Research by GWU Senior Biology Major Establishes Process to Extract Anti-Cancer Compound

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Yuri Kurerov ’19 Used New Instrumentation to Separate and Characterize The Substance

Yuri Kurerov conducts a scientific test in the chemistry lab at GWUSulforaphane, a chemical compound found in broccoli, is known to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. As an Undergraduate Research Scholar at Gardner-Webb University, Yuri Kurerov, of St. Petersburg, Russia, developed a method to separate and characterize the substance from broccoli seeds.

One of 13 GWU students to receive a grant for focused research, Kurerov worked on his project during both 2018 summer terms. He was the first student to use the new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer acquired by the Department of Science. “I was quite honored to be the first student on campus to use it,” Kurerov shared. “I also had a chance to participate in online training with one of the engineers from Oxford.”

Kurerov came to Gardner-Webb to major in biology to prepare for medical school. Since being on campus, he has discovered an interest in chemistry and scientific research. After graduation from GWU, he plans to work on a Master of Science in chemistry.

He explained that the spectrometer works by polarizing molecules in chemical structures so the scientist can see their activity on a two-dimensional plane. Conducting the experiment prepared him for graduate school, but his larger goal was to discover something helpful for humanity. “This research was to find the cheaper method for extraction of sulforaphane,” he offered. “The cost of the pure form is extremely high.”

His mentors were professors of chemistry, Dr. Stefka Eddins and Dr. Ben Brooks. Eddins helped him during the first five weeks to find data about sulforaphane and write an annotated bibliography for his sources. In the second term, Brooks assisted him in the lab and taught him how to use the spectrometer. Brooks also provided pictures for Kurerov’s poster presentation, which is displayed in the Gardner-Webb Laboratory Center in Withrow Mathematics and Science Hall. Kurerov will present his research at two conferences in the spring.

“At the beginning, we had two sources of sulforaphane—broccoli seeds and sulforaphane dietary supplement pills,” Kurerov related. “The first extraction was conducted with the supplement. Later during the experiment, we realized that there was no sulforaphane in the pills, but it’s precursor, called glucoraphanin. Luckily, we had broccoli seeds as a backup plan, so they were used during the rest of the experiment.”

Not only did Kurerov learn the best methods for research, he also learned what not to do. “I would highly recommend doing Undergraduate Research, because it is a great opportunity to work in the field that might potentially be your career,” he assessed. “Also, all of the mistakes you make during your Undergraduate Research will help you to avoid them in the future.”

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university, Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.