Student Traveling to Washington for Undergraduate Research Event

Corinne Gilmer, a biochemistry and molecular biology major at Mercer, will present her research on Capitol Hill as part of a national event showcasing undergraduate research. Gilmer, a junior, will attend the Council for Undergraduate Research’s Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C., April 13. Gilmer is one of only two students from Georgia, and one of only 85 in the nation, selected to attend the event.

Gilmer will present her research on placental malaria at the event.  Her research explores the chemical interaction that allows infected red blood cells to adhere to placental tissues.  Gilmer and Dr. Bridget Trogden, assistant professor of chemistry, have been working to isolate this protein in the lab in order to design drugs against it.

Malaria is currently the leading cause of death and disease in many underdeveloped countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women who are pregnant with their first or second child are particularly susceptible to malaria even though they have often acquired immunity over years of living in areas where the disease is prevalent.  The outcomes of placental malaria include anemia, low birth weight and the death of both mother and child. 

“From having worked on health-related projects involving drug-resistant bacteria and placental malaria, I have learned how disease affects human lives, but I have also learned that new scientific discoveries allow us to fight back,” Gilmer said. “I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my science with the government’s leaders in the Posters on the Hill forum.”

In addition to her presentation, Gilmer and the other participants will take field trips, receive advocacy training, visit Congressional members’ offices and display their posters during a reception for congressional members and officials from a number of funding organizations.

“I’m very proud that Corrine was selected for this honor,” Dr. Trogden said. “She has been a great help to me in my research to better understand a terrible disease.  I am excited that Corinne has been selected for this honor both to discuss her research and to be an advocate for student research to congressional members.  The chance to conduct undergraduate research greatly enhances a student’s educational experience and legislative support is necessary to ensure its continuity.”
 
The Council on Undergraduate Research, founded in 1978, is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing more than 900 colleges and universities. The council’s leadership works with agencies and foundations to enhance research opportunities for faculty and students.

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