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Future of Medical Research Starts Here

INBRE Provides Undergraduates the Opportunity to Conduct Graduate-Level Research


Kelsey Augustin, Trent Ahlers and Nathan Broeker credit the opportunity to conduct graduate-level scientific research as the best thing about earning their undergraduate degrees at Wayne State College. Though each of them is working in a different field of biomedical research, they share the experience of participating in the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program at the college.



Nathan Broeker, Trent Ahlers and Kelsey Augustin pose in the research lab.


Kelsey spends most of her time on the computer conducting her research.


Nathan spends approximately 10 hours per week in the research lab.


Trent uses a pipette while conducting research using listeria.


Trent's research notebook.


Nathan busy with research on cancerous cells.



Wayne State has been successfully preparing students for careers in biomedical research for more than 10 years through INBRE, which is funded by an ongoing grant through the National Institute of Health. WSC professors Shawn Pearcy (physiology) and Doug Christensen (molecular microbiology) have been involved with the grant for two renewal periods dating back to 2000. The grant funds one-third of three contracts for science faculty in biomedical research at WSC and allows Wayne State to purchase expensive biomedical research equipment and supplies.


“Wayne State’s participation in the program allows me to do cutting edge biomedical research with a high amount of personal responsibility and minimum oversight,” Ahlers, a native of Hastings, Neb., said. His research centers on drug delivery using INLB proteins from listeria bacteria. Ahlers, like Broeker and Augustin, puts in 10 hours per week at the lab and 40 hours per week during the summer at one of several medical research facilities in Nebraska.


Broeker, of Seward, Neb., said he shares Ahler’s appreciation of the program and went on to explain that he came to Wayne State for the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP), which guarantees WSC students a slot in medical school at University of Nebraska Medical Center provided they commit to a medical career in rural Nebraska.


“Once I was at Wayne State I decided I wanted to pursue biomedical research rather than medicine so I joined the INBRE program. I have all sorts of new tools to play with and get a lot of exposure to research through conferences and other opportunities,” Broeker said. He is studying up-regulation of herpes protein in cancerous cells when given AIDS medication.


The vision of the Nebraska INBRE Project is to enhance the competitiveness of biomedical research in Nebraska by developing the state’s research infrastructure and providing research opportunities for students and faculty at nine of Nebraska’s institutions of higher education. The INBRE program represents a center of excellence for all Wayne State students. The college’s scientific laboratories are among the best in the state and are used regularly by a range of classes to complete a rigorous science curriculum taught by distinguished faculty.


Augustin pointed to the research component as being the key to her future in bioinformatics, which uses computers to analyze a huge range of biological information. Her research looks at cell death resulting from the removals of proteins in the hopes of pinpointing treatments that could destroy cancerous cells.


“What I really like best is that we can publish research papers, network with our mentors and other researchers, and use equipment we would not get to use otherwise,” the Shelby, Neb., native said.

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