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Deb Pano and Dr. Diana Bernal-Franco Win Advanced Research/Creative Endeavors Grant from Northeastern University

May 18, 2017

After over a year of research, ChE BS/MS student Deb Pano and Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Diana Bernal-Franco were awarded an Endeavor Grant from Northeastern University. Both Ms. Pano and Dr. Bernal-Franco work in lab of ChE/COS Associate Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons.

Their research began with looking at the defense mechanism of the Catharanthus roseus plant, as some of the compounds the plant uses to protect itself from pathogen attacks happen to have anti-cancer properties in humans. This plant is also commonly known as the Madagascar periwinkle. Although it is originally from Madagascar, it can now be found all over the world in tropical climates, where it is mostly used in gardening as an ornamental plant.

The team will test the interactions between two specific protein families that are known important players in the defense response of the model organism for plants, Arabidopsis thaliana. Their goal is to determine if proteins from these two families of interest interact, and how this impacts the production of the defense compounds in the plant. In the long run, their investigation could reveal ways to drive down the production price of anti-cancer treatments by optimizing the production of the plant.

Ms. Pano is especially thrilled to win an Endeavor Grant after being mentored and encouraged by Dr. Bernal-Franco. “She taught me about the research methods and mentored me, many of which were previously unfamiliar to me,” says Ms. Pano.