MS1

James Baek

James Baek

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University-St. Louis
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A.
Steven Chen

Steven Chen

Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: My research interests lie within the intersection between molecular genetics and computational biology. I have previously worked on projects focused on bioinformatics, microscopy, and immunology.
Geneva Cunningham

Geneva Cunningham

Undergraduate Institution: University of Oklahoma
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Hendrik Greve

Hendrik Greve

Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Sotirios Karathanasis

Sotirios Karathanasis

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in unearthing the roots of, and developing treatments for diseases affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. My previous research focused on signaling in neural stem cells, and I also worked on spinal cord injury recovery. I am rotating in the lab of Jinhui Chen, MD/PhD, helping discover methods to prevent neuronal death following traumatic brain injury. I would like to learn about the immune system in greater detail, especially how its activity impacts the nervous system in both health and disease.
Paul Sohn

Paul Sohn

Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: As an undergraduate, I studied the role of cholesterol trafficking in obesity and atherosclerosis, specifically regarding macrophages. I took a year off after college to further investigate macrophage migration in mice. I am continuing to investigate the role of myeloid lineage cell lines in various systems and diseases.
Cyrus Takahashi

Cyrus Takahashi

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: My research interests are in medicinal chemistry and drug design. Specifically, I am interested in utilizing synthetic, biochemical, and cellular approaches to identify potential druggable targets and develop new selective therapeutics and probes. These compounds will ideally allow a better understanding of a wide variety of diseases as well as provide viable new treatment strategies.

MS2

Megan Bernath

Megan Bernath

Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Frederick Damen

Frederick Damen

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A
Brian Grice

Brian Grice

Undergraduate Institution: Benedictine University
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Sara Ibrahim

Sara Ibrahim

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University--Indianapolis
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: N/A
Jennifer Martynowicz

Jennifer Martynowicz

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
David Sohutskay

David Sohutskay

Undergraduate Institution: The Ohio State University
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A
Thao Trinh

Thao Trinh

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

GS1

Katharine Andrews

Katharine Andrews

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A & M University
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Medical Neurobiology
Research Mentor: Thomas McAllister, M.D. and William Truitt, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in understanding the genetic roots of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.
Mohammad Aref

Mohammad Aref

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana Univerity-Indianapolis
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Matthew Allen, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in the effects of disease states and drug therapy on bone mechanics. I have worked in the Allen lab since 2011, starting as an undergraduate intern.
Brittani Bungart

Brittani Bungart

Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri-Columbia
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Ji-Xin Cheng, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: My prior research focused on therapeutic strategies for Alzheimerer’s disease. With my overall interest entailing disease of the neurological system, I have chosen to spend my first summer rotating in Professor Pedro Irazoqui’s laboratory at Purdue University to investigate deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease.

Victoria Alexe' Engel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/a
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: N/A
Eric Hawley

Eric Hawley

Undergraduate Institution: DePauw University
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: Part of my previous research focused on cell physiology and lymphocyte development. I plan to continue I immunology or Hem/Onc.
Alexander Kiel

Alexander Kiel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Jonathan Tune, Ph.D. (IU) and Craig Goergen, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: My primary research interests lie in regenerative medicine. I am currently working on bone regeneration as a counter to age related bone loss. In the near future, I will also start working on full limb regeneration.
Elizabeth Runge

Elizabeth Runge

Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Chicago
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: My undergraduate research was in the field of developmental neuroscience and focused on axon guidance in the lingual system. I look forward to continuing research in neuroscience, particularly in regenerative medicine.
Ben Ulrich

Ben Ulrich

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Mark Kaplan, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in using immunotherapy to help regulate the adaptive immune response in autoimmune disease models. A better mechanistic understanding of the many immunological pathways will provide new translational regulatory mechanisms that could be targeted to help reduce/increase inflammation.

GS2

Arianne Aslamy

Arianne Aslamy

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington-Seattle
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Celluar and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Debbie Thurmond, Ph.D.
Research: I joined the MSTP from the University of Washington, Seattle. I studied aging in Daf2 mutants of C. elegans. My research interests lie primarily in metabolic diseases/diabetes.
Lisa Deng

Lisa Deng

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Rebecca Chan, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in genetic diseases, particularly genetic causes of cancer, and developing treatment strategies for these diseases.
Ayeeshik Kole

Ayeeshik Kole

Undergraduate Institution: Vanderbilt University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Michael Sturek, Ph.D. (IU) Alyssa Panitch, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: My current research interests include nanomedical systems, organs-on-a-chip, microfulidics, and tissue bioprinting.
Joseph Ladowski

Joseph Ladowski

Undergraduate Institution: University of Chicago
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: A. Joseph Tector, MD/Ph.D.
Research: Currently, over 100,00 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Our lab hopes to solve the transplant organ shortage through xenotransplantation, the placement of a pig organ into a human recipient. Our research is focused on the elimination of the antibody-mediated barrier to transplant and the manipulation of the cellular response in rejection. My project focuses on the role of the swine leukocyte antigen (SLA) class I and II and how we might be able to either erase these molecules or replace them with human transgene versions.
Jenny Lin

Jenny Lin

Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: I received my undergraduate Chemical Enineering degree from Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. At Cornell, I studied the conformation of natural and recombinant lubricin through Atomic Force Microscopy in the context of therapies for osteoarthritis. I then moved to Boston University where I studied the utility of thermo-responsive polymers as a surface platform for engineering cardiovascular tissues with organized smooth muscle structure. This past summer at IUSOM, I studied the effects of a pentadecapeptide on encapsulated beta-cell viability and proliferation for generating engineered tissue with pancreatic activity. My research interests lie in the use of biomaterials and stem cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. I am also interested in targeted drug delivery.
Lauren Marussich

Lauren Marussich

Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Zhongming Liu, Ph.D.
Research: Multimodal brain imaging to understand the basis of neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
Kevin Ni

Kevin Ni

Undergraduate Institution: Harvard University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Irina Petrache, M.D.
Research: My research interest lies in understanding the molecular mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction and vascular pathogenesis in the context of chronic disease processes. As an undergraduate, I studied Chemical and Physical Biology and pursued research projects in structural biology, nematode metabolism, and thrombosis.

GS3

Donna Cerabona

Donna Cerabona

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biochemsitry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: My research will focus on the mechanisms of mitotic dysregulation that lead to aneuploidy and carcinogenesis. In particular, I am interested in the signaling events occurring at the mitotic spindle during the mitotic metaphase-to-anaphase transition, within the context of Fanconi Anemia, a genetic disease often resulting in bone marrow failure.
Abass Conteh

Abass Conteh

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, M.D.
Research: My research interests lie in neuroscience. M primary interests are in brain trauma and spinal cord injury research. Besides spinal cord injury I am interested in any aspect of research that involves the nervous system. I have just completed my first year summer lab rotation and have just started my first year of medical school.
Sherri Huang

Sherri Huang

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Pharmcology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: William Sullivan, Ph.D.
Research: My research interest in gene expression regulation, which has implications in cancer, pharmacology and microbiology research, brought me to the Sullivan lab. The Sullivan laboratory studies transcriptional and translational control of stress response pathways in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma gondii, which causes congenital birth defects and infections in immunocompromised individuals, transitions between life forms and hosts and encounters various forms of stress in its life cycle. I am excited to begin my graduate work in this field this summer.
Deborah Olmstead

Deborah Olmstead

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Kathryn Jones, Ph.D.
Research: I will be joining Dr. Katharyn Jones' lab in July 2013 to study peripheral nerve regeneration after physical trauma in rats. The research focuses on the therapeutic effects of testosterone and electrical stimulation post-injury on axonal regeneration. In addition, the Jones lab studies mechanisms and therapies for ALS (anyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and SMA (spinal muscular atropy) in mice and rats.
Nick Race

Nick Race

Undergraduate Institution: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Riyi Shi, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: My research interests lie primarily in the fields of neuroscience and neurotrauma. I will be working in Dr. Riyi Shi's lab at Purdue University to apply biomedical engineering approaches to understanding primary and secondary injury resulting from blast wave and mechanical trauma to the brain and spinal cord. In addition to a heightened understanding of neural injury, the goals of this research include developing screening and therapeutic measures related to the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
Daniel Sassoon

Daniel Sassoon

Undergraduate Institution: University of the Pacific
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Johnthan Tune, Ph.D.
Research: I am investigating the cellular and physiologic changes in cardiovascular function that reults from diseased metabolic states including: obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Type II Diabetes Mellitus. I am particularly interested in altered gene regulation that renders the body insensitive to commonly used therapies.
Stefan Tarnawsky

Stefan Tarnawsky

Undergraduate Institution: University of Toronto
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Merv Yoder, M.D.
Research: I am interested in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Specifically, I am interested in hematopoietic lineages that develop earlier than and independently from the 'classical' adult-repopulating hematopoietic stem cell (HSC). I am studying the contribution of these HSC-independent lineages to developmental disorders using a mouse embryos as well as human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). My clinical interests remain broad, but are focused on hematology/oncology.
James Wodicka

James Wodicka

Undergraduate Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, Ph.D.
Research: My primary area of research interest is biomedical engineering, with an emphasis on biomaterials and related device-tissue interactions. My current project is in the cardiovascular domain and involves the development of novel drug-eluting stents. Our goal is to coat the stent with multiple drugs using varying release mechanisms to prevent intimal hyperplasia while providing an environment for healthy endothelial cell growth. This hybrid device would help prevent both restenosis and later stage thrombosis formation following percutaneous coronary intervention.

GS4

Kelly Craven

Kelly Craven

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, M.D.
Research: I am currently looking to join a lab that focuses on understanding the genomic defects of a cancer, how those defects cause alterations in biochemical pathways, and how it might be possible to intervene in those pathways therapeutically.
Alex Ocana

Alex Ocana

Undergraduate Institution: Kent State University
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Travers, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: In general I am interested in the design and synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs. I also want to understand the effects of these durgs at the molecular and cellular levels. I am interested in the fields of Biochemistry, Neurology, Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry.
Joyatee Sarker

Joyatee Sarker

Undergraduate Institution: MIT
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Ann Rundell, Ph.D.
Research: Ann Rundell's lab focuses on various aspects of computational biology. I am specifically looking at mathematically modeling T-cell proliferation in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia after peripheral blood stem cell transplants. The hope is that we will be able to model the progression of graft versus host disease (GVHD) and tailor therapeutic regimens for the prevention of GVHD.

MS3

Yohance Allette-Noel

Yohance Allette-Noel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Fletcher White, Ph.D.
Research: Chronic pain affects over 50 million Americans, and costs an enormous amount of money and resources yearly, and leads to further complications including tolerance to treatment and opioid dependence. My research is focused on elucidating the mechanisms behind the propagation of chronic pain via several key receptors and ligands present in the peripheral nervous system.
Kemi Awe

Kemi Awe

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Mark Kaplan, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in the immunology of infectious diseases.
Sara Culleton

Sara Culleton

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Elliott Androphy, M.D.
Research: Our lab studies human papillomavirus (HPV), with particular emphasis on the ways in which viral proteins interact with host machinery so that the virus can carry out its life cycle--or promote cancer. My research is centered on the virus' transcription and replication regulator, the E2 protein. I aim to determine the ways in which post-translational modifications of E2 affect its function.
Janice Farlow

Janice Farlow

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Tatiana Foroud, Ph.D.
Research: My research is focused on developing best practices for analysis of high-throughput sequencing data across a spectrum of diseases. More specifically, I am applying next generation sequencing technology to identify highly penetrant inherited rare variants important to two different disease models: familial intracranial aneursysms and Parkingson Disease. The identification of casual variants can augment our current understanding of biological mechanisms behind these common diseases to provide options for early and more accurate diagnosis and risk typing, as well as for more effective and personalized therapeutic interventions.
Jeff Gehlhausen

Jeff Gehlhausen

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) is a rare genetic disorder that predisposes affected individuals to tumors of the nervous system and is caused by germline mutations in the NF2 gene. NF2 patients almost universally develop hearing loss in one or both ears due to the development of schwannomas on the 8th cranial nerve. These patients can also become paralyzed or lose their normal sense of balance resulting from tumor formation. The first part of my thesis project involves the characterization of a new murine model of NF2 that we hope will enable future genetic and pharmacologic studies aimed at identifying novel therapies for NF2-associated tumors. Given that the downstream pathways essential to NF2-deficient tumorigenesis are still unknown, the second part of my project is a genetic screen focused on identifying proteins that are selectively important to NF2-deficient tumor cells.
Steven Lee

Steven Lee

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 8th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University
Research Mentor: Pedro Irazoqui, Ph.D.
Research: Our lab is focused on creating implantable devices to assist in the treatment of various diseases. I am interested in studying the dynamics of seizure propagation in temporal lobe epilepsy and the influences of stimulation (deep brain, DBS, and vagal nerve, VNS). We hope to develop a closed-loop epilepsy prothesis with novel algorithms to optimize clinical care.
Christopher Newman

Christopher Newman

Undergraduate Institution: Miama University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Matthew Allen, Ph.D.
Research: Using both small (rats) and large mammals (dogs), we study bone quality (the inherent physical and chemical properties of skeletal tissue independent of its mass) and the impact of anti-remodeling agents on skeletal mechanical properties. These avenues of investigation are explored in models of osteoporosis and chronic kidney disease, both of which can lead to life-threating fractures in humans. Our focus is on the biomechanical implications of these diseases and the impact of current therapies on the skeletal properties associated with these diseases. In addition, we also employ techniques being developed for the clinical assessment of bone quality, which is not possible with current diagnostic tools (e.g., bone mineral density estimates).
Kurt Qing

Kurt Qing

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Pedro Irzaoqui, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: My project involves the development of wireless, battery-less implantable devices and then using these devices to study and modulate the brain's motivation and reward circuitry. My specific interests include improving device performance, optimizing parameters for electrical stimulation, and exploring the potentials of optical stimulation.
Melissa Tully

Melissa Tully

Undergraduate Institution: STONY Brook
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University
Research Mentor: Riyi Shi, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: I have selected Dr. Riyi Shi’s laboratory at Purdue University and will be receiving my PhD in biomedical engineering. I will be working with the EAE model in mice to study multiple sclerosis and hopefully develop more effective treatments by scavenging molecules that are neurotoxic and have been previously proven to be involved with the pathogenesis of the disease.

MS4

Brandon Downing

Brandon Downing

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: David Ingram, M.D.
Research: The broad focus of the Ingram lab is to understand why patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) have a much higher incidence of vasculopathies than the general public. I am specifically using cell culture and mouse modeling to understand the pathogenesis of aneurysm formation. The long-term goal is to identify the causes of the vasculopathies and try to treat NF1 patients prophylactically to reduce their incidence of vascular disease.
Rikki Enzor

Rikki Enzor

Undergraduate Institution: Judson College
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: As an MSTP student at the Indiana University School of Medicine during the past year, I completed the second year of medical school, selected a thesis lab, took the USMLE Step One, and began my PhD studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Fanconi anemia has been the focus of my three research rotations and my thesis work. Fanconi anemia is a heterogenous genetic disorder, primarily autosomal recessive, that results from mutations in any one of thirteen DNA repair proteins. Patients with Fanconi anemia may have congenital anomalities and generally develop hematological abnormalities during the first few decades of life. Most patients develop progressive pancytopenia and ultimately bone marrow failure. On average, the onset of bone marrow failure occurs at age seventeen. Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and squamous cell carcinoma are also common. Allogeneic stem cell transplant (SCT) is the only curative option, and the rates of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) are high. The development of a safe and effective gene therapy system for Fanconi anemia may provide a curative option for those without a closely-matched donor. During my summer 2009 research rotations in Dr. Ken Cornetta and Dr. Wade Clapp’s laboratories, I began developing and testing a lentiviral gene therapy system that will ultimately be used in clinical trials for the correction of a FancC deficiency. I tested a novel foamyviral envelope that we plan to use in our clinical system and optimized the amounts of vector used. My second year of medical school (fall 2009 and spring 2010) included courses in general and systemic pathology, neuroscience and clinical neurology, pharmacology, medical genetics, and clinical medicine. The Introduction to Clinical Medicine course had two components. In the lecture component, I learned to make a diagnosis based on clinical findings and test results. In a small-group interactive setting facilitated by a physician preceptor, I learned to perform a complete physical exam, interviewed and examined hospitalized patients, and wrote up my findings in standard H&P format. After taking the Step One exam in June of 2010, I began my thesis work in Dr. Wade Clapp’s laboratory and continued the FancC gene therapy project. I have been testing and studying a number of promoters that we could potentially use to drive the expression of the FancC gene. A collaborator isolated the endogenous human promoters for the FancA, FancC, and FancG genes. I have tested our lentiviral system with SFFV, EF1-alpha, hPGK, and the three Fanconi promoters in several cell lines; we are in the process of selecting the best promoter. The constructs containing the Fanconi promoters result in much lower levels of expression than those containing the SFFV, EF1-alpha, and hPGK promoters. I would like to know if the Fanconi promoters are constitutively active or inducible. As the Fanconi proteins are important for DNA crosslink repair, we suspect that DNA crosslink damage may result in induction of the Fanconi promoters. Using the three Fanconi promoter lentiviral constructs, I have begun to test this hypothesis. In addition, I am performing siRNA knockdown studies to examine the functions of the Fanconi proteins.
Justin Johnson

Justin Johnson

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
Year in Program: 8th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Carmella Evans-Molina, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: I am in the laboratory of Carmella Evans-Molina, MD/PhD. The focus of this laboratory is endoplasmic reticulum stress in the pancreatic beta cell, which is clinically relevant due to the worldwide epidemic of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. My project involves examining the mechanism of how glycotoxicity and inflammation reduce transcription of the endoplasmic reticulum calcium pump SERCA2B, and I will be investigating the role of the beta-cell specific transcription factor Pdx-1. This lab has previously established that SERCA2B levels decrease under high glucose and cytokine stress, and part of the downregulation mechanism includes phosphorylated PPARgamma, but this downregulation effect can be reversed using the PPARgamma agonist pioglitazone. My specific project aims to further explore this relationship in the context of investigating the relationship of Pdx-1 to SERCA2B, as well as the relationship between Pdx-1 and PPARgamma."
Jacquelyn Lajiness

Jacquelyn Lajiness

Undergraduate Institution: Hope College
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Simon Conway, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in cardiac development, specifically how the autonomic nervous system innervates the heart and controls heart rate. My project addresses the mechanism for how the absence of Shp2 protein (a non-receptor tyronsine phosphatase) leads to a lack of sympathetic innervation of the heart and concomitant sinus bradycardia. We propose to elucidate the specific roles of downstream targets of Shp2 such as ERK1/2 in causing this phenotype to better understand the complex nature of Shp2 signaling as well as the pathogenesis of aberrant cardiac innervation and its contribution to neonatal lethality. Understanding the developmental role of the sympathetic nervous system in the early postnatal period is crucial, as this is a key developmental window for infants and can be altered in pre-term infants.