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UW-Eau Claire student awarded research fellowship at Mayo Clinic

May 24, 2012
 Nicholas Warren
Nicholas Warren
EAU CLAIRE — Cancer has caused sorrow for Nicholas Warren. Now, the UW-Eau Claire student will conduct research he hopes will prevent others from feeling that same pain.

Warren, a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major from Vadnais Heights, Minn., will spend the summer doing research at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He will work in the Endocrinology Research Unit, analyzing muscle biopsies in relation to muscle synthesis and degradation.

"This study is trying to determine the effects of things such as age, hormone levels and diabetes on a condition called sarcopenia," Warren said. "Sarcopenia, a disorder generally associated with the elderly, is primarily characterized by muscle weakness."

Warren said his interest in medical research stems from his family's history of cancer.

"Both of my maternal grandparents died from pancreatic cancer and that left a large impression on me," Warren said. "I hope to create better detection and treatment methods so that other people don't have to go through the same pain as my family."

Warren's acceptance into the Mayo Clinic Endocrinology Research Unit comes on the heels of two research projects he has worked on at UW-Eau Claire. His research with Dr. Marc McEllistrem, associate professor of chemistry and co-director of the Materials Science Center, on a biomolecule called methanobactin was presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research this year in Ogden, Utah, as well as at the Provost's Honors Symposium and Student Research Day at UW-Eau Claire. Warren currently is working on another research project with Dr. Sanchita Hati, associate professor of chemistry.

"I am working on characterizing an enzyme produced by the bacteria E. coli to help figure out how the enzyme behaves under different conditions," Warren said.

The Mayo Clinic fellowship shows that the work Warren has done as part of the University Honors Program is being recognized, said Dr. Jefford Vahlbusch, Honors Program director.

"Nick Warren's selection for the Mayo Clinic research fellowship demonstrates that University Honors Program students, and top UW-Eau Claire students in general, can compete successfully for national scholarships, internships and research positions," Vahlbusch said. "Nick is a stellar student and impressive campus leader who always strives to get the most out of everything he does."

Warren, who wants to go into medical research for a career, said he hopes his research this summer will help make life easier for those in the autumn of their lives.

"My project this summer I hope will give us a better understanding on how to combat sarcopenia," Warren said. "This will allow the elderly to become more independent and healthier overall, as well as improve recovery rates after surgery and chemotherapy."

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