VAS funds medical research
Liberty student Michael Carson recently won a grant from the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) for his research on Alzheimer’s disease, adding $500 to Liberty’s research fund.
Carson presented in front of a panel of judges Oct. 26 from the VAS, competing against not only other Liberty students, but also students from schools such as Virginia Tech and George Mason University.
Carson said he is one of six students to work with assistant professor of biology Gary Isaacs, who has acquired more than $90,000 to fund research on the disease.
“Dr. Isaacs has provided me the unique opportunity to participate in research as an undergraduate student,” Carson said. “It is definitely a team effort. In an undergraduate environment, it is more common to have a number of students working on projects.”
Carson said he knew that as a premed student, working on research like Alzheimer’s would only be beneficial to him in the long run.
“Many people have seen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease firsthand and are extremely interested in research that seeks to explain the epigenetic nature of the disease,” Carson said.
Isaacs said he asked Carson to be on his research team after he performed well in his genetics course here at Liberty.
“Michael has great promise as a scientist,” Isaacs said. “He is very bright, hard-working and can communicate ideas well to others. These attributes clearly aided his preparation and presentation at the VAS meeting.”
Isaacs said he also started researching Alzheimer’s while he was a student at Liberty.
“I started studying Alzheimer’s back in 1998,” Isaacs said. “It was for my senior honors thesis, which I submitted with the help of my thesis chair, David DeWitt.”
Carson said he feels that it is important to research Alzheimer’s.
Several students at Liberty have seen the impact of the disease on their own family members. Jenn Timmerman was only five years old when her great-grandmother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“My great-grandmother was a big part of my life,” Timmerman said. “I didn’t understand it at first, because she still came and spent time at my house during Christmastime.”
Timmerman said it was not until she was 10 that the effects started to become more noticeable.
“It was really sad, because she was a doll collector (and) a girl scout troop leader,” Timmerman said. “She held a pottery class in her basement and (was) a huge force in the community, but the disease took away her ability to do any of that.”
Timmerman said it is great to see Liberty students working on research for the disease.
“Alzheimer’s runs in my family. and my whole family is praying that someone is able to find a cure before the disease affects anyone else in my family,” Timmerman said. “If Liberty can help this person find a cure, I think that’s really awesome.”