Medical students who have been newly accepted to our medical school have the opportunity to spend their summers as part of research projects. A group of faculty research mentors provide a range of research in which students can participate through the Medical Student Summer Research Program.  View the mentors and their biosketches below - a description of their current research projects can be found on the research mentor page.

Name Research Area Research Location

Michelle Baack

Lab Website

Opportunities in the Baack Lab vary widely from analyzing blood, tissue (histopathology), echocardiography, cellular metabolism, mitochondrial formation or gene/protein expression. This is NOT a shadowing experience. Our lab takes pride in teaching trainees to read about a disease process, develop a hypothesis, use methods to carry out experiments, analyze data and present findings. Although these are high expectations, you will benefit by being able to tailor the project to your specific interests/goals and become a “mini-expert” in that particular area. This is NOT an easy task in the allotted time and requires up-front preparation and hard work. Selecting a project that interests you in advance is very important. If you are very ambitious, there is potential for abstract submission/presentation or manuscript writing along with the rest of the lab.

Project #1- Pregnancy: Placental Processing of Fats and Glucose

Project #2- DOHaD: Lipid Mediated Programming of Disease in Offspring of Diabetic and Obese Mothers

Project # 3- Cardiac Bioenergetics and Mitochondrial Function

Project #4- Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine

Project #5- Fetal effects of maternal drug use during pregnancy

Sanford Research, Sioux Falls

Victor Huber

Lab Website

The Huber lab studies host immune responses against influenza viruses as they relate to vaccine-induced immunity and susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections.

Project #1: Vaccines: One potential project in the lab would be to perform a vaccine study with 2 distinct vaccine candidates, as we determine the true breadth of vaccine-induced immunity that can be achieved with these vaccines.

Project #2: Super-infections: The Huber lab has recently identified an influenza virus protein that has the potential to modulate the severity of a bacterial superinfection. One project in the Huber lab would be toward defining the impact of this viral protein on host immune responses within our super-infection model.

 Lee Med, Vermillion

Victor Huber

Lab Website

Hepatitis C Virus in American Indian population. Current project - Build patient panels using ICare data-gathering program to identify patients needing follow-up. We are also looking to integrate our panels with primary care physicians.  Varies

Lance Lee

Lab Website

Current projects in the lab are focused on identifying the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate ciliary motility. Potential summer projects could involve investigating how ciliary defects affect ciliary protein trafficking and dynamics using live imaging techniques, identifying the function of novel ciliary genes through analysis of ciliary physiology in gene knockdown studies, investigating the cellular feedback mechanisms resulting from ciliary dysfunction, or identifying novel ciliary protein-protein interactions.  Sanford Research, Sioux Falls

Jianning Tao

Lab Website

The survival rate for OS patients has not improved substantially over the past four decades. Our preliminary data shows that Notch OS cell lines exhibit sustained Notch and PI3K/mTOR pathway activation, indicating that inhibition of either or both pathways may have therapeutic benefit. We propose treatment of OS cells with newly developed Notch transcriptional inhibitor (IMR-1) and/or mTOR inhibitor (Rapamycin) to impede OS growth and metastasis. We will investigate efficacy of inhibitors in vitro and vivo by treating cells with single or combined reagents. Our study will validate our translational research hypothesis that inhibition of Notch and/or mTOR pathways blocks OS stem cell growth and metastasis. Our studies may suggest IMR-1 and Rapamycin as potential therapeutic agents in the treatment of OS.  Sanford Research, Sioux Falls

Keith Weaver

Bacterial toxin-antitoxin systems

Project # 1: Localization of the wild-type and mutant toxins within the bacterial cell. We have successfully introduced an immunological epitope tag onto our toxin and plan to try to localize this tag using advanced immunofluorescence techniques in collaboration with a lab at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. We also have a bank of mutants with altered function that we will also localize.

Project #2: Determine the role of the toxin-antitoxin system in modulating mannitol transport and metabolism. The toxin-antitoxin system is located between two operons encoding mannitol transport systems. We have determined that one system is required for mannitol transport while the other performs a regulatory function to make sure that the transporter is expressed only when sufficient mannitol is present and no more efficiently used carbon sources like glucose are available. We hypothesize that the toxin-antitoxin system plays are role in this complex regulatory system. The student will assess gene expression and mannitol usage in toxin-antitoxin system mutants.

 Lee Med, Vermillion

Ping Ye

Lab Website

Statistical and bioinformatics approaches to identify the relationship between prenatal environmental exposures, genetic variations, epigenetic alternations, and long-term outcomes of child development in the Northern Plains cohorts.

Project #1- Associations between genomic variants of alcohol dehydrogenase genes and fetal alcohol syndromes.

Project #2- The impact of prenatal socioeconomic status on maternal epigenetics and preterm birth in a South Dakota pregnancy cohort

Project #3- Prenatal smoking in the Northern Plains: Differences Between American Indian and Caucasian Mothers

 Avera Research Institute, Sioux Falls

How to Apply

The program is eight weeks long, from May 26-July 17, 2020, and has openings for eight students. Students receive a $5,000 stipend and the hosting lab receives up to $2,000 for supplies.

To apply, students need to choose a research mentor and submit an application to the Medical Student Research Committee. Applications are due April 22.

Apply Now

For more information contact the Medical Student Research Committee