MS1

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Undergraduate Institution: Bowdoin College
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: My research interests are cancer, genetic diseases and neurosciences. I am fascinated by the mechanisms underlying cancer and genetics diseases and am motivated to use an understanding of these mechanisms to develop novel therapies.
John Damrath

John Damrath

Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am very interested in orthopedic biomechanics and genetic bone disease.
Elizabeth Fernander

Elizabeth Fernander

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in studying infectious diseases, especially those that have the greatest impact in developing countries. I would like to study diseases to help alleviate the burden they have on these countries.
Hannah Kline

Hannah Kline

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in the physiology of addiction, specifically regarding the interaction between neuroanatomy, metabolism, and the cardiovascular system. I have previously studied thermoregulation and methamphetamine, and alcohol dependence in humans.
Paul Randazzo

Paul Randazzo

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-College Park
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in biochemistry and structural biology. Characterization of the structures, intramolecular movements and structure function relationships of biological macromolecules and intermolecular interactions has tremendous potential to foster advances in medicine. I hope to combine structural and biochemical approaches to elucidate the molecular underpinning of clinically relevant phenomena.
Baleigh Schuler

Baleigh Schuler

Undergraduate Institution: Central Michigan University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N./A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am broadly interested in infectious diseases. I would like to study pathogen-host interactions at the molecular level.
Ravinderjit Singh

Ravinderjit Singh

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in neuroscience/neuroengineering research. More specifically, I am interested in utilizing signal processing and control techniques to better understand and modulate the nervous system.
Jared Smith

Jared Smith

Undergraduate Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am very passionate about pursuing neuroscience research as I have either worked or completed four neuroscience projects ranging from Tourette Syndrome to pain signalling and transmission over the course of my undergraduate and post-bacc years.
Matthew Steinhart

Matthew Steinhart

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am coming from an ophthalmology research lab where I was working on the investigation of the pathophysiology of glaucoma. However, my most recent project there involved the relationship of blood pressure and the eye. This piqued my interest in the cardiovascular system, so I am pursuing a rotation this summer in physiology.

MS2

James Baek

James Baek

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University-St. Louis
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A.
Research: I have been investigating the mechanism behind opioid-induced hyperalgesia, a neuropathic pain that is paradoxically produced after the administration of morphine, during a rotation with Dr. Fletcher White. Though the mechanism is not fully understood, the White lab found that Toll-like Receptor 4 may mediate neuropathic pain by influencing the activity of voltage-gated sodium channels on nociceptive neurons. The lab hopes to use these findings to discover new insights into neuropathic pain and provide relief for patients suffering from opioid-induced hyperalgesia.
Steven Chen

Steven Chen

Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I am interested in the intersection of molecular biology, genomics, and oncology. My rotation with Yunlong Liu, PhD, exposed me to using computational techniques to elicit significant alternative splicing patterns using clinical data from cancer patients (TCGA).
Geneva Cunningham

Geneva Cunningham

Undergraduate Institution: University of Oklahoma
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: During my first summer at IUSM, I rotated in Dr. Mayo’s laboratory testing potential candidates for MDM2 neddylation in various cell lines. While neddylated HIF-1A is stabilized in hypoxia, and p53 is stabilized by HIF-1A but inactivated by MDM2 neddylation, understanding the relationship between these proteins could be a strategy to controlling tumor growth.
Hendrik Greve

Hendrik Greve

Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I did a research rotation this past summer studying the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein and its contributions to the disease spinal muscular atrophy.
Sara Ibrahim

Sara Ibrahim

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University--Indianapolis
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: N/A
Sotirios Karathanasis

Sotirios Karathanasis

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Year in Program: 2nd
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: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I did a research rotation this summer, in a lab that investigates the role of myeloid lineage cell lines in various systems and diseases. I would like to study the biochemical and cellular mechanisms in which myeloid cells play a role in disease.
Cyrus Takahashi

Cyrus Takahashi

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A
Research: I recently completed a six week research rotation in the lab of Dr. Zhong-Yin Zhang in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at IUSM prior to starting my first year medical school classes. I worked on the development of a new class of covalent protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors for potential use as activity-based probes or therapeutics for a variety of diseases mediated by phosphatase activity. This project comprised both the assembly of a small compound library and the enzymatic screening against the clinically-relevant phosphatase PTP1B to evaluate inhibitor activity.

GS1

Megan Bernath

Megan Bernath

Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Andrew Saykin, Psy.D.
Frederick Damen

Frederick Damen

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Craig Goergen, Ph.D.
Brian Grice

Brian Grice

Undergraduate Institution: Benedictine University
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Elmendorf, Ph.D.
Jennifer Martynowicz

Jennifer Martynowicz

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: William Sullivan, Ph.D.
Research: I am truly excited to be beginning my work as a graduate student here at IU working with a neglected parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is one of the most prolific in the world but disproportionally affects those who are immune suppressed, such as those who have HIV or are on immunosuppressive drugs like those used to treat cancer. Despite its status, and with one third of the people in the US being carriers of latent infections, proportionality little about the workings of Toxo is known. Latent infections form cysts in different tissues but have a propensity to infect brain and heart tissue, leading to serious complications if someone becomes immunosuppressed.
I will be spending much of my graduate career working to understand some of the machinery of Toxo, specifically a complex known as GCN5b, a lysine acetyltransferase (KAT), which regulates gene expression by acetylating histones. GCN5b acts as a recruiting complex that brings together different proteins and is able to regulate expression. Many of these proteins remain unexplored and I will be working to expand our knowledge to better understand how these proteins interact with GCN5b and work together to regulate Toxo. Specifically, I will be working with AP2IX-7 and AP2X-8 to better understand their role in the cell and as a part of the GCN5b complex.
David Sohutskay

David Sohutskay

Undergraduate Institution: The Ohio State University
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Merv Yoder, M.D. (IU) and Sherry Harbin, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: My interests lie in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, with emphasis on biomaterials and stem cell biology. The focus of my current work is the development of vascularized tissue-engineered human skin equivalents as therapy for large full-thickness or nonhealing wounds such as diabetic ulcers. I will be using oligomeric collagen matrices in combination with progenitor and multipotent cell populations including skin-derived epidermal and dermal cells, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells, and vasculogenic endothelial colony forming cells, and I will optimize design parameters to improve mechanical and biological characteristics. I will investigate these constructs both in vitro, and using in vivo animal wound models.
Thao Trinh

Thao Trinh

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Maria Grant, M.D.
Research: During my undergraduate years, I studied the epigenetic effects of biotinylation on Enolase 1 enzyme kinetics and expression. After my first year of medical school, my research interests have evolved into understanding the diabetes-induced vascular dysfunction and how we can exploit the potential reparative capacity of hematopoietic stem cells in treating these devastating complications. Hence, I decided to join Dr. Maria Grant’s lab. One of my projects will be studying the role of SIRT1-LXR axis in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. Intriguingly, the LXR nuclear receptors have also been demonstrated to play a role in macrophages that are responsible rhythmic neutrophil clearance in the bone marrow. In addition, I’ve been always passionate about traditional medicine, and I hope that using modern technology will allow us to understand the mechanisms of things like acupuncture in restoring homeostasis.

GS2

Katharine Andrews

Katharine Andrews

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A & M University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Medical Neurobiology
Research Mentor: Thomas McAllister, M.D. and William Truitt, Ph.D.
Research: My IUSM rotation experiences included immunohistochemical staining of NF1 mutant amygdalar regions, GWAS of depression phenotype in the elderly, and fMRI analysis of the effects of methylphenidate and attention training on cognitive recovery of the traumatically brain injured (TBI) patient. Currently, I am working in my chosen thesis lab with Drs. William Truitt and Thomas McAllister. By collaborative expertise, we are creating a novel repetitive mild TBI model in rats, in which we hope to validate complex social networking deficits previously discovered in a blast TBI model. We also wish to explore the neurophysiology and subclinical phenomena of mild TBI, particularly with repetitive occurrence, as it is highly reflective of TBI in the civilian setting.
Mohammad Aref

Mohammad Aref

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana Univerity-Indianapolis
Year in Program: 2nd
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Matthew Allen, Ph.D.
Research: Current research work is focused on studying the skeletal manifestations of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The goal of this work is to understand how drug treatments can be used to effectively control skeletal disease in the setting of CKD.
Brittani Bungart

Brittani Bungart

Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri-Columbia
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Ji-Xin Cheng, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: I am a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Ji-Xin Cheng in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. My work entails participating in a highly diverse research atmosphere to apply non-linear optical techniques to elucidate cancer metabolism in order to levy this information for therapeutical applications and the development of new detection methods. I work specifically on the topic of breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.

Victoria Alexe' Engel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri
Year in Program: 3rd
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Quyen Hoang, Ph.D.
Research: The objectives of my research project are to understand the mechanism of Parkinson’s disease and to develop therapeutic strategies to inhibit the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s disease, a major neurodegenerative disease, affects about one million people in the United States and is expected to triple by 2050 as the population ages. Currently there is no cure or effective treatment for this devastating disease. Fortunately genetic discoveries in the recent decades have identified a number of genes associated inheritable Parkinson’s disease and thereby provide venues for novel therapeutic strategies. Our lab found that a disease-associated mutation in LRRK2 traps it in a persistently activated state by increasing its affinity to GTP and reducing its catalytic conversion into GDP. I am examining the atomic structure of LRRK2 to understand the precise biochemical reasons for these effects and to design drugs to counteract the mutation’s effect. I will also use the same strategy to investigate another disease-associated protein PINK1.
Eric Hawley

Eric Hawley

Undergraduate Institution: DePauw University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: Elucidating the cell signaling pathways which drive tumor formation and progression in Neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Alexander Kiel

Alexander Kiel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Jonathan Tune, Ph.D. (IU) and Craig Goergen, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: I am currently working in Dr. Tune’s lab. My cardiovascular research will be focused on ultrasound imaging of endocardial blood vessels to determine endocardial flow changes in various scenarios.
Elizabeth Runge

Elizabeth Runge

Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Chicago
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Kathryn Jones, Ph.D.
Research: Studying motor neuron injury and regeneration in the laboratory of Dr. Kathryn Jones
Ben Ulrich

Ben Ulrich

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Mark Kaplan, Ph.D.
Research: As a pre-doctoral assistant researcher in the Kaplan Laboratory, I am examining the roles that Th9 cells and cytokines play in allergic inflammation. Previously the lab has found that Th9 cells secrete a number of cytokines including IL-9, IL-3, IL-21, IL-24, and GM-CSF. In an initial project I will investigate the impact these cytokines have on the inflammatory milieu and populations of immune cells. Furthermore, it is unknown if additional cytokines will have effects on the Th9 cells themselves priming them for a more inflammatory or protective state. I will be investigating these aims through both in-vitro and in-vivo mouse models.

GS3

Arianne Aslamy

Arianne Aslamy

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington-Seattle
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Celluar and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Debbie Thurmond, Ph.D.
Research: My current research focuses on the role of the SNARE (soluble n-ethymaleimide-sensitive fusion attachment protein) complex and associated regulatory proteins in secreting insulin from the pancreatic beta cell. Normal euglycemia requires regulated insulin release from pancreatic beta cells. Regulated insulin release requires SNARE proteins, which facilitate fusion of insulin-containing granules at the beta cell’s plasma membrane; insulin is released upon fusion. This SNARE-mediated fusion is regulated by the protein, Doc2b. Recent studies reveal that Doc2b deficiency in vivo is associated with insulin secretion defects, and conversely, overexpression of Doc2b simultaneously in pancreas and skeletal muscle enhances insulin secretion and peripheral insulin sensitivity. While this suggests that Doc2b is limiting for maximal beta cell function, Doc2b’s effect on whole-body glucose homeostasis using a beta cell specific enrichment model remains unexplored. Furthermore, rodent models of diabetes show decreases in Doc2b mRNA and protein abundances early in disease. Hence, we hypothesize that Doc2b abundance is compromised in diabetes and that beta cell specific enrichment of Doc2b will improve functional beta cell function and survival.
Lisa Deng

Lisa Deng

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year in Program: 4th
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Rebecca Chan, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: I am currently working in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Chan studying the mechanisms of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) pathogenesis. JMML has a high mortality rate because standard chemotherapy treatments are ineffective and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation has a high relapse rate of about 50%. JMML is unique from other leukemias in that patients initially present with a hyperinflammatory syndrome and they succumb to extramedullary tissue invasion by myeloid cells rather than developing blast crisis. Because of the interesting initial presentation and cause of death, I am testing the hypothesis that increased inflammation and ROS levels induce hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells to migrate from the bone marrow into the periphery,
leading to poor bone marrow engraftment and organ dysfunction.
Ayeeshik Kole

Ayeeshik Kole

Undergraduate Institution: Vanderbilt University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Michael Sturek, Ph.D. (IU) Alyssa Panitch, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: Currently developing in vitro models of coronary artery pathology (i.e. restenosis, atheroma formation) for the evaluation of novel bio-therapeutics and imaging modalities to monitor real-time disease progression.
Jenny Lin

Jenny Lin

Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: I am working in the lab of Dr. Alyssa Panitch for Engineered Therapeutics; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Developing An Angiogenic Peptidoglycan for Ischemic Diabetic Foot Ulcer Repair
Lauren Marussich

Lauren Marussich

Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Zhongming Liu, Ph.D.
Research: I am working in the Liu laboratory: fMRI studies toward characterizing resting-state and task based networks in terms of connectivity and spatial organization; development of white matter functional imaging; proposal for ADHD
children sent through CTSI and F30 grant mechanisms.
Kevin Ni

Kevin Ni

Undergraduate Institution: Harvard University
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Irina Petrache, M.D.
Research: My research interests lie in understanding how cigarette smoke impairment of macrophage function contributes to COPD development and developing macrophage-targeted therapies for treating COPD. I am also interested in extending the use of Adipose derived Stem Cells (ASCs) to treating chronic disease processes. Specifically, I seek to understand the use of ASCs for treating chronic lung inflammation in cigarette smoke induced emphysema models. As an aspiring pulmonologist, I really enjoy the continuity of care and long-term follow-up aspects of internal medicine and hope to make research discoveries that will benefit patients with chronic health concerns.

GS4

Donna Cerabona

Donna Cerabona

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biochemsitry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: I began my graduate school training with Drs. Clapp and Nalepa in July 2013. This past spring 2015 I submitted my thesis proposal and advanced to candidacy in the Department of Biochemistry. When I entered the laboratory, Dr. Nalepa had just published a novel finding that the Fanconi anemia (FA) signaling network was essential for the regulation of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint to prevent aneuploidy. I sought to determine if impairment of this checkpoint regulation contributes to the cancer predisposition secondary to increased genomic instability in Fanconi anemia in vivo. We established a novel mouse model of FA, which displays spindle assembly checkpoint failure and cancer predisposition in preliminary data. Further characterization of this model, coupled with parallel studies in FA patient fibroblasts will guide my dissertation research.
Abass Conteh

Abass Conteh

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, M.D.
Research: Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer related death in U.S. Due to its presentation at an advanced stage with metastatic and/or extensive locally invasive disease, pancreatic cancer diagnosis accompanies a very dismal outlook with a median survival of less than 6 months. The tumor microenvironment has been implicated as a major contributor to cancer progression through mediation of therapeutic resistance, increasing invasion and promoting metastasis. My project is to develop a microfluidic tissue culture device that recapitulates the pancreatic cancer tumor microenvironment.
Sherri Huang

Sherri Huang

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Pharmcology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: William Sullivan, Ph.D.
Research: I am a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. William Sullivan, Jr. We study epigenetic mechanisms and transcriptional and translational control in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. My thesis project concerns determining the function of a putative DNA-binding protein of the AP2 (apetela) family through genetic and molecular approaches.
Nick Race

Nick Race

Undergraduate Institution: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Year in Program: 6th
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 am working in Dr. Riyi Shi's lab at Purdue University to apply biomedical engineering approaches to understand the contributions of primary and secondary injury resulting from blast wave exposure. In addition to pursuing a heightened understanding of the biomechanics of blast-induced neural injury, the goals of this project include linking the mechanical initiators of injury to consequential functional alterations.
Deborah Setter

Deborah Setter

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Kathryn Jones, Ph.D.
Research: Studying the role of the immune system in nerve healing after facial nerve transection. Performing facial nerve axotomy surgeries, collecting brain tissue from the mice, cryosectioning to reveal the facial motor nucleus, laser capture microdissection to collect the cell bodies, performing RNA extraction and reverse transcription to get cDNA to perform qPCR analysis.

Stefan Tarnawsky

Stefan Tarnawsky

Undergraduate Institution: University of Toronto
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Merv Yoder, M.D.
Research: I am interested in the development of blood cells. Specifically my research focus is embryonic hematopoietic lineages that are not descended from a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC). My project looks at the emergence of one such HSC-independent myeloid lineage – the erythro-myeloid progenitor – and its contribution to the development of pediatric leukemias.

James Wodicka

James Wodicka

Undergraduate Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Year in Program: 6th
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 protein-derived therapeutics. Our goal is to develop a drug delivery method for these therapeutics using varying release mechanisms to prevent intimal hyperplasia while providing an environment for healthy endothelial cell function. This approach will help prevent both restenosis and later stage thrombosis formation following vascular surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention.
Joyatee Sarker

Joyatee Sarker

Undergraduate Institution: MIT
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: David Umulis, Ph.D.
Research: Healthcare systems contain a vast array of information. However, the optimization of this information has generally been unexplored. I am interested in extracting information from healthcare systems, and using computer science algorithms to prognosticate patients. I am currently working with Dr. Ann Rundell at Purdue University in the Biomedical Engineering department. We are modeling hematopoietic stem cells’ maturation to white blood cells in leukemic patients with bone marrow transplants. Eventually, we hope to personalize the treatment of these patients, based on the acceptance or rejection of the grafts.

MS3

Kelly Craven

Kelly Craven

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 5th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, M.D.
Research: I study many aspects of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) using genetically engineered mouse models, and murine and human cell lines. Current projects address understanding the role of angiogenic and inflammatory pathways in cancer progression and/or chemoradiotherapy resistance, and how these pathways can be targeted to delay progression and/or sensitize the cancer to chemoradiotherapy treatment. Because of the heterogeneity of PDAC, much emphasis is placed on identifying gene signatures from genomic data in order to focus the analysis on pre-clinical models that best represent the PDAC subgroup of interest.
Alex Ocana

Alex Ocana

Undergraduate Institution: Kent State University
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Travers, M.D./Ph.D./Mark Kaplan, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in studying the signaling pathways of lipid mediators such as Platelet-activating factor (PAF) that modify the cutaneous immune system. In particular, I am interested in studying the immunosuppressive effects of (PAF) and PAF-agonists generated in response to oxidative stressors (e.g. UV-B and chemotherapy). Our ongoing studies suggest the PAF-mediated pathways can compromise anti-tumor immunity. Further investigation of these pathways will lead to a better understanding of how environmental stressors can modulate cutaneous immunity. Also, this work may also shed light on the therapeutic approaches whereby oxidative stress is also taken into consideration.
Daniel Sassoon

Daniel Sassoon

Undergraduate Institution: University of the Pacific
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Johnthan Tune, Ph.D.
Research: I am investigating the obesity induced alterations in cardiovascular response to incretin drugs in the setting of ischemia-reperfusion. We use the ossabaw swine model of diet induced obesity and metabolic disease. We have discovered that obesity significantly alters response to incretin drugs in the setting of ischemia-reperfusion with regards to cardiac performance, protein expression, and epigenetics.

MS4

Yohance Allette-Noel

Yohance Allette-Noel

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Fletcher White, Ph.D.
Research: I am a sixth year student (MS3) working on my clinical rotations. During my graduate program, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Fletcher White in the Stark neuroscience Research Institute. The project focused on the investigation of the mechanism behind the neuronal signaling cascades responsible for the development of chronic pain and its related sequalae. Specifically, this revolved around the function of the RAGE receptor, its downstream affects, and its relationship with other neuroinflammatory cascades, such as those associated with the TLR4 receptor.
Kemi Awe

Kemi Awe

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Year in Program: 8th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Mark Kaplan, Ph.D.
Research: I worked in the lab of Dr. Mark Kaplan. The Kaplan lab focuses on understanding T-helper cell development and their importance in various diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. My focus was on examining the role of T-cell expression of the transcription factor, PU.1, in the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and Tfh-cell dependent germinal center development.
Sara Culleton

Sara Culleton

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
Year in Program: 8th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Elliott Androphy, M.D.
Research: My thesis research in the Androphy lab focused on the early papillomavirus protein E2 and its transcription and replication activities. I discovered a novel phosphorylation site in bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV-1) E2, a model for HPV E2; this site seems to be important for both replication and transcription functions of E2, and we hypothesized that phosphorylation at this site inhibits E2 activity. Identifying the kinase responsible is our current priority.

Janice Farlow

Janice Farlow

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Year in Program: 8th
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: 7th
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: I am in my 7th year in the MSTP program and have completed my thesis work and returned to medical school. The first aim of my thesis project in Dr. Wade Clapp’s lab was the characterization of a novel mouse model of the disease Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). This mouse develops schwannomas with complete penetrance, and also acquires hearing loss and vestibular impairment similar to humans afflicted with this genetic disease. We published this model in the journal Human Molecular Genetics in 2014. The second aim of my studies included a molecular characterization of the deregulated pathways present in these tumors, and these studies are ongoing.
Steven Lee

Steven Lee

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Year in Program: 9th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University
Research Mentor: Pedro Irazoqui, Ph.D.
Research: Graduate Research at Purdue University. Center for Implantable Devices. Principle investigator and mentor: Dr. Pedro Irazoqui. Epilepsy affects ~1% of the world’s population, and a third of the patients are refractory to current pharmaceutical treatments. Our lab is developing implantable, wireless devices specifically for neuromodulation of the epileptic circuit of partial seizures. We have previously employed electrical stimulation (i.e. deep brain stimulation), and I am interested in applying optical stimulation (optogenetics) and developing a closed loop prosthesis. Major challenges currently include optimizing and integrating prospective seizure detection, power consumption, coupling high irradiance from the light source to an optical fiber, and directing light propagation through tissue.
Christopher Newman

Christopher Newman

Undergraduate Institution: Miama University
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Matthew Allen, Ph.D.
Research: I am interested in understanding how mechanical forces impact the skeleton and how bones optimize their mechanical properties in response to those forces. I am also interested in how bone fails to accomplish this function in the face of disease. While a large body of work has been devoted to understanding this problem in osteoporosis, the skeletal manifestations of chronic kidney disease—mineral and bone disorder (CKD-MBD) have been largely overlooked. As such, I explore the changes in bone quality associated with CKD-MBD and how approved skeletal therapeutics can be used to address these abnormalities.
Kurt Qing

Kurt Qing

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Pedro Irzaoqui, Ph.D. (Purdue)
Research: I have graduated from Dr. Pedro Irazoqui’s lab. My work focused on the development of experimental closed-loop, personalized neurostimulation systems and validation in animal models. The main goal was to improve therapeutic effectiveness through quantifying the neural response and standardizing stimulus dosing. I also was involved in developing and testing wireless, battery-less implantable devices and using these devices to study and modulate various circuits in the brain.

Melissa Tully

Melissa Tully

Undergraduate Institution: STONY Brook
Year in Program: 8th
Graduate Department: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University
Research Mentor: Riyi Shi, M.D./Ph.D.
Research: I have completed my PhD in the lab of Dr. Riyi Shi, studying the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and exploring new treatment options using a murine EAE model.