Celebrating PGG Graduates
Please join us in our celebration as we highlight our PGG graduates.
Thesis Title: α-CELL INTRINSIC REGULATION OF GLUCAGON SECRETION IN MOUSE PANCREATIC ISLETS
Research and Lab Description: The Kaestner lab employs modern mouse genetic approaches, such as gene targeting, tissue-specific and inducible gene ablation, to understand the physiology of the liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. My research focused on investigating the role of the glycolytic enzyme glucokinase (GCK) and its opposing enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC2) in the regulation of glucagon secretion from pancreatic α-cells.
Post PhD Plans: Senior Associate Consultant at Clarion
Thesis Title: Concomitant suppression of both COX-1 and COX-2 is not sufficient to cause gastroenteropathy associated with chronic NSAID use
Research and Lab Description: My thesis project applied a novel inducible genetic deletion mouse model to mimic chronic suppression of the intended drug targets (cyclooxygenases-1 and -2) without any off-target effects to identify the relative contribution of various mechanisms by which NSAID-mediated gastroenteropathy occurs. Major findings include that chronic prostaglandin suppression alone was not sufficient to induce any detectable gastrointestinal damage, contrary to the prevailing dogma in the field. This work paves the way in improving gastrointestinal tolerance for a widely consumed class of drugs.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral researcher in Garret FitzGerald’s lab; continuation of thesis work under same mentor, studying prostaglandin-independent mechanisms of NSAID-induced enteropathy.
Thesis Title: Development of a phospholipase A2 activatable fluorophore for non-small cell lung cancer imaging
Research and Lab Description: Michael Hart conducted his dissertation research in the lab of Dr. Jim Delikatny in the Department of Radiology. Michael's research focused on the development of a phospholipase A2 activatable fluorophore for imaging non-small cell lung cancer. Over the course of his time in the Delikatny lab, he was able to demonstrate selective activation of the probe, DDAO-arachidonate, in human and canine non-small cell lung cancer tissues when compared to corresponding normal lung tissues from the same patients.
Post PhD Plans: Senior Analyst of IST Operations - Jazz Pharmaceuticals
Thesis Title: Identification and validation of subtype-specific therapy targets in neuroblastoma
Research and Lab Description: The Maris Lab is a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to understanding neuroblastoma disease progression with the goal of developing more effective therapies. My dissertation work involved characterizing candidate cell-surface targets and the subtype-specific regulatory networks that drive their expression.
Post PhD Plans: Computational Biology Scientist at Proteovant Therapeutics
Thesis Title: Deciphering Chronometabolic Dysfunction in Drosophila Short Sleep Models Using Metabolomics
Research and Lab Description: The Weljie Lab studies metabolomics in the context of circadian rhythms and sleep through the use of mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy based techniques. For my thesis, I explored the interaction of circadian rhythms, sleep disruption, and metabolism using both steady state and metabolic tracing approaches.
Post PhD Plans: Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Thesis Title: NEAR-INFRARED FLUORESCENT CHOLINE KINASE ALPHA INHIBITOR FOR INTRAOPERATIVE LUNG CANCER IMAGING
Research and Lab Description: The Delikatny Lab focuses on the development, validation, and translation of optical imaging agents for fluorescence-guided surgery. My research focused on a choline kinase-targeted near-infrared fluorophore, JAS239, for lung cancer surgery. I validated JAS239 in in vitro and in vivo models of lung cancer prior to translating it into the veterinary clinic for imaging of spontaneous non-small cell lung carcinomas in patient dogs.
Post PhD Plans: I stayed as a post-doc in the Delikatny Lab with the focus of continuing the clinical trial in dogs, translating JAS239 into a human clinical trial, and starting a company to commercialize it.
Thesis Title: The Androgen Dependent and Independent Roles of Insulin-induced AKR1C3 in a Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Adipocytes
Research and Lab Description: Ryan Paulukinas conducted his thesis research in the lab of Dr. Trevor Penning who studied the role of aldo-keto reductases (AKRs) in endocrinological disorders. Ryan’s research is about the role of insulin dependent AKR1C3 in driving the hyperandrogenism of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrinopathy in women. Here he has investigated how AKR1C3 in adipocytes metabolizes both classical and 11-oxygenated androgens, which are upregulated in PCOS. Additionally, he has shown how upregulation of AKR1C3 also upregulates fatty acid synthase to promote de novo lipogenesis in the adipocytes of PCOS women.
Post PhD Plans: CAR-T Scientist in Industry
Thesis Title: CHARACTERIZING AND QUANTIFYING THE REDOX BEHAVIOR OF CYTOKINE HMGB1 IN DRUG-INDUCED LIVER INJURY VIA HIGH RESOLUTION MASS SPECTROMETRY
Post PhD Plans: Associate at McKinsey & Company
Thesis Title: MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF PROTEIN HOMEOSTASIS
Research and Lab Description: The Cho-Park lab studies the protein homeostasis network. My project focused on disease-causing mutations in RNA-binding proteins that alter protein homeostasis.
Post PhD Plans: Take a break and enjoy time with my family, then pursue a career as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.
Thesis Title: Development of two novel chimeric antigen receptor platforms to advance the control and specificity of next-generation T cell therapies
Research and Lab Description: During my PhD I worked in the Powell lab, where I developed two novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) platforms to advance the control and specificity of next-generation T cell therapies. These included an approach to treat T cell malignant clones by targeting the variable region of the beta chain of the TCR as well as a universal immune receptor system that allows for adaptable targeting of multiple antigens in a dose-dependent manner.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently working in a Scientist position at Carisma Therapeutics in Philadelphia, PA to continue advancing cell therapies to patients.
Thesis Title: Roles of Mast Cell G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 2 (GRK2) in Allergy and Inflammation
Research and Lab Description: The Ali Lab is the one and only mast cell lab at Penn focused on elucidating the mechanisms involved in the regulation and cross-regulation of FceRI and MRGPRX2 receptors in mast cells and their impact on allergic diseases, drug-induced pseudoallergy, anaphylaxis, rosacea, allergic dermatitis and asthma. My study focused on the roles and mechanisms of GRK2 in allergy and inflammation and whether GRK2 inhibitors such as paroxetine can be used against allergy.
Post PhD Plans: I will be working as a Scientist for Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within United States Department of Defense.
Thesis Title: Activated States of Dendritic Cells in the Tumor
Research and Lab Description: The Haldar Lab studies the intersection of solid tumor biology and the innate immune system, with a focus on the role of the mononuclear phagocyte system in the tumor microenvironment (TME). My graduate research explored the different activated states of dendritic cells in the TME using high-dimensional approaches.
Post PhD Plans: Consultant at Boston Consulting Group