KU Medical Center students showcase research at the Capitol

February 19, 2013

By David Martin

Master's students in occupational therapy Alison Nuttle (left) and Natalie Tarbutton at the Capitol.

University of Kansas Medical Center students last week presented research projects in a grand setting: the second floor rotunda of the Kansas State Capitol.

Six graduate students traveled to Topeka for 10th Annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit. The summit allows students to demonstrate the high level of their research to state officials and the public. Students selected for the event are pursuing graduate degrees in engineering, sociology, history, education, and the physical and natural sciences at KU Medical Center, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University.

Students from all three schools at the medical center — medicine, nursing and health professions — went to the Capitol. Their posters displayed a wide range of interests, from weight management for adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the barriers that contribute to a shortage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in rural Kansas.

State lawmakers, members of the Board of Regents and Gov. Sam Brownback attended the event. The governor spoke with each student from the medical center, according to Kellyann Jones, a doctoral student in microbiology, molecular genetics and immunology and the president of the Graduate Student Council.

Stephanie Bishop, a doctoral student in the School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, presented research describing a potential new approach for treating cancer.

Under the guidance of Jed Lampe, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, Bishop is investigating survivin, a small protein that, as its name implies, helps cells survive. The protein intrigues researchers because of its overabundance in variety of different cancers.

Bishop is working to understand how survivin binds to another protein. Defining this partnership, she says, holds promise for the design of new cancer therapies.

"My interest in the current work on survivin stems from the fact that, like so many others, I have lost friends and family to cancer," she says. "While unparalleled progress has been made in bringing new therapies to patients, additional strategies for killing cancerous cells are still needed."

Joining Bishop at the summit were:

  • Lauren Ptomey, doctoral student in dietetics and nutrition. Ptomey presented a pilot study comparing the effectiveness of weight-loss diets for adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Alison Nuttle and Natalie Tarbutton, master's students in occupational therapy. Nuttle and Tarbutton presented a study describing the factors that place cancer patients at a higher risk of distress.
  • Marlene Pietrocola, doctoral student in nursing. Pietrocola presented a study exploring the perceptions of nurse executives about the barriers that contribute to a shortage in rural Kansas hospitals of registered nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing.
  • Lei Qui, doctoral student in pathology and laboratory medicine. Qui presented a study describing the link between a protein and ovarian cancer.

KansasBio, a not-for-profit organization that works to unify the state's bioscience industry, academic research institutions and economic development organizations, gives scholarship awards to two posters from each campus. The medical center's winners were Bishop and the team of Nuttle and Tarbutton.

An undergraduate research day at the Capitol, scheduled for Feb. 20, was postponed.

Last modified: Apr 28, 2014