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2019 Amgen Scholars by Specialty

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UTSW’s first cohort of Amgen Scholars for 2019.

Sixteen students from academic institutions around the U.S. trained with UT Southwestern professors as part of the Amgen Scholars Program. They include:


Biochemistry

 

Julian Maceren

Julian Maceren
Senior, University of Rochester

UTSW mentor: Dr. Chuo Chen, Professor of Biochemistry

Project: Worked to synthesize variations of compounds called PROTAC designed to chemically degrade mutated proteins in pathways that lead to cancer and degenerative diseases.

Reflection: This program has been a deeply fulfilling experience that allowed me to gain firsthand experience in chemical biology research, a field I have not been able to explore at my home institution. Not only was I able to gain critical lab techniques that will prepare me for graduate school, but I was also able to connect with and be a part of a network of current and aspiring scientists who are passionate about everything from drug development to tropical diseases.


Biochemistry/Pharmacology

 

Riley Kelch

Riley Kelch
Junior, The Ohio State University

UTSW mentor: Dr. Margaret Phillips, Professor and Chair of Biochemistry, Professor of Pharmacology

Project: Involved in an anti-malarial drug project, purifying and expressing mutant proteins that were identified when drug pressure was applied to plasmodium falciparum

Reflection: I was beyond excited to dip my toes into biochemistry at UT Southwestern. I come from an inorganic background and was interested in exploring a different field of chemistry, and I can’t think of a better place to delve into it than here – the scientists, facilities, resources, and SURF Program are top-notch.


Bioinformatics

 

Janis Iourovitski

Janis Iourovitski
Junior, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

UTSW mentor: Dr. Albert Montillo, Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics, Radiology, and in the Advanced Imaging Research Center

Project: Used machine learning and neuroimaging to predict the progression rate of Parkinson’s disease

Reflection: Being an Amgen Scholar at UT Southwestern allowed me to explore the intersection of technology and medicine. I learned a tremendous amount from my peers, mentors, and scientists at the forefronts of their fields.


Internal Medicine/Pharmacology

 

Cecilia Yip

Cecilia Yip
Senior, Austin College

UTSW mentor: Dr. Joel Elmquist, Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry

Project: Investigated a gene called Eip93f in Drosophila and its role in growth and metabolism. Studying the metabolic effects of this gene will potentially lead to a better understanding of its functional interactions with other genes of interest in UT Southwestern’s study of the hypothalamus.

Reflection: I knew that the Amgen Program would give me the opportunity to be at a cutting-edge institution in order to learn how to be a more independent and thoughtful scientist. It was important to me to be at UTSW in particular because I knew I wanted to be able to grow as a student in an environment where good mentoring and diversity are encouraged.


Internal Medicine/Psychiatry

 

Anna Patterson

Anna Patterson
Senior, University of Wisconsin-Madison

UTSW mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, Professor of Internal Medicine and Psychiatry

Project: Used techniques such as immunohistochemistry and qPCR to validate a growth hormone-cell specific Lox-Cre mouse line.

Reflection: It was very important for me to be included in the Amgen Scholars Program. Through working with leading scientists, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of scientific concepts as well as a genuine appreciation for biomedical research.


Microbiology

 

Elaine Xu

Elaine Xu
Senior, Carnegie Mellon University

UTSW mentor: Dr. John Schoggins, Assistant Professor of Microbiology

Project: Worked on characterizing the antiviral effector and interferon-stimulated gene RTP4

Reflection: The Amgen Scholars Program has been an amazing experience, getting to know leading scientists at UT Southwestern and networking with my peers. I’m very proud of the research I was able to accomplish and will remember this experience for the rest of my life.


Molecular Biology

 

Lauren Duan

Lauren Duan
Junior, Johns Hopkins University

UTSW mentor: Dr. Eric Olson, Professor and Chair of Molecular Biology, Director of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine

Project: Performed heart regeneration research.

Reflection: The ability to connect with and gain mentoring from leading scientists was one of the main attractions to this program. Since UT Southwestern has no shortage of amazing researchers, I knew an Amgen Scholars experience here would be foundational for my career as a physician-scientist moving forward.


Neurology and Neurotherapeutics

 

Clayton Mansel

Clayton Mansel
William Jewell College

UTSW mentor: Dr. Peter Tsai, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Neuroscience, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry

Project: Worked on a multifiber photometry calcium imaging system

Reflection: I attend a small liberal arts college, and while I love the individualized education and research experience I have gotten there, ultimately my career as a research scientist will be at a large, well-funded institution among top scientists. Therefore, this summer experience at UT Southwestern has been crucial in affirming my commitment to graduate school and a career as a scientist.


Neuroscience

 

Aleya Shedd

Aleya Shedd
Senior, UT San Antonio

UTSW mentor: Dr. Kim Huber, Professor of Neuroscience

Project: Studied female Fragile X Syndrome mice, Fmr1 heterozygous (het) mice, to determine if they have hyperexcitable sensory neocortical circuits compared with female wild types and male Fmr1 KO littermates.

Reflection: It was really important to have the opportunity to do research with scientists at a leading institution because it increased my confidence and skill set as a young scientist, furthered my dedication to pursue a Ph.D., and allowed me to spend a summer at a university that I am very interested in attending for graduate school.


Pediatrics

 

Katherine Floyd

Katherine Floyd
Senior, Clemson University

UTSW mentor: Dr. Dawn Wetzel, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry

Project: Studied the parasite Leishmania, and its replication within phagocytic cells.

Reflection: This program allowed me to gain experience in labs outside my home institution. Also, being at a medical center surrounded by students in M.D./Ph.D., Ph.D., and M.D. programs, as well as postdocs, exposed me to types of students that are not at my home institution.


Radiation Oncology

 

Iancarlos Jimenez

Iancarlos Jimenez
Junior, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

UTSW mentor: Dr. Todd Aguilera, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Project: Worked to discover new targets to increase anti-tumor immune response. Project is aimed at identifying the role of the immunosuppressive Axl in dendritic cell maturation and how it affects the immune response in tumors.

Reflection: Being included in this program has been very significant in my career, as it has given me the opportunity to develop as a scientist. Working with and being around leading scientists has guided and motivated me to continue in the biomedical research world.


Emma Parks

Emma Parks
Senior, Carnegie Mellon University

UTSW mentor: Dr. Wen Jiang, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Project: Worked on nanoparticle-mediated cancer immunotherapy.

Reflection: I am so excited to be able to work in a radiation oncology lab. I took the MCAT mid-July and have been preparing all summer. Many people told me to take the summer off to study, but I wasn’t willing to give up such a fantastic research opportunity at UT Southwestern.

 

Jayesh Sharma

Jayesh Sharma
Junior, University of Southern California

UTSW mentor: Dr. Prasanna Alluri, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Project: Studied breast cancer, focused on finding a specific target for triple-negative breast cancer, a disease whose patients lack any targeted therapy

Reflection: As a person learning my way through my own interests, it was vital for me to interact with as many scientists who were already established in their respective fields. As one interested in the basis of neural cognition, gaining insight from these leading scientists has allowed me to critique and think more about how I can approach my own questions.


Simmons Cancer Center

 

Martha Marquez Ramirez

Martha Marquez Ramirez
Senior, University of California-Berkeley

UTSW mentor: Dr. Daniel Siegwart, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and in the Simmons Cancer Center

Project: Participated as part of a materials chemistry team with the goal of developing lipid-based nanoparticles for RNA delivery as future treatment of cancer and genetic disorders

Reflection: The Amgen Program gave me the opportunity to experience what it is like to conduct research in a top-ranked medical center. Being involved in a new research area also helped me to learn which research field I’d like to pursue for my future career.

 

Manuel Quinones Perez

Manuel Quinones Perez
Senior, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

UTSW mentor: Dr. Jinming Gao, Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Pharmacology, and in the Simmons Cancer Center

Project: Used pH-sensitive nanoparticles to develop cancer immunotherapies while focused in peptide properties.

Reflection: This is a very rewarding and enriching experience. Doing research at UT Southwestern has helped me to learn more about translational research, an experience that is not possible to obtain at my home institution. Being able to interact with clinicians and faculty whose major focus is to deliver new discoveries from the bench to bedside has definitely contributed to my scientific and professional growth.

 

Elva Ye

Elva Ye
Junior, UT Austin

UTSW mentor: Dr. Jinming Gao, Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Pharmacology, and in the Simmons Cancer Center

Project: Worked to develop a molecular imaging technology for real-time detection of metastatic lymph nodes.

Reflection: Being in the UT Southwestern Amgen Scholars Program allowed me to experience working alongside scientists at the forefronts of their fields. It was especially interesting to see the diversity of approaches to solving the challenges of modern medicine.

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