Junior published for medical research in scientific journal

by Zoe Seiler, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Junior year can be stressful trying to find an internship or do research or apply to medical school, but junior biology major Galen Gist managed to become a published researcher in a scientific journal over the summer.

Gist spent the summer at Des Moines University working on a research project experimenting with nonviral sexually transmitted diseases.

“We were studying its glycogen synthase enzyme that it has,” Gist said. “The big deal behind it was finding out as there is resistance to this parasite. It’s called trichomonas vaginalis. There is a growing resistance to that, so more information is needed about how it gets its energy, what are the ways we can prevent it.”

Gist applied for the program and was accepted. He worked with Andy Brittingham and Wayne Wilson at DMU to do experiments to make sure the correct enzyme was being targeted.

“It included a lot of experiments looking at taking DNA, copying it and putting it into different bacteria,” Gist said. “Also, testing those bacteria’s ability to use glycogen as a storage form of energy. We are trying to prove that this enzyme, in fact, does have that ability.”

He hopes that being published will open up opportunities for more undergraduate students since not many undergraduate students are involved with published research. Usually graduate students and researchers are published.

Already this year, more Simpson students applied for the summer research program at DMU. Last year, Gist and one other person applied for DMU’s research program, and this year seven people applied.

“It’s nice to get the word out. This is a great experience,” Gist said. “Not only will you be involved in research, but you have the opportunity to be published in a paper that is actually going to change science. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Gist also hopes his work with the project will help put Simpson on the map, so other students will be able to pursue opportunities because other Simpson students have done good work.

Gist worked on the project at the end to tie up the last bits of research to make sure the research team met their goals and looked at the right targets.

“Sometimes research just doesn’t go your way,” Gist said. “You try something and it turns that what you were looking at didn’t work or wasn’t the right target However, for me everything came together really well. That’s what is so nice about it being published, is that everything fit together perfectly.

Gist was grateful for the opportunity to work at DMU to gain research experience and make an impact in science.

“It was an awesome experience, and I’m really fortunate to be a part of something like that,” Gist said. “Great researchers doing great work that is really going to help, especially in something like STIs. There’s a lot of research that needs to be done especially with the growing resistance. It is meaningful work.”

The research is being reviewed and will be published within the next couple of months.