Undergraduate wins biomedical research award for minority students

Milana PeBenito presented her research at a conference in Austin, Texas.

Milana PeBenito, an undergraduate senior at UC Santa Cruz, received a presentation award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held November 7 to 10 in Austin, Texas.

PeBenito was recognized for her poster presentation on tumor suppressor genes in mouse mammary gland tissue. She works with Lindsay Hinck, associate professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, whose research includes investigations of mammary gland development. The mouse "Slit" genes have a homologue in humans that is less active in breast cancer cells than in normal cells, and PeBenito is investigating the function of the proteins made by Slit genes. Her poster was entitled, "SLITS function as tumor suppressors in mouse mammary gland."

"It has really been her project and that allowed her to speak well about it," said Hinck. "Milana has put in a lot of time and effort. She's a fabulous researcher--serious and dedicated."

PeBenito is a MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) fellow and she started her laboratory research as a CAMP (California Alliance for Minority Participation) intern.

ABRCMS is an annual conference organized by the American Society for Microbiology and is supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The conference is designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and to provide faculty mentors and advisors with resources for facilitating students' success.

During the conference, more than 1,100 students participated in poster and oral presentations in 10 scientific disciplines in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. A total of 84 undergraduates representing 56 universities and colleges around the country received monetary awards of $250 for their outstanding presentations.