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6
TheWoods
By Tara Boehl ’09
A William Woods University professor and student spent
the past two years working together to improve the lives
of premature infants.
Kathryn Golden
, a May graduate from Crystal Lake, Ill.,
has been working with
Dr. Joseph Kyger
, WWU
assistant professor of chemistry, to research the
absorption of calcium in babies born before full term.
Their research will help medical professionals decide
what calcium supplements are most benefcial to
premature infants, ultimately helping to save their lives.
Golden and Kyger participated in the William Woods
Mentor-Mentee program. This unique program provides
students with opportunities for substantive research
or creative experiences with faculty members. It was
established in 1995 as a platform for faculty and
students interested in collaborating.
They conducted their research at the University of
Missouri Research Reactor Center. There they developed
an original procedure for measuring the concentration of
calcium in premature infant fecal samples provided by
MU Professor
Dr. Laura Hillman
, the principal
researcher of the project.
The fecal samples were taken from infants fed lactose
and maltose formulas during different weeks, using a dual
tracer method where calcium isotopes were administered
orally and intravenously. Kyger and Golden checked
calcium intake to determine which was best absorbed.
During the third trimester of pregnancy, the bone mineral
content of infants rapidly increases. To maintain growth
and sustain the health of premature infants as if they
were in utero, it is essential to accurately mimic the
womb environment.
Regulating calcium absorption in premature infants is
crucial for bone formation, as 99 percent of the calcium
in the human body is found in the bones and the teeth.
When looking for a mentee, Kyger knew he needed to
fnd a capable and reliable student to handle and
understand the complex research. That search led him
to Golden, who plans to begin studying veterinary
medicine at the University of Illinois this fall.
“One of the great things about William Woods is that you
get to have close contact with professors,” Golden said.
“My Mentor-Mentee relationship with Dr. Kyger has been
priceless. He opened my eyes to research; he opened
me up to a new world of science that I love. I truly
enjoyed working on this project.”
Kyger sees this research as one of the best things he
has ever done.
“How could you not enjoy doing something that saves
children? I feel like this project means so much because
we are ultimately saving lives and working for the
betterment of everyone.”
Golden agrees.
“Premature infants are rather common. Many years ago,
these babies simply would not make it. The research we
are doing affects everyone who has or someday wants
children. We are helping to provide answers and reduce
confusion about how best to improve the well-being and
life of premature babies.”
WWU is one of a relatively small number of universities
that provide undergraduate students with opportunities
to become involved in research and creative work.
WWU Mentor-Mentee Program
Helps Save Lives of Premature Infants