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Ohio Physiological Conference

Researchers Spotlighted at Ohio Physiological Society Meeting

It has been years since DDT was banned, but the pesticide’s lingering effects may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Isha Mhatre, a third-year graduate student who is mentored at a NEOMED lab by Jason Richardson, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences, spoke on the topic at the 2017 Ohio Physiological Society Conference held Friday, Oct. 27, at the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center Ballroom.

Mhatre is working toward a Ph.D. in the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program at Kent State University. When she initially approached Dr. Richardson, out of an interest in working with the nationally recognized director of NEOMED’s Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging research area (focused on Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma) she was upfront in telling him she didn’t have a background in pharmacy or toxicology. “He said, ‘No problem, we’ll learn as we go,’’’ said Mhatre.

Like many of her fellow Kent students, she was attracted to NEOMED’s excellent lab facilities, she said, and the open, collegial atmosphere is a bonus. Dr. Richardson provides her the opportunity to explore ideas, she said, adding, ‘’I love that the lab facilities are shared. If I don’t know how to use a piece of equipment because it’s not my specialty, someone will say, ‘Let me show you how.’ It’s very collaborative, and Dr. Richardson insists that’s how it should be.’’

The well-prepared student was ready for the people who lined up at a microphone to ask questions after her 15-minute oral presentation—one of four presented that morning by graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow to researchers and students from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

How can people can still be affected by DDT, when it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972? one attendee asked. Mhatre explained that the pesticide accumulated in the soil where it was applied to crops, and so it is still in the food chain.

The daylong conference features keynote speaker Kenneth Walsh, Ph.D., Aram V. Chobanian Distinguished Professor and director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute of the Boston University School of Medicine. Students from around the state of Ohio were slated to give presentations, including a ‘’blitz’’ of 13 graduate and 9 undergraduate students over the lunch hour.

J. Gary Meszaros, Ph.D., associate professor of integrative medical sciences at NEOMED, is the president of the professional organization, which was founded in 1986 with the purpose of “enhancing and advancing the field of physiology as a coordinated discipline consisting of the many subdisciplines working at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels of organization in both basic and applied areas.’’