Andrew Vanderwerf displays samples of DNA used in the research he and fellow student Eric Monson are conducting.

Students receive grant for research on DNA testing


Skylor Pond is an intern writing articles on disability issues. He recently graduated from Utah State University.

By Skylor Pond Eric Monson and Andrew Vanderwerf, bioengineering majors at Utah State University, were recent recipients of an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant. This grant will fund research designed to help DNA testing become more affordable for schools that do copy number variation genetic testing. This specialized testing is used in several applications, including disease research. With the URCO grant Monson and Vanderwerf want to design a way to more equally reproduce human DNA for experiments on human genes that will lead to a better understanding of genetic diseases in humans. Andrew Vanderwerf, 22, from Tracy, California and Eric Monson, 26, from Hyrum, Utah, work on several different projects at the biomedical lab in the CPD under Dr. Anthony Ron Tores. If their research is positive, Monson and Vanderwerf hope to apply their own research in USU's biomedical labs. Right now it is expensive for research on copy number variation because it requires pure genomic DNA. Monson and Vanderwerf want to design less expensive DNA testing kits for smaller labs, such as those at Utah State, and they plan to share the research on DNA with other labs. Looking to the future, both Monson and Vanderwerf are considering medical school. Grants like the one Eric and Andrew are working on are given by USU's department of undergraduate research. These grants are given to all departments across campus and they match funds received by other funding sources. URCO grants are designed to help undergraduate students do research. They typically last for a year or until the research is completed or hits a dead end.

CPD by the numbers

During FY 2008, seven CPD projects reported receiving a combined $238,306 in donations from foundations or private supporters.

Staff member Daurie Bastian shares a smile with BRASC day program participant Danny Brown.

More than 32 people, 200 hours of work come together for Christmas giving

This month, 12 people with disabilities at Bear River Activity and Skills Center's day training program received quilts in their favorite colors, donated by serious quilters.

The project was made possible by twelve pinochle players and twenty-plus quilters whose donated time totaled more than 200 hours.

The story began when staff assistant Diane Green learned that the CPD was launching a drive for volunteers. She immediately thought of brightening up the Bear River Activity and Skills Center. BRASC trains adults with developmental disabilities in communication, self care, independent living skills, fine and gross motor skills, and social behaviors. The program is one of approximately 70 projects operated through the CPD on the Utah State University campus.

Green also thought of her Tremonton-area pinochle group, which has been part of her life for more than 20 years. The club had decided this year that in lieu of a Christmas gift exchange, they would donate to a good cause. Green talked to Tammy Jewkes, a former CPD staff member and a quilter, and they worked out a plan. The card players would donate money for the fabric. Needles and Friends, the group that Jewkes quilts with, would donate their time and expertise.

Jewkes cleared the project through Needles and Friends, which takes on a service quilting project every year. She received a list of the day training particpants' favorite colors from Green. Then she shopped for fabric, assigned the quilts out to fellow quilters and tallied up the donated hours when it was done.

It all came together beautifully. The twenty-plus quilters who donated their time showed off their work during their December luncheon. Green and Jewkes presented the quilts at BRASC later this month, in an unwrapping party that spread smiles around the room.

The CPD salutes the volunteers who made it all possible.

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Utah Assistive Technology Program

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