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Dominic Lopez-Toney Earn Prestigious Presentation Award

Dominic Lopez-Toney, a 2010 Sequoia High School graduate and current Cañada student, has received the prestigious 2012 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students Presentation Award for his poster presentation at this year's conference, held earlier this month in San Jose.

Dominic explaining his research
"It was a learning experience having judges ask different questions about the application of my work and forcing me to make connections between what I've learned through this project and my previous knowledge about how general biological processes work," he said. "I felt like a true biologist."

Dominic's presentation was titled "Fluorescence Analysis of α-Catenin Chimeras and an Overview of the Adherens Junctions."

This past summer, Dominic worked as a research intern in the Structural Biology Department at Stanford University under Professor William Weis. It was there that he began researching how epithelial cells react to the introduction of tension.
"The goal of our lab was to analyze the structure of various proteins associated in tension regulated responses at cell-cell contacts," he said. "The protein that my lab supervisor and I worked most closely was a-catenin."
Dominic with his poster presentation at the San Jose Conference
Dominic said a cell’s ability to sense and react to various stresses created from both intracellular and extracellular interactions is vital to maintaining proper morphogenesis and cell differentiation including basic organ formation and tissue repair. Errors in these processes contribute to the formation of various diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. "It was the goal of my lab, as well as other associated labs, to understand how cells react to stress at cell-cell junctions in order to maintain a stable and uniform overall structure," he said.

Dominic is currently in his fifth semester at Cañada. he is a Molecular and Cellular Biology major. "I am hoping to transfer next fall and I am applying to several schools including UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, and Berkeley."

His career goal is obtain either a PhD in one of the biological sciences and pursue a career in research, or to go on to medical school to pursue a career as a sports doctor or surgeon.

"Overall, attending the conference was an extremely rewarding experience," Dominic said. "Aside from meeting other students with common interests, I was able to see the various fields of biomedical research currently being conducted around the world. I also learned about various graduate and undergraduate research and internship programs offered by some of the nation's top universities."

While Dominic wasn't able to attend all of the workshops offered, he said the ones he did attend were very insightful.

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