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Senior Lands Journal Cover
May 19, 2006

In the weeks leading up to graduation, a Calvin senior landed the cover of a prestigious eye research journal, a byline on an article within that publication and a presenter spot at a national conference.

An image of the lacrimal gland captured by Holly Hoffman, 22, a biochemistry major from Alma, Michigan, who spent two years doing research in the Department of Biology, is featured on the cover of the May 2006 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

“At first I just thought it was cool, but then I kept hearing about how important this magazine is for eye research,” Hoffman says. “As an undergrad, getting on the cover is incredible.”

“This publication is the world's leading and most competitive eye research journal,” says Calvin professor of biology, John Ubels who mentored Hoffman’s research. “It’s kind of neat to get the cover because in 15 years this is the first time that the lacrimal gland has been featured. It seems like the retina is on the cover almost every month."

Hoffman also shared authorship of the article “Gene Expression in Rat Lacrimal Gland Duct Cells Collected Using Laser Capture Microdissection: Evidence for K+ Secretion by Duct Cells” published in that issue.

Her coauthors on the paper were Ubels and three researchers from the Van Andel Research Institute: Sujata Srikanth, James H. Resau, and Craig P. Webb.

The article and the fluorescence micrographs that accompanied it, all prepared by Hoffman using fluorescence microscopes at the Van Andel Institute and Calvin, are the product of Ubels’ and Hoffman’s research on dry eye disease.

Simultaneous with the publication of the article, Hoffman accompanied Ubels to the meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology held in early May in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Hoffman presented a first-author poster at the meeting based on her evaluation and testing of “Systane-free” a new artificial tear solution from Alcon Laboratories.

“It has a novel preservation system,” she says. “The typical preservatives that have been used can cause further damage to sufferers of dry eye disease because their eye surface is already damaged.”

Current junior biology major, Jae Choi, and 2004 Calvin graduate Dan Clousing were co-authors on the poster and two articles that are being produced from the research on “Systane-free.”, one of which has Hoffman as first author.

“Students do most of the actual benchwork in my labs,” Ubels, who started working with Hoffman in 2004, explains. “The thing that I was so impressed with when Holly joined the lab is that it took such a short amount of time to teach her this kind of work. I’ve had many good researchers over the years, but Holly is definitely among the top three or four I’ve had. I’d like to see Holly in academic optometry someday. She has a lot of talent.”

Hoffman, who will attend Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University next year, is gratified with the opportunities she’s had at Calvin.

“When I first came to Calvin," she says, "I thought research sounded interesting, but I didn’t know there was this much going on - that I’d get to work with Dr. Ubels. Being an undergrad and getting to do this much is wonderful. That our college has the facilities and the technology to provide this is incredible.”

As his graduation present to Hoffman, Ubels presented her with the framed cover of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science featuring her lacrimal gland photo.

“This is our goal, to see students be successful and go on,” he says, “but it’s always hard to say goodbye.”

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson