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Bethune-Cookman University Student Develops Bioinformatics Study to Research the Human Placenta


Jasmin Fryer, a Recent B-CU Graduate Takes Research Discoveries to the Next Level

Though Jasmin Fryer graduated from Bethune Cookman University (B-CU) in May of 2016 with a biology degree, the research protocols she led with development for understanding the human placenta continues to help other students gain bioinformatics research skills. There is high demand for graduates with expertise to work effectively with complex biological data and make scientific discoveries. 

The native of Jacksonville, Florida became interested in bioinformatics research after attending the December 2013 Rocky Mountain Bioinformatics Conference held in Colorado. She was able to attend the conference through a travel award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). In the Fall Semester 2014, she worked closely with her research mentor and biology professor, Dr. Raphael Isokpehi, to develop a bioinformatics project that students could contribute to as well as make scientific discoveries. “They were inspired to contribute to the Human Placenta Project (HPP),” Jasmin said. The Human Placenta Project is a collaborative research effort launched by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to understand the role of the placenta in health and disease. “The placenta is critically important organ for human pregnancy but the least understood of all human organs,” Fryer added.

Spearheading the project, Jasmin mentioned, “a starting point for the research education project on placenta was to develop research protocols that use computational tools and professionally collected biological data on the human placenta.” Through a funding award from the National Science Foundation to infuse quantitative expertise into biology courses, Jasmin led the development of a research manual to help students acquire computational and quantitative abilities to conduct research on the activity of gene groups in normal placenta during the stages of human pregnancy. 

As of 2017 summer semester, the bioinformatics research manual has been used by over 40 students enrolled in the bioinformatics, senior thesis and independent biology research courses offered at Bethune-Cookman University. This course-based research experiences encouraged several students to seek summer internship experiences; present at national conferences; and apply to professional and graduate level education in diverse fields. Jasmin’s mentor, Dr. Isokpehi, presented their research findings at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Human Placenta Project held from July 24-25, 2017 at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. 

Currently, for the fall 2017 semester Jasmin will begin her graduate education studying Public Health at Campbell University in North Carolina.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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