UR Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) 2021 Mentoring-Up Resolution Challenge CONTEST RESULTS
Monday, May 24, 2021
Full-time UR grad students (gender-inclusive) in biomedical, biological, or chemical sciences took charge of their futures by setting and, through mentoring-up, achieving professional and personal goals for Spring 2021. Participants submitted their goals in a January write-up and progress reports on their professional goals in May. The anonymous faculty evaluation committee selected finalists to present on May 20th. All four presenters were selected to win $1500 ea. in technology-related (hardware, software and/or peripherals) prizes. Of note, submissions for this contest were received from graduate students of 12 different programs!
Congratulations, Mentoring-Up Resolution Challenge Winners:
Immunology, Microbiology & Virology Grad Student
4th year | Gerber Lab
Biophysics, Structural & Computational Biology Grad Student
3rd year | Grossfield Lab
Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology Grad Student
3rd year | Lueck Lab
Neuroscience Grad Student
5th year | Briggs Lab
Medina Afandiyeva, Chemistry Grad Student, 1st year, Kennedy Lab
Sara Ali, BSCB Grad Student, 2nd year, Mathews Lab
Debamitra Chakraborty, Materials Science Grad Student, 3rd year, Sobolewski Lab
Brandon Davis, BMB Grad Student, 4th year, O’Connell Lab
Lananh Ho, Biomedical Engineering Grad Student, 1st year, rotating
Mary Moran, IMV Grad Student, 4th year MBI/1st year MPH, Beck & Gill Labs
Kuan-Lin (Zona) Yeh, Nursing Grad Student, 3rd year, Groth Lab
Frances Tolibzoda Zakusilo, Neuroscience Grad Student, 3rd year, Gorbunova & O’Banion Labs
Sponsored by GWIS, an initiative of the NIH T32 Predoctoral Training Grant in Cellular, Biochemical and Molecular Sciences.
The Wallace O. Fenn Award – Dr. Brandon Berry
Friday, May 21, 2021
Dr. Brandon Berry
Dr. Brandon Berry was awarded the Wallace O. Fenn Award – The award is given annually to a graduating student judged to have performed meritorious research and presented an excellent Ph.D. thesis. Congrats Brandon!
Dr. Brandon Berry studied mitochondrial bioenergetics and hypoxic signaling in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Wojtovich. As a graduate student, Brandon developed and pioneered an optogenetic approach to control mitochondrial function using light. Using this approach, he discovered how changes in mitochondrial bioenergetics are required for protection against damaging hypoxia. Brandon was a leader in the laboratory and was dedicated to both his work and his colleagues. During his graduate school tenure, he was awarded an American Heart Association Fellowship, a Young Investigator Award from the Society for Redox Biology & Medicine, and published eleven manuscripts.
Andrew Wojtovich is the University’s Student Supervisor of the Year
Friday, May 7, 2021
Andrew Wojtovich, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology, and physiology, is the University’s Student Supervisor of the Year. The award is selected by a committee of students and staff members and goes to a person who integrates students into their roles, provides guidance and mentoring, and supports the University’s Vision and Values.
Hocking and Lueck Receive EDI Medicines Discovery Awards
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Dr. Denise Hocking
Dr. John Lueck
The Empire Discovery Institute (EDI), a non-profit New York drug discovery and development accelerator involving a partnership between the University of Rochester, the University at Buffalo, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, was created to transform academic discoveries into new medicines for commercialization. The EDI is supported by >$100 million in funds from both Empire State Development and Deerfield Management Company, a healthcare investment firm.
In the inaugural year of EDI’s Medicines Discovery Award Program, Drs. Denise Hocking and John Lueck each received awards to support their innovative research programs in drug development. Dr. Hocking’s award will support her work support her work in advancing the use of a novel chimeric fibronectin protein for wound healing. Dr. Lueck’s award will support his research program’s efforts to develop and test engineered tRNAs to treat a wide range of genetic diseases resulting from nonsense mutations.
Additional information of the EDI and the Medicines Discovery Award program can be found using the following link: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/deerfield-and-empire-discovery-institute-partner-to-advance-life-sciences-r-d-in-rochester-buffalo
Alexander Milliken awarded a two-year AHA Predoctoral Fellowship
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Congratulations to Alexander Milliken, graduate student in the CMPP program, laboratory of Dr. Paul Brookes. Alex was recently awarded a two-year AHA Predoctoral Fellowship entitled, “Succinate dynamics and pH in cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury”.
Ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury is caused by the disruption of blood flow (ischemia), followed by its restoration (reperfusion), and is relevant to pathologies such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. The accumulation of the Krebs’ cycle metabolite succinate and cytosolic acidification are both hallmarks of ischemia. Tissue reperfusion is necessary to salvage ischemic myocardium, but it paradoxically triggers events that lead to cell death. The oxidation of accumulated succinate at mitochondrial complex-II (Cx-II) drives reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. This ROS originates from reverse electron transport (RET) at complex-I (Cx-I), or from complex-III (Cx-III) and is presumably the major driver of injury. However, only a small portion of the accumulated succinate is oxidized. A majority is actually released from the cardiomyocyte and the heart altogether in a pH-dependent process where its extracellular role is unknown. Extending ischemic acidosis (“acidic post-conditioning” or acid PostC) into reperfusion is cardioprotective against IR injury, but the mechanism is not fully understood. My project aims to understand the interplay of pH and succinate (oxidation v. release) in IR injury which can provide insight for the future development of novel therapeutics against reperfusion injury.
Tyrone Nieves Awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship
Friday, March 26, 2021
Tyrone Nieves was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The Goldwater Foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Tyrone was selected to represent the University and was one of 410 college students from across the United States awarded the scholarship. Congratulations Tyrone!Read More: Tyrone Nieves Awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship
Matthew Rook Wins Poster Award at 2021 Biophysical Society Meeting
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Congratulations to Matthew Rook, PhD candidate (MacLean Lab), for winning a poster award at the 2021 Biophysical Society Meeting! Matt received this Student Research Achievement Award in the Channels, Receptors and Transporters category for his poster entitled “ASIC activation mechanisms delineated through genetic code expansion”. Matt’s work uses genetic code expansion techniques along with flow cytometry, patch clamp and UV-photocrosslinking to trap these channels in specific conformations in order to understand how these receptors journey from resting to active states.
Melinda Vander Horst awarded 1st place in the Student Paper Competition at the 179th Annual Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Friday, February 19, 2021
Melinda Vander Horst
Melinda Vander Horst (graduate student-in-residence; BME) was awarded 1st place in the Student Paper Competition (Biomedical Acoustics) at the 179th Annual Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Her paper, entitled “Time and Dose-dependent Effects of Pulsed Ultrasound on Dermal Wound Repair in Diabetic Mice” was recently accepted for publication in the journal, Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, with co-authors Carol Raeman, Diane Dalecki and Denise Hocking.
Amanda Wahl awarded a three-year NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award
Monday, February 1, 2021
Congratulations to Amanda Wahl, graduate student in the CMPP program, laboratory of Dr. David Yule. Amanda was recently awarded a three-year NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award entitled, “Elucidating the mechanisms of salivary gland dysfunction following gamma-irradiation utilizing an experimental and computational approach”.
Individuals diagnosed with head and neck cancer undergo radiation therapy as a standard treatment. However, in the process of using radiation therapy to shrink the tumor, the salivary glands are inadvertently and irreversibly damaged. This damage manifests as a loss of saliva secretion, occurs rapidly without marked cell death, and leads to deleterious effects, including loss of taste, oral infections, and xerostomia (dry mouth). The mechanism by which this early loss of function occurs, is currently unknown and presently there is little in the form of
treatment, with most options being palliative. Thus, there is a pressing need to expand our understanding of salivary gland physiology and the effects of g-irradiation on both the structure and function of the salivary gland. This proposal utilizes experimental techniques including confocal, Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) and intravital microscopy. Each technique will be employed for use in a variety of assays to investigate the structural and functional consequences of acute g-irradiation on salivary glands. This in vitro and in vivo experimental
approach will additionally be used in combination with computational modeling through a long-term collaboration to understand in detail the effect of g-irradiation on secretion. In an iterative manner, experimental data will be input to the computation model and subsequently used to make further predictions which will be experimentally tested- furthering our understanding of physiology and pathology of salivary glands. In these studies, this experimental-computational approach will be used to determine how alterations within the salivary gland impact
its function, leading to dry mouth, and an eventual permanent loss of glandular tissue and function. This proposal addresses three different mechanisms that may dictate this loss of function. These include an alteration in functioning of gap and tight junctions, calcium signaling, and mitochondrial bioenergetics. By examining each of these aspects, the experimental data can be integrated into the computational model. The great utility of this approach is that many iterations of computational experiments can be completed in parallel with these in vitro
and in vivo studies and used to suggest further experiments and make predictions. The dynamic utilization of this computational-experimental approach will facilitate understanding how an alteration in a component of the gland’s secretory machinery following g-irradiation might alter saliva production. Ultimately, this approach is designed to forecast potential novel therapeutic approaches for treating g-irradiation induced salivary dysfunction.
Miriam Barnett chosen to be a 2021 ASPET Washington Fellow
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Miriam Barnett, a Pharmacology graduate student in Dr. Jean Bidlack’s lab, was chosen to be a 2021 American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Washington Fellow. The mission of the ASPET Washington Fellows Program is to enable developing and early career scientists interested in science policy to learn about and become more engaged in public policy issues. Miriam’s selection was based on her strong interest in science and its intersection with public policy. As an ASPET Washington Fellow, Miriam will meet with congressional representatives and staff to advocate for the importance of biomedical research.