Dr. Ward Coats, middle, demonstrates the correct experimental procedures to Hillcrest High School students Zack Montoux, left, and Sam Williams, right, at UT Southwestern. Photo by Ben Hager

Dr. Ward Coats, middle, demonstrates the correct experimental procedures to Hillcrest High School students Zack Montoux, left, and Sam Williams, right, at UT Southwestern. Photo by Ben Hager

Hillcrest High School’s biomedical research team is headed to Boston next month to present research on pancreatic development. But the students need help getting there.

They’re calling for donations via a GoFundMe page, hoping to reach $5,000. The money will help pay for travel expenses, hotel and food.

Twenty-eight students are attending the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting March 27-31 in Boston. Their research is on the “PTF1-L/Foxa2 Transcription Factor Complex Controlling Pancreatic Development in the undergraduate poster competition.” Here’s how they explain it:

“Children without a functional Ptf1a protein are born with a defective pancreas and are severely diabetic. Students study a complex of human proteins that are master regulators of pancreas development. We perform experiments in biochemistry, molecular biology and structural biology. We have cloned 5 human genes that are involved in the developmental cascade of the pancreas. We  would like to understand how they bind to DNA and turn on genes in spatial and temporary specific patterns that allows for the complex development of the organ.”

We featured the biomedical team in the magazine back in 2010, and the program is still seeing success. This year the program is a Texas State Finalist in the 2015 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest and was awarded $20,000 (which cannot be used for conference costs). The students will go on to compete at the national level for $120,000 to help provide more equipment and supplies for the school.


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