KNOCKING FOR OPPORTUNITY
Faith , a mentor, and a world-class research
It is rare for an undergraduate to have a poster presentation at the conference of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Alan Lee of Salt Lake City was counseled to be prepared Dr Kim O Neill Alan's mentor, told him influential people would be there, people who had jobs, internships, and graduate slots to dispense. Consequently Alan had everything ready-he thought. When the Chief of Medical Oncology from the National Institute of Health (NIH) walked by, Alan told him about himself and his project. "He seemed very interested," Alan recalls. "Then he asked for my card I didn't have one."
It turned out a card was not necessary. They met again that afternoon with a lab manager from NIH to discuss possible openings despite the fact that there were no current vacancies. Today Alan is in a post baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institute of Health in Maryland, the sole B.S. in a lab full of Ph.D.s and MDs.
Students Alan Lee(LEFT) and Amy Lamprecht remove cancer cells from cryogenic storage The cells are stored at degrees Centigrade To bring them back to life requires careful manipulation.
How does a BYU Microbiology and Molecular Biology student land such a position. As a freshman, Alan took an introductory level molecular biology class from Dr O Neill. "Alan approached me after class wanting to do research," O Neill says. "He knew it was the key to advancing." O Neill was receptive because as a freshman at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland he had approached every professor on campus and asked how to get into a lab. "Only one helped me," he reports ."I remember that whenever I find a trembling freshman knocking on my door."
Thanks to that memory, Alan spent most of his freshman and sophomore years working in O Neill's lab. In his junior year, he got an internship at Harvard University. "Dr O Neill goes out of his way to open these opportunities to students," Alan says. "As a result I realized I could do what the world class researchers at Harvard can do." Alan returned from the East Coast with greater scientific knowledge but also with something more valuable. "I met my wife," he says, "something that never would have happened if I hadn't gone to Harvard."
As a senior, Alan won a grant from BYU's Office of Research and Creative Activities that financed his study of the effects of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape seeds peanuts and mulberries that hinders cancer stem cell growth. Presenting that research at the AACR conference led to his fellowship at the NIH. Both Alan's knowledge and his faith sustain him when answers seem illusive. "I know there is an answer there," he says of cancer research, "perfect hands don't make something that can't be fixed "
Alan has no doubt that his internship at Harvard, the acceptance of his research at the AACR conference, and his place at the NIH came because of the dedication of a true mentor. "What set my education apart was the relationship I built with Dr O Neill. He made my education at BYU exceptional "
ANOTHER KIND OF SOAP BOX
A.J. and Susie Balukoff
Susie Balukoff describes her husband A.J. as a peacemaker, a listener, someone who her sister says, "can make everybody come together and be on the same page." Apparently many people share her opinion A.J. sits on a number of boards, including the boards of the Boise Schools, the Public Library, St Luke's Hospital, and Ballet Idaho. "They like him because of his CPA background his astute mind and his integrity," Susie says.
Boards must like what Susie brings to the table as well. She served on the boards of the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation, the Boise Philharmonic, the Boise Opera, and is currently the president of Zoo Boise. "The community has been a blessing in our family's lives," A J says. "We're more than grateful to give back."
After 12 years in Southern California as a CPA, including three years with the accounting firm, Arthur Andersen A.J. and Susie moved to Boise to continue his accounting practice and raise their eight children. He finally sold his firm so he and Susie could devote their attention to the three A.J.'s Health Clubs they own. They also own interests in Boise's 250-room Grove Hotel, the adjoining 5,000-seat Qwest Arena, and its primary tenant the Idaho Steelheads, a pro hockey team. Their success has been a boon to BYU-Idaho and BYU-Provo, where they sit on the President's Leadership Council. They also serve on the College of Life Sciences College Volunteer Leadership Council among others. "If we can be an influence for good," Susie says, "then we are being missionaries without standing on a soap box."
A NEW CHAIR OF
Physiology and Developmental Biology Department
Dean Rodney J. Brown of the College of Life Sciences recently announced the appointment of William W. Winder as Chair of the Physiology and Developmental Biology Department (PDBio) replacing James P. Porter, a new Associate Dean of the college. Winder humbly compares his new position to his job as a scoutmaster. "I often Find myself tagging along behind all the boys saying 'Wait for me I'm the leader,'" he says. "It's kind of like that in our department. The job will get done no matter what I do."
Winder earned his B.S and Ph.D. from BYU, then spent eight years doing research on muscle metabolism at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. In 1979,
Under the direction of Professor Winder, David Thomson and undergraduate Natasha Fillmore among others discovered a key cellular signal that builds enzyme in muscles
he moved to the University of South Dakota School of Medicine where he taught physiology for three years. He joined the BYU faculty in 1982. His current research focuses on an enzyme in muscle called AMP-activated protein kinase (see Spring 2008 issue). He will continue that research as he steps into the shoes of what he says has been "a legacy of excellent chairs."
Professor Winder hopes that during his tenure as chair, the department can continue to deliver a first class education to PDBio students, while encouraging faculty to increase their research productivity. "Funding is essential to being productive and publishing," he says. "Consequently we want to help the talented scientists in our department become even better prepared to attract outside funds from the NIH and other agencies."
Married in 1964, Winder and his wife Linda have eight children and 32 grandchildren. He enjoys BYU sports backpacking and fishing and the occasional historical novel."