MD Education Program

Current Students

Students currently working toward a dual MD-PhD through the Medical Scientist Training Program at IU School of Medicine are pursuing a wide range of medical research studies at labs in both Indianapolis and West Lafayette.

MS1

A headshot of a young woman.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Colorado – Boulder

Research: My current research interests lie in diabetes and metabolism.  I hope to integrate many fields, like engineering and other departments to have collaborative and well-rounded research. I plan to apply my research and training to a global perspective, like working to prevent diabetes or improve nutrition in third world countries.

Burgess

Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina State University

Research: For the past few years I’ve been researching signaling pathways in pediatric sarcomas.  I want to continue researching methods of pharmacological or immunological inhibition of oncogenic drivers to better treat pediatric cancers.

HuangUndergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis

Research: My research interests revolve around leveraging computer and data science to investigate methods of modeling tumor evolution and response to improve timing and outcomes of clinical intervention. Previously, my research has been focused on tumor monitoring through genomics and other biomarker compartments which has ranged from evaluating the predictive and prognostic potential of KRAS in liquid biopsies of pancreatic cancer patients to deconvoluting heterogeneity within both epithelial and tumor microenvironment populations by digitally micro-dissecting single cell sequencing data.

MclaughlinUndergraduate Institution: Purdue University

Research: I am currently interested in researching alternative treatments for Type 1 diabetes, specifically those that allow patients to be completely insulin independent.

Shah

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University

Research: My prior research in Ken Mackie’s endocananbionid lab at IU Bloomington consisted of both basic (localizing endocannabinoid proteins FAAH and Crip1a) and applied science (investigating effects of perinatal exposure to WIN 55,212-2). This background has given me a driving curiosity to answer basic science questions and the motivation to export such findings from lab for clinical application. I am broadly focused on psychopathology with particular focus on mood disorders, autism, and addiction. In addressing these disorders I hope to contribute to the development of novel therapeutics as well as a growing of the fundamental cognitive processes (e.g. affective regulation, social cognition, motivational processes) that are aberrant in such disorders.

Shah NirajUndergraduate institution: Emory University

Research: My undergraduate research was focused on schizophrenia associated microRNA miR-137 and its impact on neurodevelopmental signal transduction. After graduating, I conducted research in a large-scale neuroimaging lab that studied brain development and functionality in youth with PTSD, substance abuse problems, and various disruptive behavior disorders.

TrogenUndergraduate institution: East Tennessee State University

Research: My undergraduate research focused on adipose secreted proteins, specifically C1q-TNF Protein 3 and its protective effects against alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and diabetes.  My current research interests are in biochemistry, physiology, and translational research in relation to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

MS2

BrennanUndergraduate institution: University of Michigan

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Research: I am interested in designing methods and devices for the sustainable, scalable management of infectious diseases, particularly in resource-constrained environments. Many people suffer due to a lack of proper treatment for very preventable and/or treatable conditions (such as STIs, Cholera, respiratory infections etc…) while at the same time antibiotic resistance is becoming a formidable complication to treatment around the world. Accessible technologies for rapid, accurate screening and diagnosis allow health departments to mount effective responses, connecting patients to the right care. Much of the required technology for these tools already exists in hospital labs but require many resources like trained personnel, expensive equipment, highly processed samples, sterile conditions, and time. I am interested in adapting these technologies to make diagnostic and screening tools for health departments/ministries without these resources to still offer effective care to patients and populations dealing with infectious diseases.

Undergraduate institution: Grove City College

Research: My undergraduate research was focused on characterizing signaling systems in the anthrax pathogen important for maintaining cell membrane homeostasis and on the mechanisms linking circadian rhythms to sleep and temperature resolution in Drosophila. I look forward to rotating in more laboratories related to neuroscience to narrow down my interests.

Undergraduate Institution: Brigham Young University

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Research: My undergraduate research and publications centered around cell-free protein expression and synthetic biology. I was specifically focused on preventing RNA degeneration, applications for cancer therapeutics, and biosensors.

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Research: My undergraduate research experiences focused on modeling zebrafish embryonic development by improving quantitative data from confocal microscopy.

Undergraduate Institution: Ithaca College

Research: Neurology of behavior.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Research:I have previously studied orthopaedic and rehabilitation biomechanics at Human Engineering Research Laboratories and the Orthopaedic Biodynamics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh.  I enjoy applying concepts found in computer science, engineering, and even music to better understand the human body.

Undergraduate institution: Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Research: My undergraduate and post-undergraduate research focused on transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of different systems. My first lab experience focused on the effects of RNA-binding proteins on the development of the neocortex. Afterwards, I joined a bioinformatics lab focusing on the RNA translation of Dengue virus infected cells and, on a different project, colon cancer. I hope to integrate multi-omics (proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics) studying relevant genes and proteins to neurological diseases.

GS1

Undergraduate Institution: Bowling Green State University

Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience

Research Mentor: Brady Atwood, PhD

Research: My undergraduate research experiences and publications focused on the chemistry and the physiologic and behavioral adaptation to designer phenethylamines.

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Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Research Mentor: Sherry Harbin, Ph.D. (Purdue)/Carmella Evans-Molina, M.D./Ph.D. (IU)

Research: I recently completed a post-baccalaureate program in Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH using electron microscopy to analyze cell ultrastructure and continues to be involved in STEM outreach programs.

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada-Reno
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Luis Solorio, Ph.D. (Purdue)

Research: My undergraduate research experiences focused on using non-invasive optical coherence tomography, constructing and testing electrodes for Ca++ measurements to generating lentiviruses encoding bone morphogenic protein-2.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington

Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology

Research Mentor: David Nelson, Ph.D.

Research: My undergraduate research experiences focused on the mechanisms of peptidoglycan biosynthesis using the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae as a model system.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Ball State University

Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience

Research Mentor: Jungsu Kim, Ph.D.

Research: My sophomore through senior year, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Bart Pederson, a former post-doctoral fellow from Peter Roach’s laboratory. In Dr. Pederson’s lab, projects focused on examining the requirement for brain glycogen in memory formation.

A picture of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: DePauw University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Gary Hutchins, PhD (IU)/Craig Goergen, PhD (Purdue)

Research: I worked in a variety of labs as an undergraduate at DePauw and at IU School of Medicine in the O’Brien Center for Advance Microscopic Analysis. A common theme in laboratory experiences was optimizing various facets of various parameters integral to imaging, including creating optimal environments, contrast agents and coding.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Indianapolis

Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Stephanie Ware, M.D./Ph.D.

Research: I have a long-standing interest in biomedical research having worked in Janice Blum’s laboratory and most recently in Dr. Stephanie Ware’s laboratory where efforts focused on identifying genes associated with X-linked heterotaxy, a syndrome caused by disturbed specification of the left-right asymmetry during embryonic development.

GS2

Undergraduate Institution: Bowdoin College
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Currently rotating through research labs at IUPUI, Sarah Burns is interested in studying the mechanisms underlying genetic diseases, cancer and neurological disease.

A portrait of a young woman in a whit coat.Undergraduate institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Dr. Shannon Hawkins, MD, PhD

Research: Interested in pathologies of the female reproductive system, specifically, reproductive cancers. In my work with Dr. Hawkins, I plan to study ovarian cancer in models with concurrent endometriosis. Previously, my research focused on the effects of stress on the brain with a particular interest in sex difference of neuronal and microglial morphologies in the orbitofrontal cortex of Sprague Dawley rats. In my future career, I aspire to help determine better modalities for ovarian cancer detection, target treatments, and improvement in patient quality of life.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Joseph Wallace, PhD

Research: John Damrath is interested in orthopedic biomechanics and genetic bone disease.

My primary research interest is in developmental disorders. During my undergraduate education, I had the opportunity to do research as part of the Purdue Autism Cluster. With Dr. Schwichtenberg, I studied familial risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the interaction between sleep and development in children. With Dr. Chubykin, I studied neural plasticity in the visual cortex in the context of a preclinical model of ASD.

For my thesis project, I am working with Dr. Anantha Shekhar and Dr. D. Wade Clapp to develop comprehensive treatment strategies for patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). NF1 is a common genetic disorder which manifests to a variety of degrees including symptoms such as malignancies, non-malignant tumors, neurocutaneous symptoms, and developmental disorders. My research project primarily focuses on the developmental disorders aspect of NF1.

Cognitive deficits such as attentional deficits affect up to 90 percent of patients, with diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) estimated at 70 percent in NF1 patients. Despite frequent diagnoses, the underlying mechanisms contributing to cognitive deficits in NF1 are unknown, and no available treatments target the molecular pathway involved.

My thesis project investigates neural mechanisms of behavioral inhibition, a key component of ADHD, and characterizes a novel treatment target to alleviate cognitive, tumor, and neurocutaneous symptoms of NF1 through one pharmacologic rescue.​

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Chandy John, MD

Research: Interested in studying infectious diseases, especially those that have the greatest impact in developing countries, I work with the John Lab to study the pathogenesis and immune response to P. falciparum, a species of the parasite causing malaria.  The lab obtains samples from children in Kenya and Uganda with different clinical manifestations of malaria to better understand the variation in both humoral and cellular immune responses of infected children.  The lab also looks at pathogenesis of the parasite by looking at antigen variation in the PfEMP1 protein and changes in var gene expression between various study groups.

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Bryan Yamamoto, PhD

Research: Interest in the development of addiction in adolescent females, specifically, the comorbidity between methamphetamine and alcohol use. I approach addiction from a behavioral perspective with a foundation in pharmacology, producing a well-rounded understanding of drug dependence and adolescence. I previously studied thermoregulation and methamphetamine abuse, music and alcohol dependence, the physiology of addiction and heart failure, nicotine and methamphetamine comorbidity in c. Elegans worms, and depression and anxiety phenotypes after isolation. I hope to identify changes that drug use can produce in the adolescent brain to promote long term craving and addiction to the substance. By expanding our medical and scientific understanding of addiction, treatment can be improved and adjusted to suit the needs of the patients.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Sarah Calve, PhD (Purdue)

Research: My undergraduate research experiences included investigating gene regulation in the carbon storage regulation system in E.Coli and an oxalate transporter associated with kidney stones. My research interests are tissue engineering and developmental biology with a long-term goal of researching renal pathophysiology.

A photo of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Central Michigan University
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Stacey Gilk, PhD

Research: The Gilk lab studies the intracellular human pathogen Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever. Inside the host cell, Coxiella lives within a specialized organelle called a parasitophorous vacuole. I am working to characterize membrane contact sites between the parasitophorous vacuole and the host endoplasmic reticulum. Previous work in our lab suggests that these membrane contact sites may play a role in the manipulation of cholesterol trafficking by the pathogen. The elucidation of mechanisms by which Coxiella manipulates its host cell has the potential to yield therapeutic targets.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Hari Bharadwaj. PhD (Purdue)

Research: I am investigating neurophysiological mechanisms for figure-ground segregation in the auditory system. I am looking at single unit recordings of auditory neurons in the Brainstem Neurophysiology lab led by Dr. Sayles and perceptual and EEG recordings in the Systems Neuroscience of Auditory Perception (SNAP) Lab led by Dr. Bharadwaj. I am hoping to better understand the neural code for hearing and utilize that understanding to improve assistive devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Fletcher White, PhD

Research: Jared worked with Dr. Fletcher White for the year prior to the start of MS1 on the role of carbamazepine in treating oxaliplatin-induce peripheral neuropathy. Jared also works on other projects dealing with  electroacupuncture as a therapy post nerve injury and  neuropathic pain as a result of TLR4 downstream signaling in response to endogenous inflammatory mediators and cytokines.

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Dr. Karl Koehler

Research: I am interested in developmental biology questions about the patterning of the cranial nervous system. I am currently investigating the development of inner ear sensory epithelium using human pluripotent stem cells in 3D culture.

GS3

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University-St. Louis
Graduate Department: Pharmacology
Research Mentor: Bryan Yamamoto, PhD

Research: Interested in the pharmacology of neurobiology, with particular interest in how pathological neurotransmission can generate behavioral consequences. Recently studied how adverse environmental factors generate neurological changes, specifically, the neurotoxicity of stress. During rotation with Bryan Yamamoto, PhD, James used a rodent model to investigate the mechanism behind how chronic unpredictable stressors can produce neurotoxic effects. Work focused on the striatum, a brain region involved in motivation, decision-making and is a critical component of the reward-system. Found data supporting the hypothesis that chronic unpredictable stress potentiates conditions that can be toxic to the striatum with chronic exposure, or acute exposure to psychostimulants such as methamphetamine and MDMA. James Baek looks forward to capitalizing on these findings and further investigating the neurotoxicity of stress and other drugs of abuse with Yamamoto during the graduate phase of training.

A photo of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Yunlong Liu, PhD

Research: Interested in the intersection of molecular biology, genomics and oncology, Steven completed a rotation with Yunlong Liu, PhD, which exposed him to using computational techniques to elicit significant alternative splicing patterns using clinical data from cancer patients (TCGA).

A photo of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Oklahoma
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Bryan Schneider, MD

Research: Interested in identifying biomarkers that may predict the therapeutic responsiveness and risk versus benefit of chemotherapeutic agents used to treat patients with cancer. The use of next-generation sequencing technology in translational oncology thereby supports the personalization of medicine and allows patients to become more empowered in their own health.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Michelle Block, PhD

Research: Current research interests lie in neurodegenerative disease and neurotoxicology. In particular, Hendrik Greve is interested in studying the mechanism of how chronic exposure to environmental pollutants, such as diesel exhaust, contribute to the formation of neurodegenerative disease.

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Indianapolis
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Emily Sims, MD

Karathanasis Sotirios MstpUndergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Graduate Department: Medical Neuroscience
Research Mentor: Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD

Research: Interested in unearthing the roots of and developing treatments for diseases affecting the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Previous research focused on signaling in neural stem cells and worked on spinal cord injury recovery. Rotating in the lab of Jinhui Chen, MD/PhD, Sotirios Karathanasis is discovering methods to prevent neuronal death following traumatic brain injury. Sotirios would like to learn about the immune system in greater detail, especially how its activity impacts the nervous system in both health and disease.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Carmella Evans-Molina, MD, PhD

Research: Associated with insulin resistance and inflammation, obesity is an ever-increasing metabolic disorder reaching epidemic levels worldwide. Further, insulin resistance is associated with type II diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension and other vascular complications. Paul Sohn is interested in the link between obesity, inflammation, lipid metabolism and diabetes at molecular, biochemical and physiological levels.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Thomas Hurley, PhD

Research: Cyrus Takahashi recently completed two research rotations over the summer of 2016. The first was in the lab of Jian-Ting Zhang, PhD, in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at IU School of Medicine, where he investigated possible signaling pathways involving a member of the platelet-derived growth factor family and its potential role in contributing to the extensive drug resistance seen in pancreatic cancer. The second rotation was in the lab of Thomas Hurley, PhD, in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where he was involved in screening the activity of novel inhibitors of the metabolic enzyme ALDH1A1 and other related aldehyde dehydrogenases due to further elucidate its potential contribution to chemoresistance in various cancer types.

GS4

Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Andrew Saykin, PsyD

Research: Research focuses on the functional and molecular substrates of cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and memory, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and brain cancer. Investigates the relationships among brain, gene and protein networks in diseases affecting memory and under normal conditions. Megan Bernath will primarily focus on biomarker phenotypes and imaging to provide a better understanding of early stage AD to facilitate therapeutic development.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Craig Goergen, PhD(Purdue)

Research: Research interests lie in multi-modal cardiovascular imaging with Craig Goergen, PhD, at Purdue University, specifically developing new methods for characterizing the dynamic properties of cardiovascular tissue in vivo. The Cardiovascular Imaging Research Laboratory (CVIRL) as a whole is focused on studying the disease progression of various cardiomyopathies, abdominal aortic aneurysms and atherosclerosis using high frequency ultrasound, high field MRI and other imaging techniques. Frederick Damen’s current research is aimed at furthering development of a 4-dimensional volumetric ultrasound technique to study hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in both murine and clinical models.

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: William Sullivan, PhD

Research: Working in a combined Pharmacology/Toxicology and Microbiology/Immunology lab, Jennifer is studying the obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Jennifer has several projects, but the main focus of research is AP2IX7 and AP2X8, which are part of a large lysine acetyltransferase recruiting complex called GCN5b. Little is known about their role in the complex and since GCN5b an essential protein it is important to explore the roles of the proteins with which GCN5b associates.

A portrait of a young man with a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: The Ohio State University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Mervin Yoder, MD (IU) and Sherry Harbin, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Interests lie in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine with emphasis on biomaterials and stem cell biology. The focus of 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. David Sohutskay 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. David will optimize design parameters to improve mechanical and biological characteristics and investigate these constructs both in vitro, and using in vivo animal wound models.

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Gradate Department: Microbiology and Immunology

Research Mentor:  Hal Broxmeyer, PhD

Research: As an undergraduate, I studied the effects of biotinylation on one of the key glycolytic enzymes, Enolase 1. It is well-known that cancer cells rely heavily on hypoxic glycolysis for their energy sources, hence we hypothesized that down-regulation of Enolase 1 epigenetically by biotin binding might restrict cancer cell growth. During my first year in PhD, I joined Dr.Maria Grant’s Lab in which I was assigned two different projects – 1) Ex vivo expansion of acupuncture-mobilized mesenchymal stem cells for arthritis treatment using equine models; 2) The potential therapeutic effects of SIRT1-LXR axis in reversing bone marrow dysfunction in murine diabetic mice. Upon Grant’s Lab relocation, I transferred to the laboratory of Dr.Hal Broxmeyer and focused my PhD thesis on the functional roles of Leptin-Leptin Receptor axis in both human and murine hematopoiesis.

GS5-6

A portrait of a young woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Quyen Hoang, PhD

Research: Objective of research project is to understand the mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease to aid in the development of therapeutics. Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a major neurodegenerative disease, affects about one million people in the United States and the prevalence is expected to triple by 2050 due to a global increase in life expectancy. Currently there is no cure or effective therapy, thus there is a desperate need for novel treatment development which requires a detailed understanding of the disease mechanism.

The molecular etiology of PD remains unknown, however, it is associated with the presence of abnormal alpha-synuclein-rich inclusions known as Lewy bodies, which are the pathological hallmark of PD. In addition, oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of PD for decades, and chemicals that generate mitochondrial ROS, such as the neurotoxin MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine), have been shown to directly cause Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, mutations in different mitochondrial proteins are associated with the pathogenesis of familial PD. Nevertheless, the mechanisms by which mitochondrial ROS cause PD and alpha-synuclein aggregation remain unknown, and Victoria Alexe’ Engel’s project is to investigate inflammation and alpha-synuclein aggregation and to determine the structure of a mitochondrial-associated kinase to isolate which interactions are responsible for disease-associated effects.

A portrait of a young man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Graduate Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Mark Kaplan, PhD

Research: A pre-doctoral assistant researcher in the Kaplan Laboratory, examines 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, 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. Ben Ulrich is investigating these aims through both in-vitro and in-vivo mouse models.

MS3

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A & M University
Graduate Department: Medical Neurobiology
Research Mentor: Thomas McAllister, MD, and William Truitt, PhD

Research: IU School of Medicine rotation experiences included immunohistochemical staining of NF1 mutant amygdalar regions (Anantha Shekhar/Philip Johnson laboratories), GWAS of depression phenotype in the elderly (Alexander Niculescu laboratory) and fMRI analysis of the effects of methylphenidate and attention training on cognitive recovery of the traumatically brain injured (TBI) patient (Thomas McAllister laboratory). Currently working in chosen dissertation lab with William Truitt, PhD, and Thomas McAllister, MD. Along with collaborators, lab members are creating a novel mild TBI model in rats, in which members hope to explore complex social behavior deficits that arise after injury and to elucidate how mTBI leads to psychiatric deficits in order to improve current therapies for mTBI patients.

A portait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Indianapolis
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Matthew Allen, PhD

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.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri-Columbia
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Ji-Xin Cheng, PhD (Purdue)

Research: A PhD student in the laboratory of Ji-Xin Cheng at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University, Brittani’s work entails participating in a highly diverse research atmosphere to develop precision diagnostic tools with optical techniques in order to optimize the therapeutic plan for patients. Current interest is in the area of urology, especially prostate cancer. Brittani Bungart intends to continue pursuits to improve urological medicine after MD/PhD training.

A portrait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, MD

Research: Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death in the United States. 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 six months. The tumor microenvironment has been implicated as a major contributor to cancer progression through mediation of therapeutic resistance, increasing invasion and promoting metastasis. Abass Conteh’s project is to develop a microfluidic tissue culture device that recapitulates the pancreatic cancer tumor microenvironment.

A portrait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Benedictine University
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Elmendorf, PhD

Research: The Elmendorf Lab looks into early mechanisms of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Currently, participants are investigating cellular cholesterol membrane concentrations and a specific mechanical dysfunction in GLUT4 translocation associated with membrane cholesterol accumulation.

A portrait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: DePauw University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, MD

Research: Elucidating the cell signaling pathways which drive tumor formation and progression in Neurofibromatosis Type 2.

A portait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Johnathan Tune, PhD (IU), and Craig Goergen, PhD (Purdue)

Research: I did my PhD work in Dr. Johnathan Tune’s lab. My cardiovascular research was focused on determining the key pathways and mechanisms involved inselective coronary dilation.  I focused on pathways including voltage gated channels, nitric oxide, and myogenic responses.  I also developed a model of coronary flow to better explain oxygen supply and demand matching.

A portrait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Harvard University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Irina Petrache, MD

Research: Research interests lie in understanding how cigarette smoke impairment of macrophage function contributes to COPD development and developing macrophage-targeted therapies for treating COPD. Also interested in extending the use of Adipose derived Stem Cells (ASCs) to treating chronic disease processes. Specifically seeks to understand the use of ASCs for treating chronic lung inflammation in cigarette smoke induced emphysema models. As an aspiring pulmonologist, Kevin Ni really enjoys the continuity of care and long-term follow-up aspects of internal medicine and hopes to make research discoveries that will benefit patients with chronic health concerns.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Chicago
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Kathryn Jones, PhD

Research: A member of the Jones lab, studies the ways in which the immune system mediates motor neuron survival and regeneration after peripheral nerve injury. The long-term goal is to discover immune modulating therapies for motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

MS4

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington-Seattle
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Debbie Thurmond, PhD

Research: 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, researchers hypothesize that Doc2b abundance is compromised in diabetes and that beta cell specific enrichment of Doc2b will improve functional beta cell function and survival.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Graduate Department: Medical and Molecular Genetics
Research Mentor: Rebecca Chan, MD, PhD

Research: Currently working in the lab of Rebecca Chan, MD, PhD, 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 percent. 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, Lisa Deng is 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.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: William Sullivan, PhD

Research: A graduate student in the laboratory of William Sullivan, Jr., PhD. Studies epigenetic mechanisms and transcriptional and translational control in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Sherri Huang’s thesis project concerns determining the function of a putative DNA-binding protein of the AP2 (apetela) family through genetic and molecular approaches.

A portrait of a man in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Vanderbilt University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Michael Sturek, PhD (IU), and Ji-Xin Cheng, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Currently validating a novel dual-modality photoacoustic/ultrasound intravascular imaging catheter for real-time detection of atherosclerotic disease.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Jenny Lin works in the lab of Alyssa Panitch, PhD, for Engineered Therapeutics; Purdue University, West Lafayette; developing an angiogenic peptidoglycan for ischemic diabetic foot ulcer repair.

A portrait of a woman in a white coat.Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Zhongming Liu, PhD (Purdue)

Research: A member of 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; CTSI pre-doctoral fellowship for Alzheimer’s Disease patients white matter project.