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Byline: Bonnie Russell

Past research by Worcester Polytechnic Institute researchers found that there is power in the powder of dried leaves from the Artemisia annua plant to treat malaria. Now, WPI has been awarded a three-year, $420,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to test this plant-based therapy.

Pamela Weathers, professor of biology and biotechnology at WPI, is leading the team that will test the use of these dried leaves from the sweet wormwood plant.

The first aspect of the study is really about drug transport, Ms. Weathers said, adding that a laboratory model of the human digestive system will be used to learn which compounds in the leaves will move through the intestinal wall.

"Students will put stuff on the gut side and then measure transport from the gut side into the blood stream,'' Ms. Weathers said.

Flavonoids -- antioxidants found in such sources as blueberries and cranberries -- and terpenes -- essential oils that aid in a plant's defense system -- are among the compounds upon which the team will focus, Ms. Weathers said.

"People who have malaria are often very poor,'' Ms. Weathers said, adding that using the dried whole plant instead of purified artemisinin could greatly lower the cost of treating malaria.

One of the goals of this study is to have a more thorough understanding of which compounds in the plant may be involved in making artemisinin more bioavailable, Ms. Weathers said.

Students from Argentina visit Assumption

Assumption College has launched a new international summer cultural enrichment program -- the Assumption Global Network -- that aims to build a stronger relationship between the Worcester campus and the Assumptionist community around the world.

On July 12, a group of 42 16-year-old students and five chaperones from Instituto San Roman in Buenos Aires, Argentina, arrived in Worcester for a four-week stay at the college, during which they will further their study of English and immerse themselves in American culture.

The Assumption Global Network program will continue next month as a group of 22 students from Assumption High School in Japan will visit Worcester Aug. 2-10 for an on-campus academic and cultural experience.

Multiples of 18 used to reward incoming Clark student

A day before she begins classes at Clark University, 18-year-old Maxine J. Harvey, of Methuen, will be recognized and rewarded for co-founding a project that embodies the values of tikkun olam, a central Jewish precept meaning "to repair the world.'' Ms. Harvey is one of 15 teens across the nation who will receive a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, a prestigious monetary award given annually by the Helen Diller Family Foundation.

The award of $36,000 can be used to further Ms. Harvey's philanthropic work or her education. The reason each recipient receives $36,000 is because "36,000 is a multiple of chai, which represents the number 18 in Hebrew. It is common and symbolic for Jewish donations to be multiples of 18, because chai is also the Hebrew word for life,'' according to the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award website.

Ms. Harvey is co-founder of Debbie's Treasure Chest, "a nonprofit corporation started by three children who were adopted into loving families and wanted to give back to their community.''

The project collects and raises funds to purchase clothes, toys, books and toiletries for local families in need. Debbie's Treasure Chest now operates year-round in a 3,000-square-foot warehouse, which has provided 1,500 families with more than 75,000 necessities. The project is moving to a larger warehouse this summer, and Ms. Harvey's sister and co-founder, 14-year-old Talia, plans to take on a larger role when her sister heads to Clark University this fall.

Ms. Harvey plans to major in psychology at Clark and is interested in enrolling in Clark's Accelerated B.A./Master's Program.

For a complete list of the 2014 award winners, visit

Contact Bonnie Russell at
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Russell, Bonnie
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 20, 2014
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