DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A Cedarville University student is being nationally recognized for her research on a drug treatment that keeps patients’ bodies from rejecting transplants.

Jenna Martin with her research poster (Photo courtesy of Cedarville University)

Jenna Martin, a Cedarville senior, is having her research from a summer internship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital published and nationally recognized, according to a university release.

As an undergraduate student, Martin was accepted to the Summer Undergrad Research Fellowships (SURF) program at the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

She found herself working with nine other team members, six of whom were either active doctoral students or had already received their doctorate. The others were research fellows who have master’s degrees.

“The Lord handed this internship to me,” Martin said. “I was not seeking it, but I was praying, and in need of an internship.”

Martin’s role consisted of isolating plasma cells from tissue samples to develop a drug treatment to keep patients’ bodies from rejecting transplants. She worked with two specific drugs that are inhibitors of the two main pathways by which the body degrades proteins. These drugs had proved to be effective to a limited extent, the release states.

The goal for the drugs is to deplete the plasma cell population because they are the main way the body produces antibodies.

“If we can deplete the plasma cells to a certain extent to lower that antibody level then they may be able to accept a transplant and keep it,” Martin said. “We deal with a lot of people who have had a transplant and then immediately reject. I worked with these two drugs to try to find a synergistic combination between the two.”

The internship was a perfect fit for Martin’s goals, but it also became personal as a relative passed away in need of a new kidney.

“All summer I was working with that in mind because it impacted me personally.”

At the end of her 10-week internship, Martin presented her research to a group of medical doctors. The research was also presented across the country by the Ph.D. student she worked with. Her name is on the list of authors of the scientific paper that is in the process of being published.

Martin gives credit to Cedarville University’s programs and instructors, especially Dr. Sharon Cooper, Assistant Professor of Biology, for engraining the skills in her that she has needed to perform.