ORLANDO, April 2, 2010 — Three recent Ph.D. graduates of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences are using their scientific skills professionally in the fight to cure diabetes, and they credit their alma mater with giving them the technical and critical thinking skills necessary to be successful in their jobs.
Burnett school graduates Drs. John W. Rumsey, George Kyriazis and Mangala Meenakshi Soundarapandian are now post-doctorate research fellows at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona.
Dr. Rumsey is investigating the role diabetes plays in cardiac disease. Dr. Kyriazis is studying the mechanisms by which the pancreas releases insulin – and how Type 2 diabetes interferes with that process. Dr. Soundarapandian is studying how beta cells produce insulin and how science can replicate that mechanism to create more insulin in diabetic patients.
All three credited their Burnett school “mentors” who not only taught them how to develop proper experiments but also instilled in them an excitement for scientific discovery. “Burnett helped me learn to think,” said Dr. Soundarapandian. “Scientific discovery is like a puzzle. My specialty is cell biology, looking at things at the molecular level. You have to be able to imagine what is happening at that level, develop a hypothesis and go out and test it. Scientific discovery answers your questions and that’s exciting.”
Dr. Steven Ebert, coordinator of the Burnett school’s Ph.D. program, said he is “delighted” that the three graduates are using their skills in a professional research setting that will help them “grow and develop as independent scientists.”
Part of that development is working with other scientists at the new “medical city” at Lake Nona. In February, for example, the Burnett school graduates were part of a scientific symposium featuring 200 scientists from across the U.S. and two Nobel laureates.
“It was an honor to rub elbows with those who have achieved so much,” Dr. Rumsey said. “It made achievement of such lofty goals so real.”