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April 22, 2016

Medical Scientist Training Program students earn two travel awards to attend inaugural joint physician scientist meeting

By Kyle Koster, American Physician Scientists Association Institutional Representative

Six MD/PhD students from the University of Rochester traveled to Chicago on April 15–17 to attend the inaugural joint meeting of the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA), American Society for Clinical Investigators (ASCI), and American Association of Physicians (AAP), at the Fairmont at Millennium Park. APSA is an organization dedicated to the development of clinician trainees pursuing careers in research, and ASCI and AAP are organizations comprised of distinguished physician scientists. While APSA has held its meeting in conjunction with ASCI and AAP in recent years, the 12th Annual Meeting of APSA represents the first year where all three organizations have officially joined forces.

On Friday morning, APSA Local Chapter President Kyle Koster presented the accomplishments of Rochester’s fledgling APSA chapter at the annual APSA business meeting. Koster’s and colleagues' efforts toward integrating Rochester's physician-scientist trainee community were rewarded with a Local Chapter Travel Award. In addition, Saturday’s program was punctuated by two poster sessions at which Andrew Cox, Alison Gaylo, Andrew Shubin, and Katherine Herman presented their graduate work. Notably, Herman’s work on understanding the role of Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome protein (WASp) in the development of atopic-like eczema earned her an Abstract Travel Award to attend the meeting.

The meeting proceeded with an incredible array of distinguished investigators from many fields, and industry-academic partnerships were highlighted as investigators collaborated to move treatments into the clinic. Moreover, APSA held several panels on issues salient to today’s trainees, including policy issues, postgraduate opportunities outside of academia, and publishing ethics. On Sunday, students met with current residency directors to learn more about transitioning to residencies and fellowships. Overall, Rochester’s trainees were impressed with the scientific, career development, and networking opportunities for trainees at this meeting.


October 19, 2015

Four Rochester MD/PhD trainees win presentation awards at APSA Northeast Regional Meeting

Kyle Koster, American Physician Scientists Association Institutional Representative

Student explaining her posterPhysician-scientist trainees from various phases of training across the Northeast Region met at State University of New York Upstate Medical University on October 17 for career development, scientific presentations, and networking at the American Physician Scientists Association Northeast Regional Meeting. Approximately twenty Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program students attended, winning four of the six presentation awards at the meeting.

Aisha Seibert was selected for one of the three student oral presentations on her work identifying bioactive wasp venom peptides as potential therapeutic agents in diabetes. In addition, all three poster prizes were awarded to UR students: Nguyen Mai won first place for her work on the role of neutrophils in stroke, Kyle Koster won second place for his work on the clearance of dying cells from inflamed tissues, and Allison Li won third place for her work on myelodysplastic syndrome.

In all, our students valued the opportunity for career development and represented the program well. We thank our colleagues at SUNY Upstate for this opportunity.


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:

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.

  • 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

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 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.


January 27, 2013

URMC Orthopaedics Research Student Wins National Video Contest

Youssef Farhat, a BME MD/PhD student in the Awad Lab, has won first place in the Orthopaedic Research Society Video Outreach Competition for his 3-minute video raising awareness of Orthopaedic research in a way that is enjoyable and easy to understand.

His video was the only entry from the University of Rochester. Winners were determined by vote of members of the ORS. Youssef's own research is aimed at reducing or eliminating scar tissue in hands. But in his film Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research?, Farhat explains that orthopaedic conditions like fractures, arthritis, back pain, and cancer, have an impact on nearly everyone at some point from birth to old age. He works in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at the UR Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, and is pursuing a doctorate in biomedical engineering in the lab of Hani A. Awad, Ph.D.


July 16, 2012

MSTP/NGP Student, Daniel Marker, Receives Fellowship from NIMH

MLK3 project inhibition protects murine from HIV=1 Tat.

MSTP and Neuroscience graduate student, Daniel Marker, has received an individual fellowship ($42,232) from NIMH on his project entitled MLK3 inhibition protects the murine CNS from the effects of HIV-1 Tat.

July 15, 2012

Danielle deCampo is Awarded NRSA Individual Fellowship

Congratulations to Danielle, who is in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), for receiving NIMH Fellowship support for her project, An Extended Amygdala Path with Implications for Early Life Stress. Using a variety of techniques, Danielle is examining a pathway through the amygdala that appears plays a role in development of stress responses and is affected by early life stress. Her project is an outgrowth of collaborations with Dr. Judy Cameron (University of Pittsburgh) and Dr. Karoly Mirnics (Vanderbilt University), and previous support of the URMC CTSI Pilot Program.

July 10, 2012

Danielle deCampo wins Travel Award to ACNP

Danielle has won a highly competitive travel award to the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). This meeting brings together basic and clinical scientists in the field of psychiatric research, and is a wonderful opportunity to see the latest work in the field. Congrats!


October 6, 2011

MSTP Student Elected to Board of SNMA

Bisi Lawal, an M.D./Ph.D. student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, has been elected to the board of directors of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). Lawal, a native of Houston, is the regional director for medical schools in New York and New Jersey. The SNMA is the nation's oldest and largest, independent, student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color.

September 8, 2011

MSTP, NSC Graduate Student Receives F30 Fellowship

MSTP, NSC graduate student, Adrianne Chesser, has received an F30 Fellowship from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, for her project entitled: Mitochondrial Dynamics Underlie Gene-Environment Interactions in Parkinson's. The mission of the NIEHS is to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease.

April 7, 2011

MSTP, NSC Graduate Student Susan Lee Receives Trainee Travel Award

MSTP and Neuroscience student, Susan Lee has received a Trainee Travel Award to present her research at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping's 17th Annual Meeting in Quebec City, Canada on June 26-30, 2011. Susan is currently working in Dr. Loisa Bennetto's lab on Audiovisual Integration During Language Comprehension: The Neural Basis of Social Communication in Autism and Typical Development.

June 11, 2010

Youngsun Cho is Awarded NRSA Individual Training Grant

Youngsun Cho, a first year MSTP student in the Fudge Lab was recently awarded a Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F30) for three years of training. Youngsun's proposed studies involve examining circuitry that may underlie modulation of approach behavior in anxious adolescents. She will first detail connections between specific regions of the prefrontal cortex the amygdala in animals, based on her work in Rochester. This data will then be used to design studies investigating functional connectivities between these regions in anxious adolescents. The latter studies are being conducted in partnership with Dr. Monique Ernst at the NIMH intramural program.

February 5, 2010

MD/PhD Student Danielle deCampo Wins URMC CTSI Travel Award

Danielle deCampo, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Julie Fudge, has won a URMC CTSI Travel Award. Danielle will now be able to pursue training opportunities in performing laser capture microscopy and microarray analysis with collaborators at University of Pittsburgh. This is an opportunity to add to her "technical toolbox" as she tries to characterize specific neuronal populations that may play a role in mood disorders.

October 8, 2009

MD/PhD Student Mercedes Szpunar Receives a DoD Breast Cancer Research Program Predoctoral Fellowship

Mercedes Szpunar, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Edward Brown, has received a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program predoctoral fellowship. This fellowship, which supports up to three years of graduate stipend and travel funds, funds her thesis project focused on the effects of chronic stressor exposure on breast cancer growth. This study seeks to delineate how stress hormones alter tumor cell signaling, thereby promoting tumor growth and metastasis. Utilizing human breast cancer cell lines, the project includes in vitro and in vivo experiments and the optical technique of Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) - to image the ordering of collagen fibers – to determine changes in tumor progression in the setting of chronic stress.

February 17, 2009

Candace Gildner wins Ruth Kirchstein National Research Service Award for MD/PhD Studies

Candace Gildner, an MD/PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Department, has recently been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual MD/PHD Fellows from the NIH. This prestigious, four-year award covers her PhD research as well as her remaining two years in medical school. The overall goal of this project is to determine how chronic exposure to cigarette smoke affects extracellular matrix remodeling in the lung. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for the development of several non-neoplastic lung disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension, and interstitial lung disease. Candace's research will focus on whether chronic exposure to tobacco smoke hinders normal tissue repair by altering the ability of cells to polymerize a fibronectin matrix. Her studies will provide insight into factors that regulate the deposition, conformation and physiologic properties of extracellular matrix fibronectin and determine if these factors are localized to lung tissue in response to cigarette smoke. Candace was born and raised in Rochester, NY. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and completed a MS thesis in Biomedical Engineering at UR. She is currently in her fourth year as a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, working under the direction of Dr. Denise C. Hocking.