Kai Beattie and Nuria Romero pose for a photo

Biochemistry students attend American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting

Northeastern students at dinnerFour Northeastern University biochemistry students– Kai Beattie, Ashley Brown, Gabrielle Hernandez, and Joie Sun– represented the university’s American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) chapter at the society’s national meeting in Philadelphia. The event was ASBMB’s first in-person conference since 2019!

Each student presented at the Undergraduate Poster Competition on Saturday, April 2. In this event, Gabrielle Hernandez, a fourth-year biochemistry major, won best poster in her category (Microbiology and Lipids/Membranes) for her presentation entitled, “How Acinetobacter baumannii Controls Antibiotic Resistance through Phosphorylation of the BfmR Global Regulator.” She completed this work in Professor Edward Geisinger’s lab in the biology department. Hernandez has been a member of the Geisinger Lab since spring 2019 and graduates this semester.

In the same session, Kai Beattie, a third-year biochemistry major, presented a poster entitled “Targeting Hypoxia-Adenosinergic Signaling to Enable Effective Anti-Tumor Responses by Reprogramming the Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment.” Beattie completed this work in the lab of Professor Michail Sitkovsky and Stephen Hatfield.

Second-year biochemistry major Ashley Brown presented her poster, “Outer Membrane Regulation in Acinetobacter: Controlling the Shield against Antibiotics.” Brown, like Hernandez, presented work from her time in the Geisinger Lab. Finally, Joie Sun, a graduating fifth-year biochemistry student, presented “Effects of Phosphorylation of ERK2 Kinase on the Properties of Active Site Amino Acids,” the work she completed in Professor Mary Jo Ondrechen’s Lab in the chemistry and chemical biology department. Each student also presented in society-wide poster sessions throughout the conference.

Beyond the undergraduate presentations, ASBMB and affiliated societies hosted many workshops, networking events, and  presentations on professional development, recent developments within biomedical research, and scientific communication, among other topics. Attendees learned about topics ranging from novel mechanisms of resistance to cancer therapeutics to ethical considerations in efforts to attain diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical trials!

A tremendous benefit of the conference’s return to an in-person format included more opportunities for networking. One stand-out session was an ASBMB-lead women-aligned scientist networking dinner. This dinner included a panel of women in different points of diverse scientific careers who spoke on how work-life balance may be better imagined as work-life integration and encouraged an active dialogue between audience members.

Being in Philadelphia also allowed attendees to reunite with Northeastern University alumni studying in the surrounding area through graduate and professional programs. Professor Kirsten Fertuck, the biochemistry director, arranged a Northeastern dinner for 15 that allowed conference attendees to meet with biochemistry alumni and share their experiences in PhD, medical, and dental programs.

The 2023 ASBMB meeting will be held March 23-28 in Seattle, Washington. Students with research to present should be looking out for an abstract deadline around November, with details likely announced in the summer. If you want to get involved, connect with the Biochemistry club ([email protected]) to learn how to join ASBMB as a student member!