Lawrence senior presents asthma research on Capitol Hill

Laura Streyle

Posters on the Hill, an event hosted at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. by the Council on Undergraduate Research, featured Lawrence University senior English and biochemistry double major Michael Schreiber and his research on asthma exacerbation by the common cold on Tuesday, April 13.
Schreiber was one of 80 undergraduate students chosen from schools across the country to bring his research to the Capitol. During his visit, he discussed his findings with senators and representatives who make policy and appropriations decisions about projects at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy.
The main goal of the event is to demonstrate the importance of research at the undergraduate level and to garner support from government officials in maintaining funding for research programs in the U.S.
While in Washington, D.C., Schreiber spent all day Tuesday in individual meetings with senators, representatives and congressional aides, and then spent Tuesday evening discussing his poster and the importance of undergraduate research with anyone who stopped by the poster session, which was held in the congressional buildings.
Since spring term of his freshman year, Schreiber has been working with Associate Professor of Chemistry David Hall to conduct research on the biochemical mechanisms of asthma exacerbation, specifically asthma exacerbation caused by infection with the common cold, or rhinovirus.
This research was made financially possible by a grant that Hall received from the National Institute of Health that allowed him to train a number of students in conducting research in this area of asthma study.
Schreiber’s main focus within the research has been looking at the role of a class of compounds called small G-proteins in worsening asthmatic responses. He studied how the G-proteins establish the inflammatory microenvironment that is initiated in the human airway upon exposure to rhinovirus.
Schreiber’s experience with asthma extends beyond the laboratory. When asked how he had gotten involved in this research work, Schreiber responded, “One of the reasons I chose to come to Lawrence was to conduct asthma research with Dr. Hall. I was a childhood sufferer of severe, acute asthma, so asthma is a disorder of personal relevance to me.”
Previous to the Poster on the Hill event, Schreiber presented his research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting in New Orleans in April 2009, where he received honorable mention in the undergraduate student poster competition.
He has also presented his work at the Midstates Consortium Undergraduate Research Symposium, and he has submitted a paper for publication to the journal Mediators of Inflammation.
Although the research is almost complete, there are some aspects of research that still need to be filled in by future Lawrence students who work with Hall and carry on Schreiber’s research after he graduates this spring.
After all, Schreiber commented, “A scientist’s work is never done!