Richmond, Va.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Scientific forum celebrates its 30th year

Watts Research Poster Symposium showcases graduate student research

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013

Microbes and ecosystems. Protein’s role in cancer formation. Alcohol behavior in flies. The human dopamine transporter. Stress and diabetes risk. These were just some of the research projects presented earlier this week at the 30th annual Daniel T. Watts Research Poster Symposium.

Nearly 40 posters were presented by graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from across Virginia Commonwealth University, including the departments of biochemistry, microbiology, social and behavioral health, family medicine and population health, physiology, human and molecular genetics, psychology and pharmacology.

Lauren Folgosa, a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the VCU School of Medicine, presented her research poster on “Disturbed follicular architecture in B cell ADAM10 knockouts is mediated by compensatory increases in ADAM17 and TNF shedding.”

“It’s helpful when people provide feedback on the research. At the Watts Symposium, people can ask questions, and I get ideas from other researchers in attendance from other labs on campus,” said Folgosa, who hopes her research will lead to a way to predict diseases and conditions in patients, including cancer, diabetes, asthma and allergies. “The symposium also gives me practice in public speaking.”

The symposium, an annual scientific forum for the VCU community, is dedicated in memory of Daniel T. Watts who passed away in 1994 at the age of 77. Watts was a trailblazer in the world of basic health sciences and was a nationally recognized pharmacologist.

From 1966 to 1982, Watts served as the dean of the VCU School of Basic Health Sciences and Graduate Studies and is credited with establishing the foundation of the research enterprise in basic health sciences at VCU. His legacy continues today in the breadth of both research and education programs offered at VCU, particularly the development of Ph.D. training.

Shortly after Watts retired, the poster symposium was initiated as a tribute to his efforts and serves as an illustration of the research and development for continuing generations of life and health science researchers.

The symposium provides investigators with the opportunity to share recent findings and learn about what others are investigating, ultimately opening doors to possible collaboration across disciplines.

“It’s nice to get feedback that I can incorporate into my work,” said B. Ross Belvin, a second-year master’s student in the VCU Philips Institute of Oral and Craniofacial Molecular Biology in the School of Dentistry, who presented his research on “Binding of Hemin causes pseudo activation of HcpR. “The symposium allows me to get all the research together, and I like designing the poster for presentations. It also helps me prepare for my defense.”


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Daniel T. Watts
Lauren Folgosa, a second-year doctoral student in microbiology and immunology, presented her research work during the annual Watts Symposium.
B. Ross Belvin, a research master’s student in the VCU School of Dentistry, presented research during VCU’s 30th annual Daniel T. Watts Research Poster Symposium.
Candice Hatcher (left), a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, presented her team’s research titled, “A2AR-D2R heteromer pharmacology and the implications for Parkinson’s disease.” The research may one day lead to a promising new therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease.