The Story of a Pandemic Partnership

USA Map with strings emanating from Washington state across the nation

WHEN
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
2:00 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time)

LOCATION
Online
Zoom

PRICE
Free


 

This webinar kicks off our Viking Funder campaign to raise money for our cellular and molecular biology graduate students! Visit the website for more information and to make a gift.

Check out this video to watch the The Story of a Pandemic Partnership.

The Story of a Pandemic Partnership

How NW Laboratory and Western Students Made a Nationwide Impact on Covid Testing
 

Brought to you by the College of Science and Engineering and the Graduate School in partnership with the WWU Alumni Association

When Covid-19 swept the United States in Spring 2020, the country lacked efficient testing to help track and contain the spread of the pandemic. However, a small medical testing center in Bellingham saw an opportunity. Northwest Laboratory quickly grew into one of the major Covid-19 testing centers in the U.S., but it took vision, biological know-how, a bit of logistical luck, and help from many skilled Western students—grad and undergrad from Biology, Chemistry, and other departments—to realize that vision. Join us for this webinar to hear the whirlwind story from those who were there from the very spare beginnings—hanging lab coats on hooks taped to a warehouse wall—and learn what’s next for this local company that’s making a big impact in states across the country. The panel includes faculty, students and alumni specializing in cell and molecular biology from the Biology Department and a doctor from Northwest Laboratory.

Meet a few WWU students and alums who were part of this partnership. 

Gregory Wolgamot

Gregory Wolgamot, M.D.

Speaker


Dr. Wolgamot attended medical school and graduate school at the University of Washington.  His PhD research was performed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he cloned and sequenced a novel virus.  He completed medical residencies at Harvard University and University of Washington.  He has been practicing pathology in Bellingham since 2006, where he serves as the Chairman of Pathology and Cancer Committee at St. Joseph Hospital.

Aliki Valdes

Aliki Valdes '20

Speaker

Aliki Valdes ('20) is currently a research assistant at the University of Chicago as a part of her NIH funded postbaccalaureate research education program (PREP). She is currently researching virus-host interactions in HCV replication and pathogenesis. Aliki graduated from WWU in June 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She majored in molecular and cell biology with a minor in chemistry. During her time at NW Labs, Aliki worked as a RNA extraction technician.

Benjamin Haagen

Benjamin Haagen

Speaker

Benjamin gained his B.S. from the University of Washington studying Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology, while pursuing research on the developmental impacts of photoreceptors in plants as well as working with several non-profits addressing science literacy and environmental education in the Greater Seattle area. Benjamin is currently a second year graduate student in the Biology Department at WWU pursuing thesis research related to the relationship of natural genetic variation and protein expression dynamics in Baker’s Yeast responding to mating pheromone, under the guidance of Dr. Dan Pollard. When Northwest Pathology initially reached out to WWU in March of 2020 to establish a COVID-19 testing program, Benjamin joined the first group of volunteers and has since been employed as a molecular/PCR technician.

Kerry Roberts-Nygren

Kerry Roberts-Nygren

Speaker

Kerry is a PCR technician and trainer at Northwest Laboratory. Kerry graduated from Western in March 2020 with a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology. In Dr. Suzanne Lee's lab at WWU, Kerry studied translation dependent metabolism of siRNA precursors. In doing so, Kerry did a lot of PCR as well as learning and utilizing a ton of other lab techniques. This work has translated directly into the professional world and is proving to have been great experience for working at Northwest Laboratory and Kerry's future work ahead.

Hannah Fisher

Hannah Fisher

Speaker

Hannah is a Molecular PCR Supervisor at Northwest Laboratory and second-year graduate student in Dr. Nick Galati's lab. Hannah's current research is focused on cilia and what factors may influence the way their calcium environment is maintained. Cilia are incredibly important in early development and mutations in cilia can lead to devastating disorders known as ciliopathies. Working at NWL during the COVID-19 pandemic has offered the opportunity to bring Hannah's experience from the bench to a clinical lab setting. These roles have allowed Hannah to contribute to the health of the local community and beyond while supporting Hannah's goals of working at the intersection of biology and human health.

Anu Singh-Cundy

Anu Singh-Cundy, PhD

Speaker

Anu Singh-Cundy is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Western. She teaches classes in organismal biology, and cell and molecular biology, and her research focuses on adhesion proteins that help plant cells stick to each other. She grew up in the western Himalayas in India, and enjoys birding, botanizing, and trekking in all kinds of habitats but especially in the alpine and subalpine.

Nick Galati

Nick Galati, PhD

Moderator

Nick is a cell and molecular biologist who is trying to understand how cells build cellular scale antennae called cilia. With a team of undergraduate and graduate student researchers, we use high resolution fluorescence microscopy to investigate the dynamic molecular processes that allow cilia to process information from outside the cell. Since cilia dysfunction is one of the most common causes of congenital birth defects, we hope our mechanistic work can inform new therapies to improve the health of children born with cilia dysfunction.

Questions and Accommodations

Contact the WWU Alumni Association for questions about this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at alumni@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.