Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Department of Medicine

Ansel Amaral

Education:

  • BS: University of Miami, Neuroscience (2007)
  • PhD: University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology (2012)
  • MD: University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Cardiology, Nephrology

Research Interests:

My long-term research interest is the development of a comprehensive understanding of key pathways in the heart and kidney that are activated as a pathophysiological response to chronic kidney disease (CKD). I have had the opportunity to work in a number of labs within the fields of cardiology and nephrology. Prior to entering college, I was able to partake in research at Temple University under Dr. Steven Houser that involved pharmacologic interventions that affect the parameters of cardiac output, blood pressure and flow. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, I managed a research initiative with Dr. R. John Solaro to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying changes in cardiac contractile proteins following acquired heart failure. As an undergraduate student, I worked with Dr. James Potter at the University of Miami to elucidate the effects of troponin mutations on molecular motors in congenital heart disease. As a visiting research scientist, I conducted research with Dr. Bruce McManus at the University of British Colombia to determine the role of integrin-linked kinase in coxsackie virus B3 infection and replication. I also participated in a study with Dr. Maggie Alonso-Galicia at Merck Pharmaceuticals to characterize a novel thiazide diuretic.

As a graduate student with Drs. Christian Faul and Myles Wolf, my research focused on defining the effects of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) on target organs (i.e., the heart and kidney). FGF23 levels are strongly linked to mortality and cardiovascular disease in all stages of CKD; we sought to define a potential underlying mechanism of this relationship. Our work was the first to establish a direct effect of FGF23 on cardiac myocytes via a novel signaling pathway. We demonstrated that FGF23 directly activates pro-hypertrophic signaling pathways in cardiac myocytes and induces left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in animal models. Furthermore, we confirmed that circulating FGF23 levels are increased in CKD and are independently associated with LVH and that elevated FGF23 is associated with increased risk of new-onset LVH. I am excited to join the PSTP at Northwestern and enhance my training experience by working with experts in multiple medical disciplines and contribute to dynamic research efforts that will continue to alter the course of disease progression and translate into manageable practices that improve patient health outcomes.

Noah Birch

Education:

  • BS: Illinois Institute of Technology, Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics (2006)
  • MD: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine
  • PhD: Loyola University Chicago, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry (2013)
  • Subspecialty interest: Hematology-Oncology

Research Interests:

As an undergraduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), I undertook research projects studying fundamental aspects of muscle physiology, studying the role of the androgen receptor in prostate cancer and synthesizing bifunctional compounds for targeted cancer therapies. In the laboratory of Hyun-soon Chong, PhD, I worked in the areas of organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry generating bimodal compounds for antibody-targeted radiation therapy, for MRI contrast enhancement and for metal chelation. In the laboratory of Nancy Zeleznik-Le, PhD, at the Loyola University Medical Center, I conducted dissertation work studying molecular aspects of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) and evaluated novel therapeutics. My research aimed to understand how specific amino acids within a DNA-binding domain of MLL contribute to the leukemogenic capacity of MLL fusion proteins. Retroviral constructs expressing point mutations were generated to study the roles of specific residues in cell proliferation, colony formation, cell morphology, gene expression and in vitro protin binding.  Additional studies focused on post-translational modification of and novel epigenetic therapies for MLL-associated leukemias.

I have been drawn to the field of Hematology-Oncology through complementary research and clinical experiences at IIT and in Loyola’s MD/PhD program. The clinical experiences have demonstrated how our current knowledge of modern medicine can be effectively applied to the skills of diagnosis, treatment and prevention to alleviate patient suffering while the research experiences have demonstrated how we can advance this current understanding to address unanswered clinical questions and ultimately improve human health. During fellowship training, I look forward to acquiring specialized knowledge of human malignancies and to exploring the biochemical and epigenetic mechanisms of cancer while trying to identify new drug targets and developing novel cancer therapeutics. Through participation in the Physician-Scientist Training Program in the Department of Internal Medicine with subspecialty training in Hematology-Oncology, I will be prepared to transition into a successful career as an academic physician-scientist.

Michael Burns

Education:

  • BS: University of Notre Dame
  • PhD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • MD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Hematology/Onc

Research Interests:

My career interests focus on the use of interdisciplinary methodologies to develop novel therapeutics for cancer. Early in my career, I investigated everything from the use of quantum dots as molecular sensors to the role of the nervous system in bone remodeling.  My interest in precision medicine led me to the laboratory of Stephen Fesik, PhD, where I worked to discover novel protein-protein interaction inhibitors targeting the Ras-signaling pathway for the treatment of cancer.

Ras is a small-GTPase that functions as a molecular switch to drive cell proliferation and survival, ultimately leading to cancer. Despite its clinical significance, the scientific community has been unable to develop a clinically efficacious Ras inhibitor since the discovery of Ras as one of the first oncogenes over 30 years ago. Within this context, I sought to apply novel methodologies to identify unique, functionally active small-molecules to provide a path forward for the discovery of Ras-targeted therapeutics. As part of an interdisciplinary team, I was able to show that by employing fragment-based approaches and structure-based drug design it was possible to target Ras with molecules that bind directly to Ras and inhibit Son of Sevenless (SOS)-catalyzed nucleotide exchange in a competitive manner. While conducting this work, I also made the observation that a specific set of small molecules had the ability to modulate the Ras-SOS protein-protein interaction in an unexpected manner. This led to the discovery that it was possible to target the Ras:SOS:Ras complex, an intermediate of nucleotide exchange, with small molecules. I worked to characterize this functionally important small molecule binding site on the Ras:SOS:Ras complex and showed that molecules that bound to it were capable of inhibiting MAPK and PI3K signaling downstream of Ras. These findings revealed a new approach to inhibit this highly validated oncology target and these molecules represent promising starting points for the discovery of compounds capable of inhibiting Ras-driven tumors.

I am excited to be a part of the Northwestern PSTP program, which combines high-quality clinical training with multidisciplinary research opportunities. I plan to pursue a career in hematology and oncology. By focusing on precision medicine, immuno-oncology and understanding the mechanisms that drive cancer, I hope to discover novel treatments and provide new therapeutic options to my patients with cancer not responsive to standard chemotherapy.

Michael Chen

Education:

  • BS: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Microbiology and Immunology (2006)
  • PhD: Loyola University Chicago, Cell Biology (2015)
  • MD: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine (2017)
  • Subspecialty interests: Allergy & Immunology, Rheumatology

Research Interests:

My long-term research interests lie within the realm of immunology. As a field, it has exciting potential. Our ever-increasing understanding of immunologic pathways are constantly changing clinical management of diseases that span every organ system. During graduate school, I studied innate immune dysfunction after severe burn injury and how being intoxicated at the time of injury leads to a detrimental immune response, which has both immediate sequelae and long-term consequences in both animal models and humans. Furthermore, specifically targeting signaling pathways altered by alcohol and burn can reverse the increased morbidity and mortality of the dual insult. As a part of Northwestern’s Physician-Scientist Training Program, I look forward to excellent clinical training and the many opportunities for immunologic research across the institution.

Sarah Fenton

Education:

  • BS: Saint Louis University
  • PhD: Loyola University, Deptartment of Pathology, Molecular Biology
  • MD: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interest: Hematology-Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my thesis work in Molecular Biology at Loyola University under the direction of Dr. Mitchell Denning. I am interested in studying the epithelial to mesenchymal transition and developing novel therapies that target this process. To this end, I studied the tyrosine kinase Fyn, a member of the Src family kinases. Fyn is an oncogene in murine epidermis and is upregulated in multiple tumor types, including human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). Increased Fyn expression levels following either the transduction of active Ras (HaCaT-Ras) or Fyn (HaCaT-Fyn) into HaCaT cells induced an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and inhibition of this protein using the clinical SFK inhibitor Dasatinib blocked this process by increasing the stability of cell-cell adhesions at the adherens junction through stabilization of F-actin. This inhibition blocked the keratinocyte's ability to migrate in culture, as well as undergo malignant transformation in a mouse model studying UV-induced skin damage. I look forward to continuing my clinical and research training at Northwestern University as it has a strong tradition of supporting physician-scientists and advancing the field of medicine.

Dominic Fullenkamp

Education:

  • BS: Boston University, Biomedical Engineering (2005)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Biomedical Engineering (2012)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2014)

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University in the laboratory of Dr. Phillip Messersmith. The main objective of my dissertation was to investigate the role that sacrificial coordination bonds could have on hydrogel mechanical properties. This work was motivated by the lack of biocompatible soft synthetic materials that can stand up to long-term cyclic strains for applications such as small vessel grafts or heart valve replacements. To address this need, we took inspiration from the chemistry that the marine mussel employs to produce tough, self-healing threads that anchor the mussel to coastal rocks. Specifically, by studying different metal-ligand hydrogel systems, we were able to show how small molecule kinetic and thermodynamic properties connect to bulk material properties. With these insights, we were able to toughen hydrogels by incorporation of sacrificial coordination bonds. I came to the Northwestern PSTP because of the strength of its clinical cardiology and the research opportunities available. During the research phase of this experience, I plan to develop new skills in cell and stem cell biology. I ultimately hope to connect this experience with my biomaterials background.

Arif Jivan

Education:

  • BS: Duke University, Biomedical Engineering (2004)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Cell Signaling/Pharmacology (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in cell signaling and pharmacology at UT Southwestern in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Cobb. My dissertation research focused on how scaffolding proteins facilitate cross-talk between MAP kinase and PKA pathways and how these signaling cascades elicited site-specific action within the cell, specifically in the context of cilia-related diseases (e.g., polycystic kidney disease, Kartagener, Bardet-Biedl syndromes). I became interested in cardiology during medical school, through didactic and clinical experiences in heart failure and interventional cardiology as well as through research examining stroke events after atrial fibrillation surgery under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Lee. Within cardiology, I am interested in examining the pathogenesis of heart failure through the myriad of underlying molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that lead to the onset and progression of the disease. Given its significant clinical burden, there exists a burgeoning potential in developing therapeutics to not only reverse myocardial changes and damage that lead to decompensation in heart failure, but also to prevent the disease at its onset. Other areas of interest in cardiology include examining vascular endothelial function and repair, particularly after thromboembolic events. I am excited to begin my career as a physician-scientist in the vibrant clinical and research environment at Northwestern.

Josh Levine

Education:

  • BS: Columbia University (2007)
  • PhD: Columbia University, Genetics and Development (2012)
  • MD: Columbia University (2014)
  • Subspecialty interest: Endocrinology

Research Interests:

I completed my thesis work in Genetics and Development at Columbia in the lab of Dr. Lori Sussel. Her lab is focused on understanding the transcriptional regulation of the development of the islets of Langherhan in the pancreas. I focused on one of the major transcription factors of islet cell development, Nkx2.2. I discovered that one of the conserved regions of the protein, the SD domain, was required for differentiating a single islet endocrine progenitor cell into five distinct monohormonal islet cell types. By knocking in a mutant SD domain into the native Nkx2.2 gene in mice, we showed that the iselts of these mice contained fewer insulin producing beta cells as well as many polyhormonal cells. We also showed that the SD domain interacts with a dna methyltransferance, DNMT1, and through this interaction, successfully regulates gene expression via methylation, to differentiate progenitor cells into single hormonal islet cells. As a result, mutation of the SD domain, leads to loss of this interaction and production of polyhormonal cells. I am excited to continue my research and clinical studies at Northwestern and look forward to many new exciting opportunities here.

Adam Lin

Education:

  • BS: University of California, Irvine
  • PhD: Rice University
  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Subspecialty Interests: Hematology/Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in the department of Bioengineering at Rice University with Dr. Rebekah Drezek and worked on several inter-departmental and inter-institutional collaborative projects. Part of my thesis work was to design and engineer gold nanoparticles for photothermal therapy in combination with magnetic resonance or fluorescence imaging to improve satellite cancer detection and real-time tumor margin detection. In addition, I have investigated other potential medical uses of gold nanoparticles for delivery of cancer vaccines, adjuvants, plasmids and chemotherapeutic agents. My overall goal is to utilize my nanoengineering knowledge to improve cancer treatment, including immunotherapy and intra-op diagnoses technologies.

Nurbek Mambetsariev

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
  • PhD: University of Iowa
  • MD: University of Iowa

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Immunology in Dr. Gail Bishop's lab at the University of Iowa. Our focus was on B cell biology and signaling. As part of my thesis project, I investigated the role of an adaptor protein TRAF3 in regulating pathways that promote survival. Loss of TRAF3 has been associated with lymphomagenesis and it is commonly mutated in B cell malignancies. TRAF3 also regulates multiple pathways implicated in autoimmunity. TRAF3-deficient B cells, though not fully transformed, are resistant to apoptosis and display prolonged survival both in vitro and in vivo. We showed for the first time that TRAF3 localized to the nucleus in B cells and promoted degradation of transcription factor CREB, thereby inhibiting aberrant B cell survival. We also characterized the metabolic phenotype of TRAF3-deficient B cells which revealed increased glucose utilization. Presence of glucose was required for their enhanced survival. Our work shed light on the mechanisms of TRAF3-mediated regulation of B cell survival and advanced our understanding of pathogenesis of B cell malignancies.

During my graduate training, I became fascinated with innate immunity and its role in human disease. Because of my clinical interest in pulmonary and critical care medicine, for my future work, I would like to focus on how innate immune cells shape the responses that impact the progression and resolution of lung disease.

Luisa Morales Nebreda

Education:

  • BS: University of Central Venezuela
  • MD: University of Central Venezuela
  • Subspecialty interests: Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine

Research Interests:

During my research fellowship, I worked in the labs of Dr. Scott Budinger and Dr. Gokhan Mutlu in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Northwestern. My research focused in understanding the role played by bone marrow-derived macrophages in response to lung injury and their contribution to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. We found that mice with a tissue-specific deletion of caspase-8 in lung macrophages are resistant to both bleomycin and TGF-β-induced fibrosis. More specifically, we showed that caspase-8 is required for the differentiation of bone marrow-derived monocytes into alveolar macrophages. Despite being phenotypically similar, both bone marrow-derived macrophages and tissue-resident macrophages, exhibit a very different inflammatory and fibrotic response during lung injury and fibrosis. Thus, potentially targeting recruited macrophages represents a novel approach in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.

Also, with Dr. Mutlu I extended on our previous published work, which showed that stimulation by β2-adrenergic agonists contribute to the development of a prothrombotic state in response to particulate matter air pollution. It is widely known that despite their beneficial effects on alveolar fluid clearance, the administration of β2-agonists to patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome failed to demonstrate a beneficial effect in randomized clinical trials. Recently, we have shown that the loss of β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) specifically in the macrophages improves survival in a murine model of influenza A infection. Mechanistically, signaling through β2AR on monocytes and macrophages negatively regulates the recruitment of monocytes to the lung during influenza A infection and worsens survival. We think that strategies that act independently of the β2AR to enhance alveolar fluid clearance without the unwanted effects on monocyte-derive macrophage recruitment to the lung may prove effective for the treatment of patients with ARDS.

Taylor Poor

Education:

  • BA: Wabash College, Chemistry
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Molecular Biology
  • MD: Northwestern University
  • Subspecialty interests: Infectious Disease and Critical Care

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lamb, PhD, on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. My work in Dr. Lamb’s lab focused primarily on biophysical studies of the mechanics behind viral protein refolding in Paramyxoviruses, a family of enveloped, negative-stranded RNA viruses. Specifically, I worked with the fusion (F) protein of Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5). PIV5 F is a large timeric glycoprotein that sits on the surface of the viral membrane in a metastable conformation. When the virus particle binds to a target host cell, F is triggered to undergo a large-scale, ATP-independent, irreversible conformational rearrangement that physically fuses the viral membrane to that of the target cell. This allows the viral genetic material to infect the cell. My research interests primarily revolve around the intersection of biophysical and structural understanding of infectious diseases.

Konrad Sawicki

Education:

  • BS: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (2010)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Molecular Biology (2015)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2017)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I conducted my graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Hossein Ardehali, MD, PhD, in cardiac iron metabolism. My work focused on the regulation of heme iron in cardiac ischemic injury and identified delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase (ALAS)-2 induction with resultant heme accumulation as novel pathologic features of failing hearts. I also worked on projects investigating the role of mitochondrial non-heme iron in cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury, sirtuin proteins in cellular iron homeostasis and RNA-binding proteins in lipid metabolism. My long-term research interests involve understanding how alterations in genetic regulatory programs affect cellular metabolism and mitochondrial function in the developing, normal and diseased heart and developing methods to target these metabolic pathways as novel therapeutic agents. My overall career goal is to be a productive physician-scientist in academic cardiology by contributing to the advancement of cardiovascular research, facilitating the translation of research from the bench to bedside and using precision medicine approaches to provide the best possible clinical care for my patients. Northwestern has a strong tradition of supporting physician-scientists and being a national leader in cardiology, and I am excited to continue my career here as part of the PSTP.

Michael Schieber

Education:

  • BS: Northwestern University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Hematology/Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Cell Biology at Northwestern University in the laboratory of Dr. Navdeep Chandel. My research focused on hypoxia signaling responses and used the nematode C. elegans as a genetic model organism. Specifically, we identified a novel hypoxia signaling response that, when activated, extended lifespan in C. elegans. This response was tissue-specific and was mediated by an intestinal transcription factor that was activated by increased reactive oxygen species generated under hypoxia. I chose to stay at Northwestern and enroll in the PSTP because of the University’s continued focus on physician-scientist training and the continued growth of the hematology/oncology program. My current research interests include studying the metabolic mechanisms of carcinogenesis and developing therapeutic strategies to target these pathways in human cancer.

Adam Schuldt

Education:

  • BA: Bowdoin College, Biology (2000)
  • PhD: Stony Brook University, Biomedical Engineering (2008)
  • MD: University of Michigan (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University under the mentorship of Dr. Ira Cohen. My work focused on cellular therapies for cardiac disease, specifically regeneration of contractile cardiomyocytes. The heart is estimated to have lost over one billion cardiomyocytes by the time it goes into heart failure. A growing body of evidence suggests that the heart is capable of replacing lost myocytes, but at a rate inadequate to reverse the damage from an insult such as myocardial infarction. Working with adult cardiac tissue, we investigated the origins of resident cardiac progenitor cells and produced quantitative evidence of differentiation along cardiac and other lineages in vitro. In addition, acellular extracellular matrix patches were used in a full thickness cardiac defect model to demonstrate native regeneration of contractile function specifically within the patch area. Furthermore, augmentation of this recovery was accomplished when human mesenchymal stem cells committed to a cardiac lineage were seeded on the patch. Other work focused on efforts to stimulate adult cardiomyocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and proliferate as another means of replacing myocytes. I am interested in continuing to work in the advancing field of cardiac regeneration and repair, including approaches utilizing cellular, genetic and deliverable pharmaceutical technologies.

Keith Summa

Education:

  • BS: Georgetown University, 2003, Biology and English
  • PhD: Northwestern University, 2013, Neurobiology
  • MD: Northwestern University, 2016
  • Subspecialty interest: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

My interest in research began as an undergraduate student in the laboratory of Peter Armbruster at Georgetown University. I studied circadian rhythms in the invasive species of mosquito Aedes albopictus, a vector for several diseases, including dengue fever, to better understand how this tropical organism adapts to temperate climates as it spreads. After graduation, I enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. For my doctoral thesis in the laboratory of Fred Turek, I examined how disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms impacts gastrointestinal function and contributes to inflammation and damage to the intestinal epithelial barrier in mouse models of colitis and alcoholic liver disease. My long-term interest as a member of the Physician-Scientist Training Program in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University is to combine my passion for research in circadian biology with clinical medicine in the field of Gastroenterology. This affords the opportunity to conduct procedures as well as establish and maintain long-lasting relationships with patients. I look forward to this next phase in my career at Northwestern University, where I continue to benefit from working with excellent colleagues and mentors.

Joseph Triggs

Education:

  • BS: University of Pennsylvania, Biology (2005)
  • MD: University of Chicago
  • PhD: University of Chicago, Immunology (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

During my dissertation work with Harinder Singh, PhD, I used the immune system as a tool to investigate gene regulatory networks that control cell fate choice. These networks are comprised of interconnected signaling molecules and transcription factors that regulate the developmental transitions that are critical for lineage determination. Using genetic, molecular and mathematical modeling approaches, I was able to demonstrate a novel molecular mechanism whereby lineage specific transcription factors feedback to alter the epigenetic DNA binding landscape of non-specific transcriptional regulators leading to cell specification and commitment. These efforts were aimed at being able to manipulate these regulatory networks to engineer stem cells to adopt particular immune cell fates in the future.

After completing my PhD and returning to medical school, I combined my scientific background in next generation sequencing, immunology and molecular biology with my clinical interests in gastroenterology. I joined Dr. Eugene Chang’s lab at the University of Chicago, which focuses on host microbe interactions in the gastrointestinal tract. My work focused on the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. I look forward to being able to continue pursuing my interests in molecular biology and immunology within the field of gastroenterology during my training as a physician-scientist at Northwestern.

Lowie Van Asche

Education:

  • BS: Maastricht University, Medicine (2007)
  • MD: Maastricht University Medical School (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

After completing medical school at Maastricht University School of Medicine in the Netherlands, I decided to join the Duke Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Center (DCMRC) as a post-doctoral research fellow from July 2010 until July 2013. Under the mentorship of Raymond J. Kim, MD (co-director of the DCMRC), I focused on using cardiovascular MRI as a tool to study the physiology of coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndromes. 

My research has focused on three specific projects. The first focuses on physiologic processes in a large animal model of ischemic myocardial injury. Specifically, I am studying the time course and size change of myocardial edema after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). In the same animal model, I developed a new MRI protocol to investigate the three-dimensional characteristics of the area at risk and myocardial salvage during AMI. The main goal was to create three distinct myocardial contrast concentrations delineating viable area at risk (AAR), infarcted AAR and remote myocardium. This technique can be used to more accurately assess the effect of new therapies aimed at reducing infarct size. My second project focuses on the clinical and imaging predictors of microvascular obstruction (MO), a marker of poor prognosis in AMI. In a population of over 300 patients, I correlated infarct age with a decrease in MO prevalence and found that characteristics of infarct morphology were important predictors of MO. Finally, I am studying patients with AMI to ascertain the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging characteristics associated with LV thrombus. 

Joshua Waitzman

Education:

  • BS: Brown University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Nephrology

Research Interests:

I performed my PhD research in the laboratory of Dr. Sarah Rice, studying how the molecular motor kinesin-5 provides the pushing force required to separate dividing cells in mitosis. By determining the structural steps that allow kinesin-5 to push on the microtubule-based mitotic spindle, we identified key differences between the first and subsequent steps of the motor, illustrating an example of molecular memory. We also found that phosphorylation of kinesin-5 substantially alters its affinity for a small molecule inhibitor. This novel regulatory mechanism opens doors to new therapeutic strategies to inhibit not only kinesin-5 in particular, but protein-based drug targets in general. 

I was fascinated by kidney physiology in medical school. Nephrology as a specialty combines the basic science of disease mechanism and the applied physiology of engineered kidney replacement therapies with long-term physician-patient relationships focused on preventative care. I hope to apply my background in biochemistry and biophysics to develop improved in vitro systems to model kidney function and better understand the cytoskeleton of glomerular cells. The supportive environment within Northwestern’s Physician-Scientist Training Program is allowing me to lay the groundwork of a career at the intersection of basic science and clinical care.

Jonathan Xia

Education:

  • BA: Washington University in St. Louis (2010)
  • MD/PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (2017)
  • Subspecialty interests: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

For my PhD, I studied obesity and metabolic syndrome, joining the lab of Philipp Scherer, the director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at UT Southwestern. For my thesis research, I investigated the function of ceramides, a type of signaling lipid, and their role in the development of hepatic insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I developed acute, genetic means to modulate ceramide levels in the adult mouse that revealed novel insights into the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms linking nutrient sensing to metabolic regulation.

​My research interests focus on understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes and obesity-associated comorbidities. Lipotoxicity, which results from the accumulation of lipids in non-adipose tissues, is a common cause of obesity-related complications. I plan to investigate the mechanism of lipotoxicity-induced organ dysfunction, which ultimately results in the metabolic syndrome that complicates diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, I also intend to identify and study key lipid mediators of insulin resistance in different tissues, ranging from adipose tissue to the liver and heart. I plan to do this through both disease- and patient-oriented research.


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Department of Neurology

Neil Nadkarni

Education:

  • BA: Cornell University, Biological Sciences (2009)
  • Medical Student Fellowship: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2012-2013)
  • MD: Boston University (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Epilepsy, Cognitive Disorders, Gender Differences in Neurology

Research Interests:

My interest in further understanding mechanisms of disease etiology with long-term hopes of improving outcomes makes the PSTP a vital outlet for channeling my long-term aspirations of being a clinician-scientist. I was first interested in research by doing a program at Boston University with Dr. Andrew Budson at the Boston VA, where we looked at reducing false alarms using metacognitive cues in the Mild Cognitive Impairment/Alzheimers Disease population. During my third year, while witnessing an adverse patient outcome, I found myself intrigued by mechanisms of disease in preeclampsia. I received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Student Fellowship for 2012-2013, where I further fleshed out my research interest under the guidance of Dr. Ananth Karumanchi and Dr. Augustine Rajakumar in limiting pathologic phenomena of this condition of pregnancy. This experience convinced me to enter science, as I felt no better intellectual exhilaration than discovering mechanisms of disease and to translating these observations to potential patient therapies. Lastly, I also did work under the guidance of Dr. Georgia Montouris in medical school looking at major congenital malformations in children of pregnant women on antiepileptic drugs. I hope to further contribute to our understanding of neurologic disease over my time in the PSTP and beyond.


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Department of Pathology

Ryan Jones

Education:

  • MD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
  • PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Kate Poropatich

Education:

  • MHS: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (2009)
  • PhD: The George Washington University School of Medicine (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Surgical Pathology, Immunology and Carcinogenesis

Research Interests:

Over the course of several laboratory internships at places that include the NIH and a year-out of basic science laboratory research in between third and fourth years of medical school, I am excited to be on the physician-scientist career path. My past research experience has specifically focused on the role of the host’s immunologic and genetic makeup in the context of HIV-susceptbility, disease progression and the response to HIV vaccine regimens. Most recently, I have studied the HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell clonal subpopulations in human subjects that were part of Phase II HIV-1 vaccine trials in Thailand. This work also included measuring immunoglobin subtype recognition of HIV envelope antigens, specifically to variable region 2 that is part of the virus' gp120 antigen. With a grant from the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2010, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to study the neutralizing antibody response to Dengue virus-infected dendritic cells in patients that were at various clinical stages of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. In 2009, I worked in a lab at the NIAID looking at the immunophenotyping of CD8+ T cells from HIV-infected Long-Term Non-Progressors, an area I have published as part of my master's thesis in Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. As a PSTP resident in the Department of Pathology, my focus is on surgical pathology and how host immunology and genetic factors contribute to solid tumor development and metastasis. I will bridge the lessons I have learned from lentiviral pathogenesis to solid tumor development, with particular interests in adenocarcinomas in organs of the gastrointestinal tract and other systems.


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Department of Pediatrics

Kyle MacQuarrie

Education:

  • BS: University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Psychology (2003)
  • PhD: University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Molecular and Cellular Biology (2011)
  • MD/PhD: University of Washington, School of Medicine (2014)

Research Interests:

My graduate work was is in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Tapscott at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, working on the pediatric tumor rhabdomyosarcoma. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a pediatric tumor of skeletal muscle that fails to undergo the normal process of skeletal muscle development, a failure that permits the tumor cells to continue to grow. My doctoral work demonstrated that multiple proteins that help regulate normal muscle development can be utilized in the tumor cells to promote their development and stop their growth. My work also demonstrated that the proteins affect each other and integrate their effects through a microRNA that serves as an important single point of control that functions to "lock in" the process of development. I extended my work to examine the genomic landscape in the tumor cells and show it is highly similar to what is seen in normal muscle cells, but with a relatively small number of key differences that help explain the ability of the tumors to continue to grow. Taken together, this suggests 1) there are multiple potential cancer therapy targets in rhabdomyosarcoma that would function not by killing pediatric tumor cells, but by forcing development in those cells and halting their growth, and 2) that studying the biology of normal muscle cells can help identify such targets. In the future, I plan to continue to focus my research efforts on understanding the biological underpinnings of pediatric tumors, as well as looking for novel treatment approaches.

Divakar Mithal

Education:

  • BS: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MD: Northwestern University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • Specialty: Neurophysiology

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

R. James Cotton

Education:

  • BS: Rice University
  • PhD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine

Research Interests:

My graduate work involved developing techniques for rapid three-dimensional two-photon imaging from the brain in order to record the activity of large populations of neurons. I am now a resident at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, formerly RIC, and am studying the application of biofeedback to enhance neuroplasticity in spinal cord injury. My long-term interest is neural-interface technologies to help people with disabilities.

Ishan Roy

Education:

  • BS: Case Western Reserve University
  • MD: Medical College of Wisconsin
  • PhD: Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Subspecialty interest: Cancer Rehabilitation

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Dwinell at the Medical College of Wisconsin. In the Dwinell lab, I investigated the role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. Through expression analysis of human tissues, and using a variety of mouse models, I helped to delineate novel roles for chemokines in the regulation of pancreatic cancer cell metastasis and tumor microenvironment dynamics.  As chemokines are important regulators of cell motility, a significant portion of my dissertation work focused on understanding the mechanisms by which chemokines influence cancer cell signaling through their g-protein coupled receptors. My dissertation work culminated with discovery of a possible mechanism for pancreatic cell motility that is regulated by bio-energetic signaling.

 

My current basic science research interests stem from my prior work in bioenergetic signaling. Specifically, I am interested in understanding more about how cancer, and its various treatments, influence systemic metabolism. Moving forward, I would like to investigate the mechanisms underlying cancer related cachexia and sarcopenia. From a clinical and translational perspective, I am interested in understanding how cancer rehabilitation can treat cancer related debility, using more novel physical exercise/therapy regimens and novel pharmaceutical targeting.


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Department of Surgery

Edmund Chen

Education:

  • BA: The Johns Hopkins University, Biology (2008)
  • MD: Weill Cornell Medical College (2014)

Research Interests:

Dr. Chen’s main research focuses on the newly appreciated role of the gut microbiome to health and disease, working under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Karen Ho. Recent research has shown that the gut microbiome is involved in the pathogenesis of disease in virtually every organ system, from Alzheimer ’s disease, to hypertension, to obesity. The Ho lab is uniquely focused on the interplay between the gut microbiome and peripheral vascular disease. Specifically, Dr. Chen is investigating how specific high fat diets can change the gut microbiome, and how these changes in the microbiome can, in turn, alter arterial remodeling after vascular interventions. His research utilizes an in vivo model of arterial remodeling and incorporates technology such as flow cytometry and multi-analyte immunoassays. The goal of this work is to further elucidate the important interplay between our diets, the gut microbiome, and human health. During this time, he is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Health Services and Outcomes Research. Dr. Chen is a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Vascular Surgery Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University.

Ryan Campagna

Education:

  • BS: Canisius College, Biochemistry (2006)
  • MD: The Ohio State University College of Medicine (2010)

Research Interests:

Dr. Campagna’s research aims to better define the anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, and treatment of several esophageal disorders. Working under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Hungness and Dr. John Pandolfino, his primary focus is on achalasia, a rare neurodegenerative esophageal motility disorder. Additional areas of investigation include gastroesophageal reflux disease and other non-achalasia esophageal motility disorders. Dr. Campagna also works in the Northwestern Simulation Lab, where he focuses on surgical mastery-learning.  He is concomitantly pursuing a masters in medical education during his research time. Dr. Campagna is a postdoctoral fellow under the Gastrointestinal Physiology and Psychology T32 Training Grant.

Cori Cason

Education:

  • BS: Berry College (2007)
  • MS: Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (2008)
  • MD: Chicago Medical School Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (2012)

Research Interests:

Dr. Cason’s research focuses on the impact of the gut microbiome and arterial remodeling. Under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Karen Ho, Cori is studying how changes in gut microbial composition and diversity affect the abundance of microbe-derived metabolites and how these changes impact the severity of arterial remodeling in rodent models of neointimal hyperplasia. Dr. Cason is a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Vascular Surgery Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University. ​​

Stephen Chiu

Education:

  • BA: University of California, Berkeley, Molecular & Cell Biology (2008)
  • MD: The University of Arizona College of Medicine (2012)

Research Interests:

Dr. Chiu’s research focuses on immunology and lung transplantation. Under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Ankit Bharat, Stephen is working on elucidating the pathophysiology of primary graft dysfunction (PGD) in lung transplant recipients. Specifically, he is investigating the biology of a subset of intravascular monocytes that patrol the endothelium and are involved in the innate immune response to injury. This work will provide insight into the mechanisms of PGD and offer targets for novel therapies to prevent PGD and improve outcomes for lung transplant recipients. His multidisciplinary work involves collaboration with the Kovler Comprehensive Transplant Center and the Divisions of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Rheumatology. Dr. Chiu is a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Transplant Surgery Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University.

Kristine Corkum

Education:

  • BA: College of the Holy Cross, Biology (2008)
  • MD: Tufts University School of Medicine (2013)

Research Interests:

Dr. Corkum is a current research fellow in the Fertility and Hormone Preservation and Restoration (FHPR) Program at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago under the mentorship of Dr. Erin Rowell and Dr. Monica Laronda. Her current research is focused on fertility preservation options for prepubertal and young adolescent children facing fertility threatening diagnoses or treatments. She is studying the surgical technique for ovarian tissue cryopreservation in children, its effects on ovarian follicle health, and its impact on the future re-implantation of ovarian tissue for hormone and fertility restoration. She is also interested in the ethical considerations regarding experimental fertility preservation options for children.  

Ryan Ellis

Education:

  • BS: University of Kansas, Chemical Engineering (2009)
  • MD: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (2013)

Research Interests:

Dr. Ellis’ research centers on surgical quality improvement and outcomes research pertaining to complex surgical oncology under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Karl Bilimoria. Specifically, he is focusing on hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgery and factors associated with adverse outcomes in this patient population. He will also be studying the effects of regionalization of complex surgical care, as well as developing national quality standards for management of patients before and after HPB surgery. In addition, he will be examining what factors drive patients to choose one hospital or surgeon over another prior to having surgery. Dr. Ellis is an American College of Surgeons Clinical Scholar as well as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern Center for Healthcare Studies. He is currently working on a master’s degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research at Northwestern University.

Ramiro Fernandez

Education:

  • BS: Texas A&M University, Biology (2009)
  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine (2013)

Research Interests:

Dr. Fernandez' research is primarily focused on the role of autoimmunity in lung transplantation. Under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Ankit Bharat, Dr. Fernandez is studying the mechanisms by which lung recipients develop autoantibodies to self-antigens expressed in the lung. These non-HLA antibodies have been linked to Primary Graft Dysfunction (PGD) and chronic rejection in lung allografts. Hence, we are also studying how these antibodies may promote development of primary graft dysfunction and chronic rejection in a mouse model of lung transplantation. Dr. Fernandez is a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Transplant Surgery Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University.

Frances Tangherlini Lee

Education:

  • BA: Boston University (2008)
  • MD: George Washington University (2014)

Research Interests:

Dr. Lee's research in the Luo lab relates to immunology and focuses on tolerance mechanisms in transplantation. Specifically, the Luo lab investigates potential curative therapies for Type I Diabetes (T1D), a chronic autoimmune disorder that is characterized by progressive destruction of pancreatic islet cells. Among current therapies for T1D, pancreatic islet cell transplantation is a promising treatment, but is limited by the lack of available human donors and continuous need for immunosuppression. Using mouse models of allogeneic (mouse to mouse) pancreatic islet cell transplantation, the Luo lab has developed a successful therapy that when given around the time of transplantation establishes tolerance (a permanent state of unresponsiveness to foreign antigen without the need for immunosuppression). To address the lack of human donor sources of islet cells and potential use of porcine islet cells for transplantation, these strategies have been expanded to xenogeneic (rat to mouse, pig to mouse, etc.) islet cell transplantation and have had more complex results requiring further investigations to achieve tolerance. Dr. Lee's main project is currently investigating tolerance mechanisms in xenogeneic islet cell transplantation using humanized mouse models (genetically immunodeficient mice transplanted with a functional human immune system) as a means of studying the human immune system response to pig islet cell transplantation. 

Steven Schuetz

Education:

  • BA: Northwestern University, Psychology (2009)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2013)

Research Interests:

Dr. Schuetz has contextualized and implemented the Pan-American Trauma Society’s Trauma Registry at Hospital Arco Iris. The registry is currently used to guide evidence-based programs in areas of epidemiology and quality improvement. In addition, Dr. Schuetz has developed a novel trauma course to provide advanced first-response training in low-resource areas. He as trained 950 physicians, medical students, nurses, police and firemen in 2-day courses, with administration of pre- and post-test knowledge assessments.

Ben Schwab

Education:

  • BS: University of North Dakota, Biology (2002)
  • DC: Palmer College of Chiropractic West (2008)
  • MD: SUNY Downstate Medical Center (2012)

Research Interests:

The main focus of my research during the first year will be on surgical simulation and education.  In regards to my work with Dr. Hungness, my primary project focuses on the clinical impact of a previously developed laparoscopic common bile duct simulator and curriculum.  In addition, I am working on the expansion of the curriculum to other NM affiliates (LFH, CDH, Delnor).  My work with Dr. Barsness is primarily focused on the implementation and effect of a nationwide curriculum for teaching pediatric fellows minimally invasive approaches to the repair of four congenital abnormalities.  In addition, I will be researching factors leading to recurrence of congenital diaphragmatic hernia after thoracoscopic repair.  We are also studying the use of crowdsourcing in the evaluation of surgeon performance.

Samuel South

Education:

  • MD: University of Utah (2013)
  • BA: University of Utah (2009)

Research Interests:

Dr. South's research focuses on trauma and emergency medical systems strengthening in developing countries. Under the guidance of his mentor Dr. Mamta Swaroop and the Northwestern Trauma & Surgical Initiative, Sam is researching how lay-person first responders contribute to injury prevention and trauma systems in the developing world. To do this, he is working to develop and teach lay-person first responder courses in the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Sam is also using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods including expanding hospital based trauma registries, and conducting qualitative interviews to better understand the current state of trauma care in the region. These efforts will set the stage for improved resource allocation, the designation of trauma centers, the establishment of protocolized triage and notification systems, and establish the foundation for a sustainable emergency medical system in Bolivia.

Tarik Yuce

Education:

  • BA: Boston University, Biology (2011)
  • MD: Temple University School of Medicine (2015)

Research Interests:

Dr. Yuce’s interests lie in outcomes research as well as surgical quality improvement relating to minimally invasive benign foregut and bariatric surgery. His focus is on identifying possible avenues for improving bariatric outcome measures such as readmission and surgical site infections under the guidance of Dr. Karl Bilimoria and Dr. Ryan Merkow. He also is exploring methods to augment minimally invasive surgical training for general surgery residency. He is currently taking time away from his general surgery residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to complete a Master’s in Health Services and Outcomes Research while a T-32 postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern Center for Education in Healthcare Studies.


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Department of Urology

Channa Amarasekera

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Maryland
  • Medical School: Harvard Medical School
  • Subspecialty Interests: Health outcomes and Laparoscopic prostatectomies

Jason Cohen

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Colgate University
  • Medical School: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Bladder cancer, Prostate cancer, BPH, Stone disease

Lauren Cooley

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Richmond
  • Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

John Oliver DeLancey

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Michigan
  • Medical School: Emory University, University of Michigan Medical School

Research Interests:

Bladder cancer, pelvic organ prolapse, racial/socioeconomic disparities in urologic malignancies

Anuj Desai

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Case Western Reserve University
  • Medical School: Temple University School of Medicine

Matthew Hudnall

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Princeton University
  • Medical School: University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

Dylan Isaacson

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Columbia University, BA Neuroscience and Behavior
  • Graduate School: University of California, Berkeley, MPH in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology
  • Medical School: University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine

Brian Jordan

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Claremont McKenna College
  • Medical School: University of Washington School of Medicine

Oliver Ko

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Arizona
  • Medical School: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Urologic oncology, endourology, medical education

Jeremy Lai

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Washington University
  • Graduate School: Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • Medical School: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Adarsh Manjunath

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Northwestern University
  • Medical School: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Neil Mistry

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Virginia Commonwealth University, BA in International Studies
  • Graduate School: St. Louis University, MPH in Public Health Practice
  • Medical School: Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine

Christopher Morrison

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Cornell University
  • Medical School: David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

Oluwarotimi (Rotimi) Nettey

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Harvard University
  • Medical School: Yale University School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Health Infrastructure and Development and Surgical Education in Low Resourced Settings related to Urologic Disease Burdens

Mehul Patel

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Virginia
  • Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine

Minh Pham

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Duke University
  • Medical School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicinehool of Medicine

Rashid Siddiqui

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of California, Berkeley, BA in Molecular Cell Biology
  • Medical School: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health

Aisha Siebert

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Dartmouth College, BA in English Literature
  • Graduate School: Columbia University, MPH in Toxicology, Molecular Epidemiology
  • Medical School: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Ashima Singal

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Northwestern University
  • Medical School: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Robotics with focus on quality and surgical outcomes

Amanda Vo

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Michigan
  • Medical School: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Adam Weiner

Education:

  • Undergraduate: Yale University
  • Medical School: University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Bladder Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Healthcare Disparities, Health Services Research, Epidemiology

Emily (Emmy) Yura

Education:

  • Undergraduate: University of Michigan
  • Medical School: Rush University Medical School

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Department of Vascular Surgery

Katherine Hekman

Education:

  • BS: The Johns Hopkins University, Biophysics & Spanish Literature (2006)
  • PhD: The University of Chicago, Biological Sciences (2012)
  • MD: The University of Chicago (2014)

Research Interests:

Vascular disease—including narrowing and occlusion of blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart, vital organs and extremities—inflicts a significant public health burden for which improved methodologies to model disease, develop therapeutics, and design new interventions to alleviate disease may provide symptomatic relief and improve function. Dr. Hekman's project focuses on overcoming a major limitation in the development of patient-derived endothelial cells using induced pluripotent stem cell technology. This technology is currently limited by reprogramming-induced senescence whereby the mature cellular phenotype degenerates and is lost. She will work to overcome this barrier to generate functional patient-derived endothelial cells for clinical and therapeutic applications. She is a post-doctoral fellow supported by an F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA individual post-doctoral fellowship award from NHLBI.


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Participating Institutions: