Dr. Jacob Varkey
Our laboratory has undertaken analyses of the genes involved in male meiotic events in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The focus of the laboratory is on the analysis of four sperm specific genes (spe-25, spe-30, spe-34 and spe-35) involved in male meiosis. Mutations in these genes result in spermatocytes that fail to undergo normal meiotic division. Genetic map positions and phenotypic characterization of these genes have been completed. Molecular characterization of these genes is in progress.
The laboratory places emphasis on the training of undergraduate students to foster the primary mission of the institution, undergraduate education. Progress made in the analyses of spermatogenesis specific genes has been primarily through the work of a number of undergraduate students. Most of these students (15 students from 1996-2001) have gone on to graduate programs to pursue degrees in related fields. This was made possible through generous support from NIH, NSF, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
A series of grants from HHMI have enhanced undergraduate research in cell molecular biology fields at Humboldt State University. This generous support has allowed the establishment of a state of the art biotechnology laboratory facility for the training of undergraduates in modern molecular biology techniques (images link). In addition, we were able to establish a successful summer undergraduate research program.
The Pre-Med Association at Humboldt State University also benefited tremendously from the HHMI grants. Though small, this program has posted a very high acceptance rate (since 1998, 25 out of 29 students who have applied to medical schools have been accepted).