For Biology Professor, Cutting Edge Research ‘A Team Effort’

February 19th, 2014 by 

Photo by: John Buckingham

Robert Bellin, associate professor of biology at Holy Cross, is currently researching the causes of neurofibromatosis type-2 in a laboratory setting with his junior and senior students, a project he refers to as “a team effort.”

Bellin became interested in neurofibromatosis during a post-doctoral position at Boston Children’s Hospital after earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Iowa State University. He has conducted research on the disorder for 14 years.

Neurofibromatosis, also known as NF, refers to a broad range of inherited gene diseases that cause tumorous growths in different regions of the body. NF affects approximately 150,000 people worldwide.

Bellin’s research focuses specifically on NF Type-2 (NF-2), a form of the disease which causes non-malignant brain tumors that impair audio-visual perception. His studies focus on a protein within NF-2 cells called “merlin.” The exact nature of this gene is not entirely understood, but mutations of it are what seem to result in NF-2.

This is not Bellin’s only research project. In fact, he’s working on five more. With so many plates spinning in the air, he relies on his junior and senior students to carry some of the load. Much of the work into NF-2, “is done by my upper-level biology students,” he says. “They’ve been the ones who have often made some of the most significant developments.” The three most recent students to work with Bellin on the NF-2 project are Cat Flynn ’12, Mary Zabinski ’13 and, currently, Roy Gildersleeve ’14, all biology majors.

Flynn was involved in creating mutant forms of the merlin protein that match those in the human NF2 patient database, Zabinski tested those proteins by cell culture and confocal microscopy, and Gildersleeve is using those mutant forms of merlin to generate permanent cell-based models of NF2 in cell culture, which future students in the lab will use for continued studies.

With the support of a scientific grant from the school to fund their research, Bellin and his team have advanced their research for many years in a row, and are looking to sustain that momentum. While Bellin says that he’s, “not likely to find a cure or new treatment,” he hopes his team is able to make valuable contributions to the scientific community’s ongoing NF-2 research efforts.

Related Information

| More
Tags
Categories
Biology, Biology news, News

Comments are closed.

06/22/16 Alumnus Bill Simmons Gives ‘Today’ Show a Sneak Peek into his New HBO Talk Show
06/22/16 Photo Gallery: Alums Return Home to the Hill for 2016 Reunion
06/17/16 Alumnus Awarded for Work in Boosting Diversity at MassMutual
06/17/16 Holy Cross Graduate Drafted to the Boston Red Sox For the Second Year in a Row
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
Video: Spring Blooms on Holy Cross Campus

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Class of 2016 Shares What’s Next

Watch Video >
See video
‘Major in Anything…Succeed in Business’

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Obama Advisor Broderick Johnson ’78 Speaks on ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ Other White House Initiatives

Watch Video >
See video
Crusaders Win Patriot League Championship

Watch Video >
See video
Men’s Basketball Knocks Off Bucknell In Double Overtime Thriller

Watch Video >
See video
New Webcams Provide Live Video Stream of Campus, Contemplative Center

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery: Contemplative Center Architectural Concepts Come to Fruition

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Winter on the Hill Is All About Making Memories

Watch Video >
See video
Video, Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Wishes You a Merry and Peaceful Christmas

Watch Video >
More What’s Happening on Campus

08/25/2016

Acclaimed Artist Patrick Dougherty to Create Two Installations in Worcester County

See More >
09/13/2016

Artist Talk: Patrick Dougherty, ATB Fall 2016 Artist-in-Residence

See More >
More Holy Cross in the News

06/22/16

Alumnus Bill Simmons Gives ‘Today’ Show a Sneak Peek into his New HBO Talk Show

NBC’s “Today” show

  In a recent interview with NBC’s “Today” show, Bill Simmons ’92 revealed that his new talk show, “Any Given Wednesday,” will touch on pop culture, tech,...

06/17/16

Alumnus Awarded for Work in Boosting Diversity at MassMutual

The Bay State Banner

Dominic Blue ’98 recently received the Founders’ Award, an award given by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. The award, which commemorates...

06/17/16

Holy Cross Graduate Drafted to the Boston Red Sox For the Second Year in a Row

MLB.com, ESPN, CBS Boston, Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Telegram & Gazette

Dominic Lovullo, a history and political science major who graduated from Holy Cross this past May, was selected to play with the Boston Red Sox. Media outlets including...