Chino Cabalteja, a student researcher at the master’s level in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, was awarded the 2014 UH Mānoa Student Excellence in Research Award for his work in mentor Jon Paul Bingham’s lab in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). On May 9, Cabalteja will be recognized again at the college’s awards banquet.
Cabalteja is currently researching the bioengineering of conotoxins, bioactive peptides from the venom of Conus sea snails. Cone snail venom is being investigated for its many possible applications, from the potential design of drugs with specific pharmacological properties to agricultural pesticides.
Instead of having to harvest the venom from the snails, which is still being done today, Cabalteja is also able to recreate the conotoxin in the lab, formulating it amino acid by amino acid. An interesting discovery arising from his research is that human-made conotoxins have different configurations than those that are created naturally by the snails, the discovery that led to his award.
Cabalteja, called the “lab superstar” by a student colleague, was previously awarded the CTAHR Best MS Student Poster Presentation at the 2012 Student Research Symposium jointly held by CTAHR and UH Mānoa’s College of Engineering. He was also awarded a travel stipend to attend a conference in his field. In this year’s Student Research Symposium, Cabalteja was awarded the Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering Best MS Student Oral Presentation.
Cabalteja will be attending the University of Pittsburgh’s prestigious PhD program in molecular biophysics and structural biology in the fall.
Read the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources news release for the full story.