10:10pm Saturday 23 September 2017

Research Examines Extending Organ Life for Transplants

David LuorCAMDEN — While waiting for an organ donation, time is critical.

David Luor is the recipient of undergraduate research grants that support his project.

Most organs must be transplanted within a very small timeframe — 24 hours or less — and are kept on ice to ensure they survive. A Rutgers–Camden undergraduate student is researching ways to buy even more time.

David Luor, a junior biology major from Cedar Knolls, is studying cold tolerance in the cells of Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, in an effort to find a way to maintain cell viability in cold temperatures. He notes that there are many similarities in the cell development and tissue maintenance of humans and Drosophila.

“Should cells across animals have conserved traits, we can evaluate if higher organisms, particularly humans, could show cold tolerance through similar means,” says Luor, a graduate of Whippany Park High School.

This year, Luor was awarded a $500 Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant and a $3,250 Summer Undergraduate Research Grant from Rutgers–Camden to support his research.

Luor is also the recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Prize at Rutgers–Camden, which recognizes excellence in research and creative activity, and recently presented his research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in Biological and Chemical Sciences at William Paterson University, where he won second place in the cell and molecular biology category.

“It’s been really gratifying,” Luor says. “You’re able to showcase your work to your peers and advisors, as well as network with people you might be working with in the future. People I met at the symposium were also able to help guide my research as they raised new questions I could consider. It’s a chance to both present and further my research.”

The cells of a fruit fly under a microscope.

Credit: Nicole Pope
fruit fly cellsLuor’s research is being conducted under the supervision of Nir Yakoby, an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers–Camden, and Daniel Shain, a professor of biology at Rutgers–Camden.

“David has been doing a fabulous job in my lab,” Yakoby says. “On the cold tolerance project, David showed that by lowering the temperatures, the life span of adult flies tripled, which was surprising to me.  I greatly appreciate the continuous support of undergraduate research by the dean’s office. David’s accomplishments should encourage other highly motivated students to conduct research with faculty members of the biology department at Rutgers–Camden.”

In November, Luor was the sole undergraduate winner of a NASA supported fellowship, the 2011 New Jersey Space Grant Consortium Award, for his proposed research on cold tolerance.

This April, Luor will travel to San Diego to present his project, “Using Drosophila as a Model System to Study Tolerance,” at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting. He received a $400 ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliate Network Regional Travel Award to cover travel expenses.

“I’ve had a wonderful experience at Rutgers–Camden, which has given me these opportunities, as well as the chance to do substantial research,” Luor says. “The faculty members here are great mentors.”

Luor says he was drawn to the research project because he aspires to work in the medical field. He embraces the challenge and the opportunity to make contributions to the field while an undergraduate student.

“If we can increase the longevity of these organs on ice, we’d be able to better help people who need organ transplants,” he says.

Luor says he plans to apply to medical school after he graduates.

“While significant work and recognition in research may seem like a feat upon which medical schools look favorably, for me, research has played an irreplaceable role in finding who I want to be and what I want to do,” he says.

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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse
(856) 225-6759


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