Pain researcher to speak at ISU

February 25 2008

TERRE HAUTE • As the inaugural Indiana State University Life Science Initiative Speaker, a research professor will present his investigations into pain.

Theodore Cummins, assistant professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a researcher with Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, plans to speak on “Inherited Mutations Define the Critical Role of a Sodium Channel in Pain” at 4 p.m. March 4 in Science Building 12. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m.

“The idea of the Life Science Initiative Speaker was to bring in a scientist from a medical school to present their research and meet with students,” said Rusty Gonser, assistant professor of life sciences at Indiana State University. “This speaker series will be aligned with the pre-med club and students will choose who they would like to visit the campus and will host the speaker.”

Justin Hallgren, a master’s degree student in life sciences, suggested Cummins as the inaugural speaker.

“My interests are primarily in pharmacology and neuroscience and Dr. Cummins happens to be involved with both,” Hallgren said. “At the Indiana University School of Medicine, the neuroscience program is interdepartmental so anyone who is in the pharmacology department and with Stark Neurosciences is of great interest to me.”

Cummins’ research focuses on the role of sodium channels in neuropathic pain and investigating the role of sodium channels in genetic diseases. He has found that sodium channel mutations have been identified in patients with epilepsy and musculoskeletal diseases.

The Life Sciences Seminar Series is an opportunity for students at ISU to be exposed to on-going research at leading institutions, Gonser said.

“It’s an opportunity for them to hear from some of the cutting-edge scientists in the U.S., if not the world,” he said. “That scientific community and culture is being brought to ISU and the students get to walk away with their knowledge.”

Hallgren agrees.

“The major medically-relevant research areas here at ISU are for the most part microbiology/immunology and cancer,” he said. “In my opinion, seminar is a good way to expose students, especially the undergrads, to some of the more specialized biology disciplines.”

Future speakers in the series, which is free and open to the public, are:

- Third Annual Double Helix Speaker, Dr. Terri Lear from the University of Kentucky, who will speak on equine genomics on March 25.

- Inaugural Women in Science Speaker, Dr. Sari van Anders from Indiana University, who will speak on “Associations Between Sexuality and Testosterone in Humans” on April 8.

- Inaugural Earth Day Speaker Dr. Brent Yarnal from Pennsylvania State University, who will speak on climate change mitigation on April 22.

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Contact: Rusty Gonser, Indiana State University assistant professor of life sciences, at 812- 237-2395 or rgonser@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Theodore Cummins, assistant professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a researcher with Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, plans to speak on "Inherited Mutations Define the Critical Role of a Sodium Channel in Pain" at 4 p.m. March 4 in Science Building 12. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m.

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