What are they doing in there? What happens when something goes wrong? How do we discover the story behind this cellular intelligence?
The Story Inside
Looking for any signs of change, the researcher saw obvious damage to the cell of the hippocampus sitting between glass plates under the microscope. Potential contributors to fetal alcohol syndrome appeared: genes affecting learning ability, memory, and judgment reacted negatively to ethanol exposure. Questions swirled in the researcher's head. How might that exposure contribute to developmental problems in the hippocampus? How does that lead to behavioral abnormalities such as learning disabilities, impaired memory, or faulty judgment? By what mechanism does alcohol work its destruction on the genes and the cell? More biochemistry research may hold the key.
"Biochemistry shows us the narration of a living cell," says Gloria Yueh, Ph.D. "The story is fascinating because it shows us the many ways in which the human body is intelligent. What happens inside a cell is a microcosm of life. Something is always going on. Everything is always changing, but it works perfectly without our help." Today, Yueh shares her excitement about the building blocks of life as professor and chair of biochemistry at Midwestern University's Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM). Her research investigates neurological defects associated with gestational alcohol exposure, commonly known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
“ Biochemistry shows us the narration of a living cell. The story is fascinating because it shows us the many ways in which the human body is intelligent. ”Y. Gloria Yueh
People are Most Important
Although nervous at first about her ability to teach after spending ten years in a research lab, Yueh knew she wanted to connect to students and share her knowledge. Colleagues urged her to try the classroom."People are most important," says Yueh. "I hope I can play some small role in students' lives at Midwestern because they are the creative young minds and health care professionals who will help others in the future. I love sharing my excitement with students about the life of a cell and showing them the amazing intelligence of these building blocks of biology." At Midwestern, Yueh teaches human biochemistry for programs in osteopathic medicine, dental medicine, podiatric medicine, and physician assistant studies. In addition, she teaches a range of courses in human conditions, nutrition, DNA, genetics, and molecular and cell biology for programs in occupational therapy and nurse anesthesia.
Partners in Research
When she's not in the classroom or the lab, Yueh mentors a number of MWU students. Many follow in her research footsteps as they collaborate and investigate components of Yueh's work on the neurological effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. "We regularly present our findings during the university's annual MWU Research Day," says Yueh. Students may also present their research at professional conferences, such as the American Osteopathic Association, the Society for Developmental Biology, or the America College of Physicians–Arizona Chapter.
Finding a Balance
Yueh appreciates Midwestern's continuous support for research and teaching, whether in the form of buildings, facilities, or freedom to pursue interesting lines of inquiry. "I'm able to find a good balance of teaching and research," says Yueh. Students in the osteopathic medicine program and physician assistant studies have recognized her efforts in the classroom by presenting Yueh with awards for her lecture notes and audiovisual presentations, as well as naming her Outstanding Educator and Teacher of the Year. "I tremendously enjoy my interactions with students at Midwestern," says Yueh. "Whether in classes or one-on-one sessions during office hours, we share the excitement of discovery."
Y. Gloria Yueh, Ph.D., is professor and chair of biochemistry in the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) at Midwestern University's Glendale (AZ) Campus. A native of Taiwan, Yueh conducted research at the Development Center of Biotechnology in Taipei and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut–Storrs and at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale (AZ).