      Fast-track (FT) strategies and early extubation (EE), when feasible, can have beneficial effect on clinical outcomes. Despite positive findings in adult cardiac surgery studies, EE procedures have not been rigorously evaluated in the pediatric cardiac populations. We sought to determine feasibility and clinical outcomes of EE in infancy and early childhood following congenital heart surgery (CHS), as well as identify predictors of failure and highlight cost implications related to FT. A retrospective chart review of children ?6 years old who underwent CHS at the Children�s Hospital of Georgia from January-December 2017 was performed. EE was defined as successful removal of the endotracheal tube in the operating room or upon arrival in intensive care unit (ICU). Multivariate analysis was used to compare peri-operative data, identify the predictors of EE failure, and assess total hospital cost. Of the 64 patients reviewed, mean hospital length of stay (LOS) was 6.97+/-4.1 days in EE compared to 21.78+/-13.45 days in non-EE (p�< 0.0001). There was a near 3-fold cost increase failing EE/fast track which impacted total hospital cost for EE compared to non-EE patients (p�<0.0001, mean: $51419.913 sd= 23,196.203). Deployment of FT strategy with EE is safe and feasible following CHS during infancy and early childhood. Proper customization and implementation, through patient modifiable variables, can have powerful impact on cost-containment.
    • Effect of NF-κB Deletion on Bone Marrow Macrophage Respiratory Burst Ability

      Soni, Karan; Bradford, Jennifer; Biological Sciences; Bradford, Jennifer; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      The nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) signaling pathway is very important in normal immune system function and is also often aberrantly regulated in many different types of cancers. As many cancers are characterized by elevated numbers of infiltrating monocytes/macrophages, we have developed an animal model that lacks canonical NF-κB signaling in bone-marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs). As BMDMs can infiltrate solid cancers, the aim of this particular study was to assess the functionality of phagocyte oxidase ability in NF-κB deficient BMDMs. A respiratory burst assay involves stimulating the phagocyte oxidase enzyme in macrophages to release reactive oxygen species (ROS) so that they can degrade and combat invading pathogens as well as cancer cells. Based on our recent experiments that showed BMDMs lacking p65 had poor phagocytosis ability and low nitrite production, we hypothesize that BMDMs lacking NF-κB signaling will have a decreased respiratory burst response compared to control BMDMs.
    • Establishing a GFP Marker in Zebrafish to Study the Localization of Tinagl1

      Blackburn, Helena; LeMosy, Ellen; Biological Sciences; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; LeMosy, Ellen; Augusta University (1/27/2020)
      Tinagl1 is a secreted protein found in the basement membrane under epithelial cells. The LeMosy lab previously showed that tinagl1 knockdowns resulted in abnormal spinal development and heart orientation during zebrafish development. These data, together with changes in length of motile cilia, suggested that tinagl1 is involved in cilia function during development. The mechanism of this interaction is unknown, and it is unclear whether Tinagl1 is only in basement membranes at the basal side of cells, or if it also localizes to the apical side of cells where most cilia project. A deeper understanding of the localization of Tinagl1 during development is a logical next step in understanding how this protein functions. Zebrafish provide an excellent model for studying this localization as they display strong phenotypic effects that can be easily imaged. The localization of Tinagl1 will be tracked using a Tinagl1-GFP fusion construct developed through PCR and insertion into a Tol2 transposon vector. This construct will be injected into early embryos together with transposase mRNA to create mosaic fish showing Tinagl1-GFP in selected tissues. Successful germline integration of the tinagl1-GFP DNA will lead to the development of a transgenic line of zebrafish allowing imaging of Tinagl1 localization during development.

      Hitchens, Samantha; Saul, Bruce; Biological Sciences; Saul, Bruce; Augusta University (1/31/2020)
      Invasive wild pigs (Sus scrofa) have a destructive impact across the world. The variety of cultures affected make the development of more effective and diverse management methods vital. Although wild pigs are often hunted with dogs, this method is not suitable or legal in all areas. Considering this, and pigs highly developed sense of smell, the following hypothesis was developed: Can a natural scent function as a satisfactory pig repellant? To test our hypothesis, we attracted wild pigs into areas baited with corn, and performed separate trials by adding hair from four different mammal species (dog, cat, horse and coyote). Our experimental design forced pigs to interact with the hair before consuming the bait. Trail cameras monitored each location over a five month period and wild pig behaviors were recorded. The presence and absence of pigs throughout the study trials was analyzed and compared with images captured during the control trials (corn only). Image totals were evaluated to determine if the hair prevented pigs from entering any areas, and the duration of any absences was noted. The results supported our hypothesis that a natural scent (dog hair) can decrease wild pig activity and potentially serve as a repellant.
    • Fast-Track Extubation in Infancy and Early Childhood Following Heart Surgery: outcome analysis and predictors of failure

      Geister, Emma; Esquivel, Raquel; Crethers, Danielle; Weatherholt, Danalynn; Sanchez, Maria Gabriela; Munoz, Gustavo; Polimenakos, Anastasios C.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; Department of Surgery; Polimenakos, Anastasios C.; et al. (1/30/2020)
      Early extubation (EE) has become a critical determinant in perioperative management following congenital heart surgery (CHS) during early childhood. Fast track (FT) strategies and EE, when feasible, can have beneficial effect on clinical outcomes. We sought to determine the impact of EE on clinical outcomes, total hospital costs, identify predictors of failure and suggested criteria for new patients. A retrospective chart review of children ?6 years old (n = 64) who underwent CHS between January-December 2017 was performed. EE was defined as successful removal of the endotracheal tube in the operating room or upon arrival in intensive care unit (ICU). Groups were identified as (A):EE/Fast track and (B):no EE. Determinants for EE failure were assessed, and cost analysis pursued.�We found 39 patients were EE compared to 25 that were not. Children who were EE (mean=6.795 days, sd = 4.250) spend significantly less (p�< 0.0001) overall time in the ICU compared to non-EE patients (mean= 19.960 days, sd= 13.081). We also found that the total hospital stay for patients who were EE (mean= 6.976 days, sd= 4.090) was significantly reduced compared to those who were not (mean=21.783 days, sd=13.450) (p�<0.0001). Furthermore, we found that children who were EE had a significant reduction (p�<0.0001, sd= 23,196.203) in total hospital cost than patients who were not EE. Based on our analysis, we concluded that EE is feasible following CHS during early childhood but requires team approach and thoughtful use of FT protocols.
    • How Does Economic Turmoil Affect Alcohol Consumption?

      Bruker, Augustus; Medcalfe, Simon; Hull College of Business; Medcalfe, Simon; Augusta University (2/4/2020)
      This paper's purpose is to examine the affects that recessive economic periods have on drinking habits in different countries. A recession is a very complex economic event that can affect behavioral patterns, including changes in drinking habits, across countries. The economic factors studied will include changes in median household incomes, unemployment rates, and GDP's of different countries. Alcohol consumption will be broken down into beer, wine, and spirits, which is necessary to the research because different countries may show different trends in what form of alcohol they choose to turn to during a recession. This research is important because it could potentially show a global problem in which society is turning to the dangerous habit of alcoholism to deal with their economic hardships. For the data in my paper, I plan to refer to the World Health Organization's 2018 global status report on alcohol and health. This report has data for all major countries pertaining to how much alcohol they consume per year on average, what types of alcohol the country prefers, and how factors such as age, gender, and race affect drinking in their country. I hypothesize that the public does in fact drink more alcohol during times of economic turmoil.

      Gunby, Kimberly; Sabbatini, Maria E.; College of Science and Mathematics; Biological Sciences; Sabbatini, Maria; Augusta University (1/30/2020)
      My research is aimed at finding the cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1) binding domain on human adenylyl cyclase 3 (AC3). Previous studies in our lab show that the interaction between CAP1 and AC3 inhibits migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells. The inhibitory mechanism is thought to involve the binding of AC3 and CAP1, causing the inhibition of globular-actin polymerization needed for filopodia formation and cell motility. A better understanding of this interaction will help facilitate the discovery for drugs that inhibit the migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells. To locate the binding region, we constructed mutants of WT AC3 plasmid using a Site-Directed Mutagenesis kit. We substituted a highly conserved proline residue at position 307 for an arginine residue (P307R) and a glutamate residue at position 308 for an alanine residue (E308A). The mutations were confirmed by sequencing. We then transfected pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1 with WT and mutant AC3 plasmids and confirmed the expression using Western-blotting. To test whether the mutated AC3 could still interact with CAP1, we performed co-immunoprecipitation. We found that the residues proline and arginine in AC3 are not required for the interaction with CAP1. Further substitutions of other conserved residues are underway.