New laboratory to help HPU expand its biomedical research

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Hawaii Pacific University unveiled a new addition to its downtown campus Tuesday.

A state-of-the-art biomedical research laboratory — called IDeA Network of Biomedical Research (INBRE) — will allow the university to offer more instructional lab courses, and undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, house federally funded biology, microbiology, and biochemistry research projects, and enhance outreach to local schools.

The new lab complex will also create more faculty positions at HPU. The university is already looking to build a faculty focused on biomedical research, particularly disease biology.

“We’re mostly interested in diseases that impact people of Hawaii. Stroke and cancer are important diseases in Hawaii and elsewhere,” said David Horgen, HPU program chair of chemistry and biochemistry. “We’ve been involved in working with collaborators at the Queen’s Medical Center, and identifying small molecules that actually come from a soft coral that grows here in Hawaii that has a beneficial effect on neurons in the brain following a stroke.”

Horgen says the university is looking to offer a masters of science in biochemistry, possibly in 2018. According to HPU, careers in biomedical sciences are on the rise thanks to increased research opportunities across the country.

“With new faculty… we expand greatly the types of research that we’re doing, types of opportunities for students,” Horgen said. “What happens is that when students get engaged with research opportunities, oftentimes it’s a life-changing event for them.”

INBRE already boasts 40 undergraduate coauthors on scholarly presentations and manuscripts, and nearly 100 students have participated in research projects led by HPU’s biomedical research faculty.

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