Touro College Undergraduate Biology Students Find Effects of Compound in White Tea Have Broad Implications for Medicine and Agriculture

Date: April 13, 2011
Pictured (from left): Ranjeet Kalsi, David Z. Kinraich, Chacko Dickey, Alain Sayegh, Israel Itzkowitz, Moishe Schwartz, Dr. Milton Schiffenbauer, Aura Lagnado, Paulina Rozenfeld, Malka Fuzailov.
Pictured (from left): Ranjeet Kalsi, David Z. Kinraich, Chacko Dickey, Alain Sayegh, Israel Itzkowitz, Moishe Schwartz, Dr. Milton Schiffenbauer, Aura Lagnado, Paulina Rozenfeld, Malka Fuzailov.
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Students Present Research Findings at 111th Annual General Meeting of American Society of Microbiology in New Orleans.

New York, N.Y. - Two groups of undergraduate biology students – from Touro College’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences (LAS) in Flatbush and its New York School of Career and Applied Sciences (NYSCAS) in Manhattan – have found that the use of P compound, found in white tea, has broad implications in a wide range of areas encompassing agriculture and medicine, including clinical and consumer health.

The students presented their research findings at the 111th annual American Society for Microbiology (ASM) general meeting held from May 20 through 24 at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

“We are extremely proud of our student researchers, led by their esteemed advisors, who year after year have been making significant contributions to scientific research that further our knowledge base, invigorate Touro’s academic pursuits, and have practical applications that contribute towards the betterment of society,” said Touro President and CEO Dr. Alan Kadish.

Students from NYSCAS researched the anti-microbial properties of P compound, while students at LAS studied the compound’s effect on reducing plant tumors. At the annual meeting, the ASM highlighted LAS’ presentation, entitled “The Anti-Bacterial Effect of White Tea Extract in Tumor-Forming Bacteria,” as one that may be of special interest to journalists attending the meeting, which strives to disseminate new information both to the public and the scientific community.

“The students’ research has broad implications, both in the fields of medicine and agriculture,” said their advisor, Dr. Milton Schiffenbauer, a microbiologist and chairman of the Biology Department at NYSCAS and a professor of biology at LAS.

Dr. Schiffenbauer added that both groups’ findings have global significance: “The research involving P compound’s effect on tumors in plants offers those in the agricultural field a non-toxic, cost-effective way to prevent billions of damage to crops worldwide,” he said, explaining that the research on P compound’s anti- bacterial qualities “shows that this non-toxic, plant-based compound can be instrumental in helping to keep bacteria in check, not only in hospital settings but in the classroom, workplace, or anywhere you have large populations.”

Chacko Dickey of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a senior biology student at LAS, was part of the team studying P compound’s effect on tumors. The team studied tumors growing on the stems of such plants as carrots, parsnips and tomatoes. Known as crown gall tumors, they usually form on plant stems in response to a pathogen or pest, he said.

“A diluted version of the P compound was applied to the plants and there was a significant decrease in the growth of tumors,” Mr. Dickey explained. “This is very promising research for the agricultural industry in that this non-toxic compound has the potential to save tons of crops from disease.”

Other members of the tumor research team included Aura Lagnado of Flatbush, Brooklyn; Paulina Rozenfeld of Park Slope, Brooklyn; and Israel Itzkowitz, David Kinrach and Moishe Schwartz, all of Boro Park, Brooklyn.

Alain Sayegh of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, a member of the NYSCAS team, said their research exploring the anti- bacterial qualities of P compound found that the compound destroyed all bacteria in their sample after only 30 seconds, as compared with other compounds, resveratrol from grape extract and aronia berries, which were not as effective. “These findings could have important implications for both the clinical and consumer health fields, as this compound can be added to hand sanitizers and other popular anti-bacterial products,” he said.

Other members of the NYSCAS research team included Dr. Sonia Shokeen, assistant professor and coordinator of the biology lab at NYSCAS in Manhattan; Min Lee Beller of Park Slope, Brooklyn; Malka Fuzailov of Queens, N.Y.; and Ranjeet Kalsi of Lincoln Park, N.J.

Professor Schiffenbauer, whose students have been invited in prior years to present at the ASM, said he was especially honored, for the first time, to have two groups of his student researchers presenting their research findings at the ASM general meeting. The ASM is the world’s oldest and largest single life single membership organization, according to its Website. Microbiological research includes infectious diseases, recombinant DNA technology, alternative methods of energy production and waste recycling, new sources of food, new drug development, and the etiology of sexually transmitted diseases, among other areas.

The Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, with separate divisions for men and women, is located at Avenue J and East 16th Street in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. More than 1,000 students are enrolled each semester at the campus. Encompassing more than 90,000 square feet, the campus was inaugurated in the spring of 1995. In September 1997, the New York State Education Department officially designated this site as The Flatbush Branch Campus of Touro College.

The New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) was established in 2002 through the merger of two Touro College divisions, the School of General Studies (SGS) and the School of Career and Applied Studies (SCAS). SGS was founded in 1978 to offer undergraduate degree programs to a variety of students who traditionally had been underserved, and to bring the college experience to many communities in New York City. In 1995 SCAS was organized to serve the needs of refugees from the former Soviet Union, and later to serve many diverse populations in a variety of neighborhoods. Today, NYSCAS carries forward these missions as it continues to expand its offerings, serving 4,500 students at 13 locations.