Penn State Berks student awarded Cayman Biomedical Research Institute Research Fellowship

Written by Lisa R. Baldi, Director of Strategic Communications at Penn State Berks.

Roman Voskoboynikov, a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major at Penn State Berks, and his faculty adviser Dr. Justin DiAngelo, associate professor and chair of the biochemistry and molecular biology degree program, have recently been awarded an Undergraduate Fellowship from the Cayman Biomedical Research Institute (CABRI).

The fellowship will support Voskoboynikov as he performs the research study titled “The regulation of lipid transport and metabolism by the splicing factor glorund in the Drosophila intestine.”

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The purpose of the research is to better understand a rare disease called Abetalipoproteinemia, an inherited disorder in humans, which affects fat absorption by the intestine and mobilization by the liver. Fat absorption is necessary for normal growth, development, and maintenance of the body’s cells and tissues.

Abetalipoproteinemia appears in infancy and symptoms include disturbances in nerve function, loss of reflexes, impaired speech, tremors, loss of sensation, muscle weakness, and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, which can cause vision loss.

DiAngelo explains that by studying the fruit fly (Drosophila), which absorbs and packs lipids in a similar manner as humans, they hope to identify factors that regulate lipid transport and metabolism in the laboratory at Penn State Berks to gain a better understanding of the disease.

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Voskoboynikov and DiAngelo have been working together since the fall of 2021, and they will continue their research this spring and summer thanks to this fellowship. In the fall, Voskoboynikov will begin working on his thesis for Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College. By then, he will have two years of data collection under his belt.

Originally from Ukraine, Voskoboynikov moved to the U.S. seven years ago. He resides in Lebanon, Pa. when he’s not living in the campus residence halls.

“Studying at Penn State Berks has been a great experience. Penn State has a great reputation, and I enjoy the small class size, and the opportunity to meet people and to conduct research working one-on-one with Dr. DiAngelo” said Voskoboynikov.

After graduation, he plans to apply to a Ph.D. program. He hopes to find a position working in a lab and continue to conduct research.

DiAngelo states, “This fellowship provides great opportunities to support good students like Roman to dedicate time to research. These are the type of funding opportunities that I’d like to see more of awarded to Penn State Berks faculty and students.”

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