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Renewed INBRE funding spurs student research

June 18, 2019

Shanaya Fox is participating because she’s gotten hooked on biomedical research.

Caly Thurston is interested in a career in medicine and has a vested interest in the particular topic.

The two College of Idaho juniors-to-be are spending ten weeks this summer working in Boone Science Hall in professor Luke Daniels’ biology lab, doing research on Glioblastoma cells and how they respond to chemotherapy treatment. Glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer with cells that develop a resistance to chemotherapy, which makes it very difficult to combat.

The opportunity to do the research is thanks to generous funding of INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) by the National Institutes of Health.

INBRE is funded in five-year cycles and the College is in year one of its fourth cycle of INBRE, according to Daniels. The NIH awards the grants to states with lower rates of students pursuing science-related careers. The money is sent to the University of Idaho in Moscow, which then distributes it to each of the other colleges and universities in the state. The College of Idaho is one of eleven institutions across Idaho to share in the funding, which totals approximately $750,000 over the span of the five-year cycle.

Daniels’ two summer researchers, Fox and Thurston, have different reasons for participating in the INBRE program this summer.

“I did INBRE last summer because I really wanted to try out research,” said Fox, who is double-majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology. “I never thought that was something that I’d want to do professionally after college.”

But because of the experience, now she does. She plans to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. which provides training in both medicine and scientific research. Fox says it would allow her to treat patients as well as conduct research in a specific field.

Thurston is planning to pursue a career in orthopedics but has been involved with the Glioblastoma research for almost a year. Thurston recently had a family member diagnosed with Glioblastoma.

“I want there to be a cure,” said Thurston, who is majoring in biomedical sciences. “I want there to be research. So INBRE has been a good stepping stone to get me introduced to the (research) field.”

Thanks to the grants, the stepping stone is available for people across The College of Idaho’s campus, whether they’re officially an INBRE Fellow – a paid researcher, like Fox and Thurston – or not.

“The biggest impact is with the people,” Daniels said. “It (the grant) has funded equipment that we are able to use for research but then, because it is here on campus, we let everyone (in the department) use it.”

Daniels is one of three members of the biology faculty running an INBRE research lab this summer, along with Tom Pirtle and Mark Gunderson.

Idaho INBRE-4 Program is funded under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM103408. The total anticipated amount of federal funds for the project is $17,088,792, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The College of Idaho has a 128-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.