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UT Tyler Hosts Junior Researchers from Belgium University 

Research conducted addresses breast cancer treatments, crayfish conservation 

TYLER (April 6, 2023) – The University of Texas at Tyler is hosting two junior researchers from  Howest University of Applied Sciences in Belgium. Research conducted within the UT Tyler College  of Arts and Sciences through Howest’s three-year Traineeship and Bachelor Project Program will  potentially enhance breast cancer treatments and crayfish conversation efforts. 

“Our college is delighted to be in this partnership with Howest and host these bright students from  their institution,” said Dr. Neil Gray, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are so proud and  look forward to their collaborations with our faculty mentors.” 

Senior-level researcher Aïscha Swinnen is conducting experiments to develop new molecules that  can potentially be used to image cancer stem cells, or CSCs, in breast cancer patients via Magnetic  Resonance Imagining or Positron Emission Tomography. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Jiyong Lee, UT  Tyler assistant professor of biochemistry. 

“We are focusing on breast cancer, especially hard-to-treat types, such as triple-negative breast  cancer,” said Lee. “Our objective is to understand how CSCs are associated with tumor relapse. This  research, if successful, will lead us to understand how these stem-like cancer cells cause tumor  relapse and ultimately to develop more effective drugs that block tumor relapse.” 

Senior-level researcher Jana Swimberghe is using genetic data to determine if two subspecies of  Louisiana crayfish should be elevated to unique species. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Matthew  Greenwold, UT Tyler assistant professor of biology. “Our aim is to determine if conservation efforts  need to be altered for these potential species,” said Greenwold. “This research will impact  conservation efforts in Louisiana.” 

Swimberghe is the niece of UT Tyler Soules College of Business dean, Dr. Krist Swimberghe. 

Opportunities for international students like this one are available through partnerships with the UT  Tyler Office of International Programs, which help institutions worldwide connect with the  university while promoting international collaborations. 

“This has been amazing to our students as well as they are getting an opportunity to experience  international/global collaborative research efforts and learn how having diverse perspectives is  important in making progresses in research,” Lee added. 

Swinnen and Swimberghe will conclude their visit in June.

Howest University of Applied Sciences is an innovative, higher-education institution based in  Belgium that aims to nurture the next generation of passionate and highly skilled professionals.  Howest is internationally acclaimed for its programs in digital design, cybersecurity and digital arts  and entertainment. The school also offers a wide range of degrees in areas like business, health  care and education. 

With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT  Tyler offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs to 10,000 students. UT Tyler  recently merged with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (now known as UT  Tyler Health Science Center). Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center (HSC) and  UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education,  cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research  institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in  Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston. 


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