Grant enables Thiel College students to research better ways to kill leukemia cells

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Associate Professor of Biology Sarah J. Swerdlow, Ph.D., was awarded a grant from the Cell Biology Education Consortium to teach her students how to perform research utilizing cell and tissue culture techniques.

Swerdlow was awarded a $3,000 “Cell Block Development and Classroom Implementation” grant from the consortium to conduct course-based research with her students in the Cell Biology class.

Swerdlow and her students performed research to determine better ways to kill leukemia cells until the campus closed in mid-March. Following the closure, Swerdlow and lab assistants Ashley Prout ’20 and Breanna Mesich ’20 finished some of the experiments so the students could complete their research posters and present their research virtually.

Swerdlow said the class learned how to grow the cell line HL60, which is a human leukemia cell line. The class did experiments on these cancer cells to investigate if they undergo autophagy to escape apoptotic cell death.

According to the consortium’s website, its primary activity is the development of “Cell Blocks” modules consisting of written and video protocols and classroom implementation strategies and assessments. Cell blocks will be developed by faculty and their students at small institutions making it likely that they will be adaptable at similar schools. Because the cell blocks have similar basic components, they can be mixed and matched to answer novel questions. The implementation of multiple cell blocks will serve as the basis for semester-long research projects that provide the foundation for independent student research projects.

Students will be able to interact within a community of scientists to expand on their experiences and create their own independent research projects, establish a funding record through a voucher system, and participate in professional development experiences. The Cell Biology Education Consortium provides financial and technical support related to the incorporation of cell culture into the undergraduate classroom.

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Thiel College is an independent college 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. The College is also home to a new Master of Science in speech-language pathology and 2Master of Business Administration. Both master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The speech-language pathology program also has an accelerated 15-month graduate-level program. The M.B.A. program also has a 12-month post-graduate program.A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to combining tradition with innovation as it celebrates 150 years.