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

February 19th, 2014 by 

Image 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.

Sort By:
or
10/21/14 ‘US public schools are better than they’ve ever been’
10/17/14 Holy Cross Marks 25th Anniversary of El Salvador Murders With Series of Events
10/15/14 Grammy-Winning Holy Cross Professor to Give Talk on ‘The Birth of Stereophonic Recording’
10/15/14 ‘The Bottom Line: helping Worcester students obtain collegiate and professional success’
See All
See All

Featured Videos

See video
Artist-in-Residence Cristina Pato and Renowned Composer Osvaldo Golijov to Lead Concert and Panel Discussion

Watch Video >
See video
Environmental Champion Slottje ’89 on Crusade to Protect America Against Fracking

Watch Video >
See video
Strong Alumni Support Makes for Record-Breaking Year in Giving to Holy Cross

Watch Video >
More

What’s Happening on Campus

10/23/2014

Celebrating 50 Years of Student Affairs at Holy Cross

See More >
10/25/2014

Craft Demonstrations by Refugee Artisans of Worcester

See More >
10/25/2014

Tableaux Vivants of the Italian Presepe

See More >
10/28/2014

Dinand in the Dark

See More >
More

Holy Cross in the News

10/10/14

‘Holy Cross’ Sean Gustin never rests’

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette profiled College of the Holy Cross student Sean Gustin ’16  as a stand out scholar- athlete who is a member of both the Crusader...

10/06/14

‘Any way the wind blows’

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette recently featured a photo gallery of the first annual New England Collegiate Marching Band Festival, hosted by the College of the Holy...

09/22/14

‘Tesla’s removal of patent restrictions a boost for electric cars’

Worcester Business Journal

In an op-ed for the Worcester Business Journal, Christine Fimognari ’15 discusses a decision by Tesla, a manufacturer of electric cars, to remove patent restrictions in the...