Three Touro Graduates to Present Research at World’s Largest Science and Technology Exposition

Date: June 29, 2007
Left to right: Michael Zions, Gitta Pancer and Ester Engelman
Left to right: Michael Zions, Gitta Pancer and Ester Engelman
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Barbara Franklin
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New York, N.Y. - Three recent graduates of Touro College’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences – Flatbush have been chosen to present research abstracts at the upcoming annual conference of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC). The annual scientific meeting and technology exposition is the leading event in the clinical laboratory profession, attracting nearly 20,000 participants and 700 exhibitors from more than 100 countries. The 2007 conference will be held at the San Diego Convention Center from July 15th through the 19th.

The graduates traveling to San Diego next month are Michael Zions, who earned his undergraduate degree at the men’s division in biology; and Gitta Pancer and Ester Engelman, both of whom recently graduated from the women’s division in biology, with honors.

Of the approximately 100 abstracts being presented, Mr. Zions is a co-author on two papers, while Ms. Pancer and Ms. Engelman together co-authored a third. The students’ mentor and key researcher on the research was Dr. Larry H. Bernstein, chief of clinical pathology at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Dr. Bernstein is the primary author on the findings.

“We are proud of the achievements of these three graduates and delighted by the recognition they are receiving, said Touro Vice President and Dean of Students Robert Goldschmidt. “Their work reflects the ethos of inquiry, research and service that our science faculty seeks to instill in all Touro students.”

Describing his discoveries, Mr. Zions said the first “refines the existing blood test for congestive heart failure, improving its accuracy.” This is important, he notes, “when one considers both the high rate of CHF in the United States and the degree to which ‘mild’ heart failure goes undiagnosed. Add to that an annual mortality rate that hovers around ten percent and you can see why an early, quick and convenient test can be critical.” Mr. Zions said his second research project moves along similar lines, potentially expanding the population for which the test can be applied and making it available to kidney patients for the first time.

Ms. Pancer and Ms. Engleman collaborated on an investigation into “C-reactive protein (CRP),” typically elevated in patients with pneumonia, acute kidney infection and sepsis – major conditions in the critically ill. “We hoped this would be a good indicator for early detection of sepsis, which can present without a significant fever, and without definitive changes in the white cell response early,” Ms. Engelman stated. Ms. Prancer added, “CRP gives a vigorous response to a progressing infection, but comes up short in distinguishing severe from moderate sepsis.”

The students expressed their gratitude to Dr. Bernstein, whom they described as an experienced and respected clinical pathologist and who has published extensively. Since guiding their work, Dr. Bernstein has accepted additional Touro students to volunteer in his laboratory.

Dr. Bernstein said he has been fortunate to work with such motivated Touro premedical students who come from a tradition inspired by Maimonides. “Collaborations such as these have shown the enormous potential for a working relationship with New York Methodist Hospital, and the potential for other affiliations,” he said.

The AACC has 9,500 members, half of whom have doctorates. Most members direct the laboratories that analyze body fluid samples, such as blood or urine, or samples of DNA, to gain information to help physicians diagnose or monitor a patient's state of health or disease.

Lander College of Arts & Sciences – Flatbush is one of 29 schools that are part of the Touro College universe. Located at Avenue J and East 16th Street in the heart of one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, the College offers excellent faculty, natural science and computer laboratories, cutting-edge instructional technologies and methodologies, and close student-faculty interaction to prepare students for graduate study and professional careers in a variety of disciplines.

With more than 20 majors and pre-professional offerings, the College combines academic excellence with a commitment to Judaic values in a modern campus setting. These attributes have resulted in a dramatic increase in enrollment in the past several years, attracting students from all over the New York area as well as from across the U.S. and abroad. More than 1,200 students registered for the fall 2006 semester.