MS1

James Baek

James Baek

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University-St. Louis
Year in Program: 1st
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: 1st
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: 1st
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: 1st
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.
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: 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: 1st
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.

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: 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: 1st
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: 3rd
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: 2nd
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: 3rd
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: 3rd
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: 3rd
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: 3rd
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.

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: 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: 3rd
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: 4th
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.
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: Evaluation of swine leukocyte antigen (SLA) class II antibody response to the whole SLA class II and the individual alleles. The ultimate goal of the project is to characterize to what degree transplant waiting list patients possess preformed antibodies to SLA class II and what steps can be taken to avoid this barrier to clinical xenotransplantation.
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 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: 4th
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: 4th
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.

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: 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: 5th
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: 5th
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: 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 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.
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 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.
Deborah Setter

Deborah Setter

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Year in Program: 5th
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: 5th
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: 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 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.

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 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: 6th
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.
Joyatee Sarker

Joyatee Sarker

Undergraduate Institution: MIT
Year in Program: 6th
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Ann Rundell, 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

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: 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: 7th
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: 7th
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: 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: 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: 8th
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: 5th
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: 5th
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: 7th
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.

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: My current research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of vascular disease in patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1. I am using NF1 heterozygous mice with an angiotensin II induced aneurysm formation model. In addition to studying disease pathogenesis through histological staining of aneurysms and Cre/Lox technology to understand the cell origin, we are also investigating various pharmaceuticals to inhibit the onset or slow the progression of cardiovascular disease. In addition, human and mouse cell culture work is being pursued to understand the role of Nf1 heterozygosity on inflammation and oxidative stress. Finally, a clinical study is underway that will determine the incidence of NF1 vascular disease as well as provide blood samples for inflammatory and oxidative stress markers in hopes of determining a biomarker for cardiovascular disease onset and progression in this patient population.
Rikki Enzor

Rikki Enzor

Undergraduate Institution: Judson College
Year in Program: 7th
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, M.D.
Research: Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetic disease in which biallelic inactivating mutations in any one of fifteen known genes (FANCA to FANCP) results in genomic instability and high predisposition to cancer. Our work establishes a novel role for the FA signaling network in genomic stability through the regulation of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint. The mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint is a key cell cycle checkpoint which regulates chromosome segregation in order to prevent the development of aneuploidy. Furthermore, our work demonstrates that micronucleation and centrosome amplification occur in the absence of FA pathway function. My research has utilized a variety of approaches, including genome-wide siRNA screens, microscopy and flow cytometry-based studies in primary cells from FA patients, deconvolution microscopy-based localization studies, biochemical studies, and video microscopy studies, to test the hypothesis that the FA signaling network regulates the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint in order to protect cells from the development of aneuploidy.
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 completed my doctorate in the laboratory of Carmella Evans-Molina, MD/PhD. The focus of my work was calcium regulation and endoplasmic reticulum stress in the pancreatic beta cell, which is clinically relevant due to the worldwide epidemic of diabetes mellitus. My work investigated the mechanism of reduced transcription of the endoplasmic reticulum calcium pump SERCA2b under hyperglycemic and inflammatory stress, and I determined that the homeobox transcription factor Pdx-1 regulates SERCA2b in the beta cell. Both Pdx-1 and SERCA2b decrease under conditions of diabetic stress in the islet, but my work demonstrated that Pdx-1 messenger RNA decreased prior to SERCA2b. I further established that SERCA2b levels were directly correlated to Pdx-1 levels both in case of overexpression and interfering RNA knockdown of Pdx-1. I verified the transcriptional effect and SERCA2 promoter binding of Pdx-1 via luciferase and chromatin immunoprecipitation studies, respectively, and I demonstrated the in vivo relevance of these studies utilizing the Pdx-1 heterozygote mouse model, wherein the endoplasmic reticulum stress in beta cells was reversed by restoring SERCA2b expression. Future directions from my studies will include determining transcription factor interactions with Pdx-1 at the SERCA2 promoter, as well as potentially investigating ectopic expression of Pdx-1 in other tissues requiring SERCA2 rescue, particularly cardiomyocytes.
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 completed my PhD in Dr. Simon Conway’s lab. My project focused on the signaling mechanisms underlying the establishment and maintenance of sympathetic innervation in the fetal and early postnatal development.