JBU Senior Contributes to Medical Research

Siloam Springs, Ark (April 28, 2000) — John Brown University senior Lance Bridges may be graduating next week, but his academic career has just begun.

The senior from Greenwood, Ark. will be graduating Summa Cum Laude, May 6 from the Honors Scholars Program at JBU with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. For the Fall 2000, he will be moving to Oklahoma City to begin his graduate studies toward a Ph.D. at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.

Oklahoma City, however, is no stranger to Bridges. He has been conducting research with the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center for the past two summers, hovered over a microscope studying the work of proteins, as well as how disease is detected in the human body. He and several scientists at OU published their findings in the Oct. 8, 1999 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

He has also been working with OU scientist Dr. Bowditch on the center’s latest research project involving human white blood cells or lymphocytes.

Bridges explained, "When foreign matter is detected in the body, the white blood cells begin to stick or adhere to the vascular wall of lymph nodes or blood vessels. These white blood cells then seep through the vascular wall and travel through the body until they come in contact with foreign matter."

"If we learn about this protein, we can prevent the aberrant transportation of white blood cells," Bridges said. "Why is this important? It can help inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis because the added white blood cells cause the inflammation."

Bridges has also spent time with Dr. Brian Greuel, assistant professor of biology at JBU examine enzymes in the placentas of mice. Proteins that cause the placenta to join with the uterus in this study are in the same family as the MDC proteins he studied with the OU research team therefore, Bridges is already familiar with some of the experiment.

These studies could be vital in long-range implications if scientists can slow down the proteins from moving through the tissue, resulting in medicines that could help prevent complications in pregnancy. It could even become a possible tool in fighting cancer.

Bridges said the academic experience he gained at JBU has prepared him very well for graduate school.

"There is no doubt I am prepared for the challenges ahead," he said. "Every one of my instructors has given me the knowledge I need to succeed. Dr. Brian Greul and Dr. David Shoop have enthusiasm and are such a positive influence on the students of JBU."

Bridges says he has appreciated the Christian view of science, "I’ve learned that there is a purpose for everything in researching God’s creation," he said. "JBU professors do a great job of integrating the study of science and Christianity."

After graduation, Bridges said he will miss the professors, fellow students, faculty and staff. "I am really going to miss the atmosphere and the genuinely nice people," he said. "We have professors, administrators and students who really care about what they’re doing. I will miss the personal interaction between students and professors."

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of 1,500 students from 47 states and 33 countries. JBU is also a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities as well as the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.