St. Thomas University Advances Undergraduate Cancer Research

Apr 11, 2014, 12:23 ET from St. Thomas University

MIAMI, April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Growing its unique higher education positioning related to undergraduate research, Miami's St. Thomas University ( School of Science, Technology and Engineering Management is giving ALL students with an interest for research (beginners and advanced) the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty members who have extensively published peer-reviewed research articles and reviews as well as books and book chapters. The University is thus addressing the United States' critical shortage of scientists and nurses, offering students new hands-on experiences in state-of-the-art laboratories that prepare them for career in medical professions. The School is working closely with the Miami-Dade Public School System and South Florida Catholic high schools to get students engaged early on in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Various research areas include mathematical modeling, physical and organic chemistry, plant biology, neuroscience and cancer research.

The Cancer Research Laboratory was established in 2012. Florida Blue awarded the University a grant for the startup of the new facility, which provided seed money for the purchase of new contemporary equipment. The research is focused on drug discovery and identification of novel targets for the treatment of cancer. The aim of the Cancer Research Laboratory is not only to involve the students in innovative research, but to stimulate the interest in science. Florida is a melting pot of various cultures and races, each rich in their own traditional plant and herbal medicine use. And STU undergraduates have the chance to scientifically prove the potential anticancer activity of local plants and herbs.

These research projects--led by Dr. Severine Van slambrouck, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacist--merge several scientific disciplines and enrich the understanding of what the students learn in college coursework. Other University professors contribute in an interdisciplinary approach and applied techniques, such as Dr. Pilar Maul, Associate Professor of Biology and Dr. Maria Pina, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Thanks to devoted faculty and  mentoring, many students discover a new passion for research and decide to broaden their knowledge to more advanced or collaborative projects, including medical chemistry or mathematical modeling as well as basic and translational research.

Over the past two years, more than 30 undergraduate students have been involved in a variety of cancer research projects. There is the Drug Discovery research project for beginners, a step-by-step learning experience to work with equipment, collect data and other crucial insights. Then there is an advanced student project with local plants being tested, which often come from the University forest. Analyzing the powder components and going through "team-based learning", students are now preparing to present their research paper in May 2014 and submit to the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research for review.

Several School of Science undergraduate students are the first in their families to attend college and marvel at their academic progress. Many of the School's science majors come from economically challenged families. Even though they are talented, they often miss out on great opportunities. "Several years ago, research experience was an advantage", says Dr. Van slambrouck. "Nowadays it has become an expectation from employers. Standing out today means at least one scientific publication, demonstrating a student's commitment to a single laboratory and a project. It lasts a lifetime".

For additional information on St. Thomas University, including undergraduate research summer symposia, events and other academic programs please contact Chief Marketing Officer Marivi Prado at, tel. 305.474.6880.

CONTACT: Marivi Prado, Chief Marketing Officer, 305.474.6880,

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SOURCE St. Thomas University