Two Mercer Students Win Poster Session Awards at Georgia Bio Innovation Summit

Georgia Bio Innovation Summit Winners

ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer University students won two of five poster session awards presented at the Georgia Bio Innovation Summit held virtually Nov. 4-6 to gather hundreds of professionals from industry, academia and government to discuss major trends and issues in bioscience.

College of Pharmacy student Mani Deepika Vakkalanka was one of three winners of the Anthony Shuker Scientific Poster Session Award for her presentation, titled “A Novel Diagnostic Method for Detection and Quantitation of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning in Humans.”

Mani Deepika Vakkalanka
Mani Deepika Vakkalanka

Vakkalanka developed a simple and accurate method to detect the presence of a group of paralytic shellfish toxins called Gonyautoxins in human plasma.

She used a solid phase extraction method to extract the toxins from human plasma. Once extracted, the toxins were quantified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis. Recovery of specimen plasmas was successful, indicating that her method can be applied to clinical specimens.

Additionally, School of Engineering student Sarah Spalding received the Down South Grace and Poise Award, given to one poster session participant for a combination of interesting research and a great presentation style.

Sarah Spalding
Sarah Spalding

Spalding, a junior biomedical engineering major, presented a poster, titled “Characterization of E-Cigarette Aerosol Deposition in the Human Lung Airways with a Comparison to Cigarettes,” co-authored with fellow students Olivia Kight, Michelle Jung, Madison Holloway, Emily Turner and Gunhee Lee, as well as their research adviser Dr. Sinjae Hyun, professor of biomedical engineering.

The researchers analyzed effects of e-cigarette flavors and various flow rates on aerosol particle concentrations and measure inhaled aerosol particles in human airways using analytical lung morphometry software, comparing aerosol characteristics of e-cigarettes with conventional tobacco cigarettes.

Among their findings, ambient air, filtered air, flow rate and flavor did not significantly affect particle distribution of e-cigarette aerosol. Young adults had the greatest deposition of e-cigarette aerosol particles in the whole lung and the pulmonary region, and conventional cigarettes produced significantly higher amounts of aerosol particles than e-cigarettes.

The Georgia Bio Innovation Summit has been held annually since 2001 and is organized by Georgia Bio, a nonprofit, membership-based organization that promotes the interests and growth of the life sciences industry. Georgia Bio is a division of the Center for Global Health Innovation, an Atlanta-based 501(c)3 organization launched in 2020 to bring together diverse global health, health technology and life sciences entities to collaborate, innovate and activate solutions to enhance human health outcomes around the world.