Location, Time and Date:

The 41st Annual West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research (WCBSUR) Conference took place on Saturday, April 9, 2016, on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, located in San Diego, California.  The WCBSURC is among the oldest conferences of its kind in the nation and through its first 40 years, has brought together student and faculty participants representing 171 institutions in 35 states.  (See Conference History.)

Program Schedule

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Ronald M. Evans, "Nuclear Receptors: Beating the Obesity and Diabetes Epidemic"

Ron EvansRonald M. Evans is professor and director of the Gene Expression laboratory, and March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.  He is best known for his work in the physiology and the molecular genetics of muscle performance, metabolic disease, inflammation and cancer, and for using this information to devise small-molecule therapies.

Evans is an authority on hormones, both their normal activities and their roles in disease. A major achievement in Evans' lab was the discovery of a large family of molecules, named nuclear hormone receptors, that respond to various steroid hormones, Vitamin A and thyroid hormones. These hormones and their receptors help control sugar, salt, calcium and fat metabolism, thereby influencing our daily health as well as treatment of disease. The hormonal receptors have become primary targets in the treatment of leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Recently, Evans' lab has developed fexaramine, a compound that interacts with farensoid x-receptor (FXR), thereby triggering changes that increase fat catabolism and lead to weight loss in mice. This synthetic hormone represents a promising breakthrough for understanding problems arising from excess weight and obesity and for preventing/treating adult onset diabetes (Type II diabetes).  "Because humans are good at storing fat during times of plenty, we are also excellent at surviving times of famine. The fat tissues of our body are like batteries, providing us with a steady source of energy when food is scarce. Understanding the storage and burning of fat, literally the ebb and flow of energy throughout our body, is crucial to normal physiology and ultimately the treatment of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes."

In 2004, Evans shared the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with Pierre Chambon and Elwood Jensen for the discovery of the superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors, and for the elucidation of the unifying mechanism that regulates embryonic development and diverse metabolic pathways. Other major awards he has received include the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2012, the Albany Medical Center Prize (shared with Solomon Snyder and Robert Lefkowitz) in 2012, the Harvey Prize in 2006, and the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 2006.

Evans received his Ph.D. from UCLA and conducted his postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University. In addition to his work at the Salk Institute, Dr. Evans is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Links Related to Dr. Evans and His Research:

Registration Fee

The Conference registration fee for faculty, students, and all friends and family members of participants who wish to attend, is $40 when postmarked by the registration deadline date of March 5th, 2016. The fee for late registrants is $50. The registration fee helps offset the costs of the continental breakfast, hot buffet luncheon, plenary speaker, awards reception and the Conference Abstract booklet.



Student Research Presentations and Abstract Submission

Undergraduate researchers are encouraged to present original research that they have conducted in any area of biology or biochemistry. Research presentations may be given in either a seminar or poster session format. Seminar presentations are limited to 12 minutes plus 2 minutes for questions. Poster presentations must fit within a 48” by 48” square.  Cash prizes will be awarded for the ten best seminar and ten best poster presentations.

Abstract Submission

Sample Poster Session Schedule (from 2015)

Sample Seminar Presentation Schedule (from 2015)

Travel Information

Maps of the greater San Diego area are accessible at www.mapquest.com. For a campus map and driving directions to the PLNU campus, please visit Point Loma Nazarene University's web site at Maps & Directions.

Hotel Information

Some hotels that are conveniently located to the PLNU campus are listed below, along with their web addresses:

Bay Club Hotel (Shelter Island): http://www.bayclubhotel.com/  800-672-0800
Comfort Inn at the Harbor: http://www.comfortinnattheharbor.com/  619-223-8171
Holiday Inn (Harbor Drive): http://www.holinnbayside.com/ 800-662-8899
Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn and Suites: http://www.halfmooninn.com/ 800-542-7400
Island Palms Hotel and Marina: http://www.islandpalms.com/ 800-922-2336
Kona Kai Resort and Spa: http://www.resortkonakai.com/ 800-566-2524
The Dana at Mission Bay: http://www.thedana.com 888-809-4914
The Inn at Sunset Cliffs: http://www.innatsunsetcliffs.com/ 866-786-2543

Several of these establishments have traditionally offered discounts to guests who are attending functions on the PLNU campus, so be sure to inquire.


For further information or clarification regarding Conference details, contact Dr. Michael McConnell by phone (619) 849 2304, FAX (619) 849 2598 or email: mmcconne@pointloma.edu, or contact LeAnne Elizondo at Lelizond@pointloma.edu (619) 849-2205.