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

Undergraduate Institution: Bowling Green State University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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

Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada-Reno
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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

Undergraduate Institution: Ball State University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: My sophomore through senior year, Iworked 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.

Undergraduate Institution: DePauw University
Year in Program: 1st
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Indianapolis
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

MS2

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: An Indiana resident, Kaitlyn graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington in May 2016 with a BS in Biology and Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, she worked on the influences of sex differences and stress on brain region regions critical for the regulation of emotions. She completed the first year of medical school at the IU School of Medicine—Northwest-Gary campus and is transferring to the Indianapolis campus. Kaitlyn Collins is completing first research rotation in Dr. Dave’s laboratory.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A

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

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Interested in studying infectious diseases, especially those that have the greatest impact in developing countries, Elizabeth Fernander would like to study diseases to help alleviate the burden they have on these countries.

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Interested in the physiology of addiction, specifically regarding the interaction between neuroanatomy, metabolism and the cardiovascular system, Hannah Kline previously studied thermoregulation and methamphetamine, and alcohol dependence in humans.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland-College Park
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: 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. Paul Randazzo hopes to combine structural and biochemical approaches to elucidate the molecular underpinning of clinically relevant phenomena.

Undergraduate Institution: Central Michigan University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Broadly interested in infectious diseases, Baleigh Schuler would like to study pathogen-host interactions at the molecular level.

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Interested in neuroscience/neuroengineering research. More specifically, Ravinderjit Singh is interested in utilizing signal processing and control techniques to better understand and modulate the nervous system.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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 worked on other projects dealing with the electroacupuncture as a therapy post nerve injury and immunofluorescent activity of calcium (Fura2) on BV2 microglia cells after the addition of ATP and LPS.

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Completed summer rotation investigating coronary heart disease in the context of changes in coronary blood flow as a response to decreased oxygen carrying capacity.

GS1

Undergraduate Institution: Washington University-St. Louis
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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 Dr. 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 Dr. Yamamoto during the graduate phase of training.

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

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).

Undergraduate Institution: University of Oklahoma
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Indianapolis
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: N/A

Undergraduate Institution: Northwestern University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

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.

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

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Graduate Department: N/A
Research Mentor: N/A

Research: Cyrus Takahashi recently completed two research rotations over the summer of 2016. The first was in the lab of Dr. Jian-Ting Zhang 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 Dr. Thomas Hurley 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.

GS2

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Craig Goergen, PhD

Research: Research interests lie in multi-modal cardiovascular imaging with Dr. Craig Goergen 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.

Undergraduate Institution: Benedictine University
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Elmendorf, PhD

Research: Dr. Elmendorf’s 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.

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.

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.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Maria Grant, MD

Research: As an undergraduate, studied the epigenetic effects of biotinylation on Enolase 1 enzyme kinetics and expression. After first year of medical school, research interests have evolved into understanding the diabetes-induced vascular dysfunction and how researchers can exploit the potential reparative capacity of hematopoietic stem cells in treating these devastating complications. Thao Trinh works in Dr. Maria Grant’s lab. One project is 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, Thao Trinh has always been passionate about traditional medicine and hopes that using modern technology will allow researchers to understand the mechanisms of things like acupuncture in restoring homeostasis.

GS3

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 Dr. William Truitt and Dr. Thomas McAllister. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Johnathan Tune, PhD (IU) and Craig Goergen, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Currently working in Dr. Johnathan Tune’s lab, cardiovascular research is focused on determining the key pathways and mechanisms involved in selective coronary dilation.

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).

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.

GS4-6

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.

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.

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 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, 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.

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 Dr. William Sullivan, Jr. 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.

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.

Undergraduate Institution: Cornell University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, PhD (Purdue)

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

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.

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.

MS3

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Wade Clapp, MD

Research: Interested in understanding the origins of aneuploidy and genomic instability in Fanconi anemia (FA), an inherited disorder characterized by developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition. Investigated the central question of whether abnormal mitosis, specifically spindle checkpoint dysfunction, contributes to aneuploidy and cancer predisposition in vivo upon loss of Fancc. Developed and characterized a novel FA mouse model, which hopefully will serve as a preclinical platform for targeted therapeutics in the future. Additionally, Donna Edwards is working to understand the signaling mechanism by which Fancc regulates the spindle assembly checkpoint.

Undergraduate Institution: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Riyi Shi, MD/PhD (Purdue)

Research: Research is focused on neuroscience and neurotrauma. Working in Dr. Riyi Shi’s lab at Purdue University to apply biomedical engineering approaches to understand the contributions of primary and secondary brain 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.

Undergraduate Institution: MIT
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: David Umulis, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Healthcare systems contain a vast array of information. However, the optimization of this information has generally been unexplored. Joyatee Sarker is interested in extracting information from healthcare systems and using computer science algorithms to prognosticate patients. Researchers are modeling hematopoietic stem cells’ maturation to white blood cells in leukemic patients with bone marrow transplants. Eventually hope to personalize the treatment of these patients, based on the acceptance or rejection of the grafts.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Graduate Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research Mentor: Kathryn Jones, PhD

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. Comparing the differential neuroprotective properties of normal CD4+ T cells compared with CD4+ T cells collected from mice with motoneuron disease.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Toronto
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Mervin Yoder, MD and Rebecca J. Chan, MD/PhD

Research: Blood cell development in mice and humans proceeds sequentially through distinct waves: embryonic, fetal and adult. Each of these waves has a unique tissue of origin, unique signaling requirements and unique progenitor-progeny hierarchies. Stefan Tarnawsky seeks to discern the contribution of each of these three waves to the origin of pediatric myeloproliferative diseases. Stefan’s project relies on the combination of genetic knock-in mouse models with lineage trace methods.

Undergraduate Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering
Research Mentor: Alyssa Panitch, PhD (Purdue)

Research: Primary area of research interest is biomedical engineering with an emphasis on biomaterials and related device-tissue interactions. Current project is in the cardiovascular domain and involves the development of novel protein-derived therapeutics. The 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.

MS4

Undergraduate Institution: Indiana University-Bloomington
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Murray Korc, MD

Research: For thesis project, utilized human genomic data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to identify important angiogenic pathways involving TGF-beta and JAK/STAT signaling in a subset of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients. Subsequently, targeting these pathways in a transgenic PDAC mouse model representative of this subgroup led to suppression of murine PDAC progression and significant improvements in survival, while the use of a non-representative PDAC mouse model did not lead to any suppression of murine PDAC progression. Therefore, this research has identified a gene signature that could be used to personalize the selection of anti-angiogenic therapy in PDAC patients. In addition to this project, Kelly Craven also has an outstanding project in the lab investigating the role of STAT1 in pancreatic cancer.

Undergraduate Institution: Kent State University
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research Mentor: Jeffrey Travers, MD/PhD and Mark Kaplan, PhD

Research: Interested in studying the signaling pathways of lipid mediators such as Platelet-activating factor (PAF) that modify the cutaneous immune system. In particular, is interested in studying the immunosuppressive effects of (PAF) and PAF-agonists generated in response to oxidative stressors (e.g. UV-B and chemotherapy). 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 shed light on the therapeutic approaches whereby oxidative stress is also taken into consideration.

Undergraduate Institution: University of the Pacific
Graduate Department: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Mentor: Johnathan Tune, PhD

Research: Investigating the obesity induced alterations in cardiovascular response to incretin drugs in the setting of ischemia-reperfusion. Use the ossabaw swine model of diet induced obesity and metabolic disease. Discovered that obesity significantly alters response to incretin drugs in the setting of ischemia-reperfusion with regards to cardiac performance, protein expression and epigenetics.