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“Esperion’s main focus is to develop an effective and low-cost drug to treat atherosclerosis,” says Meredith Davis ’00 of Saylorsburg, Pa., a graduate of Pleasant Valley High School. “I created protocols for experiments and carried them out.”

Marquis Scholar Meredith Davis had wanted to be a part of medical research since high school. An interest in cancer and its treatments led to classes and research with Shyamal K. Majumdar, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Biology and head of the department.

Last spring, Davis, a biology major, conducted research on the effects of raloxifene, a sister drug to tamoxifen. Raloxifene is currently prescribed for the prevention of osteoperosis in post-menopausal women. Clinical trails have shown the drug also reduces the occurrence of breast cancer without the side effects linked with tamoxifen.

“I was performing cell-kinetics studies to see how different dosages affect cell division. I also did DNA laddering experiments to show if there was any programmed cell death due to raloxifene,” Davis explains. “I plan to expand this research into a departmental honors thesis this year.”

This summer, Davis interned in the genomics department of the biopharmaceutical company Esperion Theraputics, Ann Arbor, Mich., which researches and develops new therapies for patients with atherosclerosis and related conditions.

Esperion’s president and chief executive officer is Roger S. Newton, a 1972 Lafayette graduate who cofounded the company last year after serving 17 years at Parke-Davis. For 12 years Newton was chairman of Parke-Davis’ Atherosclerosis Drug Discovery Team, helping pioneer the current generation of highly successful lipid-lowering drugs, including gemfibrozil, or Lopid, and the newest in the statin series of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol-lowering (LPL) agents, atorvastatin, or Lipitor.

“To date, much of our knowledge about lipoproteins and cholesterol metabolism has not been applied to the development of new therapies,” Newton explains. “For the last 20 years, biopharmaceutical science has focused on discovering and developing drugs that reduce LDL cholesterol, whereas relatively little attention has been paid to the discovery and development of agents that modify high-density lipoprotein and promote reverse cholesterol transport.

“My roots in research began at Lafayette under Prof. Majumdar,” Newton continues. “I learned that persistence, perseverance, and asking questions are important to a successful research scientist. Prof. Majumdar provided a strong foundation for the years that followed.”

Before heading for Michigan, Davis had planned to enroll in a master’s/doctoral program after graduation. After speaking with the scientists at Esperion, she thinks she may make it her aim to get some professional experience before pursuing the advanced degrees.

“I know I definitely don’t want to be a medical doctor,” she says. “I still want to do medical research. An M.D./Ph.D. might prove to be more beneficial.”

Another Side of Meredith

She is a member and officer of the College’s rugby club.

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