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STEM Students at Cheyney University Conduct Sickle Cell Research

August 11, 2014

Dr. Adedoyin Adeyiga works with Cheyney University juniors, Mia Parker and Sumaiya Ahmed, in CU's new Chemistry lab on a large-scale project involving the use of hydroxyurea as therapy for sickle cell patients.

Dr. Adedoyin Adeyiga works with Cheyney University juniors, Mia Parker and Sumaiya Ahmed, in CU's new Chemistry lab on a large-scale project involving the use of hydroxyurea as therapy for sickle cell patients.

Cheyney University STEM students have an opportunity to work on an ongoing research project with Chemistry Professor Dr. Adedoyin Adeyiga in Cheyney's new Science Center.  The project, which has several off-shoots, is designed to discover how well certain drugs work in addressing sickle cell disease, a hereditary blood disorder that reportedly causes life-threatening complications.  They hope their work will eventually help patients better manage their sickle cell crises.

Juniors Mia Parker, a dual major in Biology and Psychology, and Sumaiya Ahmed, a  Chemistry major, both spent their entire summer working with Dr. Adeyiga on the research project titled “Nitrosylation and Denitrosylation of Hemoglobin", in the new Science Center which has all of the bells and whistles for students to get hands-on laboratory experience.  Their research is part of a large-scale project involving the use of hydroxyurea as therapy for sickle cell patients. Hydroxyurea is a synthesized drug used to reduce the rate of painful attacks in sickle-cell disease.

Parker and Ahmed received daily lectures on the overall scheme of the project, the experimental conditions to be used and then moved to the laboratory for sample preparations and UV analysis of the samples. 

It was the first time Ahmed, who moved to West Chester, PA from Bangladesh six years ago with her family, had done scientific research.  "I'm a hands-on person and I am learning a lot from Dr. Adeyiga," she remarks. "We are working in the lab making buffers and working with hemoglobin and UV-Vis Spectrophotometer for our experiments. Now that we are getting the results and making comparisons, I love how the research is going. It's been a totally new experience for me," she marvels.

While an area high school student, Ahmed discovered that she loved chemistry and wanted to major in it in college. "When I visited Cheyney, I liked the program here," she says.

Parker, a Keystone Honors Scholar from Philadelphia, PA who regularly makes the Dean's List, can't say enough about the experience. “We have learned so much with Dr. Adeyiga. I have learned more than enough on sample oxygenation and de-oxygenation,” she laughs.  "My visit to the laboratory was as intense as it gets. He was focused and the training was second to none I had witnessed in a research facility.  I was impressed, I must admit, and it was quite interesting to see that research work of that nature is happening right on Cheyney’s campus." 

"The research Ms. Parker and Ms. Ahmed are doing is an example of the intense student engagement that occurs on the Cheyney campus," Dr. Adeyiga insists. "There are many opportunities for students to apply to do external research programs like this. Students who take that initiative get fantastic research experiences."

The project is supported by BEAR (Building Excellence and Access through Research) grants which, combined, have supported up to 100 students since 2005.  Currently, more than 20 students receive partial or full tuition through the National Science Foundation (NSF) BEAR program, which also supports faculty development, curriculum enhancements and educational research, all in an effort to increase recruitment, retention, training and on-time graduation of STEM students.  Parker and Ahmed are supported by a five-year, $1.75 million grant funded by the NSF and managed by Adeyiga.