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NMSU to host public talks on human health research

In an attempt to better serve New Mexico State University?s wide-reaching biomedical community, the College of Arts and Sciences and Office of the Provost will launch a broadly focused biomedical research seminar series, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, in Pete V. Domenici Hall, Room 109.


A male and female in white lab coats working with lab equipment.
NMSU biochemistry professor Shelley Lusetti, left, works with student Zachary Romero in her laboratory. Lusetti is launching a weekly Biomedical Research Seminar Series, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, in Pete V. Domenici Hall, Room 109. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
Man in blue button-up sitting with microscope.
The first talk of the NMSU Biomedical Research Seminar Series will feature Eric Prossnitz, professor of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico?s Health Sciences Center, and co-director of the Translational Cancer Biology and Signaling Cancers Program. His talk will discuss the role of estrogen receptors in cancer, cardiovascular function and metabolism, including obesity and diabetes. (Courtesy photo)

?NMSU brings in more than $10 million a year in National Institutes of Health funding,? said Shelley Lusetti, associate professor of biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. ?Because this funding is scattered all over the campus, we would like to have a seminar series that highlights that type of work, specific to biomedical research. I don?t think the community understands how much of that is being done at NMSU.?

The mission of the NIH is to support research that betters human health, Lusetti explained. At NMSU, faculty and student biomedical research extends across multiple disciplines ? not only involving investigations through the College of Arts and Sciences, but from the Colleges of Health and Social Services; Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; and Engineering.

While the seminar?s target audience is largely students and NMSU biomedical researchers, which includes faculty, postdoctoral researchers, laboratory staff and graduate assistants, the events are also open to the public.

?I have asked speakers to keep the majority of their talk accessible to the non-expert,? Lusetti said. ?We invite people who are interested in hearing about cutting-edge biomedical research related to research conducted on our campus.?

The first talk will feature Eric Prossnitz, professor of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico?s Health Sciences Center, and co-director of the Translational Cancer Biology and Signaling Cancers Program.

Prossnitz conducts research in collaboration with NMSU scientists, including Lusetti, through Cowboys for Cancer Research, a component of the Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign. His talk, ?Estrogen: More than just a sex hormone,? will discuss the role of estrogen receptors in cancer, cardiovascular function and metabolism, including obesity and diabetes.

?The quality of healthcare we have in this country was built on the efforts of biomedical researchers and physicians who spend years investigating the causes and potential treatments for diseases,? said Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. ?Faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences and across the university are collaborating with researchers nationally and internationally. We hope this biomedical speaker series will inspire our students and inform our community about the value of health research.?

Zachary Romero, senior biochemistry major, said these seminars would afford him a better understanding of the different forms of biomedical research taking place at other institutions throughout the country.

?It is so easy to stay confined to what is just going on at NMSU, and these talks offer a way for students to get exposed to the various fields they will encounter in graduate school,? said Romero, who is currently in the process of graduate school interviews. ?I also look to use these talks to refine my critical thinking skills; it is important for students to learn to formulate questions from a talk that can help give them a deeper understanding of the research.?

Along with inviting researchers of national renown, from institutions such as Texas A&M, Stanford University and the University of Washington, the weekly seminar series will also provide an opportunity, once a semester, for an NMSU faculty member to present their own biomedical research.

This spring?s ?Faculty Spotlight? is set for Feb. 19, and will feature Immo Hansen, associate professor of biology and principal investigator for NMSU?s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab. His talk, ?Of Mosquitoes and Men ? New Ways to Control Insect Pests,? will consider techniques and strategies to control mosquito populations and prevent epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika virus.

The NMSU Biomedical Research Seminar Series will feature 8-12 scheduled seminars per semester, all of which will take place at 3:30 p.m. Fridays, in Pete V. Domenici Hall, Room 109. To view the series calendar, visit events.research.nmsu.edu.

This initiative is currently sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Biology, NMSU-HHMI and from the following NIH-funded NMSU programs: NM-IMBRE, RISE and MARC, which are principally dedicated to enhancing biomedical research on this campus.