Headlines Archive - Biomedical Sciences

SOM Home > Education > Graduate Programs Office > News & Awards > Headliners > Headlines Archive - Biomedical Sciences

Headlines Archive - Biomedical Sciences

Headliners Archive Banner

Divider Bar

Teresa BernaciakTeresa Bernaciak, a Microbiology Ph.D student in the lab of Corinne Silva, has received a Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Predoctoral Traineeship Award via the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Project Title for the Award: Role of STAT5b in Breast Cancer Progression and Metastasis.

Research Statement: "By some estimates, 48% of breast cancers exhibit increased levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). This correlates to poor prognoses and increased metastasis.  This study aims to elucidate the signaling mechanism behind EGFR-induced metastasis, with signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 5b as its focus.  STAT5b mediates epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling in breast cancer, and has been implicated in migration and invasion of cancer cells. Investigating EGF-induced activation of STAT5b in migration, invasion, and in vivo metastasis of breast cancer cells, could lead to improved therapies to prevent metastasis."

Previous Education: B.S., Microbiology, Pittsburgh

Divider Bar

brooksbrodrick.jpgBrooks Brodrick, a MSTP/Pharmacology Ph.D student in the lab of Steve Cohn has received a Fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation.

Project Title for the Award: Implications of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 3 in Intestinal Epithelial Cell Development.

Research Statement: "The goal of intestinal stem cell research is to understand how epithelial stem cells and/or undifferentiated progenitors maintain residency in their niche, how they avoid replicative senescence, and how they respond to genotoxic insults. It has become increasingly evident that Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 3 (FGFR3) is important in regulating intestinal epithelial cell fate. FGFR3 is expressed on the basolateral surface of undifferentiated crypt epithelial cells. Mice lacking FGFR3 develop fewer intestinal crypts and have reduced crypt survival following radiation injury, suggesting that these mice have fewer clonogenic stem cells. Tcf-4/b-catenin signaling is known to regulate stem cell proliferation in intestinal crypts. The current project investigates how FGFR3 mediated signaling regulates morphogenic events in undifferentiated intestinal epithelial cells. The research will specifically address the signaling pathways linking FGFR3 activation to modulation of Tcf-4/b-catenin mediated transcription in intestinal epithelial cells."

Related Publications: AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology; Retrovirology

Recent awards: Brooks has recently received the following Honors. American Medical Students Association (AMSA) Medical Humanities Scholar, American Gastroenterology Association (AGA) Student Abstract Prize, American Society for Investigative Pathology Trainee Travel Award

Previous Education: B.S. Microbiology, University of Texas, Austin

Divider Bar

FaraazChekeni.jpgFaraaz Chekeni, a MSTP/Pharmacology Ph.D student in the lab of Kodi Ravichandran has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellows via the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Project Title for the Award: ATP Release During Apoptosis and its Relevance to Apoptotic Cell Clearance.

Research Statement: "Every day, billions of cells undergo apoptosis in the human body and are efficiently cleared, preventing the onset or progression of inflammatory disease. The Ravichandran lab has recently shown that apoptotic cells release the nucleotides ATP and UTP, which act to promote the clearance of the dying cells by recruiting phagocytes to the site of death. I am working to identify the channel that mediates the release of these nucleotides during apoptosis, and the mechanism by which it is regulated."

Related Publications: Nature

Recent awards: Faraaz has recently received a 2008 Robert Haynes Award for an Outstanding Pharmacology Graduate Student.

Previous Education: B.S. Bioengineering, UC Berkeley

Divider Bar

annacopeland.jpgAnna Maria Copeland, a Microbiology Ph.D student in the lab of Jay Brown, has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke.

Project Title for the Award: Genome Delivery of Neurotropic Herpesviruses.

Research Statement: "This research will investigate the process by which neurotropic herpesviruses deliver their genomes to cells. Specifically, a dually labeled virus will be used to determine if two viral proteins, the portal and UL25, play important roles in the attachment of HSV-1 capsids to nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) and DNA uncoating. Gaining a better understanding of nuclear binding and DNA uncoating will be important for the creation of safer and more efficient herpes-based vectors for gene therapy, and could lead to the development of new antiviral therapies for human diseases caused by these viruses."

Previous Education: B.S., Microbiology and Cell Science, Florida

Divider Bar

Kingsley.jpgLauren Kingsley Dunn, a MSTP student who received a Ph.D in Biochemistry while in the lab of Theresa Guise and John Chirgwin, was supported by a Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Predoctoral Traineeship Award via the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Project Title for the Award: Inhibiting Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis by Targeting the HIF-1α Signaling Pathway.

Research Statement: "A majority of patients who die of breast cancer will have bone metastases, which cause pain, bone fractures, nerve compression, morbidity and decreased quality of life. Current therapies alleviate pain but do not improve survival. Tumor and bone cells interact to cause a vicious cycle of tumor growth and bone destruction. Bone is hypoxic and promotes the cycle through Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF)-1α. HIF-1α is increased in hypoxic tumor cells and regulates prometastatic gene expression. HIF-1α may also crosstalk with other pathways important for bone metastasis, such as the Transforming Growth Factor (TGF-β) pathway. HIF-1α inhibitors may help treat and prevent bone metastases."

Related Publications: PubMed Listings

Recent awards: Lauren has recently received an American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Young Investigator Award and a Paget Foundation Skeletal Complications of Malignancy Young Investigator Award.

Previous Education: B.A. Biophysical Chemistry, Dartmouth

Divider Bar

lynnhassman.jpgLynn Hassman, a MSTP/Microbiology Ph.D student in the lab of Dean Kedes received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellows via the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Project Title for the Award: Infection of Primary B Cells by the Human Lymphomagenic Pathogen HHV8.

Research Statement: "I am investigating the tropism of Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8) in human tonsillar B cell subsets, with the hypothesis that KSHV selectively infects subepithelial and mantle zone B cells, which may provide a unique cellular niche conducive to long-term latent infection by this virus. Future studies will investigate mechanisms by which KSHV alters B cell phenotype and function to further facilitate it's survival in the human host."

Previous Education: B.S. Biology, Evangel University
Divider Bar
Nocholas HargusNicholas Hargus, a Neuroscience Ph.D student in the lab of Manoj Patel has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Project Title for the Award: Modulation of Entorhinal Cortex Neurons by Adenosine and Implications in TLE.

Research Statement: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting over two million Americans (approximately 1% of the population) with over 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year.  Nearly 30% of patients remain refractory to medical intervention.  Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a common form of adult epilepsy, is marked by seizures originating in the mesial temporal lobe structure, including the hippocampus.  There are many pro-excitatory physiological changes that occur in the hippocampus associated with this epilepsy.  Normalizing these changes could serve as a target for controlling seizure activity.

The project aims to determine the role of adenosine, an endogenous and abundant molecule within the brain, in modulating seizure activity.  We use a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) to determine the mechanisms by which adenosine acts in the entorhinal cortex (EC) and hippocampus.  This research will contribute to our understanding of TLE, specifically in regards to changes that occur in the EC, the main input area to the hippocampus.  Examination of the role of adenosine in modulating excitability in this area could lead to a more effective way of inhibiting seizures in TLE.

Other Recent Honors: Predoctoral Research Fellowship from the Epilepsy Foundation of America, Double Hoo Research Award and Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Sciences and Engineering from the University of Virginia

Related Publications: Pubmed Listings

Previous Education: B.S., Neuroscience, Lafayette College

Divider Bar
MonicaLee.jpgMonica Lee, a Biomedical Engineering Ph.D student in the lab of Brian Wamhoff has received a Predoctoral Fellowship from the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association.

Project Title for the Award: DSCR1-mediated Negative Regulation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotypic Modulation.

Research Statement: "Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) display remarkable phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental cues which can lead to the pathogenesis of many cardiovascular disorders, e.g. atherosclerosis. The Nuclear Factor of Activated T-cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors plays a critical role in vascular pathology. However, known functional NFAT gene targets in vascular SMCs are currently limited. We recently identified Down Syndrome Critical Region 1 (DSCR1) as an early, injury-inducible gene dependent on calcineurin/NFAT signaling. Interestingly, DSCR1 functions as a negative feedback regulator of the NFAT signaling pathway, suggesting DSCR1 is critical in regulating the downstream effects of NFAT activation. Future studies will investigate the molecular mechanisms and functional role of DSCR1 in vascular SMCs."

Related Publications: PubMed Listings

Previous Education: B.S., Biomedical Engineering, UVA

Divider Bar

JieLin.jpgJie Lin, a Biochemistry Ph.D student in the lab of Anindya Dutta, has received a Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Predoctoral Traineeship Award via the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Project Title for the Award: Checkpoint Pathways Activated by Re-Replication in Breast Cancer Cells.

Research Statement: "Gene amplification, a major type of genomic instability, is frequently observed in breast cancer cells and therapies often fail because amplification leads to increased expression of the multi-drug-resistance transporter. Though many epidemiological reports link gene amplification with prognosis, the amplification mechanism remains unclear. I have a novel hypothesis: gene amplification is initiated by disorders in regulation of proteins important for replication. Recently we discovered that the depletion of Emi-1, an important cell-cycle controller, induced DNA re-replication in breast epithelial cells. This study will address whether excess DNA generated in breast epithelial cells when Emi-1 is lost leads to gene amplification."

Related Publications: PubMed Listings

Previous Education: B.S., Biology, Fudan University

Divider Bar

AlisonRoland.jpgAlison Roland, a Pharmacology Ph.D student in the lab of Dr. Suzanne Moenter has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke.

Project Title for the Award: Interactions Between Metabolic Cues and Androgens in the Control of GnRH Neurons.

Research Statement: "Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons regulate fertility at the central level, integrating a vast number of environmental signals to determine reproductive status. Infertility is common in disorders where blood glucose is poorly controlled, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), suggesting that glucose may regulate GnRH neuron activity. I am testing the hypothesis that high glucose levels excite GnRH neurons and may underlie reproductive dysfunction in these diseases. GnRH neurons have been shown to express ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels, which mediate glucosensing in other neuron types. I will also investigate whether androgens alter the activity of KATP channels, as androgens are another major hallmark of PCOS."

Previous Education: B.S., Biological Sciences, Maryland
Divider Bar
PeihanSu.jpgPeihan Su, a Neuroscience Ph.D student in the lab of Dr. Slobodan Todorovic has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke.

Project Title for the Award: The Mechanism of N2O Block of T-type Ca2+ Channels in the Pain Pathway.

Research Statement: "Nitrous oxide (N2O) has been used as an analgesic for centuries but little is known of its cellular mechanism of action.  We plan to explore the mechanism of N2O's effect on ion channels.  N2O is of interest to us because it is one of few agents that are selective for the CaV3.2 isoform of T-type calcium channels.  Interestingly, this channel has been recently implicated in the pain pathway.  We hope to describe the mechanism of N2O's effect on T-channels and at the synapse.  We also plan to explain the relationships between N2O, the pain pathway, and T-type via behavioral studies of CaV3.2-null mice.  Greater knowledge of the role that channels play in pain processing and N2O-induced analgesia will advance the treatment of chronic and neuropathic pain, and provide a better understanding of currently used anesthetics."

Previous Education: B.A., Neuroscience and Computer Science, Rutgers
Divider Bar
UngewitterErica.jpgErica Ungewitter, a Cell Biology Ph.D student in the lab of Dr. Heidi Scrable has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke.

Project Title for the Award: The Role of Stem Cells in Longevity Suppression by p44 (Δ40p53).

Research Statement: "The tumor suppressor p53 has a paradoxical effect on health and lifespan. p53 is absolutely required to prevent premature death from cancer, yet increased dosage of a short isoform of p53 (termed p44) in mice results in p53-dependent progeria and reduced lifespan. The stem cell theory of aging posits that aging, which we define as the gradual loss of the ability of an organism to maintain tissue homeostasis, is the result of reduced stem cell function. The experiments proposed in this application are aimed at establishing the link between p44 and stem cell survival, with the added potential of providing a mechanism in support of the stem cell theory of aging."

Related Publications: PubMed Listings

Previous Education: B.S., Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University

Divider Bar

IsaahVincent.jpgIsaah Vincent, a Microbiology Ph.D Student in the Englehard Lab, has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Cancer Institute.

Project Title for the Award: Enhancing Anti-Tumor Immunity by Blocking A2aR Signaling in Hematopoetic Cell Lineages.

Research Statement: "Adenosine is the product of the breakdown of ATP and is increased in areas of inflammation, necrosis, and hypoxia. As the tumor is an inflammatory site and is often highly hypoxic, the project endeavors to determine if adenosine via the inhibitory Adenosine 2a receptor (A2aR) on cells of hematopoietic origin blocks tumor clearance. The main focus of the project will be on the impact of the A2aR expressed on naive and effector CD8 T cells on their differentiation and function."

Previous Education: B.A., Biology & Philosophy, Iowa State

Divider Bar

Ying Wang

Ying Wang, a Biochemistry Ph.D student in the Egelman Lab, has received the following award: Association of Women in Science (AWIS) Educational Foundation Citation of Merit.

Project Title for the Award: Electron Microscopic Studies of Two Classes of Helical Polymers: Filamentous Bacteriophages & Type 3 Secretion System Needles.

Research Statement: "Many biological molecules assemble into helical polymers. In this Electron Microscopic study, Iterative Helical Real Space Reconstruction (IHRSR) approach will be used to study the three-dimensional (3D) structures of two representative classes of helical polymers, filamentous bacteriophages and Type 3 secretion system (T3SS) needles. These two classes of helical polymers are related by, among other things, the polymorphism of the structure, according to previous literature and my preliminary data. The long-term goal of this project is to understand how the structures of these helical polymers are related to their function and activities."

Related Publications: Journal of Molecular Biology and Structure.

Previous Education: B.S., Biology, Fudan University

Divider Bar

kimberlywiggins.jpgKimberly Wiggins, a Biochemistry Ph.D student in the Khorasanizadeh Lab, has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows via the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Project Title for the Award: Characterization of CHD Family Chromodomains Implicated in Epigenetic Signaling.

Research Statement: "CHD proteins are implicated in chromatin remodeling for epigenetic regulation of gene expression. They also have been implicated in diseases such as dermatomyositis, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and neuroblastoma, as well as CHARGE syndrome and idiopathic scoliosis. A structure based sequence alignment in the chromodomains of CHD proteins has suggested that the family can be divided into three groups. The variance between chromodomains appears to promote distinct epigenetic signaling for specific localization of each CHD protein. Therefore, we are interested in elucidating the structure and function of previously uncharacterized human CHD chromodomains to help determine their roles in epigenetic signaling."

Related Publications: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Previous Education: B.S., Chemistry, Fayetteville State University

Divider Bar

Headliners Home