Archive for the 'Group projects' Category

New Focus on Quantitative Reasoning

Posted by on Aug 12 2008 | Group projects


Our second Faculty Institute will introduce strategies for implementing more quantitative reasoning in the interdisciplinary modules.  This year’s topics include HIV and cancer.  On Monday, we will introduce Excel,  explore data visualization,  and model tumor growth kinetics.  On Tuesday, we will introduce HIV and explore data (Markham 1998) .


Isolated cancer cell (Source: NIH)

The workshop schedule includes  an optional consulting session on August 12, 2009.  Individuals or groups can set up a meeting between 8 AM and 12 PM.

Dr. Claudia Neuhauser and Dr. Tony Weisstein will be joining us for the first time. We will be using online resources from Gapminder, CDC, WHO, Wolfram Alpha, NCBI, Biology Workbench,  and GenBank.  These links and other resources can be found on the 2009 Resources page.

We are looking forward to working with each of you as the project begins its second year. Please review the new 2009 Schedule for Monday, August 10th and Tuesday, August 11th.  Group work on existing and new modules begins Tuesday afternoon.


HIV virion (Source: NIH)

Recent reports on undergraduate curricula  instrumental in the design of this workshop:


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Drug-Resistant Malaria

Posted by on Aug 12 2008 | Group projects

Correlation between Gene Mutation and Drug Resistance in Plasmodium

Module Developers: Kathy Dobins (Mathematics), Rufus Ranatunga (Chemistry), and Safawo Gullo (Biology)


Malaria is an acute infection caused by several species of Plasmodium that is transmitted by the female species of mosquito, anopheles culex.  Malaria is characterized by high fever and sweating. If not treated early, it can be fatal. Lack of controlled usage of antimalarial drugs such as quinine and chloroquine has resulted in the development of the drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium. According to Centers for Disease control, about 1,337 cases of malaria were reported in 2002, of which 8 deaths were reported. Worldwide, 350-500 million case of malaria is reported every year in the tropics – Africa, Asia, Middle East, Central and South America. In sub-Saharan Africa alone more than a million people die of malaria per year.

The purpose of this study is to establish the correlation between gene mutation and drug resistance in Plamodium. Chemistry, mathematics, and biology students will participate in this research for a period of three years.


Certain strains of Plasmodium are resistant to antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and quinine.


1)  Identify of mutations sites in Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, and other strains drug resistant strains 

2)  What is the correlation between mutations site and drug resistance?

Web Resources:

1) Genebank will be used to search for the sequences of the proteins of interest  in the study

2)  Use Swiss SDB Viewer to analyze the structures of target proteins

3) Workbench program will be used to identify gene mutation sites


A web site will be developed to made study data available to current and future research participants.

To document progress, students will prepare poster presentations at the end of each semester. At the end of the study period (third year), research data will be published in a scientific journal.

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Cassava Remodeling Site by Ravina

Posted by on Aug 12 2008 | Group projects

Students will investigate the nutritional value of cassava leaves and postulate ways to improve the nutritional value. Students will determine using optimization the optimal age to harvest cassava leaves.  Students will complete a sequence comparison of Cyagenic Glucoside in cassava leaves from different regions such as the Americas, Africa and Asia and look for correlation between sequence, nutritional profile, and geographic region.  Students will investigate possible molecular interactions between the molecules of the cassava leaf and glycerol and fatty acid which could result in the neutralization of cyanide.

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This is the Saglin Project

Posted by on Aug 12 2008 | Group projects

Malaria and the problems of control

Malaria remains one of the most devastating diseases occurring in the world today. Over 100 million cases are estimated to occur every year in tropical Africa alone. Increasing drug resistance and weak health infrastructure may also affect the control of this disease.

Malaria is transmitted by Anopheline mosquitoes. It is caused by parasitic protozoa of the genus Plasmodium, and alternates between human and mosquito hosts.

Although some new drugs have appeared in the last twenty years, new (especially inexpensive and affordable) drugs and more practical formulations of existing drugs are badly needed. In spite of drug resistance , malaria is a curable disease, not an inevitable burden

The three main types of vaccine being developed are:

1. ‘Anti-sporozoite’ or ‘pre-erythrocytic’ vaccines, designed to prevent infection.

2.  ‘Anti-asexual blood stage’ vaccines, designed to reduce severe and complicated manifestations of the disease.

3.  ‘Transmission-blocking’ vaccines, designed to arrest the development of the parasite in the mosquito, thereby reducing or eliminating transmission of the disease.

Invasion of mosquito salivary glands by Plasmodium sporozoites is a necessary step for successful transmission of malaria. Molecular mechanisms involved in the recognition and subsequent invasion of salivary glands by the sporozoites released from rupturing oocysts remain poorly understood. Previous  studies have shown that interaction of sporozoites with salivary glands is species specific and may involve specific molecular recognition mechanisms. It has been previously suggested that the invasion of Anopheles salivary glands is mediated by specific receptor-ligand interactions. Saglin is a secreted protein that may represent one of the molecules involved during the invasion of salivary glands by Plasmodium sporozoites,


Proposed Study:

  1. Find amino acid and/or nucleotide sequence data of saglin for Anopheles.
  2. Determine if saglin or similar protein is present in non-Anopleles mosquitoes
  3. Compare saglin sequence in Anopheles and other mosquitoes.
  4. If other proteins similar to saglin are found in other mosquitoes, identify the active site of the molecule.
  5. Determine the structure and physical properties of saglin.
  6. Find possible ways to inactivate the molecule.

Group #1

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Group members. O. Otieno, D. Patel, and L. Schmidt

Posted by on Aug 12 2008 | Group projects

The group would like to look at Malaria through the interaction of Plasmodium vivax and P.falciparium. There will be three areas of emphasis;

i. Comparison of some membrane proteins of the two species of plasmodium

ii.  Review molecular transmission mechanisms of the plasmodium within the mosquito

iii.  Develop mathematical models relevant to the control and management of the pathogen using ecological variables

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