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Third annual research day on campus

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Monday, the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) hosted their third annual Research Day, which promoted interdisciplinary communication and featured cancer research from laboratories across campus.
Undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students presented 80 research posters at the event, which also included addresses from several speakers, program coordinator Angela Cavalieri said.
“This year, we had posters representing cancer research from 28 HCRI labs,” she said. “The presenters are ND undergraduates, IUSM-SB [Indiana School of Medicine-South Bend] medical students, technicians and post-doctoral fellows. We’ve also had local oncologist participation as well as affiliated institutions such as RiverBend Cancer Services.”
Cavalieri said presentations at the event involved both keynote speakers and local oncologists.
“There will be presentations from ENSCII Fellows and then from faculty recipients of the Walther Cancer Foundation’s ABC Grant funding,” she said. “This year we were pleased to be host Dr. Christoph Reinhard, Sr. Director, Lilly Oncology, Pre-clinical Oncology Tailoring [as keynote speaker].”
The three-year-old Harper Cancer Research Institute is the result of collaborative efforts between Notre Dame and IUSM-SB, Cavalieri said. The event, which was open to the public, was important to increasing awareness of the research being done on campus, she said.
“This event was a logical answer to presenting research in the areas of chemistry and biochemistry, biological sciences, engineering, applied mathematics and psychology,” Cavalieri said. “Each year the event grows in scope and attendance.”
Junior Matthew Metzinger placed second in the undergraduate category for his poster investigating the link between obesity and ovarian cancer. He said he was honored the judges viewed his research as worthy of an award.
“My poster presentation focused on how CT scans can be used to quantify and visualize body fat in mice,” Metzinger said. “This work is important because we use CT scans in many of our projects that study the correlation between obesity and ovarian cancer.
“While we know this correlation between obesity and ovarian cancer exists, very little is known in terms of how having a higher body mass index increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.”
Sophomore Katrina Burgos, an intern at the Institute, said the day was a great success and important to the greater Notre Dame community.
“We had a great turnout,” she said. “I believe that Research Day is a great event for the campus and the community to see what researchers are working on at Harper, especially undergraduates who can be found in every lab.”
Cavalieri said she attributes the success of the event to the teamwork of everyone involved.
“We have a large number of very active Harper Cancer Research Institute members who assist with everything from judging the poster contests to emceeing the research presentations and a cast of behind-the-scenes people who make the event successful each year,” she said.
“Collaboration is vital in scientific research, especially when it comes to cancer,” Burgos said. “Events like Research Day give scientists the opportunity to learn more from each other.”

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