Biomedical Science

TarlSpangler

Hood Biomedical Sciences student shares his field project experience

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Tarl Spangler, a Master of Science candidate in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Regulatory Compliance works as a Scientist in the BioDefense Division of Emergent BioSolutions Inc. Here’s what he has to say about his experience at Hood.

Background 

I am a currently enrolled at Hood College for a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in the Regulatory Compliance (graduating in Fall 2016).

I have worked in the biotech field since graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Biology (Frostburg State University, 1997). My main field of expertise is vaccinology. I serve as a Study Director with a group working on next generation anthrax vaccines.

My career goals include applying my newly acquired knowledge of regulatory compliance within my current career path. I hope to transition into Regulatory Affairs after obtaining my Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC).

Why Hood College?

My decision to attend Hood College was multifaceted. I had familiarity with Hood College from when I took a pre-college topics biology class from Frederick High School. My biology teacher at the time encouraged me to take a class that was offered at Hood College to high school students. I also live in Frederick, MD; therefore, the proximity of the school to my home was appealing. Finally, Hood College had a program that was catered to exactly what I was looking for in a Master’s program (Regulatory Compliance)! And, the fact that Hood College just finished building an impressive sciences building (Hodson) was nothing to sneeze at either.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Hood?

Life is all about the relationships you build. The people who come into your life and leave an impression upon you are who nurture you into the person you choose to become. I have enjoyed the relationships that I have made with my peers the most. Students and professors alike!

Why did you decide to do a field project?

I felt that a field work project was the more difficult way to graduate over taking a test at the end. I wanted to challenge myself. I also wanted to make a meaningful impact to my field through my field work project and have something to show for it… have something to be proud of.

What was your field work project about? What were the highlights of that experience?

My field work project was entitled “Methodology for Justifying the Reduction in the Use of Laboratory Animals Needed for Release and Stability Testing Purposes”. I used computer simulation techniques to suggest a 25% reduction in the number of animals required to calculate release and stability indicating relative potency values for anthrax vaccines. This required long hours after work in front of the computer learning how to write simulation programs using statistical analysis software (SAS®) with my friend, and biostatistician, Dr. Sweeney, who also served on my reading committee. The biggest highlight was my successful oral defense and approval of my project!

What advice would you give future graduate students about Hood and about your program?

My bits of advice for students who are choosing to take the thesis/field work project path toward graduation would be:

  1. Start thinking about your theism/field work project topic when you begin your program!
  2. Use the information you get from your classes to find a topic you are “passionate” about. THIS is majorly important!

Don’t wait until the end of the program to come up with your topic. Although I am graduating, I waited late in the game to decide upon my field work project topic. The final class in the thesis/field work project path toward graduation is BMS 580/585. This class helps you develop your topic into a “pre-proposal” which is required to be submitted to the graduate school. I did not have my topic locked down at this point. The topic I chose during the class, I ended up not being passionate about. It was not until halfway through the class that I realized that fact and I had to develop a new topic rather quickly. This experience made me wish I had started working on my project MUCH earlier!

It’s NEVER too early to start on your topic. Bounce your ideas off of your peers and professors. This is also a great way to start finding professors who could possibly serve on your reading committee.

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Alumna Working on Anti-Cancer Therapies

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Lung cancer is the deadliest form of the disease, claiming approximately 158,000 American lives and accounting for around 27 percent of all cancer deaths. One Hood College alumna is researching drug therapies to fight it.

Bhairavi (Vivi) Tolani is working with a three-person group studying anti-cancer targeted therapies for lung cancer. They are trying to find ways to shut down the rapid growth of the cancerous cells through a variety of drug combinations.

Keep reading.

Dedicated to Microbiology – With a Master’s Degree from Hood

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FawazPicFawaz Mohammed Almufarriji, Biomedical Science M.S. candidate, has been working as a full time research assistant on a volunteer basis in Dr. Michael Otto’s lab, in the Laboratory of Bacteriology (LB) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the National Institute of health (NIH). He is particularly conducting research in antibiotics resistant bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Fawaz says “ In August 2014, I began to work toward my master’s in the Biomedical Science program at Hood College, where I took advantage of the highly qualified full-time faculty, and benefited from the knowledge and expertise of adjunct professors who are leaders in the laboratories of the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick Cancer Research Facility, the U.S. Army Research Institute on Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other neighboring biomedical and biotechnology facilities. Being a student in a program adjacent to such facilities provides me with a broad knowledge of the current research in multiple areas, from cancer to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In addition, the program provides me with extensive lab skills and scientific knowledge in molecular biology and genetics. After two years of searching and overcoming immigration regulation obstacles, I independently arranged to work in one of the best biomedical research centers in the world where I started working in Dr. Michael Otto’s lab, LB/NIAID/NIH, as his research assistant for nearly a year.

While working in Dr. Otto’s lab, Fawaz was writing a mock grant proposal in which he intended to silence the expression of some essential genes in MRSA using Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) as an antisense. The proposal’s ultimate goal is to identify essential genes in MRSA that can be inhibited with a minimum inhibitory effect of PNAs and minimum off-target effect. This novel therapy not only can eradicate MRSA but maybe all antibiotics resistant bacteria.

What are Fawaz’s goals?  “My short-term goal is to conduct doctoral research in fighting antibiotics-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. My long-term goal is to teach at the university level and conduct research in the field of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, especially in finding a therapy that is an alternative to antibiotics and eradicating the infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Saudi Arabia.

After earning a scholarship to Shaqra University in Saudi Arabia where he worked as a teacher assistant since 2011, Fawaz came to Hood for his master’s, which he will complete in January, 2017.He looks forward to his doctoral studies at the University of Leeds.

Fawaz is a member of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) and has built a coalition of scientific collaborators from around the world, who are interested in fighting MRSA. His continued studies in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Leeds will enable him to reach both his short and long term goals.

CPT/OPT Information Session

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Computer Science, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, International Students, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

IMG_20161003_153242Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are two important components of the academic experience for most F1 international students.  These programs allow students to gain valuable experience and earn money while working on or off campus during the academic year (CPT) or during the summer (OPT).  As part of the Graduate School’s efforts to empower students with resources that will contribute towards a successful graduate experience, an information session was held recently in partnership with the International Student Services Office and the Career Center.

This event provided an overview of the CPT/OPT process and also provided the opportunity for students to ask questions and receive immediate answers from Dr. Kiran Chadda, Director of International Student Services, Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. April Boulton and Lana Veres  of the Career Center.

The presentations covered areas such as employment options available to F1 international students, procedures for obtaining employment authorization, late stage CPT and internships as well a demo of the GoinGlobal website for job search. Students were also treated to pizza and drinks.

To view the resources shared at the session, visit this link.

Apply Now for New Doctoral Program

Posted by | Accounting, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Financial Management, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, International Students, Management of Information Technology, Organizational Management | No Comments

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Hood College is now accepting applications for a new organizational leadership doctoral program. The 60-credit, three-year experience leads to a choice of two degrees: (1) Doctorate of Organizational Leadership (DOL) – For those in public and private education, the non-profit sector, training and development, government or military. (2) Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) – For those employed in business and industry who hold business and related graduate degrees.

The multidisciplinary program is structured by cohort. Both DOL and DBA candidates advance together through core and research courses. They then begin to differentiate their degree pursuit—DOL or DBA—by specializing in business, psychology and counseling or education courses. Finally, they complete their capstone work.

Classes are held on the college’s Frederick, Md., campus on a schedule that accommodates working professionals. The application period for the first cohort closes May 15, 2016. Learn more.

Meet Program Directors at Virtual Open Houses

Posted by | Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Cybersecurity, Environmental Biology, Geographic Information Systems, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, International Students, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

Can’t make it to campus but want to talk with top faculty about Graduate School programs?  Six virtual open houses in November 2015 provide online opportunities to do just that.

Meet directors of the Biomedical Science, Environmental Biology, MBA, Management of Information Technology and Information Technology masters programs and the GIS and Cybersecurity certificate programs. Ask questions and get answers straight from the source. Go to the Visit Us page to register for your choice of sessions.

Program Director Advances Cancer Research

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Dr. Rachel Bagni (photo courtesy Frederick News-Post)

Dr. Rachel Bagni
(photo courtesy Frederick News-Post)

Dr. Rachel Bagni  leads a team that is part of the RAS Initiative, in which National Cancer Institute and Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research scientists focus on oncogenes–or genes that could potentially cause cancer.  The Frederick News-Post recently featured a story about her role in this important research, specifically with the K-Ras gene, which is associated with lung, pancreatic, colorectal and other cancers.

Dr. Bagni is a Hood alum and director of the Graduate School’s Biomedical Science program. She has worked at NCI for 16 years, rising through the ranks from intern to her current position.

Gomba Outstanding Biomedical Science Student

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Laura Wanner Gomba with Dr. Rachel Bagni and Hood President Ron Volpe

Laura Wanner Gomba with Dr. Rachel Bagni and Hood President Ron Volpe

Laura Wanner Gomba is the recipient of the Carlo and Valerie Bagni Oustanding Biomedical Science Student Award for 2015.

Hood Graduate School alum Dr. Rachel Bagni, who now heads the Biomedical Science program at Hood and established the award in honor of her parents, calls Laura “an exemplary student [and] …an excellent representative of Hood in an highly competitive and demanding field. ”

Bagni describes Laura’s thesis  – Development of an electrochemiluminescent assay to support high throughput screening for botulinum neurotoxin serotype A inhibitors – as a “well conceived, designed and executed project which highlighted Laura’s commitment to quality scientific research. Data from the thesis has been included in multiple funded grant applications. 

Bioinformatics Launch Features Noted NCI Scientist

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Dr. Kearney

Dr. Kearney

The Graduate School’s exciting Bioinformatics Certificate program has opened for enrollment starting with the fall 2015 semester. A  Symposium on Bioinformatics will officially launch — and celebrate — the new program on Thursday, June 25, 2015, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Whitaker Campus Center on Hood’s campus. The public is invited.

This special evening will feature a keynote address by Mary Kearney, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute.  Dr. Kearney’s topic will be Using Bioinformatics Tools to Develop Strategies towards a Cure for HIV. Her work was recently published in Science, known worldwide as the leading journal of original scientific research, global news and commentary. At NCI, Dr. Kearney heads theTranslational Research Unit, HIV Dynamics and Replication Program. 

The Symposium promises to offer an engaging and informative look inside the increasingly important field of bioinformatics. It will also be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Bioinformatics Certificate program’s capacity to prepare life science professionals with fluency in this cross-cutting discipline.

Grad Student’s Internship Leads to Bioinformatics Job

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Danny Watson

Danny Watson

Daniel Watson, who proudly hails from “the tropical paradise of Barbados in the Caribbean,” discovered the Graduate School by way of his cousin, a past international undergraduate student who “highly recommended me to apply because of her very positive experience.”

While working toward his master’s degree in Computer Science, Danny was selected for appointment to the Student Research Participation Program at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) at Fort Detrick. The CPT (Curricular Practical Training) internship working with the bioinformatics team will lead to a position after he graduates in December 2015 as a bioinformatics analyst, a role in which he will continue develop new technologies for the analysis and interactive visualization of biomedical and genomic data.

Danny gives much credit for this career-launching opportunity to Dr. Xinlian Liu—his “primary mentor” and instructor in operating system design and algorithms —as well as Hood’s relationship with Fort Detrick’s Advanced Biomedical Computing Center. Professors George Dimitoglou and Ahmed Salem are among other “major influences” at the Graduate School.

Danny was delighted to “give back to the Hood College community” through a workship at Hood’s Center for Academic Achievement and Retention.