Conference details dual-use research in 21st century

February 16, 2011

Extraordinary leaps in multidisciplinary research are leading to unprecedented discoveries but, in the wrong hands, unintended uses of those discoveries can threaten our world. "Dangerous Liaisons: Dual Use Research in the 21st Century" – to take place at 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 25, in the Biodesign Institute auditorium – is an ASU-sponsored conference addressing the issues of dual-use research from the perspectives of researchers, policymakers and the FBI.

Speakers will include: Paul Keim, director of pathogen genomics for TGen and professor at Northern Arizona University; Edward You, of the Biological Countermeasures Unit at FBI; Kavita Berger, Center for Science, Technology & Security Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Bertram Jacobs, professor in ASU’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. Download Full Image

Jacobs, who organized the conference, believes a dialogue should be ongoing in this type of research. “We’re all aware that select agents are always under scrutiny but, with the technology available today, even apparently innocent research can have the potential for evil or for good.”

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity was established to provide advice, guidance and leadership regarding biosecurity oversight of dual use research. Keim, who also chairs the NSABB will discuss why it was formed and will focus on the development of creating a culture of responsibility and how to integrate that culture into responsible conduct of research.

“Much of the discussion on dual use research focuses on microbiology but our perspective is that biosecurity is part of a spectrum of risks that range from ethics to environmental release,” Berger said. “Our thought is that if taught as a broader concept, it might be seem more relevant to non-life scientists and be more flexible and adaptable as new technologies develop."

The conference is open to ASU faculty, staff, students and the general public. Please RSVP by Feb. 21.  research.integrity">">

Sheila Britton, sheilah">">
Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development
(480) 965-2494

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


Student wows her mentors at Mayo with research achievement

February 16, 2011

There were backslaps and a few high-fives at Mayo Clinic in Arizona last week, when a 20-year-old ASU premedical junior being mentored at the clinic was chosen to present a research paper at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting.

Madeline Grade, a biomedical engineering major who is in the Barrett-Mayo premed scholars program, may be the first undergraduate ever selected for the national honor. The program is a partnership with Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. Madeline Grade Download Full Image

Stage fright on her part would be understandable. Grade will take the platform in front of a hundred or so professional neurologists to present a project on epilepsy which she completed last summer. To the pride of her mentors, she had three abstracts accepted at the AAN, two as platform presentations.

“It’s truly a stunning accomplishment,” said Dr. Ken Mishark, director of the premed scholars program at Mayo. “We’re so proud of Madeline. She has pulled off something that no one we know of has ever done, and the credit goes to her and to her mentors at the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.”

He believes it may be the first time that an undergraduate student has been asked to present at AAN. Very few neurologists have been selected for a platform presentation, he said.

“This is a tremendous honor, as only a very small number of abstracts are selected for platform talks as opposed to poster presentations,” said Dr. Katherine Noe, Mayo neurologist who mentors Grade. “She’s an exceptional individual, extremely bright and a real self-starter.”

Grade also is the second author on a paper just accepted for publication in Epilepsy and Behavior. Even more unusual is that she completed her work in a summer internship.

The tall, slender student is a familiar face at Barrett, where she gives campus tours, and at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, where she is president of the student biomedical engineering society. Her energy level and enthusiasm spill over in all directions: photography, music, running, clubs.

Currently she’s recruiting other ASU students for a synthetic biology team, to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition at MIT in November. She’s also training for a 200-mile relay from Wickenburg to Tempe this month and studying for the MCAT.

The AAN presentation will take her to Honolulu in April, where she’ll present her work on the counseling of women of childbearing age who receive valproic acid, a seizure-treatment medication which can also cause birth defects.

Grade says she loves clinical research, and would like to be both a physician and a researcher. She found her summer internship at Mayo fascinating.

“Research is what drives everything, every change in patient care,” she said. “I went to the hospital every day all summer, and I was so excited about it, it didn’t feel like a job at all. When I went on vacation, I missed it. The total immersion in a hospital environment was really invaluable for me.”

After graduating from Gilbert High School in 2008, Grade had planned to go to Duke or Northwestern, but she was reluctant to incur heavy student debt. When she investigated Barrett and found out about the opportunities for undergraduate research at ASU, she was sold.

“Barrett was a huge part of my decision to come here, and so was the biomedical engineering program. It’s such an exciting time to be at ASU, with all the research that’s going on, all the events and people and experiences.

“All you have to do is e-mail your professors, and they’ll help you get involved in whatever you want to do. Dr. Bill Ditto (director of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering) is my hero. He has a ‘let’s do this’ attitude, and he gets you pumped up about trying new things.”

According to Ditto, Grade has emerged as a real student leader in the school, getting other students excited about biomedical engineering.

“Madeline’s enthusiasm, creativity and tremendous work ethic continue to amaze me,” he said. “I expect great things from her as her career progresses.”