The 4th Annual Obesity Research Cluster (ORC) Meeting and Poster Competition
The 4th Annual Obesity Research Cluster (ORC) meeting and poster competition took place on Wednesday, May 9th at the Texas Tech University Innovation Hub, celebrating many achievements in research for obesity. John Opperman, Ph.D., David Weindorf, Ph.D., and the College of Human Sciences Associate Dean for Research Michael O'Boyle, Ph.D., joined the ORC executive team in welcoming over 100 faculty, students, postdoctoral students, and administrators from Texas Tech University (TTU) campuses and units.
ORC Director Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Ph.D., welcomed the group and gave an overview of the ORC vision and mission, the large and diverse membership of ORC, accomplishments over the past year, and Presidential Cluster Hire funding for the ORC. Dr. Moustaid-Moussa provided examples of successful ongoing activities to support collaborations across TTU and TTU Health Science Center (HSC) units on research projects related to obesity and related diseases.
22 faculty, students, and postdocs gave presentations, 23 students submitted abstracts for oral or poster presentations, and four previous ORC Pilot and Feasibility Award recipients gave brief reports on their research progress. Two keynote speakers attended the meeting including Debra Reed, Ph.D. and Preethi Gunaratne, Ph.D.
Dr. Reed provided critical information about the health and nutrition issues across the nation and Texas and raised awareness about health and nutrition literacy concerns. Dr. Gunaratne discussed the application of non-coding RNA and single cell sequencing regarding diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Leaders from TTU institutes and initiatives across the campus gave high-level 5-minute presentations that provided the highlight of the meeting. A review of some presentations will be available at the ORC website.
- 1st place ($100): Kalhara Menikdiwela, Ph.D. candidate, Nutritional Sciences; Mentor: Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa
- 2nd place ($50): Dr. Nadeeja Wijayatunga, postdoc, Kinesiology and Sports Management; Mentor: Dr. Emily Dhurandhar
- 3rd place ($25): Dr. Rebecca Beights, Human Development & Family Studies; Mentors: Drs. Ann Mastergeorge and Chanaka Kahathuduwa
- Two co-1st places:
- Hunter Edwards, graduate student & Dr. Mizanur Rahman, postdoc ($50 each); Chemical Engineering, Mentor: Dr. Siva Vanapalli
- Prakash Parajuli ($100), graduate student, Plant & Soil Science/Fiber and Biopolymer Institute; Mentor Dr. Noureddine Abidi
- 3rd place: Zahra Feizy, graduate student ($25); Nutritional Sciences; Mentor: Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar
The reception and poster session provided an opportunity for networking and active discussions for all attendees. The presentations ended with a talk by Senior Managing Director of the Innovation Hub, Kimberly Gramm. Kimberly discussed the services provided by her team at Research Park and the funding and partnership opportunities with federal agencies and industry that could help attendees translate and commercialize their discoveries.