Delaware-INBRE funding comes full circle: Wesley senior to present research at national Posters on the Hill, supported by Wesley’s second presenter at Posters on the Hill
Wesley’s 18-year history of supporting students with federal and state INBRE biomedical funds has come full circle. This spring, Wesley senior Osama Mahmoud will present his research at the prestigious Posters on the Hill event in Washington D.C., 10 years after one of his mentors, Ghada Alabed, presented her research performed as an INBRE scholar there.
Posters on the Hill, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research, allows members of Congress and their staff to see the value of a college education and undergraduate research firsthand by interacting with students from across the country.
The IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program is administered through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for the National Institutes of Health. In Delaware, the University of Delaware is the INBRE consortium lead institution and Dr. Malcolm J. D’Souza is the Wesley College principal investigator for the grant. Through it, Wesley faculty and students collaborate with other Delaware higher education partners and medical research facilities to broaden the state’s biomedical programs, improve its research infrastructure, and engage students in independent undergraduate research projects and career development activities.
Alabed was a Wesley INBRE scholar who graduated in 2010 and worked at Wesley as a lab manager after graduation. She and her husband, Dr. Fady Gerges, a pathologist, founded Green Clinics Laboratory in 2015 in Dover. Alabed and Fady have since had about 18 Wesley students work in their lab. Many have gone on to graduate school, medical school, or law school.
Mahmoud worked at Green Clinics Lab on a research project with Dr. Gerges dealing with anal cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) can stimulate anal cancer, as it does cervical cancer. In a pilot study Gerges and Mahmoud developed the first clinical protocol to catch anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN), a precursor to anal cancer, within high-risk populations. The protocol uses color-coded protein markers on biopsied lesion material to indicate whether a person has AIN caused by HPV and the degree of severity of AIN.
There’s not been much research into this condition. “There was no firm clinical procedure before,” says Mahmoud. “Our research is significant because we developed the first clinical procedure giving an incidence rate” for HPV-caused AIN.
Mahmoud hopes to attend medical school and continue this research there.
INBRE support has been invaluable to Mahmoud. Even more important than the financial support have been the internships and research experiences INBRE has allowed him. “I didn’t think coming from a small college I could compete with students from big schools for medical school, but the internships and projects I’ve done definitely helped me. I’ve had many interview offers from good medical schools, and they told me they were amazed at my research opportunities. I’m really grateful to the INBRE program.”
Mahmoud first wanted to attend the University of Maryland, but his parents convinced him to try Wesley for one semester. From freshman year, he was hooked by INBRE’s many opportunities, which he knew wouldn’t be as available at a large university, and the personal connections with teachers.
When he learned he’d been accepted to Posters on the Hill, which has only a 17% acceptance rate this year, Mahmoud was surprised and excited. “It means a lot that people care about the research I’ve been involved with. This procedure can impact many people.”
Alabed and Gerges are positively impacting Wesley students and the Delaware biomedical community. Mentoring and employing Wesley students is “payback for what Wesley professors did for me,” says Alabed. “The research and presentations and articles I did there, as well as my experience at Posters on the Hill, gave me confidence that I could do anything.”
-Joy Drohan, Eco-Write, LLC,