Undergrad Contributes to Groundbreaking Publication

Jared Thomas | Undergraduate | Biotechnology 

A recent publication by undergraduate student Jared Thomas and other researchers in Randall Roper’s laboratory at IUPUI indicates that epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), asubstance found in green tea, may have therapeutic properties for treating osteoporosis in individuals with Down syndrome.

Thomas, a first-author on the publication in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research“Differential effects of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate containing supplements on correcting skeletal defects in a Down syndrome mouse model,” began his biotechnology education at Ivy Tech and transferred to IUPUI through the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program. As a participant in the Diversity Scholars Research Program (DSRP) he was placed in Roper’s laboratory in 2012.

“When I first started at IUPUI I knew I wanted to do research but wasn’t really sure where to start,” Thomas said. “Dr. Roper helped me learn all the basics like writing abstracts, presenting findings, writing papers – I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without his help.”

As an undergraduate researcher in Roper’s laboratory, Thomas explores the genetic and developmental bases of physical characteristics unique to individuals with Down syndrome. Thomas’ research on skeletal abnormalities led him to study ECGC, which he found might offset some of the effects of osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak, brittle bones and affects individuals with Down syndrome.

Being a first author on a publication in a peer-reviewed journal is an exciting accomplishment for an undergraduate. Roper says he has enjoyed seeing Thomas grow as a student and researcher over the last four years.

“Jared is great to work with,” Roper said. “He really knows how to analyze things, which is important as a researcher. It’s been great to see him notice when something isn’t right and watch him figure out how to ask the right questions to solve problems.”

Thomas hopes to continue his career as a researcher and promises to never stop asking big questions in his pursuit to solve scientific problems.

Roper is excited about Thomas’ contribution to the growing research surrounding Down syndrome. He cautions families, however, to wait for additional research on EGCG including clinical trials before administering ECGC to individuals with Down syndrome. The therapeutic benefits of EGCG in their study with mice varied widely depending on the source from which it was obtained. While ECGC obtained from quality and purity-controlled sources had some beneficial effects, ECGC from some other sources had certain detrimental effects.