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BUILD Xavier

Xavier students

BUILD Xavier (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) is a part of a larger initiative by the National Institutes of Health: Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce.

Xavier University of Louisiana has developed a program called Project PATHWAYS, which includes several components targeting students, faculty, and several non-academic centers on Xavier’s campus.

The University of Rochester is one of the partnering institutions with Xavier University. This program encourages diversity in the scientific research workforce.

There are two aims:

  • Pilot research projects for Xavier faculty research projects that have great potential for future funding
  • Xavier students interested in graduate school to pursue summer research projects at partner schools


Xavier BUILD Scholar Research Projects

The following reflect highlights of current research projects of Xavier BUILD Scholars. If you are interested in having a scholar be a part of your research lab for the summer or you would like to view the full project abstract, contact Eleanor H. Oi.

Project 1: Diabetes is the seventh leading course of death in the United States, and affects over 29 million people. In 2013 around 382M people around the world were estimated to suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a heterogeneous group of metabolic disorders characterized by hyperglycemia and it is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with abnormalities in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism and may result in chronic complications including microvascular, macrovascular, and neuropathic disorders. Many drugs have been introduced to manage diabetes but they have their attendant side effects.

Project 2: Ceramide is a central mediator in sphingolipid metabolism and signaling pathways. This lipid molecule drives signaling events which cause apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and autophagic responses. Ceramide levels are usually decreased in cancer cells by over-expression of ceramide-metabolizing enzymes or down-regulation of ceramide-generating enzymes. Our previous studies have shown that Analog 315, (S)-2-(2-hydroxybenzylideneamino)-3-hydroxy-N-tetradecylpropanamide, has anticancer properties on chemo-resistant breast cancer cell lines such as MCF-7TNR.

Project 3: The BUILD students in my laboratory tested the hypothesis that phylogenetically-distinct microorganisms that respire aerobically on iron do so by expressing different electron transfer biomolecules to accomplish the same task. The students exploited a new integrating cavity absorption meter that permitted them to conduct accurate absorbance measurements on the reduced cytochromes that appeared when intact, living cells were exposed to soluble ferrous iron under physiological conditions.

Project 4: Our research focuses on the mechanisms behind the development of Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a malignant, skeletal muscle tumor that occurs primarily in older children and adolescents. ARMS is primarily characterized by the presence of the oncogenic transcription factor PAX3-FOXO1, and we are focused on identifying potential targets of this fusion protein. We have identified a number of putative targets and are focusing on those that may influence a number of cellular processes, like long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs).

Project 5: New blood vessel growth is limited in adults but is essential for the growth and metastasis of solid tumors and other pathological conditions. This BUILD Scholar is investigating the inhibitory effect of flavopiridol (FP) and novel cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors on pathological blood vessel growth induced by Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) and herpes simplex-1 virus (HSV-1). KSHV is etiologically implicated in the pathogenesis of Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-defining vascular tumor that has become the most common malignancy among adults in sub-Saharan Africa.

Project 6: Our research focus is on identifying the function and substrates of lysine deacetylases (KDACs). The reversible acetylation of proteins is associated with many cellular processes and diseases, but the specific interactions and functional roles of most of the KDACs have not been extensively characterized. This BUILD Scholar’s project involves cloning, expression, and purification of proteins identified as KDAC substrates in cell-based assays. The proteins are expressed with specific acetyl-lysine residues, and then deacetylation of these proteins by recombinant KDACs is compared to peptide and other model substrates.

Faculty Collaboration Projects with Xavier Faculty

The following reflect highlights of current research projects for Xavier faculty. If you are interested in collaborating with a faculty member from Xavier, please contact Eleanor H. Oi.

Project 1: Formulation of a targeted nanoparticles system for the treatment of breast cancer – hypothesis: conjugating nanoparticles with a cancer cell specific aptamer should allow selective delivery of therapeutic drugs (P-glycoprotein/siRNA or doxorubicin) to tumor cells leading to enhance cellular toxicity and antitumor effect as compared on conjugated nanoparticles.

Project 2: Screening and assessing hepatitis in non-healthcare populations in New Orleans East-a survey of patient behavioral and environmental risk factors to investigate ways to prevent further spread of the disease

Project 3: Novel biologically active organic acids for therapeutic and imaging applications; a proposal to develop reliable and scalable synthetic strategy for preparing 3-carboxysalicylic acid and its 5-substituted derivatives. The reactivity of 5-substituted derivatives of 3-carboxysalicylic acid with amphiphilic and variable acid/base properties toward iron oxide colloidal particles will be studied and inorganic/organic composites will be isolated

Project 4: Delineation of the role of Bit1, which is (a 179-residue mitochondrial protein that is part of an apoptosis pathway) and TLE1 (a co-repressor) in human lung and breast epithelial cancer cell lines Delineation of the role of Bit1, which is (a 179-residue mitochondrial protein that is part of an apoptosis pathway) and TLE1 (a co-repressor) in human lung and breast epithelial cancer cell lines

Project 5: Check yourself: understanding prostate cancer risk in young black males. This is a study to explore prostate cancer knowledge and the impact of masculinity on risk factors for prostate cancer among young black men to develop a manual for training young black males as peer health educators.

Project 6: Age related macular degneration (AMD) is a common vision-threatening disease in elderly and affects 2.4% African Americans and 4.2% Hispanics in the USA. Objective: 1) identifying one candidate phage-displayed tissue homing peptide, specific to laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and 2) a receptor targeted peptide previously reported to us anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory, to be tested to have therapeutic potential against laser-induced CNV.

Project 7: Project in process.

Project 8: A novel spectroscopic device to monitor respiratory electron transfer suspensions of live cells. The investigator will build upon his initial in situ observations by assembling new multi-functional technologies that comprise nondestructive means to measure the spatial and temporal relationships, physical connections and chemical exchanges that characterize respiratory electron flow cross membranes and periplasmic spaces.

Project 9: Stimuli response polymers. The investigator will synthesize Generation 2 and 3 bis-MPA polymers that can be functionalized with biologically active conjugates. The conjugates will be quantitated, controlled and fully characterized. Working with investigators at Tulane University, the material synthesis will then be monitored using their platform.

Project 10: The investigators propose to simulate breast cancer in vivo conditions by using commercially available collagen matrix to study the effects of their super cocktails 3-D conditions. Their specific aims are 1) to quantify the efficacy of the super cocktail of proliferation and survival of breast cancer cells grown in the collagen matrix under 3-D conditions and 2) study the impact of the super cocktail mammosphere formation by breast cancer cells when grown under non-adherent conditions.

Project 11: Developing neuronal culture systems for the study of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). The investigator is working with Houhui Xia at LSU to: 1) train members of his lab in the generation, maintenance and analysis of primary neuronal cultures; 2) generate protocols and procedures necessary for approval to migrate this project from Louisiana State University’s animal facility to ask a beers animal facility and 3) perform cellular analysis of altered transport kinetics of Kif5A- dependent cargoes in the presence of HSP causing mutations.