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  • June 12, 2014

    Paige Stepping Aside as Chair of Neurobiology & Anatomy

    Gary D. Paige, M.D., Ph.D., is stepping down after 16 years of service as chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. M. Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as interim chair effective July 1, 2014 while a national search for a permanent chair is conducted.

    Read the entire Faculty Focus article.

  • May 28, 2014

    Medical Scientist Training Program Recruitment Weekend Draws Prospectives From Near and Far

    Revisit Weekend prospectives join Medical Scientist Training Program students on a tour of the Rochester Public Market

    By Katherine Herman, Admissions Co-Chair

    Every year, the Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program hosts prospective students for Revisit, a recruitment weekend that involves a second look at the program, medical campus, and the beautiful city of Rochester. This year, nine students joined us from across the country to experience more of what Rochester has to offer.

    Festivities kicked off Thursday evening at some of the program’s favorite haunts: The Gatehouse, for heaping helpings of delicious sweet potato fries and gourmet burgers, and Tap and Mallet, for a wide selection of brews from near and far. Current first and second years took some time away from studying to get to know their future colleagues who might be joining them in the Scientific Reasoning in Medicine journal club this fall.

    Friday morning activities got started early with an on-campus welcome breakfast hosted by our program director, Dr. Kerry O’Banion. Prospective students then broke out into their individual itineraries for the day, which included meeting with potential mentors, touring the facilities, and even observing surgeries in the operating room! After touching base again for an informal faculty/student luncheon with the entire program, applicants enjoyed more conversations with investigators and learned more about extracurricular opportunities at the School of Medicine & Dentistry Activities Fair.

    Prospectives were wined and dined at the incredible George Eastman House, home of the inventor and founder of Eastman Kodak, The mansion’s intricate architecture, lovely décor, quirky miscellany, and photography exhibits entertained guests before enjoying a fine dinner. Guests learned interesting facts about the early history of film, and prospectives even drew their own animated movies at the museum’s learning center!

    Saturday morning, prospective students were guided through the Rochester Public Market – a place famous among Rochestarians for good, fresh produce, as well as a variety of food and nonperishable goods. Prospectives sampled the many restaurant options at the Market, including the renowned Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop and fresh pastries, breakfast sandwiches, coffee and macarons at Flour City Bread Company. The afternoon included a drive-through tour of the trendy Park Avenue neighborhood and a fun day of climbing at RockVentures. After a hard day’s work, prospectives refueled at Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery for locally churned ice cream.

    The entire program joined prospectives again for a Saturday evening soirée, held at ArtisanWorks, a one-of-a-kind space filled floor to ceiling with eclectic art installations. A cocktail hour and buffet were followed by a private tour of the various galleries.

    Revisit Weekend 2014 concluded on Sunday morning with a tour of neighborhoods and housing options on- and off-campus, followed by a relaxing brunch near the Erie Canal. Andrew Cox, President and interim Admissions Co-Chair, commented, We hope the revisiters all had a wonderful time in our city – and we hope to see them in the fall!

  • May 23, 2014

    Conference Report: American Physician Scientist Association 10th Annual Meeting

    By Stephanie Syc, APSA Institutional Representative

    The 10th annual American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Annual Meeting was held April 25-27, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. APSA is a trainee-led organization for physician-scientist trainee advocacy. The Association focuses on mentoring, networking, outreach, and resources for physician-scientist trainees. Three students from the Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) attended, along with the MSTP Director and APSA Board of Directors member, Dr. Kerry O’Banion. Andy Cox, G3, received a travel award from the American Academy of Immunologists to present his work, A Mouse Model for Analysis of Modifications to Increase the Safety of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine. Aisha Siebert, G3, also presented a poster, Transcriptional Control of Human Cellular Metabolism by Wasp Venom: Nasonia vitripennis Venom-Derived Bioactive Peptides as Candidate Therapeutics for Human Metabolic Disorders. Stephanie Syc, G1, attended as the University of Rochester Institutional Representative.

    Highlights from the meeting included presentations by esteemed scientists such as:

    • Dr. Peter Agre, Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on proteins that mediate water flow across cellular membranes
    • Dr. Brian Kobilka, Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on signal transduction
    • Dr. Paul Offit, Co-inventor of a vaccine against a common cause of childhood diarrhea
    • Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    • Mentoring opportunities included a lunch with residency directors and a breakfast with student groups promoting interest in research-oriented clinical specialties. The meeting also provided students with the opportunity to interact with members of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, two of the pre-eminent societies for physician scientists.

  • May 18, 2014

    Medical Scientist Training Program Announces Leadership Changes

    Marc Halterman, MD, PhD


    The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in the School of Medicine will be undergoing leadership changes effective 7/1/14 with Marc Halterman, MD, PhD taking on the position of Associate Director.

    Douglas Turner, PhD, who has served the Program in many capacities since 1989, will be stepping down from his current position as Associate Director to take a well-deserved sabbatical. MSTP Director, Kerry O’Banion, MD, PhD commented, I am deeply indebted to Doug Turner for providing support and encouragement to me when I became Co-Director in 2000, and for his continued role as a key member of the MSTP Admissions Committee, thesis advisor, grant reviewer, and a clear example of the close relationship between the College and the Medical School. Notably, Doug has mentored six MSTP students in his laboratory. I wish him much success as he ventures into new areas of research inquiry.

    Douglas Turner, PhD

    Stepping into the MSTP Associate Director position on 7/1/14 will be Marc Halterman, MD, PhD. Dr. Halterman graduated from the MSTP at Rochester in 2002 and went on to complete a Neurology Residency and Research Fellowship at University of Rochester. He is now Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, and Director of the Neurology Academic Research Track, a research residency training program at University of Rochester. In addition, he serves on an NIH review panel for predoctoral NRSA (F) grants. Dr. Halterman has already generously given of his time serving the MSTP in several capacities. Since September 2011 he has acted as Course Director of MSTP-specific course Scientific Reasoning in Medicine. He joined the MSTP Admissions Committee in 2013 and is thesis advisor to one MSTP trainee conducting her PhD research in his laboratory. Dr. Halterman has also provided individual training and career advice to many MSTP students. As Associate Director, he will continue to be engaged in all of these activities and take on a broader role in helping trainees consider their options for research and residency selection. He will continue to serve as a member of the MSTP Admissions Committee and assist Dr. O’Banion in running an F30 Grant Writing Workshop for MSTP students.

    Dr. O’Banion continued, I very much look forward to working with Marc Halterman as we enter a new five-year funded cycle of the MSTP training grant and prepare for the 40th anniversary celebration of MSTP funding in October, 2015.

  • April 9, 2014

    Salvador Peña Awarded Fellowship to Study Mitochondrial Stress Response

    By Salvador Peña

    MSTP and Pathology graduate student Salvador Peña was granted an F31 National Research Service Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his work on hypoxia and the mitochondrial unfolded protein response. This proposal is designed to test whether activation of this unfolded protein response can protect against ischemia-reperfusion injury in the genetic model organism C. elegans, and to identify conserved signaling molecules that sense mitochondrial stress and trigger adaptation in mammals. Salvador is currently a third-year graduate student in Dr. Keith Nehrke's Laboratory in the Nephrology Division of the Department of Medicine.

  • March 24, 2014

    Match Day 2014: Medical Scientist Training Program Matches 9 Students Across the Nation

    By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

    Friday, March 21 was a bright day for the Medical Scientist Training Program. As the seconds ticked closer to noon, the buzz in Helen Wood Hall escalated, only to be replaced by a sudden silence as MSTP and medical students tore open envelopes revealing the programs to which they matched for residency training. This year was a particularly interesting and successful year for the MSTP. Students matched to top choices across the country; four MSTP students matched to West Coast programs and three to East Coast programs, with one student remaining in Rochester and another on to New Mexico. The choice of specialties was similarly broad, with four students matching into surgical specialties, two students into internal medicine, and three into the behavioral sciences.

    This May, the program graduates nine students, all of whom matched on Friday. The MSTP congratulates its Class of 2014 with a graduation brunch at Mario's on April 27.

    MSTP MATCH LIST 2014

    Melisa Carrasco
    Univ. of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
    Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
    Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
    Child Neurology
    Joanna Olsen
    Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
    Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine
    Scott Peslak
    Hospital of the U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
    Internal Medicine–ABIM Research Track
    Phillip Rappold
    University of Rochester Medical Center, NY
    Surgery-Preliminary/Urology
    Danny Rogers
    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
    Pediatrics-Preliminary/Child Neurology
    Mercedes Szpunar
    University of California, San Diego Medical Center, CA
    Psychiatry–Research Track
    Edward Vuong
    North Shore-LIJ Health System, Manhasset, NY
    Internal Medicine
    Ethan Winkler
    University of California, San Francisco, CA
    Neurological Surgery
    Michael Wu
    University of California, San Francisco, CA
    Anesthesiology–Research Track
  • March 16, 2014

    Biomedical Engineering Graduate Students Take Second Place in Orthopaedic Video Competition

    By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

    On Sunday, March 16, Biomedical Engineering graduate students Youssef Farhat and Bryan Bobo heard the news: second place! The news comes months after they began promoting their video across the University of Rochester Medical Center. Farhat and Bobo stated that they submitted the video to emphasize the importance of collaboration between scientists and physicians in improving care in the field of orthopaedics. Their video, titled Working Together for a Better Future features stories from physicians, scientists, and engineers in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research. The stories emphasize the high quality and collaborative nature of orthopaedic research at the University of Rochester. Farhat and Bobo want to thank all of our colleagues who helped make filming the video possible, as well as the entire University of Rochester community for their tremendous support during the voting process.... For their excellent work, Farhat and Bobo will share a second place trophy and $1,000 honorarium.

    Last year, Farhat's video, Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research?, took first place. Farhat, an MD-PhD trainee in the Medical Scientist Training Program, also points out that 2014 is the second year in a row that the University of Rochester took first place in the competition. Farhat comments, I think that's a reflection of the excellence of this institution and its prominence, particularly in the field of orthopaedic research.

  • March 10, 2014

    Andrew Cox Awarded Technology Development Grant for Influenza Vaccine

    By Kyle Koster, Public Relations Chair

    Andrew 'Andy' Cox, third-year graduate student in the Immunology-Microbiology-Virology graduate program and Medical Scientist Training Program, was awarded a technology development grant from the University of Rochester Office of Technology Transfer in January, with funds starting in April. Andy, as the PI, will investigate strategies to increase the usage of the live attenuated influenza vaccine in the lab of Steve Dewhurst, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

    Andy hypothesizes one reason that this vaccine is currently underutilized is that it is not FDA approved in all children due to safety concerns in those under two and asthmatics. However, Andy has identified additional mutations in the influenza genome that increases its temperature sensitivity in tissue culture at physiologic temperatures. The impact of these mutations on the attenuation of these viruses will be examined in an animal model of influenza infection.

  • February 24, 2014

    First Optics Student Joins MD/PhD Program

    Daniel Savage

    Daniel Savage of The Institute of Optics has been accepted by the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry into the Medical Scientist Training Program. This NIH-sponsored program trains outstanding students to undertake careers in biomedical research and academic medicine through an integrated program of graduate training in the biomedical sciences and clinical training. Graduates receive the combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree, and many of them pursue careers in basic biomedical or clinical research. Daniel would be the first student in the Institute's history to earn a Ph.D. and M.D from the University of Rochester. That will be quite an achievement! His co-advisors, by the way, are Wayne Knox, Professor of Optics and of Physics, and Krystel Huxlin, Professor of Ophthalmology, of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Both are members of the Center for Visual Science. For the last three years, Daniel was supported by a graduate student fellowship on the CVS training grant funded by the National Eye Institute.

  • February 20, 2014

    MSTP Student, Lisa Niswander's Article Featured in Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Lab Site

    Current MD/PhD student in Dr. James Palis' Lab, Lisa Niswander, has published an article, Improved quantitative analysis of primary bone marrow megakaryocytes utilizing imaging flow cytometry which has been selected as the first featured article on the Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Lab website. The article was very well received and prompted a special commentary in the journal as well entitled Mega Cytometry for a mega challenging cell type by Andrew Filby. Congratulations to Lisa!

  • January 6, 2014

    Nobel Laureate to Speak at Medical Center

    The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry is welcoming Nobel Laureate Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D. this month. Cech will deliver two talks in conjunction with the school's third annual Medical Scientist Research Symposium. The talks will be held in the Class of '62 Auditorium. They are free of charge and open to the U of R community.

    Long Non-Coding RNAs and Their Protein Partners, Thursday, January 23 from 4 – 5 p.m. Sponsored by Departments of Biology, Biochemistry & Biophysics, Chemistry, and Center for RNA Biology

    Telomerase in Health and Disease: Genomics and the Future of Medicine, Friday, January 24 from 1 – 2 p.m. Sponsored by Medical Scientist Training Program and the Dr. Thomas A. and Joyce E. Pearson Endowed Lectureship Fund