Celebrating CAMB Graduates
Please join us in our celebration as we highlight our CAMB graduates.
The profiles are sectioned by degree type:
Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Title: Insight into Acetyl-Coenzyme A Regulation through the Molecular Mechanism of ATP-Citrate Lyase
Post PhD Plans: Founder / Biotechnology Analyst at GAB Analytics, LLC and Scientist at Aro Biotherapeutics
Mentor Comment: Gleb left his mark in the lab by introducing us to metabolism, which is now a major focus of our research efforts. Another thing that Gleb introduced to the lab is wearing ties on not so special occasions. I’m afraid that this, in contrast, has not stuck in the lab. Gleb’s intellectual curiosity and cheerful demeanor will be missed.
Thesis Title: Fibroblast Activation Protein and Collagen Remodeling in the Intersection Between Obesity and Breast Cancer
Research and Lab Description: In my thesis I studied the role of extracellular matrix in obesity-driven breast cancer. My lab has been collaborative, challenging, and very educational.
Post PhD Plans: I'll be starting a postdoc in the bioengineering department at CU Denver.
Mentor Comment: Rachel is a thoughtful and creative scientist and a skilled experimentalist. She has a knack for communicating scientific concepts and excels at teaching others. It has been a joy to work with and I will miss having her as a colleague when she leaves next month for Denver to pursue her post-doctoral training.
Thesis Title: Genetic and Epigenetic Modifiers of C9ORF72 Expression in Neurodegenerative Disease
Post PhD Plans: Research Associate at Spark Therapeutics
Mentor Comment: Chris Cali has made not one, but two impactful contributions to the scientific literature: demonstrating that intermediate C9orf72 repeat expansion genotypes contribute to a disease called corticobasal degeneration through altered autophagic responses; and developing an entirely novel method for targeting endogenous genomic loci for DNA methylation in a template and stable manner. He is creative, diligent, practical, self-motivated, intelligent and kind. I am proud of his achievements and look forward to his continued success!
Thesis Title: Protective Potential of H1N1 Influenza Hemagglutinin Stalk Domain Antibodies: Implications for a Universal Influenza Vaccine
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work focused on assessing correlates of protection and the antigenic durability of a novel target for a universal influenza vaccine. I completed my thesis in the lab of Dr. Scott Hensley, where I was surrounded by amazing peer-mentors and received unparalleled support in my development as an independent thinker and scientist.
Post PhD Plans: I just started at the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies! My new title will be Scientific Project Lead within the Scientific Operations team. Once I am fully trained I will be the point person on new CAR-T cell therapies to coordinate with the product development, clinical operations, and regulatory teams. I will take part in writing the Investigatory New Drug applications that get submitted to the FDA for bringing these therapies forward into clinical trials and will continue to oversee those therapies through phase I trials. Super exciting stuff!!
Mentor Comment: Shannon is wonderful. It was such a pleasure working with Shannon. Shannon’s work has changed the way we think about correlates of protection against influenza virus infections and her work has the potential to shape strategies to design new ‘universal’ flu vaccine antigens.
Thesis Title: Pipe Dreams: Luminal Matrices and Tube Shaping
Research and Lab Description: I studied the assembly of luminal extracellular matrices and uncovered how these matrices shape tubes in the model organism C. elegans. The Sundaram lab uses C. elegans to answer questions about the cell biology of tubes: how they form, how they are shaped, and how they are maintained over time.
Post PhD Plans: I'm going to do a postdoc in the Rudner lab at Harvard, which studies bacterial shaping by cell walls and cytoskeleton.
Mentor Comment: It has been a privilege to work with Jennifer during her PhD, and I'm incredibly proud of her today! In her thesis, Jenn pioneered a whole new area of research in my lab having to do with apical extracellular matrix and its effects on shaping tubes of different sizes. She discovered multiple components of this matrix and new mechanisms of matrix assembly, and she showed that luminal matrices are much more dynamic and complex than previously thought. She has been incredibly productive, and her boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for “outside of the box” topics have made her one of my most valued colleagues. Soon, once the world re-opens, Jenn will be headed to Harvard for a postdoc where she'll study bacterial membranes and biofilms. Keep your eye on her, because she is going to do great things!
Thesis Title: Cell-to-Cell Heterogeneity in Transcription and Splicing
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania
Mentor Comment: Allison Coté has been a true pleasure to have in the lab. She is a brilliant scientist, with an exceptionally sharp intellect that I came to rely on often for advice for many things in the lab well beyond her own projects. She is also a super fun, warm, and kind person who always thought of others. I have learned so much from Ally about so many things, both personally and professionally, and it was my privilege to work with her for her thesis.
Thesis Title: The Mechanism of Caspase-8-Mediated Gene Expression and Its Integral Role in Host Defense
Research and Lab Description: Caspase-8-mediated gene expression plays an integral role in host defense against toxoplasma gondii infection in vivo. The Brodsky Lab is interested in innate immune defense against enteric bacterial pathogens; the lab studies pattern recognition receptor and inflammatory cell death signaling in response to the gram-negative bacteria Salmonella and Yersinia, and how interactions between these innate immune responses and bacterial virulence factors influence the outcome of infection.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently a first year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Carey School of law where I plan to focus on intellectual property transactional work in the life-sciences.
Mentor Comment: It was a pleasure to have Alexandra DeLaney (Alex) in the lab. Alex’s graduate work focused on understanding how the enzyme Caspase-8, which regulates cell death during inflammatory conditions, also regulates pro-inflammatory gene expression. Alex’s work in the lab led to the publication of a key study in PNAS describing the cell-intrinsic contribution of caspase-8 activity to the activation of NF-κB signaling. In close collaboration with the lab of Dr. Chris Hunter, Alex’s work also revealed for the first time a contribution of the gene-regulatory activity of caspase-8 to the control of Toxoplasma infection. Alex was not only an excellent scientist, she was an engaged and devoted member of the scientific and broader Penn community. Her commitment was exemplified by her work on behalf of Penn Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (PGWISE), which she chaired for 3 years. Her creativity and thoughtfulness benefited not only her own science but others around her as well, as she made important contributions to the work of a number of other students in our lab and other labs at Penn. Following the completion of her PhD in 2019, Alex chose to pursue her interest in science policy and social advocacy by entering Penn Law School, where she has just completed her first year.
Thesis Title: Intracellular Localizations of Full-Length and Defective Viral Genomes: Impacts on and Insights into Paramyxovirus Particle Production
Mentor Comment: Working with Emmanuelle has been my pleasure. Seeing trainees grow into the scientist they become in the process is one of the greatest gifts of our profession. In Emmanuelle’s case this is sprinkled with great passion for good science and hunger to be better. Emmanuelle’s strives in making everyone around her be better scientists. I’ve benefited greatly from her energy, her lab mates trust and rely in her opinion, and labs that participate on our joint lab meetings enjoy and appreciate her questions and insights. I am looking forward to see her future career unveil. All the best Emmanuelle!
Thesis Title: Harnessing the Pro-Apoptotic Function of MYC to Improve Therapeutic Responses in Chemoresistant B-Cell Lymphoma
Research and Lab Description: My thesis centered on exploiting the pro-apoptotic function of Myc to restore chemosensitivity in therapy-resistant B-cell lymphomas. In the Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko lab, we study the biology of pediatric hematopoietic malignancies and colorectal cancer and identify strategies to overcome therapy resistance.
Post PhD Plans: I have accepted a scientist position at The Broad Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mentor Comment: As seems to be the norm these days, Colleen’s path to graduation began with her main first-author paper being rejected. Thus, we had a difficult decision to make. Do we re-submit to a lesser journal or send Colleen back to the bench for months? While I would be OK with either scenario, I was secretly pleased when Colleen decided to do it the hard way and make hers a better paper. She was hoping to complete the work in 6-12 months, but it took her full two years. Yet at no point in the process did she complain about technical difficulties, cut corners, or proposed to scale down the experimental plan. In the end of the day she gave the reviewers everything they wanted: the conditional Myc allele, the CRISPR-ed out death receptor genes, the PDX model, the works. More importantly, this prolonged revision process has revealed her core strengths: persistence, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and the drive to succeed.
Thesis Title: Adenovirus Strategies for Altering the Cellular Environment in Favor of Infection
Research and Lab Description: My research focused on understanding different ways viruses have evolved to take over their host cells and establish infection. I performed my thesis research with Dr. Matthew Weitzman, who has been an amazing mentor and has assembled a great group of people, making grad school an absolutely incredible experience.
Post PhD Plans: I have started a post-doc with Dr. Ken Cadwell at NYU where I study the interaction of gastrointestinal viruses, the microbiome and immunity.
Mentor Comment: Christin was an excellent student who assembled an outstanding PhD dissertation. She produced two significant pieces of work that addressed fundamental questions not answered for over 30 years and changed paradigms for understanding viral manipulation of cellular processes. It was a pleasure to see her grow in so many ways through the thesis process and emerge as a confident and enthusiastic scientist with a bright future ahead of her.
Thesis Title: Fructose-1,6-Bisphosphatase 2 Inhibits Sarcoma Progression by Restraining Mitochondrial Biogenesis
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Urology, UCSF
Mentor Comment: Peiwei Huangyang is an exceptional experimentalist who is also highly creative, insightful, and dedicated. She was the intellectual driving force behind her thesis project, ensuring that it was published in a top-tier journal, due to diligence and hard work. Peiwei has a very bright future ahead of her as a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF and independent scientist one day.
Thesis Title: Haplotype-Based Approaches for the Study of Human Evolution
Research and Lab Description: In my thesis, I used population genetics to study recent human evolution. I worked in the Voight Lab and sat next to hatching spider eggs.
Post PhD Plans: Since graduating, I have begun a postdoc at the University of Minnesota with Ran Blekhman and Frank Albert. I am studying the genetics and genomics of human breast milk composition.
Mentor Comment: I am thrilled to congratulate Kelsey on earning her PhD! Kelsey has been an amazing student, lab citizen, and thoughtful, hard working investigator. She has really demonstrated her abilities as a 'mathlete' on projects that required development of new computational methods, a collaborator working on causal inference projects with other lab members, and a wonderful colleague helping to support new students in the lab and in the community. Truly she is the unabashed academician. While her presence in the lab will be missed, I am super excited for keeping up with her over her future career.
Thesis Title: The Penetrance of Pancreas Agenesis Caused by GATA6 Mutations is Modified by a Non-Coding SNP
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work involved finding the genetic cause for a rare developmental disorder and using stem cells to decipher the effect of this mutation during human pancreas development. Our lab uses stem cells to understand human embryonic development. More importantly, the lab is a filled with fun, unique and extremely smart people.
Post PhD Plans: Travel to Peru and the Amazon (unfortunately cancelled) before starting my job as a consultant at Bain & Company.
Mentor Comment: Sid has been a wonderful student and colleague to work with. He is one of the brightest individuals that I have ever worked with and did wonderful work on his thesis project. His project was of his own design which is rare to see in a graduate student but I think demonstrates his intellectual independence. He used patient specific induced pluripotent stem cells to try to understand disease penetrance of pancreatic agenesis caused by heterozygous mutations in the gene GATA6. He discovered a non-coding SNP which influenced GATA6 gene expression and modified the disease penetrance in an in vitro pancreas differentiation model using genome edited stem cells. This SNP, when analyzed in a cohort of pancreas agenesis patients was found to be associated with disease severity. To my knowledge, his work is the first study to use a patient iPSC line to discover a variant influencing penetrance of a genetic disease.
Thesis Title: Nuclear Pore Proteins in Regulation of Chromatin State and Gene Expression
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Researcher at EMBL Heidelberg
Mentor Comment: Terra's graduate work made a major contribution, providing key functional evidence to a long-standing observation in the field of nuclear genome organization. It was a joy to see her develop into an excellent and highly productive scientist, and her infectious enthusiasm for scientific questions will no doubt lead to many more exciting discoveries.
Thesis Title: Roles of VEGFC and VEGFR3 in Lymphangiogenesis and Angiogenesis
Research and Lab Description: For my thesis, I studied the roles of VEGFC and VEGFR3 in wound healing lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis in various mouse models. Our lab studies signaling pathways in the lymphatic and blood vascular system, and we use genetic mouse models to understand the role of these pathways during development and in post-natal disease models.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently working as a post-doc in a stem cells and diabetes lab in Singapore.
Thesis Title: Roles of TNFAIP8 in Cell Migration and Phosphoinositide Signaling
Lab Description: We study inflammation, cancer, and the TIPE family.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral researcher
Mentor Comment: Mei is a very intelligent and hard working student; I'm most impressed by her perseverance: when she sets her eyes on something, she never gives up. This is a secret for her success! Keep up the good work, and good luck with everything, Mei!
Thesis Title: Mechanisms Underlying Alcohol-Mediated Cellular Injury in Esophageal Keratinocytes
Post PhD Plans: Research Associate in Lisa Young Lab, CHOP Pulmonology Department
Thesis Title: Mapping and Directing Branched-Chain Amino Acid Metabolism in Health and Insulin Resistance
Research and Lab Description: I used novel methods to trace the metabolic fate of branched-chain amino acids in vivo, discovered how this fate changes in diabetes, and then tested if these changes impact the disease. We work on all things metabolism, and we're always having fun doing it!
Post PhD Plans: I will learn and develop new methods to model and quantify metabolism as a postdoc in Josh Rabinowitz's lab at Princeton University.
Mentor Comment: Michael was the daring first student to join my lab after my move from Boston. He has been a fearless leader in the lab since, ushering entirely new methodologies for us of in vivo isotopic tracing studies, deep metabolomics, and thinking like a Texan. It’s hard to believe you’re leaving Michael, but I can’t wait to see the amazing places you’ll be and things you’ll do!
Thesis Title: Defining the Nature of CD8+ T Cell Response in Lymphoid Tissues of HIV-Infected Individuals: An Implication for HIV Cure
Research and Lab Description: I completed my dissertation in the labs of Michael Betts and James Hoxie, where I was surrounded by incredible colleagues who gave me incredible support and guidance. For my project, I focused on understanding the qualities of lymphoid tissue CD8+ T cells that are associated with viral control in a subset of HIV-1-infected individuals known as elite controllers.
Post PhD Plans: My post-PhD plan is to be a postdoctoral researcher in Alex Shalek's lab at MIT.
Thesis Title: The Molecular Basis for Rapid Ca2+ Transport Across the Inner Mitochondrial Membrane
Post PhD Plans: Research Scientist at Integral Molecular, Inc.
Mentor Comment: Riley was an excellent graduate student, working long hours, thinking deeply about his projects, and actively participating in CAMB, seminar series and journal clubs. Riley was generous with his time and shared his ideas with his lab mates and others. He trained undergraduate students for three summers, and he willingly taught other lab members various techniques. Equally important is how much stronger the lab is for having had Riley in it. His strong organizational skills and engagement with everyone and their science rubbed off on and benefitted all of us. He became the go-to person for just about anything in the lab.
Thesis Title: Investigating the Role of the Human NAIP/NLRC4 Inflammasome in Host Defense Against Gram-Negative Bacterial Infection
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work focused on investigating the role of the human NAIP/NLRC4 inflammasome in host defense against Gram-negative bacterial infections. In the laboratory of Dr. Sunny Shin, we focus on understanding innate immune mechanisms used by the host to defend itself against bacterial pathogens.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently doing a postdoc in Dr. Eric P. Skaar's laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigating the battle for nutrients between the host and Staphylococcus aureus.
Mentor Comment: Valeria uncovered fundamental differences underlying how human and murine inflammasomes recognize bacterial infection, which has broad implications for their evolution and function. In addition to being an exceptional scientist, Valeria is a generous and kind person who fostered a positive and inclusive culture within our lab. She is also highly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in science. She mentored many students, was on the Executive Board of the Penn SACNAS chapter, and contributed to other activities on campus. I am so proud of Valeria, and I look forward to her continued success!
Thesis Title: Tribbles Homologue 1 Controls Antiviral Immunity by Restraining T Cell Effector Programming and Function
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Mentor Comment: Congratulations on officially becoming Dr. Rome, PhD. What more can I say than that your research single handedly changed the direction of the lab. This was accomplished by your creativity, rigor, hard work, passion for science and leadership. You were an exemplary colleague, team member and mentor. I’m sure that I learned much more from you than you from me. I look forward to cheering on your continued success.
Thesis Title: Modeling Complex Neurological Disorders with Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Research and Lab Description: My thesis focused on modeling schizophrenia and HIV-related neuropathology with disease relevant cell types derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. I worked between two labs, which gave me a large variety of perspectives for approaching science.
Post PhD Plans: I am taking an industry post doc position at Sanofi that will focus on studying multiple sclerosis.
Mentor Comments: Sean personifies self-direction and persistence. He chose a much harder road in developing a new tri-culture system for the study of HIV infected microglia, when he could have settled for continuing his 22q IPSC schizophrenia mitochondria project for which he and a postdoc had already established the experimental system. He wanted to push himself into new areas for himself and for our lab, and he succeeded wildly. -Stewart Anderson
Celebrating the accomplishments of Dr Sean Ryan, a rigorous stem cell biologist, a creative model generator, and a careful data analyst. Working with you on your thesis was a tremendous collaboration. Wishing you the best in all your future endeavors. -Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
Thesis Title: FBXW7 Triggers Degradation of KMT2D to Favor Growth of Mature B-Type Malignant Cells
Research and Lab Description: Characterized E3 ligase FBXW7 as a pro-survival factor in B-cell lymphoma via degradation of the chromatin modifier KMT2D. The Busino Lab studies how the ubiquitin proteasome system is implicated in lymphoid malignancies.
Post PhD Plans: After graduating, I'm planing to enter the field of consulting at McKinsey and Company's Philadelphia office.
Mentor Comment: Rizwan has investigated the relevance of the ubiquitin ligase FBXW7 and the newly identified target KMT2D in Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma. His work has opened a novel avenue for the treatment of this type of lymphoma based on modulation of KMT2D degradation. Throughout these years, Rizwan has acquired a broad skill set which will put him in privileged position to overcome new challenges and difficulties, and altogether build a bright career.
Thesis Title: Antiviral Activities of Dead-Box RNA Helicases
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania
Mentor Comment: Frances was a delight to have in the lab. She is dedicated and thoughtful and took on each challenge wholeheartedly. Her discoveries have had a significant impact in our understanding of how cells sense and respond to viral infections.
Thesis Title: Regulation of Bone and Joint Morphogenesis by ACVR1
Research and Lab Description: My research determined the role of dysregulated signaling through ACVR1 in skeletal and joint development as well as degenerative arthritis in the rare disease fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. The Shore-Kaplan lab investigates heritable conditions of ectopic bone formation to find treatments and understand the mechanisms of bone formation in disease and trauma.
Post PhD Plans: My plans post-graduation are/were to continue doing bench research as a post-doc, ideally in the field of regenerative medicine or the paired fields of evolution and development, with an eye on ultimately having my own laboratory dedicated to the study of body patterning. Currently, I'm continuing work in my thesis lab, with a focus on bone modeling and remodeling.
Mentor Comment: I think that being a developmental biologist is coded somewhere in Will’s DNA. Our research group studies rare genetic diseases of heterotopic – or extra-skeletal – bone formation. Children who have FOP form extensive extra bone after birth, but Will was intrigued by an embryonic developmental characteristic of FOP – malformation of the great toes. Will’s investigations into understanding what the FOP mutation does to alter skeletal development turned out to be a highly challenging project and Will was up to the challenge – he brought multiple technologies and new scientific perspectives to our lab and his persistence has paid off – with some unexpected and important results that is leading to a whole new area of research. And that’s not all that Will brought to our group – the game nights and fun also will always be with us! Congratulations, Will – this is just the beginning!
Thesis Title: Metalloprotease Regulation Shapes the BMP Gradient in Space and Time
Research and Lab Description: My dissertation research focused on how metalloprotease regulation shapes the BMP gradient in space and time to correctly pattern the zebrafish embryo. The Mullins Lab is a rigorous and vibrant research environment that uses the zebrafish to study dorsoventral patterning in the early embryo and oocyte polarity.
Post PhD Plans: It’s a challenge to make plans during a pandemic! But, I plan to take some time to enjoy my degree and pursue a career that combines scientific research and communication.
Mentor Comment: Francesca excelled at academics here at UPenn, even while challenging herself with courses in other disciplines to gain new skills and expertise, including in programming and computational modeling. Likewise in the lab, Francesca did not shy away from performing some very difficult experiments to provide proof of a source-sink mechanism of BMP gradient formation in dorsoventral embryonic axial patterning in vertebrates. These experiments with so many moving parts allowed her to beautifully demonstrate the key role of two metalloproteases in generating a dorsal Chordin sink for the BMP signaling gradient patterning the embryo. Congratulations Francesca on your beautiful thesis studies!!
Thesis Title: Elucidating the Tumor Suppressive Functions of Rb and Setd2 in Lung Adenocarcinoma
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work was centered around trying to understand how the tumor suppressors RB and SETD2 control lung adenocarcinoma growth and progression. I'm very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to do my PhD in David Feldser's lab and to have been able to work alongside so many great people there.
Post PhD Plans: I will be doing a postdoctoral fellowship in Matthew Meyerson's lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Thesis Title: Addressing AAV-Mediated Gene Therapy Challenges in the Retina: Readministration, AAV Capsid Optimization, and In Vitro Disease Modeling
Mentor Comment: It was an absolute delight to work with Lindsey, who joined my lab in 2014 and contributed to numerous different challenging studies relating to development of gene therapy for inherited forms of retinal degeneration. Lindsey developed and characterized patient-derived cell models, carried out proof-of-concept gene therapy studies for one form of retinal degeneration, and carried out a project aiming to test safety of repeat gene therapy administration to the eye. The latter study formed the basis of her dissertation and may lead to the ability to treat additional portions of the retina or to re-treat initially treated regions of the retina should transgene expression diminish. Lindsey contributed so much to our lab environment with her enthusiasm and diverse interests and I know she will continue to do great things with her career.
Thesis Title: Prospective Isolation and Characterization of Mononucleated and Binucleated Cardiomyocytes
Research and Lab Description: I developed a novel technique that allowed us to gain new insights into why the heart does not regenerate after injury. It has been such a great experience to be in the Morrisey lab and to work with such an intelligent, supportive, and collaborative group of scientists.
Post PhD Plans: I will be continuing in the Morrisey lab as a postdoctoral fellow.
Thesis Title: Characterization of Novel Nuclear Substrates of Mammalian Autophagy Pathway in Cellular Senescence and Aging
Research and Lab Description: My thesis research focused on characterizing the novel nuclear substrates of mammalian macroautophagy pathway in cellular senescence and aging. I did my Ph.D. study in Dr. Shelley L. Berger’s lab, our lab studies the mechanism of epigenetics in the view of cellular senescence, aging, cancer, neurodegeneration and social behavior.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently a Life Sciences Specialist in L.E.K. Consulting’s Boston office.
Mentor Comment: Caiyue is a remarkable student and scientist. She exemplifies excellence in research, having finished a wonderful thesis project, with technically beautiful work as well as thoughtful writing. Caiyue was one of the strongest “team” scientists of graduate students I have had the pleasure of mentoring, integrating into an exciting project when she entered the lab, and, in turn, contributing to the creation of new projects for colleagues as she became a senior member of my lab. She has obtained a fantastic position in a top Boston scientific consulting firm – and we wish her the very best for future success!
Thesis Title: Immunotherapeutic Targeting of Lineage Restricted Oncoproteins in Immunogenically Silent Tumors
Research and Lab Description: Immunotherapy for immunogenically silent tumors: discovery of tumor-specific targets and engineering target-specific receptors. The Maris lab focuses on studying genomic features of high-risk neuroblastoma and developing targeted therapies.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoc in Maris lab
Mentor Comment: Mark is one of the most creative and innovative students that I have had the pleasure of training. He brought several new technologies and collaborations into the lab, and his work led to several new grants and new directions for our program. His dissertation research will have a huge impact on the problem of childhood cancer, and I was very lucky to recruit him to stay with me for a post-doctoral fellowship.
Thesis Title: From Sugar to Acetate - The Origins of Acetyl-CoA Dictate Its Use in Cells and in Mice
Research and Lab Description: My thesis identified cell intrinsic flexibility in the production of acetyl-CoA, the metabolite used for lipid synthesis and protein acetylation, and the implications of this mechanism in cellular proliferation and fatty liver disease. The Wellen Lab studies how metabolism is dysregulated in diseases such as cancer and diabetes at the cellular to organismal level.
Post PhD Plans: I’m currently a post-doc at the Salk Institute in sunny San Diego studying immunometabolism in the lab of Dr. Susan Kaech.
Mentor Comment: Steven’s thesis work focused on elucidating metabolic sources of acetyl-CoA, a central metabolite required for lipid synthesis and for acetylation reactions. He uncovered a crucial interplay between two metabolic enzymes ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY) and acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACSS2), and then applying this knowledge, investigated the metabolic route from dietary fructose consumption to hepatic de novo lipogenesis. He discovered that metabolism of dietary fructose by gut microbiota results in substantial acetate production that feeds hepatic de novo lipogenesis, contributing to fatty liver upon excessive sugar consumption. Steve has a talent for identifying important questions and designing the key experiments to test his hypotheses. His work is already having an important impact on our understanding of central metabolic processes.
Combined Degree, MD-PhD
Thesis Title: Mining the Spatial and Temporal Context by Which Transcription Factors Occupy Chromatin
Post PhD Plans: Resident in Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
Mentor Comment: Vivek is an extraordinarily talented scientist and has a great future ahead of him. Among his many outstanding qualities is that he has acquired mastery in the handling and deep analysis of complex scientific data. He is highly creative in the development of hypotheses and the development of tools to test them. He has been deeply appreciated by everyone in the lab for his sharp and constructive insights. Vivek’s presence greatly enriched everyone in my group, myself included.
Thesis Title: The Regulation of Myeloid Inflammatory Responses by RUNX1: Roles in Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work identified a new role for Runx1 in regulating inflammatory cytokine production by neutrophils in response to Toll-like receptor signaling. The Speck Lab studies the role of the transcription factor Runx1 in developmental and malignant hematopoiesis.
Post PhD Plans: My post-PhD plans are to finish up the medical school portion of the MD-PhD program, and then I’ll start a residency in Pediatrics.
Mentor Comment: Dana is a person with many talents. She pretty much knows everything, including how to bake, where to eat in Philly, and where to find anything at Penn. She is smart, speaks well, writes well, thinks deeply and critically, and always has good ideas. It was truly a privilege to work with Dana. I am sure she will succeed brilliantly in whatever she decides to do.
Thesis Title: Negative Regulation of NK Cell Activation by CBL-B and TAM Receptors
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student
Mentor Comment: Leilani is an intelligent, warm-hearted, and hard-working student. She was always "giving" to the Kambayashi lab. She is also one of the most resilient people I know. Her qualities will carry her a long way in life and in her career. Our lab wishes her the best.
Thesis Title: The Effect of Early Life Exposure on Influenza Antibody Repertoire and Subsequent Consequences for Viral Evolution
Research and Lab Description: My thesis focused on defining antibody repertoires against influenza and their effects on driving novel viral evolution. I completed my thesis in Scott Hensley’s lab, where I was surrounded by a group of hard-working and brilliant scientists and fortunate enough to receive incredible support and mentorship from both my PI and my colleagues.
Post PhD Plans: Completing the MD/PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania and pursuing a residency in pediatrics.
Mentor Comment: Amy is terrific. She brought a unique clinical/experimental hybrid approach to all of her work in the lab and it was a joy working with her. Her studies have furthered our understanding of influenza virus evolution and have influenced how the WHO characterizes antigenically novel influenza virus strains.
Thesis Title: Identification of a Molecular Basis for the Juvenile Sleep State
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student
Mentor Comment: Leela is without question one of the best researchers I have ever interacted with in my years as a scientist. I feel extremely fortunate that she pursued her PhD work in my laboratory. Her impact on the lab extends far beyond her remarkable publication record; she has helped positively shape every project with her conceptual insights, technical skills, and vibrant personality. Leela’s enthusiasm for science is infectious, and she motivates everyone around her to excel.
Thesis Title: A Tale of Two Ligases: ITCH and CUL5 Limit T Cell-Mediated Inflammation
Research and Lab Description: My thesis demonstrates a novel role for the E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch in limiting T cell proliferation, and also identifies a different E3 ubiquitin ligase, Cullin 5, as a critical suppressor of Th2 differentiation. I worked in Dr. Paula Oliver's laboratory, and I am grateful to everyone in the picture (as well as several former lab members) for their contributions to this work.
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student
Mentor Comment: The three words that define Natania; purpose, passion, and determination. As a physician scientist, Natania has clearly found her purpose, and her passion for science and medicine is seen in the pulse of excitement that fuels her work in the lab and clinic. But it is Natania’s determination, her unwavering resilience, that is the key to her success.
Thesis Title: Domain-Focused CRISPR-Screen Identifies HRI as a Regulator of Fetal Hemoglobin in Adult Erythroid Cells
Post PhD Plans: Resident in Department of Medicine, Harvard (MGH)
Mentor Comment: Jeremy is an amazing scientist who had a long lasting impact on the lab. Jeremy fires on all cylinders: he has the proverbial hands of gold at the bench, he is a deep thinker, and he has been an exceptionally valuable colleague to all lab members. He took great risks when embarking on his projects and in the end was rewarded with much deserved success. My group and I have been very fortunate to have had Jeremy in the lab.
Thesis Title: Developing Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors as a Gene Editing Platform
Research and Lab Description: The goal of my thesis work was to accelerate the development of adeno-associated viral vectors as a gene editing platform. The Davidson Lab develops gene therapy approaches to treat neurodegenerative diseases.
Post PhD Plans: I will finish medical school and then apply for residency in internal medicine or neurology. Long-term, I want to continue working in the gene therapy and gene editing spaces. These technologies have huge potential for addressing previously incurable diseases. I would love to contribute to the development of these technologies.
Thesis Title: The Role of Calcineurin/NFAT Signaling in Fibroblast Homeostasis and Activation
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student and then Resident in Internal Medicine at HUP
Mentor Comment: Allyson was a curious and thorough scientist in the lab. She has so many talents beyond medicine and science and was a great contributor to the lab as a mentor for junior trainees, through her discussion questions and comments in lab meeting and by her kindness and friendship to everyone. She will be sorely missed by all of us!
Thesis Title: From Bench to Bedside and Back Again: CAR T Cell Signaling and Survival
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work characterized the signaling pathways and metabolic characteristics that drive survival of 4-1BB-costimulated Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells. The Milone and Albelda labs focus on engineering novel chimeric antigen receptor and antibody-based T cell therapies for numerous oncologic and autoimmune diseases.
Post PhD Plans: Finish medical school and apply to pediatrics residencies.
Mentor Comment: Ben was inquisitive and always asking good (hard to answer) questions. He was able to focus on his project and complete a large number of difficult experiments in a short amount of time. I know he will be a very successful physician-scientist whether he pursue basic or translational research.
Thesis Title: Antigen Quality: Dissimilarity to the Self-Proteome as a Novel Determinant of Immunogenicity
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student
Mentor Comment: Lee is a once-in-a-career graduate student. I realized soon after he joined the lab that I was learning far more from him than he was from me. Lee became facile at mouse work, in vitro work, clinical trials samples, and bioinformatics. Beyond that, his scientific rigor and integrity are a model. Best of luck Lee. Be a star!
Thesis Title: Identification of a Mesenchymal Progenitor Cell Hierarchy in Adipose Tissue
Post PhD Plans: Medical Student
Mentor Comment: Alex has been a terrific student and wonderful colleague. In his research, Alex pioneered the application of single cell RNA transcriptomics in our lab to identify and study different types of mesenchymal cells. He taught himself how to perform advanced bioinformatic analyses and has become our lab guru in that area. He is an exceptionally bright and insightful scientist and has contributed in many ways to our research program. I have also been deeply impressed with (and appreciative of) Alex’s collaborative and selfless nature. He goes above and beyond to help his lab mates and collaborators. I am super proud of Alex’s accomplishments and look forward to watching his scientific career develop- I expect that he will do great things.
Combined Degree, VMD-PhD
Thesis Title: FOP-ACVR1 Signals by Multiple Modalities in the Developing Zebrafish
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work focused on investigating the parthenogenesis of a rare genetic disorder and using this knowledge to better understand BMP signaling in early development. I had the pleasure to work in both the Mullins and Shore labs; two labs with amazing bodies of work and commitment to teaching and scientific integrity.
Post PhD Plans: I will be finishing up my vet school clinical year and then hopefully moving on to a post-doc in developmental biology.
Mentor Comments: Robyn loves science and research! She is a powerhouse at the bench and in the injection room, and a deep thinker. Her studies using the zebrafish provide an important new understanding of how the human FOP mutant receptor aberrantly signals. It has been such a great pleasure to have Robyn as a joint student in the Mullins and Shore labs. -Mary Mullins
When Robyn first met with me and Mary Mullins to talk about working together, I had little idea about what a wonderful, interesting, fun, rewarding experience we were about to begin. Robyn’s work investigating altered BMP signaling mechanisms in a rare genetic disorder is groundbreaking, providing important new insights, and along the way I’ve seen what a strong and dedicated scientist and veterinarian she is. Congratulations, Robyn - I smile every time I think of you! -Eileen Shore
Thesis Title: Pathways to Pathologic Retinal Iron Accumulation: Blood, Guts, and the Immune System
Research and Lab Description: My thesis was specifically on the role of several iron handling proteins in regulating retinal iron homeostasis as well as the mechanisms that contribute to retinal iron dysregulation in the context of chronic neuroinflammation. I worked in Dr. Josh Dunaief lab, we studied inflammation and iron dysregulation in age-related macular degeneration and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently in my 4th year of veterinary school here at UPenn and after graduating will pursue a residency in veterinary ophthalmology.
Mentor Comment: Bailey, congratulations on earning your PhD! Your research skills grew tremendously, and you helped "iron out" some important concepts in retinal biology and disease. It was a pleasure to have you in the lab, as you are upbeat and always willing to help others. I hope you are enjoying Vet school and also your own dog(s). Hopefully patient care, school and research can resume soon as the pandemic comes under better control. I look forward to following your career progression and wish you success, fulfillment, and happiness!
Master of Science
Research Project Title: Investigating the Contribution of Copper Delivery and Cellular Redox Status to Oncogenic BRAF-Driven MAPK Signal Transduction
Research Project Title: CXCR2 and RAC1 Signaling in Melanoma
Research Project Title: Defining the Role of Enhancer-Promoter Loops and H3K4 Methylation in Transcriptional Memory
Research Project Title: Understanding the Epigenetics of HIV in Macrophages