UW-River Falls Students Conduct Summer Research in Sweden

August 13, 2012— Two UWRF students, Kevin Rixmann and Kathryn Overby, conducted research this summer at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The students were accompanied for part of the trip by Tim Lyden, UWRF professor of biology, and were hosted by Juleen Zierath, UWRF distinguished alumnus and professor of clinical integrative physiology in the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery Section for Integrative Physiology at the Karolinska Institute.  

Over five weeks in June and July, the students analyzed protein and RNA for research focused on the development of artificial skeletal muscle in three-dimensional cultures, artificial adipose (fat) tissues, and breast cancer three-dimensional modeling projects. The research is connected to ongoing projects in the UWRF Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center (TCIC).  

"This type of opportunity is literally, one-of-a-kind for these students and the TCIC," said Lyden. "Dr Zierath is one of the best muscle physiologists in the world and her lab is about as high a caliber as you can imagine. Our students are doing world class work in a world class lab at a world class university." 

According to the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities, Karolinska Institute is ranked 9th in the world in the field of Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy and among the first 20 universities in Life Sciences. A committee of the institute, co-chaired by Zierath appoints the laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. 

"I actually did not really know what to expect but I am so grateful I was able to come over here," said Rixmann. "The days pass quickly because there is always something to do. If I am not in the lab, I am at the computer reading articles, gathering information online, analyzing results, or typing reports. It is great fun to have access to all these resources and be able to perform every piece of the experiment-start to finish." 

Rixmann, a 2012 UWRF graduate in the pre-medical track, plans to matriculate to medical school next year. He has been a TCIC researcher working on breast cancer projects for more than two years. Rixmann has presented or co-presented work at numerous research meetings including that of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.   

Overby joined research efforts in the TCIC this past year. Her work is focused on the TCIC's new artificial muscle project. She plans to become a research microbiologist. 

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Photo: L-R: Kathryn Overby, Juleen Zierath, Kevin Rixmann

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