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Dr. Robin Pals-Rylaarsdam, a biology professor at Trinity Christian College, is researching McCune-Albright Syndrome (MAS), a condition that causes bone, endocrine, and skin disorders. To help with the project that began in the summer, she enlisted two biology majors as assistants, sophomores Matt Koster of South Holland, Ill., and Joshua Mitchell of Schererville, Ind.

"I'm interested in communication between cells," Dr. Pals-Rylaarsdam said. "Patients with MAS carry a mutation in a G-protein gene that can lead to abnormally early puberty. If we can poke at the protein to turn it 'off,' chemists can use this information to design small molecule drugs that could do the same thing in the form of a pill or injection, helping the patients live more normal lives."

The research project offers the team a prime opportunity to utilize Trinity's new Heritage Science Center, which was finished in the spring. They share their work with researchers at Northwestern University, and such an experience will prove invaluable for Dr. Pals-Rylaarsdam's young protégés.

"They've done a lot of the real experimental manipulations and gained more independence in the lab," Dr. Pals-Rylaarsdam said. "That means I can discuss with them what they need to do and let them do it without me looking over their shoulders each step of the way as the project continues. They will be better prepared to participate in more research programs."

Click here to meet Dr. Pals-Rylaarsdam.

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