Dunbar: Reinforces desire to teach and experiment

By Kelly Finlan
December 6, 2001

Spring may be the season of new life, but fall is the season of new arrivals. Incoming first-year and transfer students and new staff are among the Cabrini novices on campus. Perhaps you have noticed the new face in the science department. Dr. David Dunbar, assistant biology professor, is Cabrini’s newest resident science guy, straight from Yale Medical School via West Chester University.

Dunbar is a RNA molecular biologist, and he’s worked with everything from proteins to the composition of genes. A native Pennsylvanian, he did his undergraduate work at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., where he majored in biology. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. After moving to Connecticut to work at Yale’s prestigious medical school, Dunbar, his wife, Maureen, and his three year-old daughter, Megan, moved back home to Pennsylvania to pursue other employment opportunities.

These opportunities led Dunbar to Cabrini College. “I wanted to find a school that was relatively small that has really good faculty-student interaction,” he said. Cabrini’s location and overall personality was key.

According to Dunbar, we are in the midst of the molecular renaissance. The human genome has recently been sequenced. In fifty years, molecular biology has gone from the first recognition of a strand of DNA to mapping the entire genetic structure of a person.

Scientists liken the advancements with the advent of new chemical elements and the unearthing of the particles within the atom. It is a revolutionary time to be in this particular field of science.

Proteins were the subjects of his research at Yale Medical School. The genes Dunbar studied, coded in incorrectly, cause autoimmune diseases like Scleroderma and certain strains of Hepatitis.

Legislation has legalized the limited research of fetal stem cells, but ethical concerns have risen with the developing research of such cells. Dunbar foresees a solution to this controversy in the near future with the use of adult stem cells instead of fetal cells.

“I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that,” he said. Dunbar dedicated six years to the research of the RNA molecular biology that he now teaches at Cabrini.

When asked what brought him to teaching Dunbar responded, “How do you know unless you actually do it?”

At Yale, he worked with undergraduates, training them, teaching them laboratory research, often losing valuable time in the process. “I felt more fulfilled doing that than being in my own little world, trying to get my own research done,” he said. West Chester University was his first official role as teacher. “It just reinforced my desire to want to teach.”

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Kelly Finlan

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