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Professor, student researcher looking for clues to aid in fight against Leishmaniasis


Professor, student researcher looking for clues to aid in fight against Leishmaniasis

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Assistant Professor of Biology Delbert Abi Abdallah, Ph.D., and student apprentice researcher Beverley Kozuch are cloning genes of a parasite that puts more than 200 million people globally at risk for the potentially fatal disease Leishmaniasis.

Kozuch, of Templeton, Pa., is a rising junior and a biology/pre-medicine major. She is also a Thiel College lab assistant.

Abi Abdallah and Kozuch plan to collaborate with a faculty member at the University of Florida, who will use their findings as part of a larger project aimed at understanding the biochemical interaction through which some anti-parasitic drugs produce their pharmacological effects. Leishmaniasis is endemic in around 100 countries, affecting mainly those in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and southern Europe.

“This project should easily extend over into the academic year and not just be limited to the summer,” Abi Abdallah said. “I expect that this project can easily transform into a senior research project or into an ongoing project [in] the Biology Department.”

Thiel College alumni Fred Haer ’65 and his wife, Jill (Shackett) Haer ’66, have pledged more than $400,000 to fund the GNC Faculty/Student Research Institute for the next three years. The institute is concentrated on connecting science and liberal arts at Thiel College.

Abi Abdallah earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in microbiology and cell science and a minor in chemistry from the University of Florida. He completed his graduate studies with a doctorate in immunology and infectious disease from Cornell University in 2011. He was an adjunct at Tompkins Cortland Community College from 2013-2014 and also a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell from 2011-2013.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Shannon Deets, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of English Jared Johnson, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Pete Rydberg, Ph.D.; and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Chris Stanisky, Ph.D., have also had their research projects selected to be included in the inaugural class. Student apprentice researchers will partner with faculty principal investigators on most projects.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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