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The Doctoral Excellence Award in Biomedical Sciences is established to recognize exceptional research and scholarship in PhD programs at the School of Medicine. Nominees' work should represent highly original work that is an unusually significant contribution to the field. A maximum of one student per PhD program will be selected, but a program might not have a student selected in a particular year. The Graduate Program Directors chosen by the Office of Graduate Education will review the nominations and select recipients of each Award.
Open to graduating PhD students in Biochemistry, Bioethics, Biomedical Engineering, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genetics, Molecular Medicine, Neurosciences, Nutrition, Pathology,
Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics, and Systems Bio and Bioinformatics.
This nomination form will also be used to nominate students for the Hughes Award in Developmental Biology or Embryology, that awards an outstanding graduate with scholarship in this area.
Molecular Biology/Molecular Virology/Cell Biology students should contact the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology to compete for the departmental Krampitz Award. Genetic Epidemiology students can contact the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics to compete for the Olson Award.
To be eligible for the Doctoral Excellence Award, a student must have completed all doctoral degree requirements and have a conferral date between August and May of the academic year.
Nominations occur electronically and must include: (See link below to begin application)
1) A brief letter of nomination (or self-nomination) in non-technical language, presenting the purpose, methods, and results of the research, and a clear statement of its significance within the discipline. It is important to make clear the intellectual contributions of the nominee. Maximum two pages total.
2) An updated copy of the nominee's curriculum vitae.
3) A letter of support from a member of nominee's dissertation committee or research advisor. The letter of support will be requested online, so please be prepared to provide the name and email of the letter writer. Nominators who are research advisors or dissertation committee members of nominee will have the option to use the nomination letter as the letter of support.
Nominations must be received by Monday, March 18, 2013.
Winners will receive a certificate and small monetary award at the Graduate and Postdoctoral Award Ceremony, and Award information will appear in the commencement booklet.
If you have any additional questions, please contact Robert Petersen.
Krekwit Shinlapawittayatorn completed undergraduate and medical education at Chiang Mai University in Thailand before joining Dr. Isabelle Deschenes and the Physiology and Biophysics PhD program at CWRU. His four years in the lab resulted in five first author publications thus far in top cardiovascular journals. He earned a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association as well as various travel awards. His focus was in understanding the molecular ion channel changes that result in inherited cardiac arrythmias. In particular, he studied how polymorphisms could alter functions of mutated sodium channels. This work is important not only for understanding why inherited genes seem to have greater or lesser disease in an individual, but also novel strategy for new gene therapy approaches in inherited arrythmias. Dr. Shinlapawittayatorn is currently Instructor in the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and staff in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Research and Training Center at Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Gina Bernardo completed her baccalaureate work at Washington and Jefferson College before researching breast cancer with Dennis Slamon at the Univeristy of California Los Angeles for four years, and joining Ruth Keri's lab in Pharmacology at CWRU. This foundation gave her an unrivaled understanding of breast cancer as she began graduate work. Gina found that the transcription factor FOXA1 had dual roles in estrogen responsiveness as well as repression of basal cancer type signature genes. This research led to two first author papers, including a cover feature in Development, and a solicited review. Her work was characterized as "very technically and intellectually demanding" and she was noted for establishing key collaborations with leaders in the field. She earned a predoctoral fellowshiop from the Department of Defense for this work, and earne numerous travel and other awards. She has embarked upon a postdoctoral position with Dr. Keri.
Jill Marinis selected the lab of Derek Abbott in the CWRU Pathology PhD program after completing a major in Dietetics at Ohio University and a dietetic internship in California. Indeed, her outstanding achievements were cited as a "success story." She identified binding sites for gene regulators in Crohn's Disease that have strong implications for human disease, and perhaps, biomarkers. She "out-worked and out-performed" others and is first author on two papers from her thesis work as well as other publications. She was supported by the CMB Training Grant, and earned a Burroughs Wellcome Travel Award. She will embark upon postdoctoral work with Mitchell Lazar at the University of Pennsylvania.
Daniel Berry earned his undergraduate degree in Biology and Enviornmental Scinece at SUNY Cortland before meeting his eventual thesis advisor Noa Noy and following her to CWRU. Daniel was first a research assitant with Dr. Noy at Cornell, and began doctoral training in Nutrition at CWRU when she moved to Cleveland. His work on vitamin A and adipocyte fat cells has bene extraordinary in depth and potential for therapeutic approaches. His major discovery has been to characterize the interacitons with retinoic acid and lipid binding proteins, and to understand the gene network controlling how vitamin A blocks fat cell differentiation. Indeed, in diet-induced obese mice, retinoic acid restores insulin sensitivity, and leads to weight loss. Dan has embarked upon a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Noy.
Paige Cramer earned her undergraduate degree at Tufts University before joining the Neuroscience PhD program and lab of Gary Landreth. Her doctoral work built from earlier studies on the biology of nuclear receptors including a complex of PPAR gamma, LXR and retinoid X receptors in Alzheimer's Disease. She found that RXR blockers would break up those complexes, and indeed, showed that oral administration of the RXR blocker bexarotene cleared brain signs of Alzheimer's Disease within days in a mouse model. These changes were accompanied by improved memory in the mouse models, and paved the path to a new therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. Paige was first author on a Science paper on this subject that garnered international attention, and several collaborative works.
Huijue came to the CWRU PhD program in Biochemistry after earning a MS Biological Sciences at Fudan University in China. She worked with Eckhard Jankowsky on the molecular mechanism of the TRAMP complex important for nuclear RNA processing. Huijue established a new system in the lab to express recombinant, active TRAMP and developed sophisticated analyses to characterize rate constants for multiple adenylation steps. In this process, she discovered that RNA helicases aare also regulators of adenylation, a new paradigm in this area of gene regulation. Her first author paper in Cell was featured on the NIGMS homepage. Her study was described as at "the very forefront of quantitiave biochemical analyses." She was personally highly collaborative, as well as "extraordinarily selft directed, highly committed, a very thorough thinker." After earning her PhD, she joined the HHMI lab of Dr. Yi Zhang at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she earned a postdoctoral fellowship from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Thomas Bulea completed his undergraduate work at The Ohio State University before joining the PhD program in Biomedical Engineering and the lab of Ronald Triolo. Thomas focused on human motion analysis, working on the biomechanics of stair climbing. He developed an orthotic knee mechanism that insured a locked position in the absence of electrical power with the use of a permanent magnet in the axis of the knee joint. He also designed and tested a new that assists in a straight-up rather than tilt-forward sit to stand platform lift walker. One reviewer said, "I can think of no other candidate more deserving or doctoral research project with more potential to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities." He was also active in the Graduate Student Senate. His work resulted in two first author publications and additional collaborative works, as well as provisional patents and disclosures. Thomas is still considering postdoctoral opportunities.
Gabriel "Gabe" Zentner joined the lab of Peter Scatchieri in the Genetics PhD program after undergraduate work at Purdue University. Gabe studied the chromatin remodeling gene CHD7 that is mutated in the birth defect called CHARGE syndrome. He focused on "groundbreaking work" on how CHD7 altered ribosomal RNA, and led to understanding about the epigenetic factors that alter human rDNA, all within 3 years for a dissertation. He was highly productive and sought after for review articles and collaborative work. After graduation, Gabe began a postdoctoral fellowship with Steven Henikoff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA.
Susan Foy earned her Biomedical Engineering degree from Saint Louis University before joining the Molecular Medicine PhD program to work with Vinod Labhasetwar at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Susan worked on magnetic nanoparticles with combined drug deliver and imaging properties for cancer diagnostic imaging and therapeutics. Her model system focused on human breast cancer xenografts and she discovered the particular nanoparticles appeared useful for "theranostic" application. This work resulted in three first author publications and additional publications, allowed her to make numerous presenations. Susan earned a predoctoral fellowship from the Department of Defense is a participant in a patent application. She has begun a postdoctoral fellowship at BN ImmunoTherapeutics in California.
Inna Nechipurenko earned degrees in Biology and Business Administration from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania before coming to the lab of Heather Broihier in the CWRU Neuroscineces PhD program. Inna's innovative work established a role for the transcription factor FoxO and microtubule stabilization at the neuromuscular junction in neuronal development. She was instrumental in getting this area established in the lab, and she was forced to persevere as early studies contradicted widely held opinions in the field. She is "an outstanding experimentalist," who demanded high quality and understanding before conclusions could be drawn. Inna was highly resourceful, traveling to collaborators labs to bring important techniques to the lab, and also served as a key lab assistant in the Cold Spring Harbor Lab course on Neurobiology of Drosophila. She is first author on this highly accessed work in the Journal of Cell Biology, that was also featured on their Biobytes Podcast. She has begun postdoctoral work with Piali Sengupta at Brandeis University.
Ganga Karunamuni is originally from Abu Dhabi and earned her baccalaureate in Biology from Johns Hopkins University before coming to CWRU. In her thesis work with Dr. Michiko Watanabe, Ganga mapped the lymphatic network within the embryonic heart that may play a role in fluid retention in congestive heart failure. She used several animal models and a combination of cellular markers, and learned that the outermost epicardium gives rise to lymphatic endothelial cells. She was awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship, and won local and national awards for her research presentations. She has elected to remain in the Watanabe laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow to develop optical coherence tomography approaches to study mouse embryo heart physiology.
Wenqian Hu graduated from Wuhan University in China, and joined Jeffrey Coller's lab just as it opened its doors in 2005. He was a whirlwind of stellar activity, publishing several first author papers in Nature and other collaborative studies on the context in which eukaryotic mRNA is degraded. He won an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship, and was awarded first prize two years in a row at the CWRU Research Showcase. He was described as "an extremely rare find and will undoubtedly be a star." Dr. Hu is currently a postdoctoral trainee with Harvey Lodish at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Melissa Krebs earned her baccalaureate degree and Master's of Science in Chemical Engineering at University of Rochester, and worked in industry before
joining the CWRU Biomedical Engineering program.
Her work with Eben Alsberg focused on gene delivery systems in scaffolds to promote bone formation. She has published extensively in the biomedical engineering field and spoken at national meetings on her work.
She won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and has already won an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship for her continued work in with Dr. Alsberg as a postdoctoral trainee.
Alex Siebold graduated from the College of Wooster in Biology before joining Dr. Peter Harte in the Genetics program at CWRU.
In his doctoral work, he found an unanticipated role for polycomb repressor complex in extended lifespan and increased stress resistance. He completed a Molecular Biology of Aging summer course in Woods Hole and won a National Research Service Award from NIH for his work.
Alex has joined Norman Sharpless and has earned a UNC Lineberer Cancer Center Postdoctoral Basic Science Fellowship for his postdoctoral training.
Fadia Abdallah Mayyas earned her baccalaureate in Pharmacy at Jordan University, an MS in Pharmacy at Norwegian University of Science and Technology followed by a research fellowship in Norway before joining David Van Wagoner in Molecular Medicine.
She earned an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for her work on endothelin-1 signaling in atrial calcium cycling and fibrosis.
She is now an Assistant Professor at Jordan University of Science and Technology.
Chen Liu graduated from East China Normal University in Biology and was a graduate research assistant before coming to CWRU in 2003.
Chen studied the ongoing role of transcriptional regulation for serotonergic neuron maturation and function. He used original methods to engineer mice in which these factors could be extinguished with decreases in serotonergic markers and increased anxiety-like behaviors.
He is first author on a Nature Neuroscience paper and has other collaborative work. He has begun a postdoctoral fellowship with Joel Elmquist at UT Southwestern in Dallas TX.
Nicole Yonkers graduated from Ohio University in Biology before joining the Pathology Department, first as a research assistant and later as a Master's and Doctoral student.
During this time she earned a National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship from the NIH for her work on alcohol and opiods on dendritic cell function in hepatitis-C and human immunodeficiency virus.
She has earned travel and young investigator awards to national meetings, and has done outstanding work with her advisor Donald Anthony.
Michael Schnetz graduated from Westminster College and completed an Intramural Research Training Award at the NIH before joining Peter Scacheri in Genetics.
His reserach focused on chromatin structure in the CHARGE developmental disorder that affects multiple organ systems. His papers in high impact journals report that a remodeling enzyme closely regulates cell specific gene transcription and revealed an novel regulatory mechanism important for development.
He entered CWRU medical school in Fall 2010.
Matt Lalonde (PhD Biochemistry 2009) graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Biochemistry before heading north to CCF and then Tariq Haqqi's laboratory as a research assistant. He was pursuing a MS in Biochemistry and considering medical school as a career, when his course instructor Eric Arts noticed his "unique, logical approach to experimentation in addressing complex research problems." Eric convinced Matt his research abilities would be better suited in biomedical research than medicine, and brought him into his lab.
For his doctoral work, Matt developed a method for detecting drug resistant minority variants in samples from HIV+ patients that led to a new understanding of how drug resistant forms of the disease arise. As a team, they developed a patent application on a technology to screen for drug resistant mutations.
His advisor, Eric Arts recalls that Matt is an avid cyclist and triathlete, although "he still can't beat me up hill on a bike."
Dr. Lalonde has joined Wes Sundquist as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah.
Jeffrey Beamish (PhD Biomedical Engineering) earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University before joining the CWRU MSTP program.
In work with Roger Marchant, Jeff worked on cellular mechanisms that cause failure of cardiovascular implants, and developed new tissue engineering constructs to address these problems. His work led to a new focus of soluble mediators in endothelial cells as key regulators, and he designed new biomimetic scaffolds using a hydrogel to facilitate cell attachment. His work was highly productive and he earned an individual pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to support his aims.
"quite rare...for a student to develop in-depth expertise in both the biomaterial component and the cell biology component."
Dr. Beamish has returned to clinical electives to complete the MSTP.
Johnie Rose (PhD Epidemiology and Biostatistics) completed his BS in Economics, a MD at Unviersity of Tennessee Collge of Medicine and Internship at Univeristy Hospitals of Cleveland, when he started a new career in Health Services Research.
His innovative work with Mendel Singer involved computer simulation of rotavirus vaccination in developing world settings. He introduced new methods to study how to best prevent over half a million annual childhood deaths attributable to rotavirus diarrhea. Among his observations were assessments of the impact of universal rotavirus vaccination in developing nations on hospitaliazaitons, deaths and costto the health care budget.
"he is an original, creative and very deep thinker, outstanding quantitatively and qualitatively, and is a sensational writer."
Dr. Rose is currently a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
Joshua Rosenblum (PhD Pathology) earned a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Trinity Unviersity in Texas before coming to Cleveland to work in CWRU anatomy and CCF transplant institute.
He then joined the MSTP program and earned his PhD with Rob Fairchild on the role of specific chemokines important for immune rejection in cardiac transplants. This led to a new understanding of alloimmune responses and T cell activation. He was awarded an individual NIH National Research Service Award to pursue his aims, and was highly productive.
"his work was original and important...Josh's work spurred an entirely new direction of research."
Dr. Rosenblum has returned to clerkships to complete the MSTP.
Bryan Doreian (PhD Physiology and Biophysics) is a graduate of Geneva College where he majored in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and pursued internships in product discovery at several pharmaceutical firms.
As a graduate student with Corey Smith, Bryan worked on molecular mechanisms of exocytosis in chromaffin cells, His work was recognized as the Grand Prize Winner at CWRU Research Showcase, and a publication was nominated for "paper of the year" in Molecular Biology of the Cell. His advisor said because of Bryan's innovative studies, their colleagues nationally said while they first "didn't know what to make of our data...it just makes sense now."
Dr. Doreian is currently a postdoctoral trainee with Kurt Lu in Dermatology at CWRU.
Charlie Huang (PhD Nutrition) came to CWRU after earning his baccalaureate degree in Molecular Cell biology at UC Berkeley, and following a stint as a research assistant at UCSF.
Charlie worked on specific proteins in cell membranes that transport essential amino acids into cells, particularly in cancer cells with Maria Hatzoglou. He used bioinformatics and mass spectroscopy approaches to identify regulatory switches that controlled whether the transporter was made. In addition to his own outstanding discoveries, he contributed to publications on measuring protein synthesis in stressed cells, mechanisms to control osmolarity, and diabetes resistance.
Philip Kiser (PhD Pharmacology) came to CWRU after earning a BS in Pharmacy at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, followed by work in Molecular Biology and Pharmacology at Washington University.
Phil's work with Krzysztof Palczewski focused on a membrane protein in the retina that works to regenerate the visual pigment, rhodopsin. The protein is complex, difficult to study, and had to be purified from eyes themselves. He eventually purified and crystallized the enzyme, and the game was on! The structure of the protein revealed unexpected insights into its enzymatic functions, and Phil was very productive in a short period. He also contributed to teaching discussion in Dental Pharmacology, and served as President of the Graduate Student organization in Pharmacology.
"the only graduate student that has ever been allowed to teach a small group alone, which says a great deal about the respect he is accorded."
Phil Larimer (PhD Neuroscience) first came to CWRU as an undergraduate intern in the SPUR program, from Oberlin College. He returned as an MSTP student, earning a PhD with Ben Strowbridge.
Phil worked largely on defining the function of neurons in the dentate hilus of the hippocampus, a region commonly damaged in patients with temporal lobe eplilepsy. He had truly outstanding prominent publications from his work. He was also chosen for the highly competitive "Methods in Computational Neuroscience" summer course at Marine Biological Labs, and TA'd in a Neurobiology course there.
"incredibly demanding triple- and quadruple simultaneous patch clamp recordings to study relatively infrequent synaptic connections in brain slices."
Dr. Larimer has returned to clerkships to complete the MSTP.