Featured Scholar: Larry Jackson

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Featured Scholar: Larry Jackson
Watson, Sara
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Featured Scholar:
Larry Jackson

2002 - 2003 University Scholar
Mentor: Ben Dunn

always VValled Clu W u, vl SII'I i a a IIUl kid,
he says. "I never really saw myself doing anything
else." Now a first-year medical student at UF, his
dream is coming true.

Born in Lakeland, Fla., Larry moved to Coral Springs at age 11 and graduated from
Stoneman Douglas High School in 1999. His mother, the area director of the Broward
County school board, set high standards for Larry and encouraged him to pursue his goal
of becoming a physician. He enrolled at UF in the fall of 1999 and selected an
interdisciplinary major in biochemistry and molecular biology.

A Florida presidential scholar, Larry spent most of his time as an undergraduate keeping
up with his heavy course load, but he did find time to volunteer for a Red Cross disaster
action group and also served as a counselor at a diabetes camp. During his senior year,
Larry was selected for the University Scholars Program to conduct research in the lab of
Distinguished Professor Ben Dunn in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular

"I worked with the inhibitor for pepsin, which is a gastric enzyme used in digestion,"
Larry says. "My job was to mutant the inhibitor, PI-3, and then test it in other enzymes
in the aspartic proteinase family-like malaria-and crystallize it."

Larry says his project has broad applications and could be used to create medications to
better treat HIV and malaria. "You have enzymes in this family that are very important
for disease causes. What we were doing was taking PI-3 and trying to find structural and
genetic characteristics that we can apply to other inhibitors. It's very important to find
characteristics about certain inhibitors so you can apply it to other work down the line."

Larry received his bachelor's degree in spring 2003 and entered UF's medical program
this fall. He hasn't decided yet what area of medicine he would like to pursue, but says
he enjoys cardiology and neurology. He continues to conduct research assignments for
class, but no longer has time to work in Dunn's lab. "My workload is so much right now
that I don't have time for much," he says. "My life is pretty simple these days."

When he is not studying, Larry enjoys traveling around the world. He has become quiet
the globetrotter and spent last summer in Europe, traveling to France, Belgium,
Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal. He is planning a
trip this year to Greece, New Zealand and Australia.



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