Grads create genetic research pipeline

In April 2006, Dr. Candice Nulsen ’95 attended a Phoenix alumni event at the home of trustee Dean Riesen ’79 and Bambi Hull Riesen ’82. Dean Riesen learned that Nulsen was scientific education and outreach director at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix. A few weeks later he introduced her to fellow trustee Dr. Larry Dorr ’63, who was impressed with TGen and Nulsen and subsequently established the Dorr Fellow in Genomics at TGen. Danielle Bowen Gorbach ’07 was chosen for the Cornell Fellows program in fall 2006, cosponsored by Dimensions. Coincidentally, her mentor and supervisor at TGen was Meredith Millis ’00.

Gorbach conducted diabetes and obesity research at TGen, searching for genetic factors that might make people more susceptible to those conditions.

“We used sophisticated genetic tools and statistical analyses to look for associations between the disease and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around a particular gene. We successfully located five SNPs with a significant relationship to end stage renal disease,” Gorbach said.

TGen’s Dr. Johanna DiStefano discussed Gorbach’s research at the annual scientific retreat. Her work was then published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Diabetes.

“Many of the techniques I first learned about at TGen are being applied on a regular basis in my lab at grad school, so the fellowship gave me a big headstart compared with many of my peers,” says Gorbach. “The internship was also very helpful in graduate school applications. Grad schools love to see research experience on your resume, and working at TGen was a topnotch research experience.” Gorbach won a Goldwater Scholarship and is currently a Ph.D. student in genetics at Iowa State University.

Another Cornell student will be a research fellow at TGen this spring, and last year TGen’s finance department sponsored a Riesen Fellow in Applied Economics and Business.

Selected Dimensions internship locations

  • University of Chicago, Chicago
  • Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa, Mason City, Iowa
  • Dorr Arthritis Institute, Los Angeles
  • University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Milwaukee Department of Public Health, Milwaukee
  • University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Rape Victim Advocacy Program, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Hanger Orthotics and Prosthetics, Iowa City, Iowa
  • New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, New York City
  • MercyCare Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, Iowa
  • Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Planned Parenthood, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Linn County Public Health Department, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • Translational Genomics Research Institute, Phoenix
  • Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Scarborough, Maine
  • Iglesia Emmanuel, Bolivia
  • Indian Institute for Health Management Research, Jaipur, India
  • University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa