ALEX LOWERY PRESENTS AT CONFERENCE ON DRUG DISCOVERY
Alexandra Kay Lowery presented her undergraduate research results at the 2011 UGA Conference on Drug Discovery, attended by internationally renowned scientists. Dr. Vasu Nair, Director of the University of Georgia Center for Drug Discovery, invited Alex to this prestigious conference, held in Athens, GA on November 3. As a sophomore at Middle Georgia College, Ms. Lowery investigated why only one of two similar drugs (synthesized by a group headed by Dr. Nair) was effective against Dengue virus and demonstrated that the effective drug adopts an unusual ionization pattern that would allow it to inhibit the enzyme inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH). Her results may lead to the more rapid discovery of an even more effective drug, critically important as over 100 million worldwide cases are reported annually, and no drugs have been approved for treatment. Dr. Nair invited Alex after viewing the preliminary results she presented March 24 at the 2011 Meeting of the Georgia Academy of Sciences, held in Gainesville, GA. Although already the recipient of the 2011 Chemistry Award and a speaker March 31, 2011 at MGC's Honors & Awards Day after achieving the Highest Sophomore GPA, Alex continued to work on her project over the summer. Under the supervision of Dr. Robert Zurales, Alex completed her project using the sophisticated software package Gaussian09W, ordered for the Chemistry Department by Dr. Deepa Arora, and the twenty-five computers in Dillard Hall 120, maintained by Informational Technology. Alex is currently a first-year student in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia, but she still represents Middle Georgia College, both in spirit and on billboards throughout Georgia.