Chrystal Loya, a junior Biology major from El Paso participating in St. Mary’s University’s Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program<, recently received an award for her poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Loya was one of 25 students to receive an award in the Cell Biological Sciences competition out of a total of 232 presentations for that discipline.

Loya’s presentation was titled “Overexpression of Musashi RNA binding protein in neuroblasts to promote tumor formation in Drosophila melanogaster.” Her presentation was based on research she is conducting at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio under the supervision of Dr. Luiz Penalva and Dr. Don McEwen.

Loya’s research demonstrated that the expression levels of this binding protein were directly correlated to brain tumor growth by influencing the expression of other genes involved with regulating cell proliferation, the cell cycle, and apoptosis (or programmed cell death).

ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for students interested in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research. One of the main goals of the conference is to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

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