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Blugold Biomedical Innovator Program

Innovative collaboration

UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System are working together to better prepare the next generation of scientists, innovators, health care providers and leaders. The Blugold Biomedical Innovator Program was designed for students who have the intention to pursue a degree and career path in the health care or biomedical field. These students have the opportunity to interact with faculty, apply for competitive research experiences and network with medical professionals.

Collaborative research

Research is what drives so many members of our faculty, and UW-Eau Claire is considered one of the top master's-level universities in the country when it comes to undergraduate research.

Many universities are known for research, but what you will find is that at many of those institutions, undergraduate students have a difficult time finding a seat at the table. That's not the case at UW-Eau Claire. We take pride in the fact that we offer remarkable research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Student researching in lab

2020-21 research projects

The following summaries of several research projects were made available to ten Innovator Scholars.

Research Project Summary

How do changes in the environment contribute to brain formation and associated neurodevelopmental disorders? Students in the Carter laboratory investigate the effects of disorder-associated environmental compounds on neurodevelopment and then define mechanisms of action for compounds that cause brain abnormalities. We currently are focused on the neurodevelopmental impact of environmental factors correlated in public health studies with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) prevalence. We use zebrafish in our experiments and assess changes in physical development (microscopy), molecular biology (gene expression) and behavior (motor tracking).

Faculty Member

Dr. Brad Carter
Assistant Professor — Biology

Dr. Brad Carter

 

Research Project Summary

To improve surgical outcomes, doctors are moving to less invasive procedures that rely on better knowledge of the individual patient’s anatomy through advances in medical imaging, such as MRI, ultrasound or CT scans. Technology now allows this data, typically displayed on 2D screens, to be displayed in three dimensions through 3D printing. These 3D printed models allow doctors to hold the model in their hands to better visualize what they will encounter during the surgery, test different instruments that may be used during surgery and plan for the individual patient. This project will provide 3D printed models for use in the presurgical process of the Mini-thoracotomy Aortic Valve Replacement program at Mayo Clinic.

Faculty Member

Dr. Doug Dunham
Professor — Material Science and Engineering

Dr. Doug Dunham

 

 

Research Project Summary

In collaboration with an interventional radiologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, materials are being developed and tested for separation and protection of healthy organs and tissues during the treatment of tumors by freezing or heating. These injectable foams are being tested for stability, mechanical stiffness and incorporation of therapeutic components such as contrast agents and antibiotics. Testing includes the material's characterization of these foams, testing the foams in physiologic conditions and animal studies. Undergraduate researchers are critical for creating and testing the foams, collecting and analyzing data, working with our collaborator and communicating results to a variety of audiences.

Faculty Member

Dr. Liz Glogowski
Associate Professor — Material Science and Engineering

Dr. Liz Glogowski

 

Research Project Summary

Cancer now tops heart disease as the number one cause of death in the United States, and it is the second leading cause of death globally. The symptoms of cancer are often not specific and, in most cases, are not apparent in early stages. As early cancer detection is the hallmark of successful treatment, our research is focused on developing a rapid, reliable, inexpensive and non-invasive method for cancer detection and screening. This proposed study aims to employ Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, a highly sensitive analytical tool, to identify cancer-specific biomarkers in saliva samples for the early diagnosis of cancer.

Faculty Member

Dr. Sanchita Hati
Professor — Chemistry

Dr. Sanchita Hati

 

Research Project Summary - 1

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disease, which affects approximately 12.4 million people worldwide (PKD Foundation). A major question in the field is “how precisely does a genetic change (a change in DNA) lead to the formation of cysts?” In other words, which pathways and processes in the cells are affected? In addition, patients develop a range of symptoms, and age of onset is variable. Our lab uses C. elegans and zebrafish as models to understand cystic kidney disease and more specifically to understand how primary cilia, which act as cellular antennae, contribute to health and disease.

Research Project Summary - 2

Genetic testing of patients with suspected genetic disorders yields a wealth of sequence information that then must be interpreted to determine which variants (differences in the DNA sequence between a patient’s genome and a reference genome) affect the symptoms and pathology observed. This process of variant interpretation is challenging and complex. Our lab is initiating a project to analyze variants of uncertain significance identified during genetic testing to see whether these changes in the DNA result in a change in expression of the gene. Data from this project have the potential to improve patient outcomes by improving the ability of physicians and scientists to decipher which variants are clinically relevant.

Faculty Member

Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich
Associate Professor — Biology

Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich

 

 

 

Research Project Summary

The number of older people in the United States continues to increase, highlighting the importance of understanding health factors associated with this population. Current data reveals that older people are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects compared to younger people. We have recently developed animal models to study the effect of alcohol in aged animals and have replicated the findings that aged rats are more sensitive to the effects of ethanol compared to younger animals. The current project is a multi-level analysis to investigate the neurobiological mechanism(s) that produce greater effects of alcohol in aged animals compared to younger animals.

Faculty Member

Dr. Doug Matthews
Professor — Psychology

Dr. Doug Matthews

 

Innovator Scholar

Ten students from the Blugold Biomedical Innovator Program will be selected to become Innovator Scholars. Our Scholars will work alongside Mayo Clinic Health System professionals and receive these benefits:

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$32,000 Scholarship

Receive an $8,000 annual scholarship, renewable for up to three additional years. Plus, earn up to $3,000 per summer while working on research.

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Guaranteed Research

Starting your first year, you will partner with a UW-Eau Claire faculty member and Mayo Clinic Health System professional on a research project.

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Special Event Invites

Attend special Mayo Clinic events with senior leaders in Eau Claire and Rochester.

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One-on-one Mentoring

Experience coaching from Mayo Clinic Health System physicians, current medical school students and staff from our Health Careers Center.

Eligibility criteria for Innovator Scholars

To maintain eligibility, an Innovator Scholar must:

Working alongside these professionals every day has been such a valuable experience. I’ve been able to picture myself in this field, doing the work that they’re doing every day.

Megan Schleusner Biology, Pre-Med

How to apply

Apply to become a part of the Blugold Biomedical Innovator Program by following the steps below.

Step 1

If you have not done so already, you will need to activate your account. To activate your account, you will need the following information:

Step 2

After activating your account, apply online for scholarships on our Gold for Blugolds site. Sign in using your UW-Eau Claire username and password. Once you're logged in, select My Applications from the menu bar. Complete the Admissions Scholarship Application.

Questions? 

Contact Admissions by email at admissions@uwec.edu or by phone at 715-836-5415.