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Resendes and Westminster Students Publish Cancer Biology Research in Apoptosis

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Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dr. Karen K. Resendes, associate professor of biology and coordinator of the molecular biology program, and a team of eight past and present Westminster College biology and molecular biology majors have published their cancer biology research entitled “5-Flurouracil disrupts nuclear export and nuclear pore permeability in a calcium dependent manner" in the journal Apoptosis: An International Journal on Programmed Cell Death.

Each of the eight student authors: Kelly J. Higby ‘16, Melissa M. Bischak ‘16, Christina A. Campbell ’15, Rebecca G. Anderson ‘15, Sarah A. Broskin ’14, Lauren E. Foltz ‘13, Jarrett A. Koper ’17 and Audrey C. Nickle ’18, contributed new data to the paper that they collected as part of experiments associated with various capstone studies, honors research thesis and independent study projects.  The overarching theme of their undergraduate research projects was to understand some aspect of the mechanism of action for various chemotherapeutic drugs, specifically as it related to the regulation of transport in and out of the cell nucleus during the process of cell death.

According Resendes, their results revealed a new mechanism of action for the chemotherapeutic 5-flurouracil (5-FU) in combination with other drugs during apoptosis. “These results open the door to other potential combination chemotherapies that employ 5-FU, which will prove to be another exciting area of research for my laboratory that we are excited to pursue further,” says Resendes. “It is always gratifying to be able to bring together the efforts of several student researchers into a cohesive story that is accepted for publication by my peers in the field of cell biology.”

Sarah Broskin ’14, first year graduate student in the Molecular and Cell Biology & Genetics (MCBG) PhD program at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM), says the undergraduate research she completed while at Westminster helped her secure a clinical laboratory position within her field immediately following graduation.

“My undergraduate research set me apart from many other applicants and aided in my acceptance to numerous graduate programs,” says Broskin. “Most importantly, the opportunity to complete undergraduate research enhanced my passion and appreciation for science as a whole.”

All of the students attached to the research project have started their careers in the biotechnology industry, are in graduate programs or have plans to attend graduate or medical school.

The entire article is available online here: or view the entire journal:

For more information, contact Dr. Karen Resendes at 724-946-7211 or