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December 3, 2018

From UG Research to Developing Cancer Treatments – Alum Eric Nummedal puts his UO Experience to Work

Photos of Eric Nummedal in the laboratory

Eric Nummedal, BS ’16, now works as a researcher for Aivita Biomedical.

Biochemistry alum Eric Nummedal credits his years at the University of Oregon for preparing him so well for his current role researching and manufacturing cancer immunotherapies that he recently reached out to the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, hoping that by sharing his experience he might pass on some of his enthusiasm for his work and encourage current undergraduate students as they prepare for a career in the sciences.

Eric grew up in Irvine, California, and when considering where to pursue his undergraduate studies, he was drawn to the UO for what he saw as its commitment to progress.

“I found the resources necessary to create great change,” he explains, “but most importantly, an infectious enthusiasm for the pursuit of knowledge.”

Once here at the university, Eric did not hesitate to take advantage of those resources and make the most of his undergraduate years, participating in the Science Literacy Program, the Oregon Undergraduate Research Journal, the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, and the College Scholars Program. His academic efforts earned him several awards, among them a McNair Scholarship – a federal program that supports students as they earn their undergraduate degrees and complete research projects in their fields of study.  For his undergraduate research, Eric chose a project with a focus on the visual system.  He worked with the Niell Lab in the Institute of Neuroscience, and presented his findings at the 2014 McNair Scholars Symposium. Eric graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biology.

“These achievements would not have been possible without the tireless support of professors, peers, and graduate teaching assistants,” says Eric.  “In particular, I credit Dr. Bruce Branchaud, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Dr. Cris Niell, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, and Dr. Gail Unruh, former Director for the UO McNair Scholars Program, for the profound impact they had on both my academic and personal life. I will always be grateful for their generous guidance.”

After graduating, Eric worked at two biotech start-ups before transitioning to his current role as a Research, Development, and Manufacturing Associate at Aivita Biomedical, a regenerative medicine company. The company’s central focus is developing immunotherapies that will enable the immune system to eliminate cancer.

“In general,” Eric explains, “we train immune cells to recognize and attack tumor cells – using many of the same techniques that I learned as an undergrad.”

Photo: Cancerous glial astrocytes (neural cells from glioblastoma)

Cancerous glial astrocytes (neural cells from glioblastoma) being grown in the lab in order to train the immune system to recognize and eliminate them.

In addition to cancer research, they are also working to develop stem cell-derived 3D-transplantable retinas to treat vision loss.

Eric’s favorite aspect of his current work is the opportunity to participate in the creation of life-changing immunotherapies for cancer patients in desperate need of hope.

“I am inspired by the twenty-six percent decline in death rate attributed to cancer since 1991, equivalent to 2.4 million lives saved,” he shares, “and I am proud to be a part of a global collaboration of scientists trying to make the world a healthier place to live.”

Eric is thankful for the encouragement and support he received along the way, from friends and family as well as professional colleagues – and he’s hoping to have the opportunity to pass that forward.

Current students and alumni are welcome to reach out to Eric via LinkedIn if they have questions or would like to know more about his experiences as a UO undergrad or working in the sciences. 

By Leah O’Brien
Photos courtesy of Aivita Biomedical

 

 

October 2, 2018

Spotted Online: Alum Jesse Keicher, Class of ’99 & ’00

Photo: Jesse Keicher, MS, President and Founder, Symmune Therapeutics

Alum Jesse Keicher‘s company, Symmune Therapeutics, popped up in the news recently! The biotechnology startup focuses on the treatment and prevention of pulmonary infections and pulmonary diseases.

Keicher received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Oregon in 1999, and went on to earn a UO master’s degree in chemistry in 2000.

Read more here:
Durham-based Symmune Therapeutics Raises $125,000

 

 

September 14, 2018

Spotted Online – Alum Phil Kovac, Class of ’17

photo: Phil KovacElmira College Welcomes New Faculty

Philip Kovac earned his PhD in Chemistry in 2017, (more…)

July 3, 2018

Alumna Lisa Wilson, Class of ’81, in the News

From The World News, June 26, 2018:

Another Batch Of U.S. Scholars Arrived In Liberia To Conduct Training For Teachers And Students

The I-HELP Liberia delegation from the United States arrived in Liberia to series of teachers and students training workshops aimed at improving the skills Liberian teachers and students learning skills.

According to a dispatch from the US, while in the country they will conduct two teacher training workshops, a junior high school workshop, and will also oversee STEM competitions in two locations. The first teacher training workshop is in Sacelepea from June 26th – June 30th. The second is at Paynesville High School from July 2nd through July 6th.

One of the visiting scholars, Lisa Wilson is a practicing patent attorney and works with inventors of biotech and pharmaceutical products to help them obtain patents on an enormous variety of scientific innovations benefitting health, medicine and agriculture.

Lisa began her scientific career with a BA in Chemistry and German from the University of Oregon, gained extensive laboratory experience while studying abroad at the Universitat Konstanz, Germany, and earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, focusing on the proteins involved in driving the bacterial flagellar motor.

Read the full article at bit.ly/2KKlsFp

May 31, 2018

Chemistry and Biochemistry Seminar – Maire Osborn, June 5th

UO Chemistry and Biochemistry alumna Dr. Maire Osborn, class of 2014,  will be presenting a seminar on her work at the RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 2pm in 331 Klamath Hall.

April 18, 2018

In Memoriam – Anthony Ruggiero, Class of ’86

Photo: Anthony Ruggiero

UO Chemistry and Biochemistry alumnus Anthony “Tony” Ruggiero passed away on March 1, 2018, in Livermore, California.

Tony earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of Oregon in 1986, working with Professor Bruce Hudson.

Read his obituary at https://bit.ly/2qH3WKk

 

April 16, 2018

Alum Brian Gu appointed VC and President of XPENG Motors

Photo: Dr. Brian Gu

Dr. Brian Gu, XPENG Motors vice chairman and president (PRNewsfoto/XPENG Motors)

XPENG Motors, a leading Chinese electric vehicle company, recently announced that Dr. Brian Gu has been appointed as Vice Chairman and President.

Dr. Gu graduated from the University of Oregon in 1993 with a degree in Chemistry.

Read moreabout Dr. Gu’s career in the 4-Traders article.

 

March 21, 2018

Nice Write-up About Alum Morgan Pilkenton, Class of ’08

Morgan Pilkenton earned his MS degree in 2008 through the UO Master’s Industrial Internship Program. He is a co-author on ground-breaking “elastic second skin” research, with potential applicaitons for both medical and personal care.

Read more at http://internship.uoregon.edu/news6.html

March 1, 2018

Michael J. Comb, Class of ’84, Receives CiteAb Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo: Michael Comb Michael J. Comb has been chosen to receive a CiteAb Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Comb earned his PhD in Chemistry from the UO in 1984, and is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Cell Signaling Technology (CST). (more…)

February 28, 2018

Alumna Dana Garves pops up in the news again!

Dana Garves - Photo Credit: Michelle Leis Foley

Read the article in Chemical & Engineering News!

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