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For Immediate Release: May 29, 2007
Contact: Gina Hebert, MBL, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

First Student in Brown-MBL Joint Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences Receives Ph.D.

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—April Shiflett has made history as the first student to graduate from the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences. Created in 2003, the program unites MBL and Brown University’s combined research and education expertise in biology, biomedicine, and environmental sciences and offers talented graduate students the chance to work with scientists at both institutions. Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons confered Shiflett’s Doctor of Philosophy degree during the University’s 239th Commencement on Sunday, May 27, 2007.

Shiflett defended her doctoral thesis “Susceptibility and Resistance to Human TLF in African Trypanosomes” last August. She studies the African trypanosome, the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. The disease, which threatens sixty million people in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, was arrested for a time, but has recently reemerged in the face of political instability, population displacement, war, and poverty. Shiflett was a member of the MBL’s Global Infectious Diseases Program studying under Dr. Stephen Hajduk. She is currently a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia.

“My graduate school experience was exceptional,” April says, “and I think that being at the MBL was why. It really is a cross-roads for research in parasitology, and I got to meet and work with a much larger number of scientists in my discipline than I ever would have anywhere else.”

The Brown-MBL affiliation takes advantage of the geographic proximity of the two institutions, uniting their faculty expertise in biology and medicine, particularly for molecular biology, genomics, ecosystems studies, environmental science, neuroscience, and public health. In addition, the partnership provides a ripe environment for faculty exchanges and research collaborations between the two institutions and enables MBL investigators and Brown faculty the opportunity to pursue joint appointments at the two institutions. There are currently 14 students enrolled in the program.

“The MBL congratulates April on this historic accomplishment,” says MBL Director and CEO Gary Borisy. “We are proud of our affiliation with Brown University and look forward to continuing to use the expertise of both institutions to educate and train the next generation of scientists.”


The MBL® is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu