NSF Interns from NC Start-up Just Exceeded 10,000 Views of Publication

Kepley BioSystems welcomed Jordan Krisfalusi-Gannon and Waleed Ali to the company as interns sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Grant Program in the summer of 2016. Krisfalusi-Gannon and Ali, juniors at High Point University and Columbia University respectively, were encouraged to lead a comprehensive review ultimately entitled, “The Role of Horseshoe Crabs in the Biomedical Industry and Recent Trends Impacting Species Sustainability.” The two young scholars ran with this article, which has now achieved 10,355 views in less than one year of circulation, according to Frontiers in Marine Science, an open-source, peer-reviewed journal publisher.

Their efforts spanned more than 100 referenced citations to examine this ancient species, dynamics affecting individual crabs, and overall wild populations facing industry demands (literally) for their blood. Climate and environmental changes were also discussed, with particular emphasis on dwindling horseshoe crab populations and the shorebirds that depend on their annual egg spawning for nourishment to complete migration to northern breeding grounds. Regulatory efforts were also illuminated with varying degrees of conservation success in the midst of whelk, conch and eel fisheries consuming about the same number of crabs for bait as the biomedical industry bleeds for sterility testing, every year.

Jordan Krisfalusi-Gannon with the Frontiers in Marine Science article when first published. (June 2018)
Waleed Ali preparing to inspect a horseshoe crab specimen at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. (August 2016)

In response to uncertain horseshoe crab viability, industry stakeholders have been searching for alternatives to match its sensitivity in endotoxin testing with limited success. Clearly, challenges persist from millions of patients depending on sterility testing derived from horseshoe crab blood components for nearly every injectable drug and implantable device used in medicine today, worldwide. With such testing as a given for the foreseeable future, more sustainable methods for capture, harvesting and sustaining horseshoe crabs were also explored.

From their conclusions, the authors summarized, “…ensuring the wellbeing of this enigmatic species—and those whose survival depends on it—requires a multi-faceted approach that combines informed and fair regulation; responsible and more innovative harvesting and bleeding practices; and a commitment to continued research in pursuit of viable alternatives to avert collapse, while working toward ultimately eliminating the demand for harvesting wild horseshoe crabs, entirely.”

“We’ve all been proud to be Jordan and Waleed’s co-authors, and we congratulate them on this milestone,” said Kepley president, Anthony Dellinger. “We continue to seek capable students and hope this may help inspire more interns to join our efforts at Kepley this summer and beyond.”

About Frontiers in Marine Science (Global Change and the Future Ocean):

Global Change and the Future Ocean publishes research on global pressures on the ocean in the past, present and future and their consequences on ecosystem functioning and structure, as well as on the benefits to society received from a healthy ocean in the future… The section also welcomes submissions on managerial and societal drivers, as well as responses and perceptions on global changes in the ocean ecosystem. It will benefit from the rapid, robust and effective editorial process and the open-access structure of Frontiers in Marine Science, thereby accelerating progress in this important topic. The Research Topics hosted within Frontiers in Marine Science provide a particularly effective platform to introduce new developments and research directions on Global Change and the Future Ocean.

About the National Science Foundation Research Education for Undergraduates program:

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.

If you are an undergraduate that can benefit from this valuable program, please click the link below to learn more and find available positions in your field of research.