Dr. Sonia Lobo Planey
Interim Associate Dean for Research
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Scranton PA

Development of Mechanism-Based Therapeutic Interventions for Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a bladder condition marked by thinning and/or ulceration of the epithelial lining, causing pain and discomfort that is often chronic and severe.  IC is frequently misdiagnosed due to complex presentation, and it is also complicated to treat, as the etiology remains unknown and treatment is limited to symptom management.  Antiproliferative factor (APF) is a glycopeptide produced specifically in the bladders of IC patients that causes characteristic pathological changes observed in IC, including inhibited cell proliferation, reduced epithelial growth factor production, and altered expression of genes involved in cell adhesion (1,2). Importantly, APF’s effects on bladder cell proliferation and altered gene expression require its cellular receptor, cytoskeleton associated protein 4 (CKAP4), as CKAP4 knockdown desensitizes cells to APF activity (3-7); however, the underlying mechanism responsible for APF signal transduction by CKAP4 remains largely unknown. In this study, SPR revealed specific binding of APF to the CKAP4 extracellular domain (Aa 127–524).  We determined that the CKAP4127-360 and CKAP4361-524 mutants exhibit improved binding activity to APF as compared to the full-length extracellular domain, making it possible to detect low concentrations of as-APF in urine, thereby establishing a foundation for a non-invasive diagnostic assay for IC.  Further, these data have revealed novel APF binding site(s) suggesting that targeting this region of CKAP4 to inhibit APF binding may be a useful strategy for treating IC-related bladder pathology.

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Dr. Terry Sweeney
Department Chair of Biology
University of Scranton, Scranton PA

The Scranton Cardiovascular Model – clarifying cardiovascular function in scientific and clinical settings.

We have invented a computer-driven mechanical model of the cardiovascular system for teaching cardiovascular physiology in both the basic science and clinical settings. The highly visual and hands-on approach of the model facilitates mastering of cardiovascular concepts by revealing to the user elements of the cardiovascular system that are typically hidden from view.  The ability to easily model a number of clinical scenarios, including cardiac valve dysfunction, expands the utility of the model beyond the undergraduate laboratory setting and into the realm of clinical cardiovascular dysfunction. A variety of cardiovascular conditions will be demonstrated to illustrate how the model may be used in a wide array of instructional settings.

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Dr. Lisa Antoniacci
Marywood University, Scranton PA

Do Chromosome Dynamics Revolve around the SUN?  A Characterization of the SUN-domain Protein Mps3 and Its Implications in Human Disease.

The yeast nuclear envelope protein Mps3 is a SUN-domain protein found conserved in higher order eukaryotic organisms including humans.  Mps3 functions in several aspects of chromosome metabolism and dynamics such as sister chromatid cohesion, telomere clustering, and DNA damage repair. Mps3 physically and functionally interacts with many chromosome associated proteins to perform its role in chromosome dynamics.  In yeast, defects in Mps3 lead to several dire consequences for the cell, such as misregulation of the cell cycle, aneuploidy, and cell death.  The chromosome associated proteins that Mps3 physically and functionally interact with are linked to human diseases such as Roberts Syndrome, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, Warsaw Breakage Syndrome, and a variety of cancers. Our lab is interested in characterizing the function of Mps3 with these proteins to determine its role in yeast as well as higher order eukaryotic cells.

Dr. Jillian Conte Fesolovich
Forensic Biology in NEPA: Collaborations, Research, & Education
The field of forensic biology is growing every day to keep up with changing laws and standards in the United States. With increasing sensitivities of instrumentation and methods, a full genetic profile can be obtained from a few skin cells left behind from coming into contact with an item. There will always be a goal of making processes and assay better, faster, and cheaper. My research focus is on creating new assays, improving current ones, and identifying potential new applications for current products. This presentation will highlight some current and future research at Keystone College and how undergraduate student involvement is crucial for research success. Additionally, the presentation will identify areas for collaborations to form between law enforcement, academia, and industry and potential services to be offered.

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Dr. Yaling Liu
Associate Professor
Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA

Biomimetic Microfluidic Devices for In situ Cell Culturing, Drug Evaluation and Early Cancer Diagnosis

One of the major challenges in drug development and screening is to test drug efficiency in an environment that closely mimic in vivo physiological condition. In this talk, we will discuss mimetic microfluidic testing platform to culture cells, and evaluate drug delivery under various physiological conditions such as vascular flow, inflammation, and tumor. 3D tumor spheroids are cultured in situ and anti-cancer drug delivery and treatment process are quantified in real time. We aim to provide a systematic design and evaluation tool toward a biomimetic platform for drug testing.

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) hold great promise for cancer diagnosis and prognosis, especially for early-stage cancer screening. Despite the significant progress in development of cell capture techniques, the capture efficiency is still limited and often accompanied with drawbacks such as low throughput, low selectivity, and cell viability issues. We designed a biomimetic surface with both micro and nano features which significantly enhance capture efficiency and selectivity of cancer cells. Assisted with magnetic field, our hierarchical surface allows release and re-culturing of captured tumor cells for post-diagnosis.

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Dr. Jun Ling
Associate Professor
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Physiological Functions of PAK2 Kinase in Cancer Development

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