By Professor X
On Saturday, March 24, the Washington College Student Government Association hosted the first annual Washington College Student Government Association Chestertown Memorial Celebrity Chester River Vibrio Mutation Awareness Fun Run Pro Am Race for the Cure.
Despite the poor weather conditions, troves of students, staff, and community members gathered to help raise money and awareness on a genetic mutation discovered to be affecting a dozen students at WC.
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Biology Anna Phase discovered the mutation while conducting the human testing phase of her Environmental Protection Agency funded research.
According to Phase, her research was focused on how increased pollutants in Chesapeake Watershed impacted human health. She was not expecting to make the groundbreaking discovery that she did.
The first phase of her research was conducted on the leftover mice from the Department of Psychology. Her research findings were so promising that she was approved to advance to human testing for phase two of the trial.
This phase called for any student who frequently recreates in the Chesapeake Watershed to come undergo a series of tests.
Phase was finding no significant data in the human trails of her research until one student. This student was diagnosed with vibrio after her Orientation Explore! program went for a swim in the Chester River after a kayak tour in 2019.
The next day, the student started developing symptoms and was diagnosed with vibrio and MRSA. Vibrio is a bacteria that typically infects hosts who consumed raw seafood.
Phase discovered what she believes to be a new strain of vibrio that attacks the genetic make-up of the infected individual. This strain is incredibly powerful and can infect a person who even just swims in the river.
The result of the infection is gradual mutation of their genetics. These mutations include development of green, scaly skin, goose shaped scarring, and shrinking of teeth. Some unfortunate student cases transformed entirely into geese overnight.
After this discovery, all the students who attended the Explore! program were contacted and tested. 12 of the 24 students were found to have the strain, which was actively mutating their genetic material even three years after the initial infection.
However, her research was going to be shut down due to lack of funds.
The SGA Secretary of Service and Community Relations senior Mike Scott heard about the lack of funding for Phase’s research and coordinated the WCSGACMCCRVMAFRPARC.
Scott shared that he and the SGA felt it was their responsibility and mission to work to address the issue facing students.
“My peers and friends were among those affected by this horrible disease,” said Scott. “The SGA knew we had to do something to support these students and hosting the the WCSGACMCCRVMAFRPARC was the best way we as a student body could stand united to find a cure.”
The event earned $99,876, breaking the record for the highest amount earned for a student-led philanthropy event. In recognition and support of the SGA’s dedication and hard work to keep the research going, Phase named the new strain of vibrio, the WCSGACMCCRVMAFRPARCrio.
Research will continue to be conducted on this new strain of vibrio.
“I will continue to work tirelessly until we have found a cure,” said Phase. “I want to thank all the support from the college and student body as I work to address this issue. Without your support, we would never be able to find a cure.”
The Health Center and Phase are advising students to avoid swimming in the Chester River. If they are concerned about potential exposure, students should contact the Health Center for testing.
A new class will now be offered to help communications and business majors learn the color wheel
Photo Caption: Unfortunate side effects result in human beings becoming secondary colors.