Benefit for Hope: Event Honors Alumni and Celebrates Research

Ashish Chougule (left) and Dhyanesh Patel (right), said the banquet was a great way to bring together faculty and students and raise funds in honor of a past professor.

Ashish Chougule (left) and Dhyanesh Patel (right), said the banquet was a great way to bring together faculty and students and raise funds in honor of a past professor.

Sasanka Ramanadham, Ph.D., reminisced with students and faculty about his days as a graduate student in the '80s.

“When I was in graduate school, technology and science were changing rapidly,” Ramanadham said. “The landscape was quite different for students. Yet, my mentors were there to guide me along the way and to succeed in the field. I am appreciative of this university and thankful for my mentor Dr. Tom Tenner for treating me like family then and now. Remember to work hard and maintain integrity and you will achieve success.”

Ramanadham, a professor of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Graduate School Association (GSA) Research Week Banquet Benefit for Hope.

Every year GSBS students organize Student Research Week to showcase the next generation of biomedical researchers and their work and invite distinguished national and international speakers to present discoveries on a specific theme as chosen by students.

Honoring Hope

Along with honoring the Distinguished Alumni Award, Dhyanesh Patel, GSA president, said the GSA wanted to celebrate those who worked to organize Student Research Week and also raise funds to honor a past professor.

GSA raised more than $2,000 for the Hope Lodge through the event.

GSA raised more than $2,000 for the Hope Lodge through the event.

“GSA is the student group for GSBS. What a better way to celebrate research week than to honor Dr. Harry Weitlauf, a man who impacted many TTUHSC students,” Patel said. “The best way to accomplish that was to support the Hope Lodge with the proceeds from this banquet.”

The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge provides free temporary housing in a nurturing environment for cancer patients and their family members or caregiver. Harry Weitlauf, Ph.D., professor emeritus who served as the chair of the Department of Cell Biology & Biochemistry for more than 30 years, worked to bring Hope Lodge to Lubbock.

“We raised $2,620 for the Hope Lodge,” Patel said. “We are appreciative of those who contributed to help the many who use their services.”

Ashish Chougule, GSBS student and GSA vice president, said the banquet provided a good platform to bring together different students and faculty from different fields of research in an informal environment.

“We had a tremendous turnout from faculty and students from different GSBS departments as well as deans and students from different campuses,” Chougule said. “Having both President Tedd Mitchell and TTU President Duane Nellis attend and interact with our distinguished guests at this event was a privilege.”

Never Give Up

Other distinguished guests included Martin Chalfie, Ph.D., Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry 2008 and professor of biological sciences at Columbia University; and Lee Josephson, Ph.D., with the Center for Advanced Medical Imaging Sciences at the Massachusetts General Hospital Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and Harvard Medical School.

Chalfie gave the students advice from his early years in research. Years before receiving his Nobel Laureate Prize, he recounted how his early experiments failed again and again. At one point, he left research and worked jobs as a janitor and high school teacher. He encouraged students to not give up on research.

“Great thinkers were frustrated but really passionate about something,” Chalfie said. “We get out of science what we put into it.”

Chougule said listening to his and Ramanadham’s remarks inspired him and others.

“One of the best moments of this banquet was when all our distinguished guests enlighten and motivate us with the stories of their life during their graduate school journey,” Chougule said. “It made me think that nothing is impossible if you have a strong determination and are ready to work hard."

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