IUP Biology Major Selected for Kopchick Summer Fellowship | News


Scott Semelsberger, a pre-med biology student at Indiana University in Pennsylvania, North Cambria, has been selected for the 2022 IUP Kopchick Summer Fellowship.

As the recipient of the fellowship, he will spend 10 weeks over the summer, from June 6 to August 12, engaged in research at the internationally renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. John J. Kopchick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1972 and a master’s degree in biology in 1975 from IUP and a graduate degree from MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, donated $10.5 million dollars to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences to create an endowment that funds up to 15 fellowships at the cancer center, as well as competitive research fellowships for students and their faculty mentors .

Dr. Kopchick is Professor of Molecular Biology and Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar at Ohio University. In April 2018, it was announced that Kopchick and his wife, Char, an IUP 1973 education graduate, had donated $23 million to IUP as part of the comprehensive Imagine Unlimited campaign for children. initiatives in science and mathematics. Both Kopchicks are from Indiana County.

“I knew about MD Anderson and his prestigious reputation before I came to IUP,” Semelsberger said. “The Kopchick Summer Scholarship is an amazing opportunity for IUP students, and I am beyond grateful to Dr. Kopchick for providing this phenomenal scholarship.”

At IUP, Semelsberger is working with IUP biology professor Dr. Cuong Diep, studying the ability of zebrafish to regenerate kidneys. Understanding and manipulating the mechanisms behind essential proteins in this process could provide insights for future therapies to treat the millions of people struggling with kidney disease.

“Dr. Diep is an amazing researcher and mentor,” Semelsberger said. “I learned many research techniques from him and he allowed me to train other students in those techniques. confidence in my skills as a scientist and prepared me well for the experience at MD Anderson. Without his guidance and mentorship, pursuing this fellowship would not have been possible,” said Semelsberger.

At MD Anderson, Semelsberger will work with Dr. Jeffrey Molldrem, who studies stem cell immunotherapies and how they can be used to treat hematological diseases such as leukemia. Dr. Molldrem seeks to understand how T cells can target and kill cancer cells.

After graduating from IUP, Semelsberger plans to attend medical school to become a physician-scientist.

“I want to bridge the gap between scientists and clinicians. I hope to take findings from the research lab to the clinic, giving new hope to patients around the world,” he said.

Semelsberger, a member of the biology honors program, is a recipient of the Sutton Fellowship, the Sushak Research Award, and an IUP Undergraduate Research Fellowship. He is the co-author of a study recently published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments that presents a new in situ method to detect gene expression in older zebrafish larvae. He won first place at the Pennsylvania Commonwealth University Biologists’ Annual Research Conference for his oral presentation and received a grant from the organization.

He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, National Leadership and Success Society and Alpha Chi Sigma Honor Chemistry Fraternity, serving as the Alumni Coordinator of the chapter. He is a student peer mentor in biology and is a member of the American Medical Student Association. He trained as a physician assistant and completed an internship in 2021 at the Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at the Indiana Regional Medical Center.

He was awarded a Biology Undergraduate Research Experience Fellowship and a Fellowship for the U-SOAR (Undergraduate Summer Opportunities for Applying Research) program at IUP and presented his research at the U-SOAR Symposium. He volunteers for the Chevy Chase Community Center in Indiana.

The son of Scott and Carolyn Semelsberger, of Northern Cambria, he graduated in 2020 from Bishop Carroll Catholic Secondary School.


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