University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Your health may depend on UND students’ summer vacations

On Monday, June 4, Joshua Wynne, vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, welcomed more than 50 undergraduate students from across the state, region and nation who will conduct research this summer shoulder-to-shoulder with leading biomedical researchers at UND and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Funding for the students came from a variety of organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

“Why do science?” Wynne asked the students. “First, it’s fun; however, it’s also intellectually challenging. The scientists you will be working with have experienced understanding things no one else has ever known before. That’s pretty heavy stuff,” said Wynne, a practicing cardiologist. “You will practice translational medicine, helping your mentor scientists translate their lab-bench insights to benefit patients.”

The students will conduct biomedical research with scientists whose work has implications in treating Alzheimer’s disease, autism, breast cancer, depression, diabetes, drug addiction, environmental cancer risks, epilepsy, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and skin cancer.

Leading the 10-week summer research experience effort at UND and the SMHS are Van Doze, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics; Diane Darland, and Peter Meberg, associate professors in the Department of Biology; and Donald Sens, professor in the Department of Pathology. The students will participate with their mentor scientists from the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology; Microbiology and Immunology; Pathology; Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics; and the Center for Rural Health. While many of the students are from UND, others are from Turtle Mountain Community College, as well as colleges in Arizona, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

“The goals of the program are to promote interest in research and science,” Doze said. “In addition, the programs encourage professional development of the students and foster their academic and social independence.”

Students receive specific laboratory training. In weekly professional development sessions, the undergraduates learn how to responsibly conduct research, what is required in graduate and medical school application processes, and scientific writing. At the end of the summer, the students present their work in a research poster session.

“New this year is a program funded by SMHS Dean Wynne,” Doze said Doze. “NDSURE (North Dakota Undergraduate Research Experience) funds three additional students who are residents of North Dakota attending non-UND colleges inside or outside of the state.”

“To get to this point, the students had to study hard and compete with one another for good grades,” Sens said. “For the summer, they don’t need to worry about competing. The emphasis is on experiencing the joy of research, learning from each other and having fun.”

-- Denis MacLeod, assistant director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 777-2733,

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