T H E   N I H   C A T A L Y S T     S E P T E M B E R   –  O C T O B E R   2002

text by Nadia Khan

photos by Fran Pollner


Having devoted their summer months to research at NIH, this year more than 400 students displayed the fruits of their labor at Poster Day, held on August 8th. Not unlike every year, 2002 brought together a variety of research interests and students from all over the U.S. whose educational level ranged from high school student to university graduate. Also not unlike every year, the random selection of the few posters that appear on these pages reflects the uniformly fascinating quality of all the research projects.

Stewart graduated from Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head, Md., and spent her summer up to the elbows in DNA before heading to Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., in the fall. Ask her what she wants to be "when she grows up," and she replies with no hesitation: "A forensic specialist for the FBI." It is no surprise, therefore, that she designed her own summer project.

While trying to understand the technology behind DNA forensic fingerprinting with short tandem repeat loci, Stewart simulated a crime scene by mixing different samples of human DNA and exposing them to environmental insult—varying degrees of temperature, darkness and light, overdrying, and contamination with animal DNA, for example. She performed PCR with a multiplex primer mix and analyzed the samples by DNA electrophoresis.

She says she will major in chemistry and molecular biology—and she wants to come back to NIH next summer.

Working on a project that has become a hot commodity in the world of medical research, Maklan used a retroviral system to mediate delivery of short hairpin RNA for RNA interference in mammalian cells, thus disabling the cell from expressing the corresponding protein.

A biology major at Brandeis University in Boston, where he is entering his junior year, Maklan has set his sights on going to medical school.

LaToya Stewart

"The Technology Behind DNA Forensics: Fingerprinting with Short Tandem Repeat (STR) Loci"

Preceptors: Craig Chang and Kuan Wang Laboratory of Muscle Biology, NIAMS

Eric Maklan

"Retroviral Mediated Delivery of Short Hairpin RNAs for RNA Interference in Mammalian Cells"

Preceptor:Vittorio Sartorelli, Laboratory of Muscle Biology, NIAMS

After completing her undergraduate studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., Major joined the LMP through the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program. She will complete a full year at NCI and is making plans to start graduate and medical school soon after.

For this project, Major and her colleagues in the LMP Genomics & Bioinformatics Group, the NCI Laboratory of Pathology, CIT, and the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research profiled the NCI-60 collection of cancer cell lines using reverse-phase protein lysate microarrays. Using P-scan and clustered-image map visualizations, they were able to analyze cancer-relevant proteins. Proteins highlighted included c-ErbB2 and E-cadherin.


A graduate student in behavioral neuroscience at American University in Washington, D.C., Grakalic says her summer’s work here has solidified a decision to pursue a career in research.

Grakalic’s project used dopamine antagonists (D1) SCH 23390 and (D2) eticlopride to measure classically conditioned effects of cocaine on an operant baseline in food-deprived rats.

Her findings suggest that, at least in rats, the D2 antagonist may block the expression of cocaine-induced appetite suppression.

Sylvia Major (center)

"Protein Microarrays for Cancer Drug Discovery"

Preceptor: John Weinstein, Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology (LMP), NCI

Also pictured: (right) Satoshi Nishizuka, LMP research fellow and co-author, and (back to camera) interviewer Nadia Khan

Ivana Grakalic

"Effects of Dopamine Antagonists on Cocaine-induced Conditioned Suppression"

Preceptor: Charles Schindler, Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch, NIDA

Andre Kydd (left)

"Improved Methods for Analyzing Simple Sequence Length Polymorphism Markers in Polysubstance Abuse-associated Regions of Chromosomes 4 (rSA3) and X (rSA16)" Preceptors: George Uhl, Tomas Drgon, Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch, NIDA Also pictured: Karolina Maciag, NCBI summer intern, whose "BLAST Optimization: Towards Speedier Sequence Searches" (preceptor: Alejandro Schaffer) was also featured that day

Unexpectedly, Kaplan-Singer’s summer studies indicated that osteonectin does not affect cell proliferation, a result, he says, that suggests the need for a new approach to studying osteonectin’s role. A graduate of Richard Montgomery High School in Bethesda, Md., Kaplan-Singer aspires to become a physician and researcher.

Benjamin Kaplan-Singer

"The Role of Osteonectin in Breast Cancer Metastasis"

Preceptors: Jennifer Koblinski, Hynda Kleinman, Craniofacial Developmental Biology and Regeneration Branch, NIDCR

James Saltsman

"Using Angiogenesis Models for Proteomic Analysis"

Preceptors: Angela Patton and Elise Kohn, Laboratory of Pathology, NCI


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