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BHSU student receives recognition for research; gets invite to present at Pierre poster session

Cody Geffre (left), Black Hills State University from Pierre, discusses his current research with his advisor Dr. John Dixson, BHSU assistant professor of chemistry, and BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp during a tour of BHSU’s new Life Sciences Laboratory. Geffre, who is pursuing a double major in chemistry and biology, was one of 15 South Dakota college and university students to be invited to display their research at the Pierre Poster Session Thursday, Feb. 24 at the South Dakota State Capitol. Geffre’s poster summarizes his work screening extracts from 14 traditional American Indian medicinal plants to identify those with antibiotic properties in an effort to address the growing health-care issue of microbial antibiotic resistance.

Black Hills State University senior Cody Geffre, chemistry and biology major from Pierre, is one of 15 South Dakota college and university students selected to display their research at a Pierre Poster Session Thursday, Feb. 24 at the South Dakota State Capitol. Geffre’s biomedical research project explores the medicinal value of plants traditionally used for healing by the American Indians.

Geffre’s poster, “Antimicrobial Properties of Traditional American Indian Medicinal Plants,” summarizes his work screening extracts from 14 traditional American Indian medicinal plants to identify those with antibiotic properties. Geffre says he chose his project because of the need to address the growing health-care issue of microbial antibiotic resistance. The screening effort has identified several purified plant extracts that inhibit bacterial growth. According to Geffre, Monarda fistulosa (Bee Balm) is one of the most promising leads, with extracts that show strong inhibition against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida albicans.

Structural determination of these molecules has begun using NMR, IR and Mass Spectroscopy. If the molecule is found to be a potent antibiotic, a synthesis procedure will be developed and a mode of action will be determined using gene microchip array analysis.

In the summer of 2009 Geffre began working with Dr. John Dixson, BHSU assistant professor of chemistry, in his medicinal-organic chemistry research laboratory. Since that time, Geffre has been involved in biomedical research directed at the identification of new antibiotic compounds. Geffre, who was also a member of the BHSU football team for four years, plans to obtain an M.D. degree and practice medicine in South Dakota after graduating from BHSU in May 2011.

The Pierre Poster Session, in its 14th year, honors select South Dakota undergraduates for their interdisciplinary research and highlights both the state’s investment in research and research collaborations across the state. The session is co-sponsored by the Research Affairs Council of the South Dakota Board of Regents and the South Dakota EPSCoR Office.

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