SC State student wins first place for Alzheimer's research at regional NOBCChE meeting

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) awarded a SC State University student first place for a presentation she delivered on a SC State study that is researching early detection and prevention methods for Alzheimer’s disease.

Kaliah JacksonJunior chemistry major Kaliah Jackson competed for and received the award at the NOBCChE 2010 Southeast Regional Meeting, held in Atlanta, Ga. on Oct. 22-23.

“I’m happy and glad I won,” said Jackson, who took home a $100 prize. “I feel like my hard work paid off, and I represented the school well.”

Jackson, whose presentation was titled “Gold Nanoparticles as Inhibitors of Amyloid Aggregation in Alzheimer’s Disease,” competed against chemistry majors from universities such as Florida A&M University, University of Maryland, Jackson State University and Georgia Institute of Technology, to name a few.

Her presentation was centered on SC State research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, and is led by principal investigator Dr. Rahina Mahtab.  Dr. Mahtab, a chemistry professor, and her research team are investigating methods that will increase the chances of early detection and prevention of plaque formation in the brain, which is thought to be responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, for which to date there is no cure. They are also studying to develop new nanomaterials sensors to target neurodegenerative diseases which cause many to suffer memory loss and debilitate daily life.

Specifically, the presentation concentrated on the interactions of gold nanoparticles to amyloid beta, a protein found in the human brain. Scientists consider the aggregation of the peptide amyloid beta a key factor in the development and progression of the disease.

Jackson and MahtabIn other research, scientists have identified gold nanoparticles as useful inhibitors for diseases such as cancer. In the lab at SC State, Dr. Mahtab’s team surface-coats the gold nanoparticles with new chemicals and binds them to amyloid beta. They then observe the effects of adding the combined element to amyloid beta, noting the occurrences in which the gold nanoparticles mixture reduces the accumulation of amyloid beta. Preliminary results are very promising, showing that the use of the coated gold nanoparticles slow down the aggregation of amyloid beta. Further work is ongoing in Dr. Mahtab’s lab.

For Jackson, witnessing such outcomes as those demonstrated in the preliminary results of the research is rewarding.

“I am happy that I am able to be a part of this research,” said the Chicago native. “Nobody really knows the cause of the disease, so the most you can do is prevent it. But, if you can’t find the cure, the next best thing to do is to slow down the cause, and that is what I’ve had the opportunity to do through this research at SC State.”

To add to Jackson’s good news, the first place win qualifies the aspiring forensic scientist to compete at NOBCChE’s national meeting to be held this upcoming March in Houston.

Two other SC State students who conduct research with university chemists also attended the meeting and gave presentations. Those students are junior biology majors, Kamika Manzano and Leanna Sealey.

“I’m very proud of my students, and I commend them for their hard work,” said Dr. Mahtab, who also serves as the chemistry program coordinator for the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences.


Sharing similar sentiments about the students’ accomplishments, Dr. G. Dale Wesson, vice president for the Division of Research, Economic Development and Public Service, said: “SC State congratulates Kaliah Jackson on her first place win and recognizes Kamika Manzano and Leanna Sealey for delivering research presentations at the regional NOBCChE meeting.”

“The accomplishments of these three students are indicative of SC State students’ capacity to demonstrate their exceptional academic abilities and excel among their peers at regional and national academic and professional forums,” continued Wesson, an engineer who was honored with the 2009 NOBCChE Chemical Engineering Award and 2003 NOBCChE Outstanding Teacher Award.

The National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers initiates and supports local, regional, national and global programs that assist minorities in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields.

For more information on research at SC State University contact the Division of Research, Economic Development and Public Service at (803) 516-4990 or Elizabeth Mosely, communications coordinator, at or (803) 536-8464.