DebBurman Lab

Welcome to the D-Lab

We are Club Yeast. Alpha-Synuclein is our favorite gene. We love bands, and spots and halos that are green!We are Club Yeast. Alpha-Synuclein is our favorite gene. We love bands, and spots and halos that are green!

nijeebrandonThe D-Lab studies the molecular basis of Parkinson’s Disease. Using yeasts as model organisms, we seek to gain insight into how the misfolding of the Parkinson’s protein alpha-synuclein regulates the disease pathology.  NIH and NSF grants have funded the training of over sixty undergraduates who contributed to original research advances since 1999, through summer research, the Richter Program, senior theses, independent studies, and research-rich courses.

We seek and attract a diverse group of highly motivated and hardworking undergraduates who collaboratively work on a variety of related projects. Students choose from several ongoing hypothesis-driven projects, and often initiate new questions that lead our lab in new research directions. Students enjoy significant control over experimental aims and design. To test chosen hypotheses, students have developed two types of yeast model systems and utilize contemporary techniques in molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe vast majority of trainees have gone on to pursue PhD, MD, or master degrees in diverse types of health professions. Students routinely present their work at regional and national scientific conferences.  Many work multiple years on their projects and cap it with a senior thesis. Most become published co-authors in research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Several  publish their work in national undergraduate journals and in Eukaryon. Several apply for and receive national grants for undergraduate research, conference participation, and graduate school.  Many have regularly won poster prizes for their research, at the local and national level.

Students interested in working in the lab are encouraged to contact Dr. DebBurman.

Trainee News

The D-lab was proud to host three Richter Scholars (first-year students) during summer 2016. All of them are planning neuroscience and/or biology majors and head for biomedical careers.

  
Emily Ong ’17
, neuroscience major, and Rosemary Thomas ’18, neuroscience and biology major, each won individual Second Prizes in the undergraduate research competition for presenting their research on Parkinson’s disease in yeasts models at the 2016 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting. Both are is planning to pursue MD degrees after graduation.


Paul Jones ’18, a neuroscience junior, has received a  2016 Nu Rho Psi research grant to investigate potential risk factors linked to sporadic Parkinson’s disease. Paul is planning to be a train to be a physician scientist (MD/PhD) and pursue a career in academic medicine.


Emily Ong ’17,
 a neuroscience senior, has received a 2016 Parkinson’s Disease Foundation summer grant (one of ten awards from a national pool of 60+ applications from medical, graduate, and undergraduate students). Emily will investigate how newly identified familial mutants of alpha-synuclein cause Parkinson’s disease in yeast models. Emily hopes to attend medical school after graduation.

Morgan Marshall ’16, a biology major with an Art minor, won the First Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her senior research project on new familial mutants of the parkinson’s disease protein at the 2016 Chicago Society for Neuroscience meeting on April 8.   Morgan is planning for a future career as a physician after working for 1-2 years in full-time biomedical research at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.


Saul Bello Rojas ’16,
a neuroscience major with a chemistry minor, won the Second Prize  in the undergraduate research competition for presenting his research on the  properties of naturally occuring alpha-synuclein variants at the 2015 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting. Saul is planning to pursue PhD studies in pharmacology and is currently a research technologist in Opthamology De[artment at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Alexandra Roman ’16
, a neuroscience major with minors in chemistry and music, has received a 2015 Nu Rho Psi summer grant (one of just two awards made annually). She also won the Third Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her Richter fellowship initiated research at the 2015 (March 20, 2015).  Alex is planning to be a physician.

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Charles Alvarado ’16,
a neuroscience major with an educational studies minor, won the First Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting his research on the  effects of c-terminal truncations of alpha-synuclein at the 2014 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting on June 13.   Charles is planning for a future career as a high science teacher after completing a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Lake Forest College.







Maiwase Tembo ’15,
a biology and neuroscience double major, won the First Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her endocytosis regulation of alpha-synuclein at the 2013 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting (June 14, 2013).  More recently, she has also won the Third Prize  in the undergraduate research competition at the 2014 Chicago Society for Neuroscience meeting meeting (April 4, 2014).  Wase is pursuing a PhD in Life Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Katrina Campbell ’14,
 a biology major and neuroscience minor, won the Second Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her Richter fellowship initiated research at the 2012 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting (June 19, 2012).  Katie completed an NIH IRTA fellowship at the NIH-NIAID Rocky Mountain Labs between 2014-2016 and is pursuing a PhD program in Neuroscience starting fall 2016 at Northwestern University.

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Natalie Kukulka ’13,
 a biology and neuroscience graduate, has received a 2013 Parkinson’s Disease Foundation summer grant (one of 15 awards from a national pool of 60+ applications from medical, graduate, and undergraduate students). She also won the Third Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her Richter fellowship initiated research at the 2013 Chicago Society for Neuroscience meeting meeting (March 7, 2013).  Natalie worked at Northwestern Children’s Memorial Hospital doing biomedical research in urology for two years and is now pursuing her MD studies at the University of Missouri (Columbia).

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Madhavi Senagolage ’12
, a biology senior with minors in neuroscience and chemistry from Colombo Sri Lanka, has received a competitive  2011 FUN (Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience) Undergraduate Travel Award to present her senior thesis research at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting to be held in Washington (DC) from November 11-16. At this meeting, she presented a science education poster on Eukaryon as its Publication Board Chair. She also co-presented with Daniella Brutman ’12 another science education poster on the 2010 Brain Awareness Week at Lake Forest College. Previously, she received the 2nd Prize at the 2011 Chicago Society for Neuroscience meeting. She was also awarded a undergraduate research travel award from the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) to present  her Parkinson’s disease project on endocytosis at the 2010 ASCB meeting in Philadelphia (Dec 11-14). Madhavi is currently pursuing a PhD in life sciences at Northwestern University.

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Keith Solvang ’11,
 a biology 2011 graduate, won the First Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting his Parkinson’s disease research at the 2011 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting (June 10, 2011). He was supported by an summer fellowship from the 2009-10 NIH American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to conduct his Parkinson’s Disease research project. Keith completed a Masters degree in biomedical sciences at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences and is currently pursuing his MD studies there.

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Alina Konnikova ’11
, a biology senior from Vernon Hills Illinois, won the First Prize in the undergraduate research competition for presenting her Parkinson’s disease research on autophagy at the 2010 Great Lakes Chapter American Society of Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics meeting (June 19, 2010). Alina has completed her MD studies at the University of Illinois School of Medicine and is pursing her residency at Medical College of Wisconsin.

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Jaime Perez ’10
 graduated with a biology and art double major and was the 2009-10 Foster G McGaw Scholar at the college and received the 2009 Lincoln Laureate Award.  He received his Masters degree in graduate  in Prosthetics and Orthotics at University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center and completed his residency in orthotic and prosthetics in Boston (MA). He is now working in Chicago, Illinois as an orthotist at the Hanger Clinic.

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Michael Fiske ’10
, a biology 2010 graduate and a Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, won the First Prize for his Parkinson’s research senior thesis project at the national undergraduate poster competition of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) held in Anaheim California (April 24-28, 2010). He was also a UAN-ASBMB undergraduate travel award recipient from ASBMB. He conducted his senior thesis with a research grant he received from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Michael was initially pursuing his PhD in biology at the University of Washington, where he was awarded Honorable Mention on his NSF predoctoral grant application in 2011.  He is currently pursuing his PhD in Neuroscience at Northwestern University, and he was just awarded an NIH-NRSA grant in 2016 to fund his PhD studies.