OxCam Student Profiles - Class of 2018
Track 1 MD/PhD starting PhD Training Phase
NIH Oxford Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Jeff Diamond (NINDS) & Alison Noble (Oxford)
Degrees: University of Florida, B.S. Electrical Engineering, 2018
Research Interests: Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, computer vision
As an undergraduate at the University of Florida (UF), Mihael studied differential mathematical modeling for two summers at the University of Cambridge, UK under the supervision of Professor Christopher Gilligan, CBE. His research in Professor Gilligan’s group involved developing statistical models for coffee leaf rust and A. flavus spread in hopes of mitigating their harmful effects. In addition to his engineering coursework at UF, he volunteered in the Computational NeuroEngineering Laboratory led by Professor Jose Principe. Under his supervision, Mihael incorporated focus of attention to better solve visual question answering tasks and developed a recurrent kernel machine for small-sample image classification. Mihael gained additional experience in machine learning while interning in Dr. Stephen Nuske’s group at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) during his final summer. Mihael's research at CMU aimed to correlate image data of in-situ Sorghum bicolor plants to their respective genotype for the first time, allowing for rapid genotype prediction. Through all his research experiences, he contributed to 7 publications, 5 of which he is the first author, and received recognition from UF through the University Scholars Program and the U.S. government through the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He also received recognition as UF’s Outstanding 4-year Scholar for his academic and extracurricular achievements.
Upon graduating, he intends to apply for a faculty position at an academic institution to teach and conduct research in the AI field. By combining both mathematics and biology, Mihael strives to use advanced computational techniques to better understand the transfer and encoding of information in the brain.
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Pam Schwartzberg (NIAID) & Prof. Paul Lyons (Cambridge)
Degrees: Carleton College, B.A. Biology, 2013; Medical student at University of Minnesota Medical School (in progress)
Research Interests: Immunology, cell signaling, genetics
Madeline graduated with Distinction and Honors from Carleton College with a B.A. in Biology. During this time, she explored the molecular basis of sexually dimorphic coloration and behavioral traits in lizards under the supervision of Dr. Matt Rand and completed her Senior Integrative Exercise on cellular stress response in type 2 diabetes with Dr. John Tymoczko, for which she was awarded Distinction.
Long interested in medicine, she sought to gain exposure to translational research and spent three years as a post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow in the lab of Dr. Charles Venditti at the National Human Genome Research Institute. There, she studied the pathophysiology underlying methylmalonic acidemia, an inborn error of metabolism, as well as developed novel biomarkers and gene therapies for the disorder.
This time at the NIH cemented her desire to pursue a career as a physician scientist and she chose to join the University of Minnesota Medical Scientist Training Program, where she has completed her preclinical coursework at this time. Her scientific interests now focus on cellular processes and signaling within the context of immunologically-mediated disorders. As an NIH Cambridge Scholar, she will investigate the role of CD8+ T cell signatures in clinical outcomes of primary immunodeficiencies and T cell exhaustion.
Beyond the lab, she desires to use medicine and healthcare systems as tools to promote social justice, particularly within the framework of global health. She completed a NIH Academy Fellowship, focusing on health disparities in the DC area, and a Walter H. Judd International Graduate & Professional Fellowship examining pediatric infectious disease management in low-resource settings within Uganda.
NIH Oxford Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Yasmine Belkaid (NIAID) & Prof. Fiona Powrie (Oxford)
Degrees: Colorado State University, B.S. Microbiology, 2015
Research Interests: Immunology, microbiome
Taylor first realized she was interested in a career in research while volunteering at a veterinary hospital in high school. Although the experience was intended to reinforce her desire to be a veterinarian, she found the diagnostic tests and bench work to be the most intriguing parts of the job, pushing her to pursue a degree in Microbiology from Colorado State University (CSU).
Following a brief summer internship at AstraZeneca, Taylor became captivated by the field of Immunology and joined the lab of Dr. Mark Zabel in the Prion Research Center at CSU. There, she studied the function of a complement regulatory protein, factor H, in prion pathogenesis and helped identify factor H as a novel soluble prion receptor that may influence prion strain selection.
After graduating magna cum laude from CSU in 2015, Taylor joined the Post-baccalaureate program at the NIH under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Siegel of NIAMS. In the Siegel lab, she investigated the role of a Tumor Necrosis Factor superfamily receptor, DR3, and its ligand, TL1A, in multiple models of autoimmune disease.
While at the NIH, she became fascinated by the field of Microbiome research. As an NIH-Oxford scholar, Taylor will study non-classical immune responses to the microbiome in steady state and inflammation.
Mehdi Seif Hamouda
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Clare Waterman (NHLBI) & Prof. Kevin Chalut (Cambridge)
Degrees: North Carolina State University, B.S. Biomedical Engineering, Minor in Physics, 2016
Research Interests: Stem cell biology, biophysics, tissue engineering
Mehdi graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Physics. His lifelong concern of the negative health effects that astronauts face during space flight burgeoned into a fascination of how forces affect cell development and function. As an undergraduate, Mehdi joined Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s Cell Mechanics Laboratory at NCSU and investigated the mechanosensitivity of human adipose derived stem cells. Specifically, Mehdi worked on identifying the primary cilia to be a critical sensor that detects mechanical and electrical signals which direct adult stem cell differentiation. From this experience, Mehdi co-authored on two publications and won several undergraduate research awards.
After graduating from NCSU, Mehdi received the NIH Intramural Research Training Award and joined Dr. Daniel Douek’s Human Immunology lab at the Vaccine Research Center. Here, Mehdi contributed to developing a novel microfluidic based system with the goal of enabling the high throughput sorting of the latent reservoir of HIV.
After his year long experience at the VRC, Mehdi won the Whitaker International Fellowship which funded a year of research in Dr. Kevin Chalut’s Stem Cell Biophysics lab at the University of Cambridge, Stem Cell Institute. Here, Mehdi is investigating the role of forces in directing embryonic stem cell differentiation, specificity focusing on the mechanosensitivity of the nucleus.
Mehdi is driven to strengthen the understanding of how forces affect cell behavior, in hopes to gain insight of relevant disease states such as Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and progeria or health concerns such as the rapid tissue degeneration of astronauts in microgravity. Mehdi also hopes to gain better control of stem cell differentiation to ultimately develop novel tissue engineering and stem cell based therapy.
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Kathy Siebenlist (NCI) & Prof. Carlos Caldas (Cambridge)
Degrees: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, B.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2014; Medical student at Medical College of Wisconsin (in progress)
Research Interests: Cancer biology, tumor microenvironment, drug resistance
Emily graduated with high distinction from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. While there, she worked in the lab of Dr. Marni Boppart, investigating the 7 integrin as a therapeutic target in the prevention of age-related maladaptive changes observed in skeletal muscle tissue. The findings of this research culminated in the completion of her undergraduate thesis. After graduation, Emily worked as an NIH Postbaccalaureate Fellow in Dr. Christine Alewine’s and Dr. Ira Pastan’s labs in the National Cancer Institute, studying the use of recombinant immunotoxin therapeutics to treat cancer. An area of focus during this time was elucidating the mechanism of the synergistic activity of a mesothelin targeted immunotoxin with taxanes in pancreatic cancer. She has since started her MD-PhD degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin. As a physician scientist, Emily hopes to translate new cancer therapeutics to the clinic.
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. John Tsang (NIAID) & Prof. Ken Smith (Cambridge)
Degrees: Tufts University, B.S. Biology, 2014; Medical student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine (in progress)
Research Interests: Computational systems biology, immunology
Matt is an MD-PhD student in UNC Chapel Hill’s Medical Scientist Training Program. Prior to medical school, Matt worked at NIH under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher Hourigan to develop biomarkers of residual disease and immunotherapy response for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). He would publish his main project (PMID: 27544285) which involved residual disease detection in the setting of autologous bone marrow transplantation. Matt went on to translate this research into the clinic by developing a PCR-based diagnostic test which served as the endpoint of a clinical trial at NIH.
Matt graduated cum laude from Tufts University in 2014, earning Highest Thesis Honors for two years of work in Dr. Andrew Camilli’s lab. He traces his interest in immunology to time spent in the Camilli lab working with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Mara Shainheit. Together they would reveal mechanisms by which pneumococcus evades host immunity by regulating its anti-phagocytic capsule (PMID: 26111465). He also researched Actinomyces with Dr. Lori Bergeron at New England College (PMID: 26685151). He was awarded the Nathan T. Gantcher Scholarship and an INBRE Fellowship as an undergraduate and was awarded the University Cancer Research Fund Scholarship from UNC in 2017. Matt is focused on understanding the dynamics of human immunopathology by integrating time series data across different omic platforms to build diagnostic tools and understand the biology behind clinical outcomes in autoimmune disease, infection and cancer.
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Heather Hickman (NIAID) & Prof. Geoff Smith (Cambridge)
Degrees: Colorado State University, B.S. Biomedical Sciences, 2016
Research Interests: Immunology, virology, vaccinology
John graduated from the Honors Program at Colorado State University (CSU) in 2016 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. While at CSU, John worked three years in the laboratory of Dr. Claire Huang at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Colorado. His research focused on the study of candidate vaccines against dengue and West Nile viruses. He also performed research at CSU for a year in the laboratory of Dr. Rushika Perera examining dengue virus pathogenesis.
In addition, John spent a summer with Dr. James Crowe at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center exploring nanodisc technologies as a therapeutic for respiratory syncytial virus infection. The following three summers he investigated antiviral immunity against influenza in humans in the lab of Dr. Paul Thomas at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His work helped identify a novel genetic marker that detects patients at elevated risk for severe and potentially fatal influenza infections.
Following graduation, John joined the laboratory of Dr. Heather Hickman in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as an NIH Postbaccalaureate Fellow. He developed a viral infection model of the oral mucosa to examine similarities and differences between the cutaneous and mucosal immune response following poxvirus infection.
As an NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholar, John plans to explore immune mechanisms controlling or exacerbating viral infections. Upon completion of the Ox-Cam program, he aims for an academic career combining basic and translational research in viral immunology.
Alex David Waldman
NIH Oxford Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Michael Lenardo (NIAID) & Prof. Gabriele DeLuca (Oxford)
Degrees: University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. Honors Neurobiology and Spanish, Minors in Global Health, European Studies, and Stem Cell Sciences, 2016; Medical student at Emory University (in progress)
Research Interests: Neuroimmunology, genetics, pharmacology
Alex Waldman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2016 where he earned comprehensive honors degrees in both Neurobiology and Spanish, while simultaneously earning certificates in Global Health, European Studies, and Stem Cell Sciences. At the university, he immersed himself in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. As a member of the Biology Core Curriculum Outreach Ambassadors, Alex coordinated monthly bedside science outreach events at American Family Children's Hospital for patients employing the process of inquiry-based learning. Alex also studied abroad in Toledo, Spain where he participated in an immersion internship at the Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos and learned artistic rehabilitation techniques. As a scientist in the Peter Ferrazzano laboratory, Alex investigated the age-dependent contribution of microglial neuroinflammation to the pathology of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. His contributions were published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology following presentation at the Society for Neuroscience. Alex was also awarded a summer stem cell fellowship to work in Qiang Chang’s laboratory and investigate the pathophysiology of Rett Syndrome. His contributions were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
During his preclinical training at Emory University School of Medicine, Alex was president of the Medical Spanish Interest Group where he helped organize the annual Hispanic Health Fair in Gwinnett County. In addition, he received grants from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers and the Radiological Society of North America to stay connected to research and investigate the sexually dimorphic nature of multiple sclerosis utilizing biochemical and radiological approaches.
As an NIH-Oxford Scholar, Alex will be mentored by Michael Lenardo and Gabriele De Luca. His project will investigate the genetic underpinnings of multiple sclerosis to better understand heterogeneity in pathogenesis and response totreatment.
Overall, as a future clinician-scientist, Alex hopes to continue conducting interdisciplinary collaborative research that can ultimately lead to breakthroughs that effect change clinically.
NIH Oxford Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Bob Seder (VRC) & Prof. Simon Draper (Oxford)
Degrees: Haverford College, B.A. Chemistry (concentration in Biochemistry), 2014; Medical student at University of California, San Diego (in progress)
Research Interests: Infectious diseases, immunology, vaccine development
Lawrence first appreciated the noxious synergy between poverty and pathogens in a class on public health at Haverford College, which kindled his aspiration to become a physician and address health inequalities. Lawrence completed his undergraduate research thesis in the lab of Dr. Iruka Okeke at Haverford, studying virulence factors and antimicrobial peptides produced by diarrheagenic E. coli. He also helped develop diagnostic assays to detect drug resistance mutations in Hepatitis C virus with Dr. Adele McCormick during a semester abroad at University College London. After college, Lawrence completed a post-baccalaureate fellowship in the lab of Dr. Mark Connors at the National Institutes of Health, where he studied the cytotoxic T cell response to HIV infection in vaccine recipients and in rare patients whose immune systems can control HIV. Lawrence continued his research efforts as a medical student at UC San Diego, where he studied malaria genetics in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Winzeler and the spatial epidemiology of antimalarial drug distribution in Uganda with Dr. Ross Boyce. Lawrence’s mentors and role models have inspired him to further refine his aspirations to becoming a physician-scientist who develops vaccines for infectious diseases. As an OxCam scholar, Lawrence plans to work on malaria vaccine development under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Seder at the NIH Vaccine Research Center and Dr. Simon Draper at Oxford’s Jenner Institute.
NIH Oxford Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Robert Hanson (NIDDK), Prof. Mark McCarthy (Oxford), & Dr. Anubha Mahajan (Oxford)
Degrees: Stanford University, B.A. Human Biology, 2016; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, MSc Public Health, 2017
Research Interests: Genetics & epigenetics, genomics, cardiometabolic health
Lauren's high school research on gestational diabetes with mentor Dr. Louiza Belkacemi sparked her enduring interest in the global epidemic of cardiometabolic diseases. Especially committed to deepening understandings of diabetes across diverse populations, she has co-authored articles on gene expression, genetic associations and health outcomes, and served in community health advocacy. Upon Lauren's graduation in 2016, Stanford recognized her with the Deans' Award for Academic Achievement and John W. Lyons Award for Service, for her contributions to the university and broader communities.
During her public health training, Lauren orchestrated a jointly-mentored thesis investigating gene-environment interactions in a 200,000-person cohort within UK Biobank, with respect to diabetes status. She planned and executed the study with the mentorship of London-based health equity researcher Dr. Rohini Mathur, and Oxford-based diabetes genetics and genomics researchers Dr. Anubha Mahajan and Professor Mark McCarthy. Lauren then worked as an Intramural Research Trainee with Dr. Robert Hanson at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center-based NIDDK Branch, investigating genetic associations with physiological traits in Southwestern Native American patients. She is grateful to continue her diabetes research with a team of mentors also dedicated to the interface of genetics, epigenetics, genomics and population health.
These learning opportunities--motivated by longtime interests in cardiometabolic health and science communication--have deepened Lauren's commitment to promoting bench-to-bedside medicine across diverse populations. In the coming years, she looks forward to investigating how genetic and environmental diversity jointly influence cardiometabolic disease etiology, to ultimately shape prevention and treatment strategies.
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Mentors: Dr. Cindy Dunbar (NHLBI) & Dr. George Vassiliou (Cambridge)
Degrees: University of Wisconsin Madison, B.S. Biology and Psychology, 2014; University of Oxford, M.S. Integrated Immunology, 2017
Yifan graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2014 with a B.S. in biology and psychology. He firstly developed an interest in science he shadowed in Dr. Stephen Ekker’s Lab at the Mayo Clinic. He worked on validating a transposon-based gene screening tool in zebrafish to study stress response. Yifan continued his research career throughout college at Dr. Craig Kent’s vascular surgery Lab studying restenosis. His effort resulted in the development of a novel perivascular sheath drug delivery system for restenosis patients, as well as the advancement in the understanding of TGF-Smad3-mediated pathogenesis in restenosis. He also worked at Dr. Paul Sondel’s immunotherapy Lab evaluating the efficacy of the cytokine-conjugated antibody therapy in pediatric neuroblastoma patients. After graduation, Yifan joined Dr. Karen Usdin’s Lab at the NIDDK as a postbac fellow studying the genetic pathogenesis process of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). His work demonstrated a potential selective advantage of the FXS-patient-derived stem cells with methylated Fragile X Mental Retardation Gene 1, which could explain the transgenerational anticipation occurring in FXS families. Furthermore, he also developed a cost-effective semi-quantitative methylation assay that could be applied in prenatal genetic testing for FXS. He published these results in two first-author manuscripts. Most recently, Yifan completed a master’s degree in Immunology at the University of Oxford. he has been studying multiple sclerosis animal models and developing blood biomarkers using NMR-based metabolomics. As a NIH OxCam scholar, Yifan plans to investigate haematopoiesis using single cell analysis platform at transcriptome and epigenome levels.