RBC Fellows Symposium 2016

2nd Annual event hosted by the Regenerative Bioscience Center


8th of April 2016
Starting at 9am

Celebrating the exceptional academic work of RBC undergraduate students


A one-day program,
to recognize the exceptional academic work of RBC undergraduates

The University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center, involving more than 175 undergraduate and graduate students supported by 32 faculty mentors


One of the special benefits of a large research collaboration, such as the Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC), is the opportunity it provides undergraduates to engage in applied leadership, self-reflection, constructive hypothesizing, and encountering difference in real-world problems and to work under the personal supervision of nationally recognized researchers.

RBC Mentors

UGA faculty provide guidance in a way that allows their students to learn through independent and unique experiences.

RBC Research

Today, under the direction of Dr. Steven Stice, D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, the RBC is a collaboration geared toward identifying regenerative solutions for numerous medical conditions that affect both animals and people. Through a translational approach to research, the RBC is significantly expanding the perspective of veterinarians, scientists and even clinicians, and eradicating the practice of researching in isolation.

The Speakers

An opportunity to present their work to the scientific university community


Peroni Lab

VIEW abstract


West Lab

VIEW abstract

Ashley Lall


De La Fuente Lab

VIEW abstract

Cali Callaway

Callaway and

Stice Lab

VIEW abstract

Mary Kate

West Lab

VIEW abstract


Dhar Lab

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Karumbaiah Lab

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West Lab

VIEW abstract

Symposium Schedule

Friday, April 8th.

09:00 - 10:00

Public Poster Viewing

10:00 - 10:10


10:10 - 10:15

Opening Remarks, Franklin West

10:15 - 10:30

Safety and efficacy of plateletpheresis as a method to collect platelet concentrates from equine donors

Scarlett Sumner
John Peroni, mentor

As part of their role in maintaining homeostasis, platelets are the primary source of growth factors, attachment factors, and enzymes found in serum. Due to these properties, platelet derivatives are appealing to enhance wound healing and as an alternative to fetal bovine serum, a xenogeneic serum in cell culture media. Plateletpheresis is commonly used to collect platelets in human medicine and has been used for dogs, but has not been validated for use in the standing horse. Plateletpheresis was performed on six female mix breed horses using commercially available equipment. This technique was tested to evaluate the feasibility of collecting large quantities of platelets from equine donors for the production of platelet lysate (PL). An apheresis machine and dual-needle collection kits were used with standing horses under chemical restraint and contained in stocks. Retrieval and return lines were connected to the horse via jugular catheters. Blood was collected for chemistry and coagulation panels before plateletpheresis, immediately after plateletpheresis, and at 8, 16, 24 and 48 hours following the procedure. Physical exams were conducted at the above time points and every 12 hours. PL was produced from the platelet concentrate following two freeze-thaw cycles and three centrifugation cycles. One liter of platelet concentrate was collected from each horse, with a mean platelet yield of 390 x 109/L. The procedure lasted on average 162.8 minutes and was well tolerated by donors. Pooled PL from all six horses contained 6.1ng/ml of transforming growth factor-β1, 3.5 ng/ml of platelet derived growth factor-BB, and 13.8 ng/ml of vascular endothelial growth factor-A. Plateletpheresis using a commercially available apheresis machine is a feasible option for collecting platelet concentrate from equine donors. PL produced from the platelet concentrate contained high levels of growth factors. This data supports the possibility of PL as an alternative to fetal bovine serum in cell culture media. view in pdf format

10:30 - 10:45

Pathological Assessment of a Piglet Model of Traumatic Brain Injury Utilizing Non-Invasive Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Madelaine Wendzik
Franklin West, mentor

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. Stem cell therapies offer a promising treatment for TBI by producing regenerative and anti-inflammatory growth factors while also functioning as a cell replacement therapy. Animal models that are not truly representative of the human condition have impeded development of a translatable TBI treatment, suggesting a more human-like animal model, such as a piglet, is necessary for developing a successful cell therapy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is pertinent in the analysis and treatment of TBI, and combining multiple MR parameters provides a comprehensive understanding of TBI pathophysiology. We hypothesize that controlled cortical impact (CCI) TBI in piglets will result in substantial deficits at the lesion site that can be measured and quantified non-invasively through MRI. TBI was induced in six male piglets. 24 hours post-TBI, T2 FLAIR was implemented to visualize the lesion. Lesion size and midline shift were measured from T2 weighted coronal images. Lesion size at 24 hours post-TBI was 3.44 cm3 (0.52) with a midline shift of +1.80 mm (0.46), indicating significant brain swelling. Lesion size was reduced at 12 weeks to 1.95 cm3 (0.44) with a midline shift of -2.98 mm (0.29), indicating brain tissue atrophy. The observed directional change in midline shift can be attributed to attenuated swelling and significant brain atrophy. Development and characterization of key cytoarchitectural changes in the CCI TBI piglet model utilizing MRI in this study will enable more robust and predictive assessment of novel therapeutics and treatments that will likely lead to more success in human clinical trials.view in pdf format

10:45 - 11:00

Super-resolution Microscopy vs. Epifluorescent Microscopy of Aurora Kinase C and SYCP3 Localization in Mouse Oocytes and Spermatocytes

Ashley Lall
Rabindranath De La Fuente, mentor

Being able to more closely examine cells on the molecular level is becoming increasingly important to researchers in order to understand the complex pathways and interactions that occur during meiosis. Unveiling information about these interactions is extremely critical in order to eventually understand problems that occur during pregnancy and reproduction which will hopefully one day remedy long-lasting issues that often result in pregnancy loss and genetic mutations in surviving embryos. This experiment consists of the analysis of two chromatin remodeling proteins that are essential for proper chromosomal division to occur during meiosis. Aurora Kinase C is primarily localized at the centromeres of mouse oocytes, and Synaptonemal Complex Protein 3 (SYCP3) is localized along the cohesions between homologous chromosomes in the lateral position of each chromosome. This experiment will specifically be studying lymphoid specific helicase (LSH) wild type mouse oocytes and Trichostatin A-treated (TSA) mouse spermatocytes. Epifluorescent microscopy, a common method of imaging chromosomes, is used in this report. However, advances in technology have allowed super-resolution microscopy to yield higher-resolution imaging of chromosomes. Super-resolution microscopy will allow the observation of Aurora Kinase C and SYCP3 on a molecular level in the mouse germ cells with hopes of uncovering more information about the roles of both Aurora Kinase C and SYCP3 during meiosis. The primary goal of this report is to compare and contrast the two microscopy methods, epifluorescent microscopy and super-resolution microscopy, and discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of using each microscopy method.view in pdf format

11:00 - 11:15

Optogenetic Control of a Neuromuscular Junction Model on a Chip

Catherine (Cali) Callaway and Elizabeth Wilkins
Steven Stice, mentor

Currently, more than 300,000 people in the United States live with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Such damage to the central nervous system frequently results in paralysis, impairing a patient’s ability to function independently. In one downstream effect of SCI, motor neurons, which control voluntary and involuntary movement, die and fail to properly synapse on muscles at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). No treatment effectively reverses the damage of an SCI. Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are an attractive candidate for post-injury cell replacement therapy because they can differentiate into the three germ layers responsible for forming all adult tissue. Optogenetics, or light control of cells, provides a groundbreaking means to stimulate neurons without electrical or pharmacological agents. Microfluidics devices serve as a high throughput investigative tool to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of PSCs. These apparti provide an optimal setting to mimic three-dimensional microenvironments within the body previously limited to animal model investigations.

In this study, we utilized a microfluidic approach to demonstrate functional optogenetic neuronal control of NMJs. We differentiated a line of PSCs constitutively expressing the optogenetic protein channel rhodopsin-2 (ChR2) into optically excitable motor neurons within a 3D aggregate. We co-cultured these aggregates with muscle strips in the microfluidics device to form NMJs. Our NMJ-on-a-chip will serve as model for cell replacement therapy. The selective activation of specific muscle sets with optogenetic control could be used to retrain an SCI patient to walk again. view in pdf format



11:30 - 11:45

Longitudinal Assessment of a Porcine Traumatic Brain Injury Model Utilizing Immunohistochemistry

Mary Kate Mehegan
Franklin West, mentor

In the United States alone, approximately 50,000 deaths result from traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually. At this time, there is no adequate TBI treatment. Neural stem cells may serve as a regenerative cell replacement therapy, as they are capable of differentiating into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes and produce regenerative factors such as VEGF. These cells have been shown to lead to structural and functional improvement in rodent models that have suffered similar neural injuries. However, treatments that have been developed in rodent models regularly fail in clinical trials, thus more predictive large animal models are needed. With a large gyrencephalic brain and gray-white matter composition similar to humans, the pig is an effective large animal model. The objective of this study is to longitudinally assess changes in brain cellular composition in a piglet model of TBI. Piglets underwent surgery to generate a concussive TBI. To assess the time course of TBI pathology, piglets were sacrificed and brain tissues were collected 1 day, 1 week, and 4 weeks post-TBI. At the site of neural injury, we assessed cellular level changes in TBI pathology using the neuron marker NeuN, astrocyte marker GFAP and the oligodendrocyte marker Olig2. At 1 week post-TBI, NeuN staining demonstrated a significant decrease in neurons. In addtion, the upregulation of GFAP expression indicated increased astrogliosis at both 1 week and 4 weeks post-TBI. No significant changes in Olig2+ oligodendrocytes were noted. Standardization of this novel model opens the door for the evaluation of new cell therapies, pharmaceuticals and therapeutic approaches thus providing the field with a critically needed assessment tool. view in pdf format

11:45 - 12:00

Synthetic Iron Oxide Containing HDL Nanoparticles for Atherosclerosis

Brett Askins
Shanta Dhar, mentor

Atherosclerosis is one of the world’s most aggressive diseases, claiming over 17.5 million lives per year. This disease is often caused by high amounts of lipoproteins circulating in the blood stream, which leads to plaque formation. Ultimately these plaques can undergo thrombosis and cause heart damage. A major contributor to these vulnerable plaques is macrophage apoptosis. Development of sub cellular vehicles that carry contrast and therapeutic agents to the mitochondria within these apoptotic macrophages is attractive for the treatment of atherosclerosis. Previously, our lab reported construction of a biodegradable, synthetic HDL nanoparticle (NP) system that is capable of detecting vulnerable plaques by mitochondrial membrane potential collapse, which occurs during apoptosis. This platform contains a core of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and cholesteryl oleate, with similar hydrophobicity as found in natural HDL. Surrounding this core is a phospholipid layer comprised of 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine, along with stearyl-triphenylphosphonium (TPP) cations for detection of mitochondrial membrane potential collapse. On the surface of this lipid layer is an apoA-I mimetic 4F peptide capable of binding cholesterol and participating in reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) iron oxide-based probe, mito-magneto, was encapsulated within the HDL NPs for potential use in therapeutic monitoring of atherosclerosis by MRI. This platform displays excellent composition, stability, and physiochemical properties required for encapsulation inside the core of the HDL-NPs. Characterization of the potential therapeutic and imaging abilities of these IONP-based HDL-NPs in atherosclerosis can be completed upon conduction of studies to further understand bioimaging, biocompatibility, toxicity, cholesterol efflux properties, and immunogenicity.view in pdf format

12:00 - 12:15

Composite Hydrogel Matrices of Chondroitin 4- and 4,6-Sulfated Glycosaminoglycans Significantly Enhance Glioma Cell Invasion

Nicole Bisel
Lohitash Karumbaiah, mentor

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive, devastating type of brain tumor characterized by a highly invasive nature. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and their glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains are important elements in the brain extracellular matrix (ECM) and have been implicated in promoting tumor invasion. However, conclusive evidence to suggest CSPGs or the associated CS-GAGs induce brain tumor invasion is currently lacking. We aim to provide evidence suggesting that tumor cell invasion can be influenced by the level of sulfation of CS-GAGs in the tumor ECM. This was tested in vitro by encapsulating the glioblastoma cell line U87MG-EGFP into CS-A (4-sulfated), composite CS-A/E (4,6-sulfated), hyaluronic acid, and agarose hydrogels. We hypothesize that the sulfation of CS-GAGs influences tumor cell migration through a CXCL12/CXCR4 chemokine-mediated mechanism. Choice assays using microfluidics devices showed preferential cell migration into composite CS-A/E hydrogels (p l< 0.05). Immunohistochemistry for the cytoskeletal components FAK and vinculin demonstrated that cells encapsulated in CS-GAG gels express significantly more colocalization than control treatments (p < 0.05). Chemotaxis assays with the chemokine CXCL12 suggest that, after three hours, GBM cells migrate further into composite gels containing CXCL12 than those without, displaying potential for chemokine-GAG affinity (p less than 0.05). In sandwich ELISA assays, oversulfated CS-GAGs showed affinity for binding CXCL12 compared to other gel groups (p < 0.5). QRT-PCR assays further demonstrate the significant upregulation of the CXCL12 chemokine receptor CXCR4 and the CSPG receptor LAR in U87MG-EGFP cells encapsulated in CS-GAG gels. These results suggest that glioma malignancy may be directly influenced by the level of sulfation of CS-GAGs.view in pdf format

12:15 - 12:30

T-Maze Assessment for Learning and Memory Using a Porcine Model

Natalie Bishop
Franklin West, mentor

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), for which there is no present cure, affects an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States each year. Our lab utilizes a porcine behavioral study model to observe the behaviors of normal, affected, and treated subjects. The objective of this study was to assess the learning and memory ability of normal pigs using a spatial T-maze test to serve as a baseline of normal behavior. The spatial T-maze test, used to assess spatial memory, is in the shape of a plus-sign. Two north and south arms serve as possible start arms for the pigs and two east and west arms contain a food reward, where only one side is accessible. The pigs were expected to use specifically placed cues around the arena to identify which arm had the reward. The T-maze test was conducted over a six-day acquisition period followed by a four-day reversal period where the reward arm was switched for each pig. Results showed that the piglet’s ability to choose the arm with the reward significantly (p<0.05) increased by Day 4 of the acquisition period, as compared to Day 1. Following reversal, the piglets showed an increase in latency to choice and decrease in proportion of correct choices; however, piglets made significantly (p<0.05) more correct choices by day 4 of reversal as compared to Day 1 of reversal. From these T-maze test results, we have a better understanding of the pigs’ learning and memory abilities. These baseline results will enable comparison to be made between normal, affected and treated pigs’ learning and memory to further understand TBI’s effects and potential treatments.view in pdf format


I am so incredibly glad to have had the opportunity to attend and present in the first annual symposium. Kayla Hargrove
West Lab
Being an RBC Undergraduate Fellow, grants us the unique opportunity to interact directly, through the symposium, collaboration, and other means, with a more diverse faculty and students from all over campus. Hannah Mason
Karumbaiah Lab
I’m so impressed at how articulate, accomplished, and gifted these students are. The ones I spoke to today will most definitely place us at the top of the line for students seeking a career in research. Derek Eberhart
Director of University of Georgia Innovation Gateway
Getting to talk with other undergraduates at today's event, who are researching different areas of regeneration, encourages me to look at my own research differently. Karishma Sriram
Stice Lab
Every time I present, I feel like I become a better student, communicator and scientist, which is a pretty special experience. Caroline Coleman
West Lab

RBC Fellows Program


Empowering students. The program is sponsored and administered by the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia. The Fellows Program incorporates faculty from the Departments of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Engineering, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as faculty from Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Program Overview

An exciting experience for any UGA undergraduate seeking direct experience working with faculty, conducting research that leads to new discoveries, treatments, and new cures for the devastating diseases that touch all of our lives. The framework of the concentration takes advantage of faculty strength in both the Animal and Dairy Sciences, Biochemistry, Engineering and Veterinary Medicine within a multi-campus infrastructure. As a student you will gain research experience under the mentorship of internationally recognized academic scientists, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and industrial collaborators. Thus, our students will be uniquely positioned to apply for graduate and professional schools with the opportunity to have a very strong foundation on which to build a successful career.

Who is the RBC?

The Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC) based in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia, serves as a vehicle for stimulating growth and productivity of diverse collaborative research efforts amongst the work of veterinarians, toxicologists, biochemists, medicinal chemists and pharmacologists. Through experimentation and analysis, our primary goals are to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical medicine, moving translation research from laboratory science into real therapies and treatments. As a collaborative translational research team we do more — by adding ideas, questions and new experiments and discoveries not yet discovered by traditional basic research.

Leader of the Fellows, Franklin West

Dr. Franklin West, named one of the nation's top scholars under 40 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine 2010, received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Morehouse College and a doctorate in stem cell biology from the University of Georgia, where he now holds position as an assistant professor of animal and dairy science in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Dr. West was a MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) U-Star Research Fellow and a David and Lucille Packard Research Fellow at Morehouse College. He has been published in several national and international scientific peer-reviewed journals for cellular biology, and featured on CNN, NPR radio including articles in Atlanta Magazine.

Join Us Next Year!

For networking opportunities

Active participation in the RBC allows members, faculty, and students to draw from a diverse group; from those new to academic life to established investigators, from many different backgrounds, research interests, working in many different sorts of institutions, and coming from multiple perspectives. The RBC fosters the opportunity for dialogue, offers questions to ponder, or outline areas to pursue.

Fellows Undergraduate Program Spring 2017

Complete the RBC Fellows Program online application form.APPLY NOW.

Join the RBC Faculty

The RBC offers many ways to engage in collaborative research and thereby enrich your work as a faculty member. APPLY NOW


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Sponsors & Partners

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Location and Venue

in the heart of the University of Georgia campus.

The RBC Fellows Symposium provides academically ambitious, intellectually curious undergraduate students the opportunity to present and defend their original research. We encourage colleagues, faculty, family, and friends to attend this free event.

Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences

500 D. W. Brooks Drive

Athens, GA 30602

Location information

The Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, which houses the main office of CTEGD as well as the majority of the faculty’s laboratories, is located on south campus at 500 D. W. Brooks Drive. Take I-85 North towards Greenville. Exit onto GA-316 E. Pass through the light at the Oconee Connector and then merge onto Loop 10 (US-29N/US-78E). Take Exit 7 to College Station Road. Turn LEFT on College Station Rd. Continue across E. Campus Road to light at Agriculture Drive. Turn RIGHT onto Agriculture Drive. Turn LEFT before the building to access the parking deck or loading dock. The road is marked with an S16 parking sign. During normal business hours, all surface parking lots surrounding the Coverdell Center are by permit only. Visitors may use the parking deck directly behind the building.

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