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Happy is he who gets to know the reasons for things.

Virgil

 

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Student Biographies

 

Class of 2012

  • Sabrina Heman-Ackah
  • Eva Jacqueline-Archer
  • Kareem Ayoub
  • Elizabeth Brickley
  • Michael Chen
  • David Clever
  • Kailan Sierra-Davidson
  • Brennan Decker
  • Huayu Ding
  • Alice Easton
  • Richard Gieseck
  • Ian Goldlust
  • Michael Gormally
  • Leah Katzelnick
  • Said Saab
  • Alexander Weiss

Track 1 MD/PhDs

  • Keval Patel
  • Casey Rimland
  • Durga Thakral
  • Tianyi Wu

 

Sabrina Heman-Ackah

NIH Oxford Scholar

Degrees: University of Pittsburgh, B.S. Psychology, 2009, UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine (in progress)

NIAMS

Student profile photo Sabrinasabrina_heman-ackah@med.unc.edu

Mentors

Dr. Mahendra Rao (NIH) & Prof. Matthew Wood (Oxford)

Center for regenerative medicine logo

NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine

Research Interests: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, Neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s Disease

Sabrina Heman-Ackah graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009. While studying for her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Sabrina also completed a pre-medical curriculum and earned a Certificate in American Sign Language. Her undergraduate research experiences included molecular oncology research at the University of Minnesota in the lab of Dr. Frank Ondrey, MD, PhD  as well as schizophrenia neurobiology research at Drexel University in the lab of Dr. Lise Rioux, PhD. Following her undergraduate career, Sabrina sought further research experience at the Mayo Clinic in the lab of Dr. Keith Knutson, PhD. There she studied the role of immune-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition in the generation of breast cancer stem cells. In a concurrent project, she studied methods of increasing antigen recognition in adoptive T cell therapy for breast and ovarian cancers. The latter project yielded a publication in the Journal of Immunology and has since progressed to a Phase I clinical trial. Sabrina subsequently joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine MD-PhD Program under the leadership of Drs. Orringer and Siderovski. Through clinical and research experiences in her pre-clinical years of training, Sabrina developed a strong interest in neurodegenerative diseases of the basal ganglia. Specifically, Sabrina gained exposure to the surgical treatment of Parkinson’s disease using deep brain stimulation with her clinical mentor, Dr. Eldad Hadar, MD. Further Sabrina gained exposure to the study of apoptosis in neurons and stem cells in the lab of Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh, PhD, as well as the study of microfluidics-based assays for studying synaptogenesis in induced pluripotent stem cell derived neurons in the lab of Dr. Anne Taylor, PhD.  These experiences lead Sabrina to her ultimate goal of conducting basic science and translational research utilizing patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells to study Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and to develop novel methods of therapy for this debilitating disorder. It was in the search for opportunities to conduct her thesis research in these areas that Sabrina sought admission to the NIH OxCam Program with the support of the UNC MD-PhD Program leadership. She plans to work towards these aims under the mentorship of Dr. Mahendra Rao, MD, PhD, the first Director of the NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine and a similarly focused investigator at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

 

Eva Jacqueline-Archer

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.S. Chemistry (Biochemistry focus), B.A., International Studies

NIAID

Morehead-Cain Scholar

Student profile photo Evaeva.j.archer@gmail.com

Mentors

Dr. Rick Koup (NIH) & Prof. Paul Kellam (Cambridge)

 

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Virology / Vaccine Development, Global Health

Eva graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, double majoring in Chemistry (biochemistry track) and Global Studies with departmental honors in both. In the Global Studies curriculum, she was awarded the Anne Scaff prize for service to the curriculum and the internationalization of the university. She was a Morehead-Cain Scholar and a member of the Honors program. At UNC, she conducted research in the labs of Dr. Kevin Weeks and Dr. Dorothy Erie as part of the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project. Her work focused on determining the architecture of the RNA genome of the satellite tobacco mosaic virus, using SHAPE chemistry to determine the secondary structure and atomic force microscopy to observe large-scale genome organization. This work led to the proposal of a novel structure characterized by long-range base pairing that departed from existing models dominated by stem loops. She was one of four UNC students selected to present her research to state legislators at the biennial Research in the Capital Symposium. In addition to her research at UNC, Eva spent a semester in France working under Dr. Genevieve Almouzni at the Institut Curie synthesizing histone variants used for the study of nuclear dynamics. A summer working and teaching in Rwanda helped focus her career interests to global health and infectious disease, and she hopes to study biochemistry and viral pathogenesis during her PhD. Eva eventually wants to work in research and development of treatments and/or vaccines for viral diseases.

 

Kareem Ayoub

NIH Oxford Scholar

Degrees: Rice University, B.S. Bioengineering (neuroengineering focus)

NINDS

Marshall Scholar

Student profile photo Kareemkwa1@rice.edu

Mentors

Dr. Leonardo Cohen (NIH) & Prof. Mark Woolrich (Oxford)

 

MRI scanner

7T MRI Scanner at Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain

 

Research Interests: Biomedical Engineering, Imaging & Neuroimaging, Neuroscience & Degenerative Diseases

Kareem Ayoub graduated from Rice University a Bioengineer, with an emphasis in neuroengineering. He is an MD/PhD student and Marshall Scholar working collaboratively with the NIH, the University of Oxford, and the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University in St. Louis, where he will complete medical training after completing the DPhil at Oxford. Throughout his undergraduate years, Kareem developed his passion for connecting science and medicine to become a physician scientist. Kareem’s research as an undergraduate student focused on quantitative neuroimaging and its application to understanding how neurologic diseases impact the brain’s architecture. He worked with the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital under the mentorship of Drs. Elisabeth Wilde and Jill Hunter to develop quantitative techniques to measure the extent of damage and impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children and adults and to use neuroimaging to characterize network diseases like epilepsy. He has published on the dynamic nature of brain injury in children and adults and the implications for future development of these age groups. Kareem has a passion for science policy and closing the gap between science and the public. He has gone to Capitol Hill to lobby for better policies in treating children with TBI, given presentations to varied audiences around the world on the disease and neuroimaging, and worked jointly with the University of Oxford Functional MRI of the Brain Centre and the Baylor College of Medicine to tackle epilepsy. Kareem has explored how science is practiced globally through fellowships in China, Qatar, and England, and is passionate about international science collaboration. In the future, he hopes to also connect nations together using science as a collaborative tool ultimately benefiting society, scientific research, and the practice of medicine. He is the founder of the international NGO, World STEM Works, which seeks to inspire K-12 students around the world to go into science and medicine as well as create a more scientifically literate public. For his DPhil, Kareem will be at Green Templeton College at Oxford in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering investigating the intersection of brain-computer interfaces with neuroimaging and neurosurgery. Kareem enjoys social dancing (Latin and ballroom), playing squash and soccer (football!), as well as traveling.

 

Elizabeth Brickley

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Williams College, B.A. Biology (focus maritime studies), University of Cambridge, MPhil with Distinction, Environment, Society, and Development, MPhil in Epidemiology, Public Health and Primary Care

NIAID

Wilmers Fellow, Herchel Smith Fellow

Student profile photo Elizabethe.b.brickley@gmail.com

Mentors

Dr. Patrick Duffy (NIH) & Prof. Angela Wood (Cambridge)

Elizabeth hopes that her study will contribute to the understanding of the biological mechanisms of infectious disease and will support the identification of novel therapeutic targets.   Ultimately, in her career, Elizabeth hopes to translate cutting-edge biomedical research into practicable health policy in order to promote better care in low resource settings for historically under-served populations both domestically and abroad.

 

Research Interests: Research Interests:  Epidemiology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Maternal Health, Health Disparities, Global Health

Elizabeth Brickley graduated magna cum laude from Williams College in 2010 with a B.A. and honors in Biology and a concentration in Maritime Studies.  As a two-year Dr. Herchel Smith Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Elizabeth first earned an MPhil with Distinction in a course titled Environment, Society, and Development within the Department of Geography before undertaking a second MPhil in Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care.  As an undergraduate at Williams College, Elizabeth cultivated dual passions in environmental studies and molecular biology.  In the Department of Geosciences, she investigated the implications of climate-driven changes to the Asian monsoon for the productivity of the calcareous and carbon-sequestering marine microorganisms known as coccolithophorids.  Later, as a Wilmers Fellow, Elizabeth conducted independent field research on the socioeconomic and ecological effects of glacial retreat in Swiss Alpine regions.   In her senior honors thesis in Biology, Elizabeth studied the evolutionary development of body segmentation in annelids.  Outside of the classroom, she stayed active as a member of the Williams College Cross Country, Track and Field, and Crew Teams and also as a board member of the Williams Outing Club.  In addition, Elizabeth was devoted to community engagement.  Most notably, Elizabeth served as student body co-president from 2009 to 2010 and worked collaboratively with her peers and administrators to develop policies promoting academic advising, resources for financially needy students, sustainability, and gender non-discrimination.   For her service, Elizabeth was presented with the Grosvenor Cup, which is “awarded annually to the Williams College junior who has best demonstrated concern for the college community and beyond through extensive dedicated service and who has served with the utmost integrity and responsibility.”  Since completion of her B.A., Elizabeth has further developed her academic interests through a focus on global health.  As a research consultant at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Elizabeth analyzed the use of socioeconomic and satellite-derived environmental indicators in the prediction of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Subsequently in the MPhil in Environment, Society, and Development, Elizabeth explored the epidemiological consequences of global deforestation as part of a broader investigation into the role of ecosystem services in poverty alleviation.  For her current MPhil in Epidemiology, she is investigating the genetic and environmental determinants of noncommunicable diseases in developing countries. Elizabeth is a committee member of the Cambridge University Public Health and Epidemiology Society, volunteers with The Humanitarian Centre, and belongs to the Cambridge University Hillwalking Club.  As an NIH OxCam Scholar, Elizabeth plans to continue to work on health in developing countries.

 

Michael Chen

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Georgia Tech, B.S., Chemistry

NHLBI

Goldwater Scholar & Cambridge International Scholar

Student profile photo Michaelmchen518@gmail.com

Mentors

Prof. Shankar Balasubramanian (UK) & Dr. Adrian Ferré-D'Amaré (NIH) 

 

Research Interests: Chemical Biology of Nucleic Acids, Medicinal Chemistry, Cancer & Oncological Sciences

Michael Chen graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in May 2012 with highest honors in Chemistry. Over the past four years, Michael worked with Dr. Nicholas Hud on nucleic acid chemistry and its relevance to elucidating the chemical origins of life. Much of his work focused on developing non-enzymatic nucleic acid polymerization systems and aqueous macromolecular self-assemblies to further a pre-RNA world hypothesis for the origin of life. Additionally, he investigated prebiotic pathways to nucleoside synthesis, one of the challenges facing the origins community today. Michael also worked with Dr. David Lynn at Emory University and Dr. Sarah Hearne at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria on parasitic angiosperm research. Michael has co-authored three papers in peer-reviewed journals, including PNAS, and is preparing a first-author manuscript on his work with Dr. Hud this summer. He is also the recipient of numerous scholarships, including the Goldwater and Cambridge International Scholarships. At the University of Cambridge, Michael plans to continue his work with nucleic acids for the purpose of developing clinical applications. He will pursue a PhD in Chemistry with Dr. Shankar Balasubramanian, working on the chemical biology of nucleic acids, such as G-quadruplexes. Along with Dr. Balasubramanian, Michael will collaborate with Dr. Adrian Ferré-D'Amaré at the NIH on in vivo non-canonical nucleic acid structures and investigate their potential to perform catalysis. Outside of the lab, Michael is an avid photographer, and combines his love of photography with other hobbies, including backpacking, kayaking, and cycling. Michael was also the editor of Georgia Tech’s undergraduate research journal, and hopes to further pursue his interests in scientific communication at Cambridge.

 

 

David Clever

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: The Ohio State University, B.S., Biology, 2009

NCI

4 Year Full Tuition Dean's Scholarship from OSU College of Medicine

Student profile photo Daviddclever.15@gmail.com

Dr. Nick Restifo (NIH)

 

Pelotonia logohttp://pelotonia.org/ride

 

Research Interests: Cancer and Oncological Sciences, Immunology, Stem Cell Biology

David’s interest in science and medicine began early in his high school anatomy and physiology courses under the direction of “Tiger” King at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, OH (Go Bombers). Upon high school graduation in 2005, David continued on at The Ohio State University where he graduated summa cum laude in 2009. As an undergraduate, David was selected as part of the Research, Observation, Service, and Education (ROSE) Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and had his first experience with biomedical research in the lab of Dr. Cora Ogle. In the Ogle lab David studied the regulatory role of Myeloid Derived Suppressor cells in burn injury and sepsis. Following graduation, David received a 4-year full tuition Dean’s Scholarship upon matriculating into the Ohio State University College of Medicine. David planned on a very traditional path towards a career in clinical medicine, but fate would say otherwise when he was introduced to Dr. Don Benson and Dr. Michael Caligiuri at Ohio State. Dr. Benson and Dr. Caligiuri’s enthusiasm for cancer research was infectious, and it immediately ignited a passion in David both in and out of the lab. In Dr. Benson’s lab, David studied strategies to enhance the human immune system’s ability to recognize and eliminate cancer, specifically studying KIR inhibition as a mechanism to increase the NK cell versus myeloma effect. The results of this study were published in the journal Blood and have led to an ongoing phase II clinical trial of an anti-KIR antibody in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Outside of the lab David became very involved with Pelotonia, a grass roots cycling tour that has raised over $25 million in just 3 years for cancer research at Ohio State. David has continued to develop his passion for science as an HHMI-NIH Research Scholar, where he is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Louis Staudt studying the molecular biology of lymphoid malignancies, specifically exploring novel therapeutic strategies in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. David’s tremendous experiences in Lou’s lab have encouraged him to pursue Ph.D. training prior to returning to his final two years of medical school. As an NIH-Ox/Cam Scholar David looks forward to continuing to develop his interest in cancer biology and immunology, and hopes one day to have a career as a physician-scientist in medical oncology. Outside of the lab David, self-admittingly a bit of a “meathead,” he enjoys working out, playing lacrosse and basketball, and watching sports (anything Ohio State or Cincinnati), all of which he plans to continue while in the UK. In addition to becoming part of the NIH Ox/Cam class of 2012, David’s proudest accomplishments include being voted 2005 St. Xavier prom king and knowing the lyrics to far too many Taylor Swift songs than he cares to admit. David is the proud son of Dale and Madeline Clever and older brother of Becky Clever.

 

Kailan Sierra-Davidson

NIH Oxford Scholar

Degrees: Harvard University, B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Citation in Spanish Language

NIAID

Gilliam Scholar

Student profile photo Kailanksierra1211@gmail.com

Mentors

Dr. Robert Seder (NIH) & Prof. Adrian Hill (Oxford)

 

 

 

Research Interests: Infectious Diseases, Virology/Vaccine Development, Immunology

After living for eight years in Germany, Kailan Sierra-Davidson graduated with honors from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a citation in Spanish Language. Since childhood, she has always been interested in infectious diseases, how a single pathogen can not only take over a body's machinery but also wreck havoc in a community. In an effort to study infectious diseases and satisfy her thirst for traveling, she started researching HIV elite controllers her freshman year in Dr. Bruce Walker's lab at the Ragon Institute. The group studies HIV-positive patients who are naturally able to maintain undetectable viral loads for prolonged periods of time and collaborates with a partner lab in South Africa, where up to 20 percent of the population is infected. Through the HHMI Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP), she was funded to move her research to South Africa for a summer. Her experience in South Africa exposed to her how research at the bench can not only affect the control of infectious diseases but also mitigate social problems in developing countries. In Durban, she investigated a unique patient  with undetectable viral loads and an indeterminate Western Blot. Using modified DNA qPCR techniques, she determined that the patient was infected with a mutated HIV strain and presented her results at HHMI EXROP Conference. When she returned to Boston, she continued her thesis research, investigating the role of cytolytic CD4 T cells in elite controllers without protective HLA class I alleles. After successfully cloning HIV-specific CD4 T cells, she demonstrated that the cells were able to kill infected targets in vitro. Surprisingly, the clones were unable to be infected themselves, despite the fact that CD4 T cells are the primary target of HIV. She co-authored a paper recently published in Science Translational Medicine, which suggests that cytolytic CD4 T cells in acute patients correlates with long term viral control. In addition to her work in the Walker lab, she also developed a mathematical model to explain therapy failures based on synchronization of the HIV life-cycle due to natural selection by fluctuating drug concentrations. Throughout her undergraduate career, Kailan won numerous scholarships including Program for Research in Science and Engineering (PRISE), Harvard Institute for Global Health Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (HIGH SURF), and HHMI IDEAS. In Dr. Seder's lab, she hopes to transfer her knowledge of HIV elite controllers and CD4 T cells to contribute to malaria vaccine development. When she is not in the lab, Kailan rowed on the Radcliffe Lightweight Team and is excited to continue at Oxford.

 

 

Brennan Decker

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: St. Olaf College, B.S. Biology & Chemistry

NHGRI

Fulbright Scholarship, National Merit Scholar, Rath Scholar, Buntrock Regents’ Scholarship, HHMI Scholar

Student profile photo Brennanbrennandecker@gmail.com

Mentors

Dr. Elaine Ostrander (NIH) & Prof. Douglas Easton (Cambridge)

Student Publication CLICK to link to abstract

 

Research Interests: Genetics & Genomics, Cancer & Oncological Sciences, Animal Models & Pathology

A native of Wisconsin, Brennan majored in Biology and Chemistry at St. Olaf College, where he was awarded the Buntrock Regents’ Scholarship and a National Merit Scholarship.  As an undergraduate, he worked on diverse research projects that encompassed developmental biology of Bahamian oysters and the study of muscle biophysics in Hungary, which was supported by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar Summer Research grant.  Intrigued by this exposure to single-molecule biology, Brennan returned to Dr. Miklós Kellermayer’s lab in Hungary on a Fulbright Scholarship and used atomic force microscopy to examine the formation and structural stability of the myosin thick filament.  The results of this study were published in the Journal of Molecular Biology.  Upon his return to the United States, Brennan matriculated at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a Rath Scholar.  During medical school, Brennan worked in the labs of Drs. Howard Jacob and Elizabeth Worthey, where he contributed to analysis of whole-exome sequencing of a young patient with severe, treatment-resistant inflammatory bowel disease.  Using cutting-edge strategies, the team identified the mutation responsible for the child’s illness and, for the first time, suggested optimal treatment based on the results of exome sequencing.  Since the recommended bone marrow transplant, the patient’s gastrointestinal disease has been in complete remission.  The child’s case was widely reported in the news media, as well as in the scientific journal Genetics in Medicine.  Motivated by this perspective-altering experience, Brennan took a year out from medical school to learn more about medically-relevant applications of genomics.  Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – National Institutes of Health Research Scholars Program, Brennan joined Dr. Elaine Ostrander’s lab, which leverages the simplified genomic architecture of the domestic dog to unravel cancer susceptibility.  Among other projects, Brennan has helped identify a mutation that confers risk for canine squamous cell carcinoma of the digit, which may be genetically similar to human cancers.  As a National Institutes of Health – Cambridge Scholar, Brennan will work with Dr. Ostrander and Prof. Douglas Easton to investigate the prostate cancer genetic susceptibility as part of the International Consortium for Prostate Cancer Genetics.

 

Huayu Ding

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
, B.S., Biological Engineering/Electrical Egineering & Computer Science, 2012

NINDS

Amgen Foundation Scholarship

Student profile photo Huayuhuayud@MIT.EDU

Mentors

Dr. Jeff Diamond (NIH) & Prof. Leon Lagnado (Cambridge)

 

 

Research Interests: Bioengineering, Neuroscience, Computation and Instrumentation

Huayu is graduating in June 2012 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. Due to her wide range of interests, she has explored in her first two years of college research in nanoparticle for drug delivery, synthetic biology, novel imaging techniques, and microfluidics device for cell sorting.  For the past two years, she had been conducting research under Prof. Ed Boyden in the Synthetic Neurobiology Lab exploring the neural basis of emotion and cognition. She worked with a team of peers led by a post-doctorate student and had particularly enjoyed the collaboration amongst lab members and with other labs. The aim was to understand how the brain deals with emotional memory. She probed specific circuits in the amygdala using novel techniques in optogenetics. Optogenetics is an advance in neuroscience that allows for light manipulation of targeted neurons in a temporally and spatially precise manner. She was interested in the resulting animal behavior changes and neural activities after optic manipulation in an inhibitory avoidance paradigm. She was awarded the Amgen Foundation Scholarship for her work. In addition to her research, Huayu participated and placed in a number of competitions including the Cornell Cup for Embedded Systems and the MIT Lobby 7 competition.  As an active member of the community, Huayu was part of the IEEE/ACM executive board and a residential tutor for the Women’s Technology Program. In her spare time, Huayu enjoys oil painting, sailing, hiking and cooking. She is looking forward to a great time with interesting people in the four years of the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Program.

 

Alice Easton

NIH-Imperial College Scholar

Degrees: Princeton University, B.S. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 2009

Institute TBA

Marshall Scholar

Student profile photo Alicealice.easton@gmail.com

Mentors

Prof. Roy Anderson (Imperial)

 

Research Interests: Infectious Diseases other than Virology
& Epidemiology / Population Studies / Biostatistics

Alice Easton, of Chicago, graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 2009 with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a certificate in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her thesis examined the impact of HIV control interventions in southern India. She previously conducted research in a cardiac electrophysiology laboratory at the University of Chicago. She received the Adel Mahmoud Global Health Scholarship for undergraduate thesis research and the Sigma Xi Book Award for outstanding academic performance in Princeton's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. After graduation, she joined the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi as the India Coordinator for the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership. She returned to Chicago in October 2011 to join the Boston Consulting Group as an associate, where she has focused on healthcare and operations research. Alice has been a student and practitioner of classical Indian dance (Bharata Natyam) since childhood, and enjoys volunteering and travel. She serves as Princeton Alumni Schools co-chair for India and received an S. Barksdale Penick Award for recruitment, representation of the University and other alumni activities in a local community. She plans to study infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London as an NIH-Marshall Scholar.

 

Richard Gieseck

NIH Oxford Scholar

Degrees: Purdue University, B.S. Biomedical Engineering (minor mathematics), 2012

NIAID

National Science Foundation REU Research Fellowship

Student profile photo Treyrgieseck@purdue.edu

Mentors

Dr. Tom Wynn (NIH) & Prof. Ludovic Vallier (Oxford)

 

Research Interests: Tissue Engineering, Induced Pluripotency, Regenerative Medicine

Richard graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics from Purdue University in 2012. As an undergraduate, Richard conducted several diverse research studies under the mentorship of Prof. Albena Ivanisevic, ranging from designing novel magnetic resonance contrast agents to investigating the use of B. Subtilis endospores as micro-scale inkwells for nano-scale lithographic applications.  After being awarded a National Science Foundation REU Research Fellowship, he took his knowledge of surface modification and characterization to Northwestern University. Under the guidance of Prof. Franz Geiger, Richard conducted atomic force microscopy studies of surface-bound DNA oligomers in order to support and compliment non-linear optical studies being performed by the Geiger group. In his final year at Purdue University, he applied knowledge gained from his previous research endeavors to a new field, tissue engineering. Collaborating with Prof. Cagri Savran, Richard developed a novel, humidity-sensitive hydrogel spore composite. Using this “sporegel,” he patterned complex gradients of morphogens and surface bound chemokines in order to direct cellular differentiation and chemotaxis for tissue engineering applications. All in all, Richard’s research resulted in six publications with several more in preparation. Richard’s research has inspirited a love of and interest in tissue engineering that he will carry on through his DPhil research.  As an NIH-OxCam Scholar, Richard plans on investigating the use of hepatocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells to help reverse fibrotic lesions that accompany cirrhosis of multiple etiologies such as alcoholism, hepatitis B and C, industrial toxins, autoimmunity, and metabolic disorders.

 

Ian Goldlust

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Emory University, B.S./M.S. Chemistry, 2009

NCATS

MetroHealth Chester Summer Scholar

Student profile photo Ianigoldlust@gmail.com

Mentors

Dr. Anton Simeonov (NIH) & Prof. James Brenton (Cambridge)

Chester Summer Scholars logoCLICK image for information

Research Interests: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, Neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s Disease

Ian Goldlust graduated from Emory University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Chemistry. There, he participated in the accelerated BS/MS program under the guidance of Professor Justin Gallivan designing synthetic riboswitches capable of controlling bacterial gene expression, causing them to function as they normally would not. For his Master’s thesis he designed riboswitches capable of controlling gene expression in A. tumefaciens, a bacterium responsible for inducing the growth of crown gall tumors on trees. After completing his Master’s research, he began working in the Department of Human Genetics at Emory with Professor Katie Rudd. There, he worked to characterize a previously unreported recurrent unbalanced translocation associated with childhood obesity and seizures by modeling the disorder in mice. While at Emory, Ian was awarded a MetroHealth Chester Summer Scholar award giving him the opportunity to perform translational research alongside physicians at Metro Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. While at Cambridge and the NIH, Ian plans to study mechanisms of platinum resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer. The rate for progression-free survival of women afflicted with ovarian cancer has remained essentially unchanged since the introduction of platinum based chemotherapeutics in the 1970’s. One hurdle currently impeding progress is that ovarian cancer is treated clinically as a singular entity when the disease actually harbors significant heterogeneity among patients. The recent and rapid evolution of DNA sequencing has revealed that even within a single patient different subpopulations of cancer exist, each of which may benefit from a different targeted therapy.  There is a tremendous need for basic science research at the molecular level to bring new and more effective treatment options to these patients. Ian hopes to carry out molecular studies on the current platinum based therapies in order to identify genes and motifs that correlate with response. By generating functionalized derivatives of platinum based drugs, Ian hopes to study regions of drug binding and gain insight into how resistance mechanisms arise with the ultimate goal of translating these results into new modes of treatment. By collaborating with colleagues in chemistry and bridging the divide between clinicians, chemists and biologists, Ian believes that he can make significant progress towards improving survival for this devastating disease.

 

Michael Gormally

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Pomona College, B.S. Chemistry, MPhil in Chemistry (Cambridge, in progress)

NCATS

Churchill Scholar

Student profile photo Michaelmichael.gormally@me.com

Mentors

Dr. Anton Simeonov (NIH) & Prof. Shankar Balasubramanian (Cambridge)

 

Research Interests: Supramolecular Chemistry, Epigenetics, Gene Regulation, Sequencing

Mike graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Pomona College and as a senior was honored with the Dale N. Robertson distinction for excellence in the sciences. He was also named a Churchill Scholar and funded to pursue an MPhil at Cambridge University. As an undergraduate, Mike undertook independent research both during the academic year and over the three summers in between, winning funding through various fellowships. In general, his early research focused on the assembly and behavior of polymer multilayer systems and their biomimetic applications. This work involved extensive application of a number of advanced surface-sensing instruments including quartz crystal microbalance and dual-beam polarization interferometry. In particular, Mike was able to utilize these instruments in order to elucidate, with unparalleled clarity, kinetic and conformational data on the electrostatic assembly of several polymers. As his research interests became more biological, he sought to study the function of certain enzymes and their behavior when immobilized on various precursor surfaces. In collaboration with Professor Aldrin Gomes at UC Davis, he examined the effect of mutant troponins on cardiac function. Mike completed a senior thesis demonstrating precursor material dependent tune-ability of the activity of immobilized tyrosinase (a phenol oxidase) assemblies. After completing undergraduate course work, Mike began research in Professor Shankar Balasubramanian’s Cambridge lab. For the last year, he has studied the function chemical targeting of the transcription factor FOXM1 as it relates to cell cycle progression and oncogenesis. Outside the lab, Mike is an avid swimmer and water polo player. He was a member of both varsity teams at Pomona and at Cambridge continues to compete as a member of the water polo squad. A general thrill seeker, Mike has a penchant for exploration and enjoys few things more than road trips and rock climbing.

 

Leah Katzelnick

NIH Cambridge Scholar

Degrees: Williams College, B.A. Anthropology, Global Health, MPhil in Public Health (Cambridge), MPhil in Zoology (Cambridge)

NIAID

Gates-Cambridge Scholar

Student profile photo Leahlck33@medschl.cam.ac.uk

Mentors

Dr. Steven Whitehead (NIH) & Prof. Derek Smith (Cambridge)

 

Research Interests: Virology / Vaccine Development

Leah grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and received a B.A. from Williams College in anthropology, global health, and pre-medical studies. At Williams, she was a leader of campus social justice groups, was involved in organizing fundraisers and educational events, and conducted research on non-profits both locally and internationally. While in Nicaragua, Leah developed an interest in the dengue virus and decided to pursue research in the laboratory of Dr. Aravinda de Silva at the University of North Carolina following her graduation from Williams. There, she worked to test an assay for determination of infecting serotype in serum samples from dengue infected individuals, as well as analyze a pediatric dengue cohort study. She went on to pursue an MPhil in Public Health at the University of Cambridge, where she worked under the supervision of Prof. Ann Louise Kinmonth and Dr. Fiona Matthews exploring social and psychological health problems using quantitative methods. She is currently conducting an MPhil in Zoology at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Prof. Derek Smith attempting to characterize antigenic variation in dengue viruses. She has spent the spring in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Whitehead at the NIAID conducting plaque reduction neutralization tests; the results will be modeled with antigenic cartography, a technique to make antigenic maps that depict the relationships between viruses and antibodies. For her PhD as an NIH OxCam scholar and Gates Cambridge Scholar, she will continue to develop antigenic maps of dengue viruses, with the hope that they will serve as the foundation for a global dengue antigenic surveillance system in preparation for a dengue vaccine. In the long term, she hopes to be involved in disseminating the dengue vaccine and conducting scientific research the antigenic evolution of dengue viruses.


 

 

Alexander Weiss

UK University TBA

Degrees: Syracuse University, BSE Bioengineering, (math minor), 2012

NINDS

Chancellor’s Scholarship Award, Bioengineering Founder’s Award, DeVoe Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research

Student profile photo Alexarweis02@syr.edu

Mentors

Dr. Judith Walters (NIH) & Prof. Tipu Aziz (Oxford)

 

Research Interests: Neural plasticity, Deep Brain Stimulus, Neural Rehabilitation, Biological Basis of Learning, Biomaterials, Bacterial Studies

Alex graduated magna cum laude with honors from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Bioengineering and a minor in Mathematics. At Syracuse, Alex received the Chancellor’s Scholarship Award and the Bioengineering Founder’s Award for academic achievement, determination, perseverance, and commitment. Alex also received the DeVoe Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research for bacterial studies conducted at the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute (SBI) under the mentorship of Dr. Jeremy Gilbert. Alex’s undergraduate research included characterizing morphological differences between normal and metabolically inactive persister cell variants within E. coli HM22 cell populations using atomic force microscopy. This work identified physical characteristics of persister cells that may contribute to the ability of biofilm infections to resist antibiotic treatment. Alex presented these findings at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Society for Biomaterials in Orlando, Florida. Alex conducted further research at the SBI as lead researcher on a project studying E. coli biofilm viability while in contact with implant-grade, titanium alloy orthopedic implants under varied electrochemical conditions. Cathodic potentials below -400 mV were shown to drastically reduce the viability of E. coli biofilms on implant surfaces indicating that inducing electrical currents around metal alloy implants may act to reduce bacterial infections in implant patients. While at Syracuse, Alex was a member of the Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the Student Advisory Board for the Dean of Engineering. Alex ran projects to promote interest in science and engineering at public schools in Syracuse and mentored middle school students who struggle with language. Alex managed to squeeze in some semblance of a social life during his undergraduate career playing trumpet as a member of the Syracuse University Marching Band and Sour Sitrus Pep Band. Alex unwinds by reading, skiing, and studying philosophy.