Dr. Autumn Sutherlin and students publish research in science journal

Dr. Autumn Sutherlin    Dr. Autumn Sutherlin, assistant professor of biochemistry at Abilene Christian University, along with three ACU undergraduate students and collaborators at Purdue University, had their biochemistry research published in Biochemistry, the premier journal in the biomedical field.
    Sutherlin’s research team, made up of Aaron Robison (’05), Alison Tetrick (’06), and Jeffrey Knight (’07), studies the enzyme HMG-CoA, the cell membrane and wall in bacteria. The research has been ongoing for three years, with the inception during Sutherlin’s own graduate work.
According to Sutherlin, HMG-CoA synthase in humans is a potential target for cholesterol-lowering drugs. The research on the make-up of the human and bacterial HMG-CoA synthases and its differences was published in the December 2006 issue of the journal.
    “I am excited about this breakthrough research, but I’m also very excited that undergraduate students participated,” said Sutherlin. “Our students are getting hands-on research experience that makes them more attractive candidates for both graduate and medical school. Spending time in the lab also allows the students to find out if science is something they are passionate about and if they want to pursue research as a career.”
    Two of the three students associated with this project plan to attend graduate school in the fall. The third is going to work for a biotechnical firm.
    “One of the most exciting things for me was to see our students’ names on this paper and knowing how it will open doors for them.”      
    Sutherlin’s new team of student researchers continues doing similar tests on the existing protein to find out which bits are important.
    “We are currently studying whether there are differences between the forms of HMG-CoA synthase that may be broken by antimicrobial agents to battle the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Sutherlin. “Ultimately, the research is never complete.”

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