• Association Of Genetic Variation And Lipid-related Concentrations In African American Men With And Without Type 2 Diabetes

      Samedy, Lesly-Anne Carline
      Abnormal levels of lipids and cholesterol in the blood lead to atherosclerosis, which can then cause cardiovascular disease (CVD). Specifically, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and increased low-density lipoproteins (LDL) increase the risk of CVD such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. These lipid abnormalities occur more frequently in individuals with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In addition, uncontrolled diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels, in turn making them more prone to damage from atherosclerosis, putting these individuals at especially high risk for the development of CVD. African Americans with T2DM are at an even greater risk of CVD as a result of a combination of risk factors, among which dyslipidemia plays a prominent role. However, their lipid profile is often different from Caucasians with T2DM. Genetic variations in ADIPOQ, APOE, CETP, NOX3, PCSK9, and PON1 are thought to lead to altered levels of circulating LDL and HDL and may potentially explain the variability seen in lipid levels. Given the increased risk of CVD in African Americans with T2DM, it is important to gain an understanding of the underlying physiology and genetics. The goal of this study is to understand the genetic association with lipid levels in AA males with and without T2DM. Our long-term goal is to identify polymorphisms that can serve as biomarkers in the prediction, development and management of CV events in patients with both T2DM and dyslipidemia. To address each aim and analyze any potential relationships and/or interactions, we employed a candidate gene case-control approach where we compared genotype frequencies of lipid related candidate genes in unrelated African American males, 30 years of age of older, not currently treated with lipid lowering agents, with T2DM and healthy nondiabetic controls. Our data suggest that alterations in HDL and LDL particle levels are potentially due to genetic variation as well as the presence of T2DM. The CETP Taq1B B2-allele was associated with higher levels of HDL 2b and HDL L, but a lower level of HDL 3a and HDL 3b. In addition, the CETP Taq1B B2-allele was associated with decreases in small subclasses of LDL: LDL IVb, LDL IVa & LDL IIIb, where small LDL subclasses are considered more atherogenic compared to larger LDL. PON1 L55M variant allele was associated with decreases in HDL S as well as significant interactions between genotype and diabetic status on HDL 3a. The APOE E4 allele was associated with higher levels of LDL subclass: LDL 3a, LDL 2b, LDL 2a, LDL M and LDL L. With respect to PCSK9, the presence of diabetes abrogates the effects of the A443, potentiating a more atherosclerotic profile. In the absence of T2DM, levels of HDL 3a and 3b were reduced and HDL 2b elevated with the variant allele compared to the wildtype. However, we observed that, alternatively, diabetic variant allele carriers had elevated levels HDL 3a, and 3b and reduced levels of HDL 2b. The ADIPOQ variant allele was associated with lower levels of IDL 2, where lower levels of IDL potentially indicate a decrease in CVD risk. African Americans suffer disproportionately from CVD but only an estimated 50% of CVD incidence can be explained by traditional risk factors. Inclusion of genetics as well as lipoprotein subclass information may be beneficial. We observed ADIPOQ variant allele carriers had significantly lower levels of LDL 1 and IDL 2 and APOE variant allele carriers had significantly lower levels of LDL 1, subclasses considered less atherogenic than other LDL subclasses. CETP Taq1B and PON1 L55M variant allele carriers were significantly associated with HDL subclasses, where we observed increases in larger, more efficient HDL and decreases in smaller HDL. In addition, a significant interaction between genotype and diabetic status was observed, only for CETP Taq1B, PON1 L55M and PCSK9 A443T genotype. Targeting these particular genes, as well as many others known and unknown, may serve as promising interventions for all dyslipidemic individuals. Understanding the influence that co-morbidities may have in the presence of genetic variations will facilitate the design of innovative strategies for the prevention of morbid cardiovascular events via early detection of CVD risk.
    • Becoming All That I Can Be: A Narrative Analysis Of African-american Students' Literacy Perceptions And Experiences In An Urban Title I School

      Wingfield, Marcia Vernise
      This narrative inquiry used the frameworks of critical literacy and culturally responsive pedagogy to understand literacy experiences of recent high school graduates. The purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions of recent African-American high school graduates’ literacy experiences throughout high school. Also, this study sought to promote educators’ acknowledgment of culturally situated and culturally diverse perceptions of African-American students’ varied literacy practices as viable contributions to the conceptualization of literacy curriculum. Through in-depth interviewing, three participants who were graduates of an urban, historically low-achieving, Title I high school told stories of their past, present, and future. Participant narratives were analyzed using the sociocultural approach to narrative analysis. Findings from this study revealed students’ varied literacy practices helped construct meaning of their experiences in school and out of school. Additionally, findings suggest building relationships throughout high school with teachers and peers cultivated increased engagement in literacy. Further, participants felt their overall high school literacy experiences prepared them for college level literacy tasks. As a contribution to the existing body of research for African Americans, this success-oriented narrative recommends pedagogical shifts in literacy instruction that not only acknowledge the social and cultural literacy practices of African American students but also incorporate multi-modal forms of literacy in the critical analysis of the dominant curriculum.
    • Beyond Borders: A Christian Ethical Response to Border Control in the United States

      Ball, Jeremy A; McAfee School of Theology
      Border control is a sociopolitical issue in the United States that has ignited heated conversation and, in some cases, caused division among U.S. citizens. In the midst of seeking solutions to better secure our nation’s borders, many have neglected the fact that there is currently a human crisis at the southwestern border. Thousands of migrant children have been separated from their families and are now forced to live in detention centers where there is a lack of food and proper shelter. There have also been numerous deaths for those attempting to cross our border. Keeping in mind the suffering, the objective of this study is to suggest a Christian ethical response to the crisis at the border. Providing a political analysis of border control and an exegetical study of biblical passages that may be applicable to the current crisis, this thesis proposes principles and policies that U.S. Christians must embrace in order to see the suffering come to an end. While border control is an issue worthy of recognition, my thesis concludes that the well-being of migrants must be prioritized above other matters and that neutrality in the midst of suffering is not a virtuous option for Christians.
    • Bioengineering Artificial Chromosomes For The Production Of Human Mirna

      Altherr, Delon
      Glioblastoma is a devastating disease with dismal patient outcomes. With current treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation, and resection providing little hope to patients diagnosed with glioblastoma, research has turned to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a potential cellular delivery vehicle. The ability of MSCs to cross the blood brain barrier has increased the range of prospective treatment options available to patients with diseases like glioblastoma. Gene silencing through miRNA targeted therapy is one of the treatment options available through the utilization of MSCs. MSCs naturally package and secrete exosomes with miRNAs which have been shown to inhibit glioblastoma growth through gene silencing. Up until this point, miRNA targeted therapy has been limited to current gene therapy vectors and miRNA mimics. This project proposes an alternative to these approaches through the utilization of artificial chromosomes. The central hypothesis of this work is that artificial chromosomes can be bioengineered to produce multiple miRNAs for potential therapeutic applications. In order to test this hypothesis, a murine-derived artificial chromosome (platform ACE) was bioengineered to upregulate the expression of human miRNAs let-7b and miR124-1. The overall design of the project involved two major components. First was to identify a stable expression system for production of miRNA from the platform ACE. The second component consisted of subsequent analysis of miRNA production from the platform ACE. Findings from this project suggest that inducible vectors are more stable in the production of miRNA from artificial chromosomes compared to constituently activated vectors. Additionally, this project reports the successful transcription of the engineered miRNA constructs from the platform ACE in the Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) engineering cell line. Although this study was successful in producing primary transcripts from the platform ACE, this project further reports the disruption of miRNA processing beyond the initial transcript to a mature miRNA product. This study is in support of previous reports that CHO cells are ineffective in the production of mature miRNA from non-endogenous sources. Furthermore, suggesting that production of mature miRNA products must occur in species specific cell lines or with species specific flanking segments. Although more research is needed in the eventual utilization of artificial chromosomes in the production of miRNA, this project proposes an alternative to the use of current gene therapy vectors and miRNA mimics. In contrast to current approaches in miRNA targeted therapy, artificial chromosomes are stably maintained and not limited in their carrying capacity. Thereby opening the door for the potential delivery of multiple biological anti-cancer therapeutics in one cell mediated therapy vehicle. The use of artificial chromosomes has a long history for the delivery of large genetic payloads as well as multiple anticancer therapeutics. Thus, the potential of this project will allow for autonomous cell mediated therapy and targeting of multiple aberrant cell processes common to the etiology of glioblastoma.
    • Biomechanical Evaluation Of Hybrid, Bicortical And Univrotical, Screw Configurations For Internal Bone Late Fixation Of Long Bone Fracture : An In-vitro Study Of Porcine Femur Bone Models / By Gabriel Jonas Gonzalez Quintero.

      Gonzalez Quintero, Gabriel Jonas
      ABSTRACT Midshaft fractures of the femur are commonly seen in clinical cases. A fracture is a break through the bone that compromises bone stability and its surroundings. After a fracture, the bone must go through bone healing to recover its full stability and function. Internal bone plate fixation of midshaft femur fractures is one of the leading ways that surgeons treat transverse fractures of the femur bone. The purpose of the implant plate is to provide structure and stability while the bone regenerates. Current clinical applications prefer the use of 6 bicortical non-locking screws in a 7 hole dynamic compression plate, considered as the traditional method, for the internal fixation of midshaft femur transverse fractures. This configuration provides a secure structure to allow for long-term rehabilitation, but it is also very invasive to the bone. The traditional method does not necessarily provide the best mechanical performance possible. This study proposes the use of hybrid configurations of screws for an alternative method of the bone plate fixation. Hypothetically, the combinations combine 4 unicortical and 2 bicortical screws into the plate/screw to bone interface to provide a balance between level of support and invasiveness offered by the implant. The goal of this study is to conduct an in-vitro, a physical, and a statistical analysis to better understand the implications of the hybrid configurations and compare their performance to the traditional method. The overall purpose of this study is to identify the best configuration of bone plate fixation for rehabilitation of a fractured femur bone. The study was conducted using porcine femur models. Porcine femurs are known to be anatomically and mechanically similar to the human femur [31]. Four groups were considered for this study. The control group was based on the traditional method of bone plate fixation, consisting of 6 bicortical screws. Each of the three testing groups had four unicortical and two bicortical screws, each with a different placement for the bicortical screws. The bicortical screws for Groups 2, 3, and 4 were located in the innermost, middle, and outermost holes of the plate, respectively. Seven bone samples were made for each group (n=7) following the same procedure of bone plate fixation for each group. A 10 mm transverse fracture was created at the midshaft of the femur to simulate the fractured bone. Each sample was then fixated at both ends of the femur through an epoxy. All bones were tested on the Materials Testing System located in the orthopedics lab of Mercer University, School of Engineering. Three analyses were conducted to test the performance of each configuration: an experimental in-vitro analysis of mechanical properties, a theoretical analysis of force interactions, and a statistical analysis for of significant difference of the data. The in-vitro investigation was done through a material analysis of the construct. Axial compression and axial failure tests were implemented to simulate the mechanical behavior of the construct under elastic and plastic deformation. In the axial failure test, pre- and post-cyclic assessments were made and the axial stiffness was calculated for each group. The average axial pre-stiffness was 909 ± 117 N/mm for Group 1 (the control group), 958 ± 104 N/mm for Group 2, 1083 ± 287 N/mm for Group 3, and 1096 ± 445 N/mm for Group 4. Overall, the configurations were ranked based on pre-stiffness performance in the following order: Group 4 > Group 3 > Group 2 > Group 1. The average axial post-stiffness was 1181 ± 156 N/mm for Group 1, 1046 ± 162 N/mm for Group 2, 1160 ± 207 N/mm for Group 3, and 1240 ± 521 N/mm for Group 4. Overall, the configurations were ranked based on post-stiffness performance in the following order: Group 4 > Group 1 > Group 3 > Group 2. The average axial stiffness was 407 ± 145 N/mm for Group 1 (the control group), 445 ± 91 N/mm for Group 2, 460 ± 143 N/mm for Group 3, and 680 ± 225 N/mm for Group 4. The average axial yield strength was 3910.13 ± 1776.638 N for Group 1 (the control group), 4268 ± 1837 N for Group 2, 5107 ± 2608 N for Group 3, and 7002 ± 2187 N for Group 4. The average ultimate failure force was 4949 ± 2678 N for Group 1 (the control group), 5743 ± 3026 N for Group 2, 6065 ± 3052 N for Group 3, and 8499 ± 1492 N for Group 4. Overall, the configurations were ranked based on the axial failure performance in this order: Group 4 > Group 3 > Group 2 > Group 1. The theoretical analysis studied the forces and moments acting on the implant to bone interface. This analysis was done through the use of free body diagrams. An analysis was performed for both the static (in equilibrium) and dynamic (not in equilibrium) behaviors of each configuration. From the static analysis it was determined that bicortical screws create larger forces on the bone than unicortical screws. The presence of more bicortical screws can result in higher wearing for the bone, as the bone cortex must create counteracting forces under axial loading. Thus, more bicortical screws results in higher bone wear at the implant interface. From the dynamic analysis it was concluded that if bicortical screws are placed farther from the fracture gap, they are able to provide a higher stiffness for the system due to a greater moment arm from the bicortical screw to the fracture gap. Based on these results, Group 4 represents a better theoretical model than Groups 1, 2, and 3. The statistical analysis was done through Minitab 17. The groups were tested for distribution normality and statistical significance in each of the variables. Most groups presented a normal distribution of the data. A total of 4 cases came out to be non-normally distributed, which only meant that these cases were not able undergo the statistical significance test. ANOVA analysis was done for those cases that presented a normally distributed data. Most variables presented no statistically significant difference between the groups. However, there were two cases, the axial stiffness under equal variances and the ultimate failure force under unequal variances, that had a p-value lower than 0.05. For these two variables there was enough evidence to show that the values were statistically significantly different and these were not attributed to chance. The material and physical analyses agreed with each other on the conclusions made. Overall, it was found that Group 4 offers a less invasive model than Group 1 and also greater stability and resistance to deformation than Groups 1, 2, and 3. In addition, the statistical analysis gave evidence that certain variables do represent the actual averages of the overall population. In conclusion, this study recommends the use of Group 4’s configuration as a more suitable implant for rehabilitation purposes of midshaft transverse fracture of femur bone. Keywords: DCP, Transverse Fracture, Femur Bone, Internal Fixation, Bone Plate, Unicortical and Bicortical Screw, Stiffness, Elastic and Plastic Deformation, and Configuration.
    • Breaking The Silence: Courageous Conversations About Race And Reconciliation In The Local Church

      Barnett, Benjamin Uriah
      ABSTRACT BENJAMIN URIAH BARNETT, JR. BREAKING THE SILENCE: COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE & RECONCILIATION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH Under the direction of DAVID HULL, D.MIN. Fifteen participants engaged in courageous conversations over four weeks to measure how safe, spiritual, and strategic small groups are in breaking through the deafening silence that quite often mutes racial discourse. This project is a qualitative study which used a video series entitled Vital Conversation, which is produced by GCORR (General Commission on Race and Religion) of the United Methodist Church. After viewing each video, fifteen participants then engaged in dialogue based upon questions included with each video session. The results of this research indicate that small groups are a safe, spiritual, and strategic way to break the silence of racial discourse. As each week progressed, participants experienced increased trust in one another and the group. Further study is needed to determine if these small groups are effective with persons who do not share similar commonalities.
    • Bridging The Theory-practice Gap : A Case Study Of Novice Teachers' Reflective Practice Development In A Title I School / By Rachel Cooper Bray.

      Bray, Rachel Cooper
      Abstract Rachel Cooper Bray Bridging the theory-practice gap: a case study of novice teachers' reflective practice development in a Title I school Under the direction of Lucy Bush, Ed.D. The purpose of this study is to describe the utilization of reflective practice inquiry by novice teachers as means to develop better instructional decision-making practices regarding their students who live in poverty. Research intentions are to discover a gap in the literature that addresses a potential nexus between novice teachers’ development of reflective practice as they instruct students who live in poverty and critical and social pedagogy. The study sought to answer the question of how does reflective practice influence novice teachers’ instructional decision-making practices? In addition, the answers to the questions of what are novice teachers’ underlying beliefs about teaching children who live in poverty, and how do these beliefs help develop a framework for social pedagogy were pursued. The participants were limited to those who were teaching within their first three years at a rural, Title I middle school located in the Southeast. Four novice teachers from a school in the Southeastern region of the United States participated in the study. Pre-and post-semi-structured interviews, along with reflective journal writings and classroom observations were conducted during the course of the study. Analysis of the data revealed the following findings: (a) Novice teachers’ instructional decision-making practices are positively influenced by reflective practices when teachers are more aware of their student’s needs through continuous reflection of their instructional practices, (b) Teachers who acknowledge an understanding of the “language of the poor�? (Harrington, 1962) tend to make instructional decisions that mirrors this concept, and it may or not be similar to their own socioeconomic backgrounds, and (c) Novice teachers’ underlying educational philosophical beliefs along with reflective practice help build a foundation for critical pedagogy, which in turn, supports an elementary foundation for social pedagogy. Findings of this qualitative case study support the research that reflective inquiry could aid in the development of better instructional decision-making practices for novice teachers. The results of the study may give educators research literature to improve professional development regarding reflective practice for novice teachers. This study may also lend support for school superintendents and policy makers charged with implementing reflective practice curriculum for educators’ professional development.
    • Building A Critically Reflective Practice: Relating Brookfield's Four Lenses To Inservice Teachers' Experiences

      Nager, Laura Helen
      Educators are a special group of professional practitioners. They are often characterized as self-directed, lifelong learners who routinely implement some level of reflection to improve instruction. Dewey referred to these reflective practitioners as professionals who, in an effort to continually develop their practice, actively consider multiple points of view when making decisions and weigh the impact those decisions will have on others. Upon making a decision, the reflective practitioners can explain, defend, or change those decisions when needed. The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to investigate how the practice of reflection authentically develops in context of the classroom and to compare the critical content of reflection between teachers and their contexts. I sought to explore the impact life experiences had on the development of the teachers’ social consciousness and their depth of reflection the influence of life and academic experiences on instructional choices over time, including the consideration of multiple perspectives. Data collected from four veteran teachers with at least seven years of classroom teaching experience included a series of in-depth interviews, participant generated timelines, field notes, and follow up communications. McCracken’s (1988) five-step method for analyzing the narrative interviews was employed. MAXQDA was utilized to collect and sort through the open, axial, and selective coding stages. The findings suggest that these participants consistently engaged their autobiographical lens when reflecting. Considering the needs and perspectives of the student by engaging the student lens was also more consistent than the other two lenses. All of the participants experienced some growth in their reflective practice with colleagues and theory. Findings suggest that the participants’ level of social consciousness varied based upon school climate, school demographics, openness of colleagues, and administrative expectations appeared to influence the results. For some participants, personal stressors such as money, divorce, and gain or loss of a child indicated a positive correlation to the level of consciousness displayed.