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CURRENT STUDENTS

 

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OxCam Student Profiles - Class of 2016

Benjamin Badger
Kathleen Bashant
Michael Fernandopulle
Zachary Fitzpatrick
Cameron Gardner
Stewart Humble
Aleksandra Ivovic
Jacob Levenstein
David Morse

Will Nathan
Ryan Prestil
Joseph Roney
Lindsey Rosen
Samantha Tilson
Jessica van Loben Sels
Maggie Westwater
Derek Xu

Track 1 MD/PhD starting PhD Training Phase

Jorge Rodriguez-Gil

Wellcome Trust Scholars

Daniel Bronder

Benjamin Badger

Benjamin Badger
NIH Cambridge Scholar

John A. Cozzi Biomedical Research Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Toren Finkel (NHLBI) &
Prof. Andrea Brand (Cambridge)

Degrees: UNC Chapel Hill, B.S. in Biology (minor in Chemistry), 2015

Research Interests: Cell & Developmental Biology, Stem Cells, Apoptosis

 

Ben graduated with a degree in Biology, with distinction, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. As an undergrad, he researched the process of cell division with Kerry Bloom and Ted Salmon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focusing on the formation of the kinetochore and the physical changes that occur in this protein complex upon microtubule binding to allow a cell to segregate its chromosomes accurately and avoid aneuploidy. He was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2014 for an investigation into the molecular methods by which kinetochore tension is generated, and gave a presentation at the University’s annual celebration of undergraduate research on his findings. Ben helped uncover evidence for two distinct DNA binding sites for the kinetochore proteins CENP-T and CENP-C, and contributed to understanding how intrakinetochore stretch affects the phosphorylation of the kinetochore protein Ndc80.
After graduating, Ben continued investigating force generation in kinetochores and looked into the roles of kinesin family motor proteins in contributing to proper mitotic spindle morphology. In all, he has coauthored three papers on the molecular mechanics of mitosis. He is also a pianist and enjoys electrical engineering, astronomy, and philosophy. As an NIH Oxcam student, Ben will be researching the fundamental biology of development that underlies morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis. His hope is to become an independent academic investigator and conduct research that has the potential to benefit the lives of people everywhere.

 

 

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Kathleen Bashant

Kathleen (Katie) Bashant
NIH Cambridge Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Mariana Kaplan (NIAMS)/Dr. Nehal Mehta (NHLBI) &
Prof. Edwin Chilvers (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Vermont, B.S. in Microbiology and B.S. in Molecular Genetics, 2016

Research Interests: Inflammation, Infectious Disease, Autoimmunity

 

Kathleen Bashant (Katie) first became interested in immunology in high school, when she joined Dr. Timothy Sellati’s laboratory at Albany Medical Center. She spent four summers studying the innate immune response to Lyme disease, and developed a passion for understanding inflammatory disease states. This prompted her to join Dr. Ralph Budd’s laboratory at the University of Vermont. During her four years in this laboratory, she contributed to the discovery that necroptotic dendritic cells activate gamma delta T cells. This work has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Innate Immunity. Her distinguished undergraduate research thesis describes the dendritic cell metabolic state necessary for necroptosis.
Katie spent a summer studying genetic variation in b-glucuronidase and its impact on arthritis presentation with Dr. Janis Weis through a research fellowship at the University of Utah. She additionally spent the spring of 2015 studying the public healthcare system in Ecuador.
In 2016, Katie graduated from the University of Vermont as an honors college scholar with double majors in microbiology and molecular genetics. She was the recipient of a 2014 Goldwater Fellowship and the 2016 UVM Lucille P. Markey Outstanding Senior in Molecular Genetics award. For her Ph.D., Katie is working with Dr. Mariana Kaplan (NIAMS) and Dr. Nehal Mehta (NHLBI) at the National Institute of Health and Dr. Edwin Chilvers at the University of Cambridge. She will be using real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) to characterize neutrophils within inflammatory disease states and assess the technology’s capability as a diagnostic technology. 

 

 

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daniel bronder

Daniel Bronder
NIH University of Manchester Scholar

Wellcome Trust

Mentors: Dr. Thomas Ried (NCI) &
Prof. Stephen S. Taylor (University of Manchester)

Degrees: University of Glasgow, B.S.Genetics, 2016

Research Interests: Aneuploidy, Chromosomal Instability, Carcinogenesis

 

Daniel graduated with a first class Honours degree in Genetics from the University of Glasgow in 2016. While an undergraduate, Daniel has gained experience through various summer internships in industry and academia. Most notably, Daniel spent two summer internships in the laboratory of Dr Thomas Ried at the National Cancer Institute, for which he obtained scholarships from the Genetics Society (2014) and the Pathological Society (2015).
During his summer projects in Dr Ried’s laboratory, Daniel focussed on intratumour heterogeneity and its assessment by multi-colour, multiplexing Fluorescent in situ Hybridisation and gene expression profiling using Nanostring. This experience has sparked Daniel’s interest in aneuploidy, chromosomal instability, cancer genomics, and tumour evolution and the mechanisms governing these processes. Therefore, he pursued an application for the Four Year Wellcome Trust & NIH PhD Studentship together with Dr Ried and Prof. Stephen Taylor, whose laboratory is based at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre.
For his PhD, Daniel will be investigating post-mitotic cellular response to non-faithful chromosome segregation in epithelial cells. He has started his project in Manchester and plans to spend two years under Prof. Taylor’s immediate supervision before moving to Dr Ried’s laboratory for the remaining two years.
Daniel aims to subsequently secure a post-doctoral fellowship in order to continue conducting discovery-driven research. Ultimately, he hopes to become an independent group leader allowing him to contribute to science and medicine in such a way that patient suffering is reduced and survival increased.

 

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Michael Fernandopulle

Michael Fernandopulle
NIH Cambridge Scholar
El-Hibri Biomedical Research Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Michael Ward (NINDS) &
Prof. Peter St George-Hyslop (Cambridge)

Degrees: Brown University, Sc.B. in Chemical Biology, 2014; Medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (in progress)

Research Interests: epigenetics, developmental biology, neuroscience

 

Michael was born and raised in Oak Park, IL, and attended college at Brown University, where he graduated magna cum laude in Chemical Biology. He pursued his first research experience as an HHMI scholar studying pollen tube development in the laboratories of Dr. Alison DeLong and Dr. Mark Johnson. As a Royce Fellow, he worked with Dr. Jason Sello to decipher the role of the bacterial Pup-proteasome system in the secondary metabolism of Streptomyces, producers of two-thirds of all clinically used antibiotics. This work was featured in The Journal of Bacteriology. Outside of the laboratory, he worked to promote science education through Brown Science Prep, a weekly enrichment program for Rhode Island high school students. He also served as a screenwriter for the Brown SciToons project, an initiative designed to improve scientific literacy through animated videos on topics of public interest.
After graduation, Michael matriculated to the MSTP at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. There, he transitioned to stem cell epigenetics, working with Dr. Ali Shilatifard to identify new epigenetic regulators of pluripotency, and Dr. Evangelos Kiskinis to develop genetic reporters for neuronal differentiation from iPSCs. He also taught health lessons to detainees at the county jail, and administered a medical internship program for high school students.
For his doctoral research, Michael aims to investigate the basic phenomenon of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, while exploring its translational implications in selective neurodegeneration. Ultimately, he hopes to pursue neurology as a physician-scientist, contributing to both novel basic insights and direct patient care.

 

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Zachary Fitzpatrick

Zachary Fitzpatrick
NIH Gates-Cambridge Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Dorian McGavern (NINDS) & Prof. Roger Barker (Cambridge)

Degrees: Louisiana State University, B.S. in Biochemistry (minors in Political Science and Chemistry), 2015; Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (University of Paris 6), M.S. in Advanced Immunology, 2016

Research Interests: Lysosomal disorders, Immunology, Genomics

 

Zachary graduated from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and minors in Political Science and Chemistry, receiving College Honors. Through scientific and public health work during his undergraduate career, he fostered a keen interest in contributing to the rare diseases sector. Zachary completed an honors thesis exploring immune barriers in the application of adeno-associated virus vector-mediated gene therapy and elucidating ethical and policy implications in the development of orphan medicinal products. He was recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition with an honorable mention in both 2012 and 2013. Experience as a medical assistant in chronic pain management challenged Zachary to push the boundaries of medicine, serving underrepresented patient communities with unmet medical need.
As a LaSTEM Research Scholar and LSU-HHMI Undergraduate Research Fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and at The Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Zachary investigated primary immunodeficiencies and the development of gene-based therapies for debilitating genetic disorders, including hemophilia and neurofibromatosis. He also studied cancer immunology and genetics at the Pasteur Institute in Lille, France.
Upon graduation, Zachary received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Paris with investigators at Genethon, exploring the immunogenicity of virus-based gene therapy vectors, and to pursue an M.S. in Advanced Immunology at Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie and the Pasteur Institute. In seeking to ameliorate care for rare disease communities across Europe, he has worked closely with patients’ advocates and public policy experts at The European Rare Diseases Organization in Paris.
As an NIH-Gates Cambridge Scholar, Zachary is investigating the role of central nervous system immune activation in the pathogenesis of Krabbe disease, a severe inborn lysosomal disorder, under the mentorship of Dr. Dorian McGavern (NINDS) and Professor Timothy Cox (Cambridge).

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Cameron Gardner

Cameron Lee Gardner
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Luigi Notarangelo (NIAID) & Prof. Oreste Acuto (Oxford)

Degrees: Arizona State University, B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering and B.S. in Finance, 2015

Research Interests: Synthetic Biology, Immunology, Genome Engineering

 

Cameron began his biological research experience in industry, where he worked on quantifying the effects of inputting energy released as heat into the extra-cellular matrix via electric to acoustic transducers.
Within his alma mater, Cameron worked on using phage display derivatives to produce single-chain variable fragment coupled gadolinium particles with high affinity for fibrin degradation products to be used with magnetic resonance imaging for medical quantification of traumatic brain injuries in vivo.
In tandem, he utilized synthetic biology tools to examine how re-engineering a synthetic chromatin associated transcription factor affected reactivation of silenced transgenes in mammalian cells. He began work on constructing a combinatorial library of these homologous variant fusion Polycomb proteins and examined their ability to reactivate a silenced reporter transgene.
Concurrently, Cameron worked on building and mathematically characterizing various micro-scale microbial fuel cells (MFCs) containing variant electrodes and conditions.
Cameron simultaneously held a position in a clean lab within industry, where he built, programmed, and optimized novel assays for biomolecular array analysis, and automated these assays using available robotic instruments.
Post-graduation, Cameron began a research fellowship in the lab of George Church at Harvard Medical School where he worked on recoding the genome of E.coli with emphasis on engineering new technologies to selectively combine genomes.
Cameron’s work in these fields have afforded him various awards, publications, and opportunities to present at both the national and international level. He hopes to expand his biological toolkit to re-engineer components of the natural biological world to gain new therapeutic functions. 

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Stewart Humble

Stewart Humble
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Michael Ward (NINDS) &
Dr. Richard Wade-Martins (Oxford)

Degrees: Louisiana State University, B.S. in Biological Sciences (minor in Chemistry), 2012; Medical student at LSU Health Sciences Center -- New Orleans, in progress

Research Interests: Neuroscience, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Gene Therapy/Molecular Biology

 

Stewart graduated from Louisiana State University in May 2012 while earning a university medal, summa cum laude with College Honors, Upper Division Honors Distinction, and recognition as a Distinguished Communicator. He was a Rhodes scholarship finalist in fall 2012, and now attends medical school at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.
Under the direction of Dr. Kevin M. Smith, Humble’s undergraduate work at LSU attempted to combat cancer by analyzing porphyrin molecules that naturally accumulate within malignant tissues. His Upper Division Honors thesis, “Synthesis and Cellular Investigations of the 13^1-Lysyl Derivative of Chlorin e6,” explored the development of novel photosensitizers for applications in photodynamic therapy, or PDT cancer treatments.
Stewart’s post-bachelor work consisted of two projects in Grenoble, France via a partnership between LSU, Grenoble INP, and Université Joseph Fourier. He first worked with the iGEM Grenoble-EMSE-LSU Team in 2013 to develop an automated system that controlled key parameters within a bacterial colony, including cell density and intracellular protein concentration. The project utilized light-activated optogenetic promoters, a genetic algorithm, and the genetically encoded photosensitizer KillerRed. This system gave his team the ability to produce ROS, enabling control of bacterial cell populations without any direct human contact.
Following his iGEM experience, he pursued a second internship in Grenoble with the Néel Institiute, LMGP, and G2E Lab. The main goal of his project was to utilize micro-magnetic flux sources for medical diagnosis via protein capture and detection. By combining biological and material sciences research with immunological methods and physical processes, his research aimed to streamline the current approach to clinically relevant applications such as viral recognition, disease detection, or other medical diagnoses.
Stewart believes that pursuing an MD/PhD through the NIH OxCam program will allow him to gain expertise in both the basic sciences and clinical medicine, offering the opportunity to enhance his experiences serving local communities and combating local and global health issues such as inherited genetic and neurological disorders.

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Aleksandra Ivovic

Aleksandra Ivovic
NIH Cambridge Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Richard Siegel (NIAMS) & Prof. Peter Campbell (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Washington, B.S. in Biochemistry, 2013

Research Interests: Human genetics & genomics, bioinformatics, personalized medicine

 

After growing up in several countries around the globe, Aleksandra started medical school at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. She completed two years of medical training before moving back to the United States to enroll at the University of Washington in Seattle, earning her Bachelor of Science cum laude in Biochemistry in 2013. While there, she was first introduced to research in the lab of Hannele Ruohola-Baker to study the process of reprogramming differentiated cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, using the fruit fly as a model organism. This experience deepened her interest in the science of medicine, putting her on the path to pursue a career in research.

She joined Richard Siegel’s group at the NIH as a postbaccalaureate fellow upon graduation. Her research there centered around using next-generation sequencing approaches to study disease-causing somatic mutations in autoinflammatory diseases. The rapid expansion of sequencing technologies has made it possible to study somatic mutations in non-cancerous diseases, where detection of these mutations is made difficult by their low frequency of occurrence. Aleksandra will continue studying somatic mutations in the context of rare inflammatory disease as well as common autoimmune conditions, working towards a better understanding of their underlying genetic causes and the mutational signature of inflammation.

 

 

 

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Jacob Levenstein

Jacob Levenstein
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Peter Bandettini (NIMH) & Prof. Charlotte Stagg (Oxford)

Degrees: Endicott College, B.A. in Cognitive Studies (minors in Philosophy and International Studies), 2012; University of Oxford, MSc in Psychological Research, 2015

Research Interests: Neuroimaging, Brain Stimulation, Neuropsychology

 

Jacob Levenstein earned his undergraduate degree with honors from Endicott College, graduating with an individually designed major in Cognitive Studies. Pursuing his interests in neurodevelopment, Jacob spent part of this degree as a visiting student at Indiana University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Conducting research with Dr. Chen Yu, he worked on a variety of language acquisition and social interaction experiments. During his final year, he also conducted a self-directed thesis examining categorical preferences and the processing capacities of grapheme-color synesthetes and control participants.
Following graduation, he spent the next two years researching within a neuroimaging center. Working with Dr. Anne Blood at Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, and Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard Medical School, Jacob became enthralled with quantifying and accounting for individual differences in brain function.
Following this passion, Jacob pursued his Master’s degree at the University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology. For his MSc research project, he worked with Professor Roi Cohen Kadosh and was awarded a distinction for his dissertation, providing evidence of individuals’ cortico-hippocampal functional connectivity to explain the differential efficacy of brain stimulation modulating performance. Jacob also worked with Professor Glyn Humphreys within the Oxford Cognitive Neuropsychological Centre (CNC), researching both the salience of the self and more clinically focused projects analyzing stroke affected neuroimaging data. After earning his Master’s, Jacob holds the position of Junior Research and Laboratory Manager within the CNC, continuing his neuroimaging research in stroke and focusing on lesion based analyses.  

 

 

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David Morse

David Morse
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Certara Biomedical Research Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Craig Thomas (NCATS) & Prof. Tuomas Knowles (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Tennessee, B.A. in Physics and Biophysics, 2015; University of Cambridge, MPhil in Nanoscience at the Department of Engineering, 2016

Research Interests: Drug Delivery, Nanomedicine, and Oncology

 

David graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee in 2015 studying physics and biophysics. As an undergraduate he was mentored by Tennessee’s Dr. Dibyendu Mukherjee and conducted independent research on the interaction of nanoparticles with biological membranes, culminating in a College Scholars Thesis. David extended this research at Harvard University’s Weitz lab examining the ability of toxins and peptides to selectively bind to lipid domains during an undergraduate internship. After graduating from Tennessee, he was awarded a 2015-16 Fulbright Scholarship and a Whitaker Fellowship to conduct an MPhil at the University of Cambridge. Here he worked with Prof. Sir Mark Welland and Dr. Colin Watts to develop a gold/iron oxide nanocontainer and to explore its potential applications as a multimodal cancer therapeutic. Throughout this year David worked to promote international scientific collaboration and instigate a set of joint US/UK Nanomedicine Conferences to take place in the summers of 2016 and 2017. As an NIH OxCam student, David will continue to carry out cancer research and hopes to follow his PhD with an MD focused on medical oncology.

 

 

 

 

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Will Nathan

Will Nathan
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Dave Wilson (NIA) &
Prof. Peter McHugh (Oxford)

Degrees: Middlebury College, B.A. in Biochemistry and Economics, 2016

Research Interests: Aging, DNA Repair, Cancer

 

Will graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College in 2016 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Economics. He spent his undergraduate summers in the lab of Dr. David Gius at Northwestern University, working on projects that aimed to understand how sirtuins and acetylation may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease and cancer. He also examined how a LRRK2 mutant, implicated in some cases of familial Parkinson’s disease, is associated with altered sirtuin expression. As a junior, Will spent the year studying biochemistry at Lincoln College, Oxford primarily under the tutoring of Dr. John Vakonakis. Returning to Middlebury for his senior year, he worked in Dr. Bob Cluss’ lab studying acetylation in Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. In Dr. Cluss’ group, Will focused on understanding how oxidative stress alters acetylation patterns in Borrelia. Additionally, he spent time building a system where CobB, the E. coli lysine-deacetylase, could be used to deacetylate Borrelial proteins in vitro, thereby allowing the effects of deacetlyation on specific Borrelial proteins to be studied. Will has co-authored two publications from his time spent in Dr. Gius’ lab.
As an NIH OxCam scholar, he is very excited to study the molecular basis of aging and DNA damage repair.

 

 

 

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Ryan Prestil

Ryan Prestil
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Cambridge OverseasTrust Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Kenneth Fischbeck (NINDS) & Prof. David Rubinsztein (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. in Neurobiology and Mathematics, 2016

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Stem Cell Modeling, Gene Editing

 

Ryan Prestil earned a B.S. with Honors in Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2016, where he majored in Neurobiology and Mathematics. In 2013, Ryan joined the lab of Prof. Krishanu Saha in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow. Over the next three years, he worked to understand the role of the physical environment in stem cell differentiation and reprogramming, and he developed biomaterial platforms to improve CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing workflows. In recognition for his work, Ryan was awarded the Hilldale Research Fellowship in 2014. Ryan also worked in the lab of Dr. Detlev Arendt at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory during the summer of 2015, funded by a Promega International Internship Scholarship and a Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant. In the lab, Ryan investigated the role of key neurodevelopmental genes in the Platynereis dumerilii annelid model in order to better understand the evolutionary origins of the central nervous system.
As an OxCam scholar jointly funded by the NIH and the Cambridge International Trust, Ryan will develop human stem cell models of neural tissue in order to study the molecular mechanisms underpinning the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Many of these diseases share common pathological features, including aberrant protein aggregation, impaired RNA metabolism, and dysfunctional mitochondrial quality control. However, it remains unknown which molecular and genetic pathways link these phenotypes and how different cell types interact to yield tissue-specific neuronal death.

 

 

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Jorge Rodriguez-Gil

Jorge Rodriguez-Gil

NIH Oxford Scholar

MD/PhD

Mentors: Dr. Bill Pavan (NHGRI) &
Prof. Frances Platt (Oxford)

Degrees: Florida International University, B.S. in Biology (minor in Psychology), 2011; Medical student at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, in progress

Research Interests: Genomics, Development, Rare diseases.

 

Jorge was born in Cuba and lived there until he was eighteen years old. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida International University (FIU) at Miami, Florida with a BS and a minor in psychology in 2011. During his undergraduate study he conducted research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Miami under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer J. Hu. During this time, his research was mainly focused on exploring racial and ethic disparities in breast cancer risk in African American women using a genome-wide analysis approach. While working in Dr. Hu’s lab he published as co-author and first author over 15 manuscripts in high impact journals such as Nature and Nature Genetics.
In the summer of 2009 Jorge received an American Cancer Society Fellowship and continued his work on breast cancer research identifying new biomarkers in radiotherapy-induced early adverse reaction in breast cancer patients. This work resulted in a first author manuscript in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The next summer of 2010 Jorge was accepted as a summer fellow at the NHGRI (NIH) working Dr. William J. Pavan in several projects including EFGR inhibitors in melanoma treatment. After graduating in 2011 from FIU and receiving a Medallion of Distinction in Excellence in Civic Engagement Jorge decided to go back to the NIH and continue his work with Dr. Pavan at NHGRI. For the next two years his research focused on elucidating new targets for therapeutic intervention in Niemann-Pick disease, Type C (NPC), a rare lysosomal storage disorder with neurological presentation. During his time at the NIH he was able to apply genomics and clinical research from the bench to the bedside. This work resulted on a first author publication in the journal of Molecular Genetics and Metabolism and a co-author publication in Disease Models and Mechanisms as he was able to apply his work on NPC to other lysosomal storage disorders such as Gaucher disease.
Jorge has completed three years of medical school at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. His research interests are genomics, development and rare diseases. For his PhD, Jorge will continue to work with Dr. Pavan at NHGRI and Professor Frances Platt at the University of Oxford.

 

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Joseph Roney

Joseph Roney
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Zu-Hang Sheng (NINDS) & Prof. Frances Platt (Oxford)

Degrees: University of Florida, B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Science, 2012

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Medical Genetics, Cell Biology

 

Joseph Roney graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with a degree in Microbiology and Cell Science. As an undergraduate, he was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Award, where he studied a family of proteins that regulate actin depolymerizing factor in plants. After graduating, he joined Dr. William Gahl’s lab in the Medical Genetics Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), where his research shifted to investigating the function of a candidate gene associated with a rare genetic disorder called Chediak-Higashi Disease (CHD). In addition, he was able to collaborate with other research groups at NIH on CHD-related projects and be involved in two CHD case reports. His experience provided him the opportunity to engage in more translational projects and inspired him to pursue a career in the biomedical sciences.
Outside of his research, Joseph was a member of the NHGRI Genome Trainee Advisory Committee and participated in the NIH Academy Fellows program. His primary research interests are in neurodegeneration, medical genetics, and cell biology. As an NIH-OxCam student, he is interested in using genetic and cell biology approaches to better understand molecular mechanisms underlying disease to help identify therapeutic targets with the overall goal of applying these discoveries to the clinic, and hopes to establish a career along this pipeline.

 

 

 

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Lindsey Rosen

Lindsey Rosen
NIH Oxford Scholar
WCG Biomedical Research Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Steve Holland (NIAID) &
Prof. Georg Hollander (Oxford)

Degrees: Florida State University, B.S. Chemical Science (minor in Biological Science), 2009

Research Interests: Immunology, Autoimmunity, & Infectious Disease

 

Lindsey graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Chemical Science from Florida State University in 2009. Despite her undergraduate research experience being in organic chemistry, she took a position at the National Institutes of Health in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Holland and became enthralled with immunology, specifically the mechanisms underlying infection susceptibility, ranging from monogenic primary immunodeficiencies to those that are acquired in adulthood. Her primary focus has been on acquired immunodeficiencies associated with anticytokine autoantibodies. As an NIH Oxford Scholar, Lindsey plans to investigate mechanisms of immune tolerance and autoimmunity to elucidate what leads to autoantibody production and its pathogenesis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Samantha Tilson

Samantha Tilson
NIH Cambridge Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Jake Liang (NIDDK) &
Prof. Ludovic Vallier (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Alabama, B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 2016

Research Interests: Tissue Engineering, Stem Cell Biology, Disease Modeling

 

Samantha graduated summa cum laude from The University of Alabama with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2016. While at The University of Alabama, she was a member of the Computer Based Honors Program, the nation’s oldest interdisciplinary undergraduate research program. Samantha began doing research the summer after her freshman year through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Experience. She conducted research on cancer stem cells for three years under the direction of Dr. John Kim. Her research focused on optimizing the culture conditions and enriching the in vitro cancer cultures for cancer stem cells.
Samantha conducted two independent projects during her time in the Kim lab. The first studied the effects of small molecule inhibitors to the ROCK pathway on the in vitro propagation of glioblastoma stem cells. This work was published in PLoS ONE in July 2015. Her second project investigated the combined roles of basic fibroblast growth factor and pH on the growth and survival of glioblastoma stem cells. This work has been submitted for publication and is currently under review. In addition to her publications, Samantha has also presented her work at three national conferences. In recognition of her outstanding undergraduate research, Samantha was named a 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar and a 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
As an NIH OxCam scholar, Samantha aims to design and create an in vitro model of Hepatitis C infection of the human liver that can be used for drug and vaccine development.  

 

 

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Jessica van Loben Sels

Jessica van Loben Sels
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Cambridge OverseasTrust Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Kim Green (NIAID) &
Prof. Ian Goodfellow (Cambridge)

Degrees: University of Kansas, B.S. Honors in Microbiology, 2016

Research Interests: Immunology, Virology, Infectious Disease

 

Jessica graduated with distinction and honors from both the college and biology department of the University of Kansas in 2016 with a B.S. in Microbiology. During her undergraduate career, she conducted research as a Goldwater scholar and Astronaut scholar under the supervision of Dr. David Davido. Her research was aimed at elucidating the mechanisms by which the herpes simplex virus type I protein, ICP0, overcomes a cell’s antiviral state established by interferon-β and how this protein facilitates viral protein expression and replication in the face of such an immune response. This research led to numerous presentations given around the US and in Canada as well as a couple of publications.
As an NIH Cambridge scholar, Jessica will be co-mentored by Dr. Ian Goodfellow at Cambridge and Dr. Kim Green at NIAID, under whom she will study norovirus infections endemic to populations in Uganda, where the virus causes serious health threats. Her project intends to understand norovirus infection in terms of the body’s immune responses to the virus. Additionally, she plans to study how this virus persists in immunocompromised individuals. With longstanding experience as a tutor and undergraduate teaching assistant, she intends to establish a career at a teaching university where she can instruct and mentor undergraduates while conducting research at the intersection of virology and immunology.

 

 

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Margaret Westwater

Margaret Westwater
NIH Cambridge Scholar
Cambridge OverseasTrust Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Kevin Hall (NIDDK) &
Prof. Paul Fletcher (Cambridge)

Degrees: George Mason University, B.S. in Neuroscience, 2014; University of Cambridge, MPhil in Medical Science (minor in Psychiatry), 2016

Research Interests: Neuroimaging, Psychiatry, Eating Behavior

 

Maggie graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University in 2014, where she completed a Bachelors of Science degree in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, she began working for Dr. Sarah Fischer on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study that assessed the effect of acute stress on food cue-reactivity in women with bulimia nervosa. Throughout her involvement in this research, she became motivated to study the neurobiological factors that increase risk for, and maintenance of, disordered eating behaviors.
Following graduation, Maggie worked in the laboratory of Dr. James Thompson, and she researched the effects of social withdrawal on reinforcement learning and inhibitory control in adolescents. At the same time, she gained experience with neuromodulation techniques (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation) and how these may be used to affect visual perception.
She joined Prof. Paul Fletcher’s research group at the University of Cambridge in 2015, where she is currently pursuing an MPhil in Medical Science (Psychiatry). Her graduate work has examined the relationship between obesity and cortical morphometry in two distinct periods of human development: adolescence and middle-adulthood. She has authored numerous publications on both her undergraduate and graduate research, and she has been recognized as a Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellow and Cambridge International Trust Scholar.
As an NIH Cambridge Scholar, Maggie plans to study the causes and consequences of binge eating by integrating several sets of measures, which will index physiological (e.g., gut hormones, metabolism), psychological (e.g., inhibitory control, stress) and environmental factors.

 

 

 

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Derek Xu

Derek Xu
NIH Oxford Scholar

Mentors: Dr. Kenneth Yamada (NIDCR) & Dr. Alberto Baena (Oxford)

Degrees: Princeton University, A.B. in Molecular Biolgy and Certificate in Neuroscience, 2016

Research Interests: Developmental Biology

 

The son of two biology professors, Derek grew up in Knoxville, TN, watching the life of a scientist, and originally had little intention of following his parents’ footsteps. However, after spending some time working in a lab during his senior year of high school he came to appreciate the scientific process and thrill of discovery. Consequently, he sought out other opportunities to pursue scientific research, and during the summers of his freshman and sophomore years Derek worked at MedImmune with Dr. Srinath Kasturirangan, generating and studying a new platform of bispecific antibodies. The fall of his junior year, he spent a semester abroad at the University of Oxford, studying the regulation of endoplasmic reticulum morphology in the lab of Professor Francis Barr. When he returned, Derek joined the laboratory of Professor Elizabeth Gavis, studying the regulation of dendrite morphogenesis in Drosophila dendritic arborization neurons. He recently presented his thesis work at the inaugural Princeton Research Day, winning the Undergraduate Poster Gold Prize.
As an NIH-OxCam Scholar, Derek hopes to continue his pursuit of scientific discovery, and is excited do so under the mentorship of Drs. Ken Yamada and Alberto Baena.
Outside of science, Derek likes to dabble in creative fiction and screenplay. During his time at Princeton, Derek also rowed for the Varsity Lightweight Men’s Rowing Team. Derek graduated from the University with a degree in Molecular Biology and a certificate in Neuroscience.

 

 

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This Page Last Reviewed on May 15, 2017