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Spotlight on the Graduate Program in Genetics

Student Jia Shen receives an AHA Predoctoral Fellowship

Jia was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the National Center of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.  This award will support Jia's dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Shaoyu Ge, a member of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.  Jia's project is entitled 'The study of functional hyperemia in adult hippocampal neurogenesis'.  Posted 6/6/2018

Student Rachel Caston and faculty member Bruce Demple attract media attention for research on lunar dust

Rachel, Bruce, and co-authors recently published research spearheaded by Rachel in an article in GeoHealth.  This publication has attracted much attention in the media, and some of the articles can be found here, here, and here.  An additional article in TBR News Media showcases not only her work, but also the path that led Rachel to her career in genetics.  Posted 6/6/2018

Students Abraham Kohrman and Young Jin Kim are awarded NIH Predoctoral Fellowships

The Genetics Program is delighted to announce that two of its trainees have recently been awarded NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowships.

Abraham received an F31 award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to support his project, 'Delineating the role of cell cycle control of acquisition and maintenance of the invasive phenotype'.  Abraham is carrying out his dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. David Matus in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

Young Jin is performing his dissertation research under the guidance of Dr. Adrian Krainer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.  Young Jin was awarded an F30 fellowship from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to carry out his project entitled 'Antisense-oligonucleotide-directed inhibition of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay of CFTR gene'.

Posted 6/6/18

Student Mansa Munshi and faculty member Maurizio Del Poeta are showcased in the media for research on a fungal pathogen

Mansa's dissertation research, which she recently successfully defended, resulted in a first-authored publication in Cell Reports.  The senior author is Mansa's mentor, Maurizio Del Poeta of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and co-authors include Genetics Program member Chiara Luberto.  The research identifies a possible target for improved drugs to treat patients suffering from infections with the fungus Cryptococcus.  The potential clinical importance of Mansa's work has been highlighted in numerous media reports, including by Stony Brook's alumni magazine, the Association of American Universities, and Newsday.

Posted 6/6/18

Program Director Martha Furie is named Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Pathology

Dr. Furie, a member of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, was named the 14th Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Pathology.  She is the first woman to hold this position in the 122-year history of the Journal.  A press release can be found here and a local news article here.  Posted 1/30/18

Student Keffy Kehrli is awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Keffy is one of just three Stony Brook graduate students to receive a 2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship; only 2,000 awardees were chosen nationwide from over 13,000 applicants.  Keffy is mentored by Dr. Joshua Rest in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and the title of Keffy's fellowship project is 'Exploring difficult questions in transcriptomics by developing meta-analysis tools'.  Keffy's outstanding accomplishment has been featured in Stony Brook Matters, and the article includes a profile of Keffy.  Posted 7/17/17

Student Alex Bott receives new transitional fellowship from the NCI

The National Cancer Institute recently announced a new fellowship, the F99/K00, to support trainees in their transition from predoctoral to postdoctoral studies.  Stony Brook was allowed to nominate only one candidate.  Alex, whose mentor is Dr. Wei-Xing Zong, was chosen as the University's nominee after a rigorous selection process and was then selected by the NCI to receive this innovative award.  Alex works on defining the role of glutamine synthetase in promoting the development of cancers and recently published a first-authored paper on this topic in Cell Metabolism.  Posted 11/21/16

Stony Brook University highlighted Alex's accomplishments in an article in SBU Happenings.  Posted 7/13/17

Christian Ruiz is awarded an F31 predoctoral fellowship from the NCI

Christian is the recipient of an F31 predoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute to support his project, 'The Role of the Hexosamine Biosynthetic Pathway in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma.'  Christian, whose mentor is Dr. Geoffrey Girnun, also received the Best Poster Award for basic science research at the Pathology Department's annual retreat in October.  Posted 11/21/16

Nitin Shirole and Rafaella Sordella decipher role of p53 truncation mutants in cancer

Nitin, a student working under the guidance of Dr. Sordella, recently published a first-authored study defining a role for p53 truncation mutations in cancer that goes beyond mere loss of this protein.  Truncation mutations in p53 are common in human cancers, and this work provides a fuller understanding that will aid in development of therapies for tumors driven by these mutations.  Posted 11/21/16

Program Director Martha Furie receives distinguished educator award

Martha Furie, the director of the Graduate Program in Genetics, has received the 2017 Robbins Distinguished Educator award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology.  The award was formally bestowed at ASIP's Pathobiology for Investigators, Students, and Academicians conference in Houston, TX, on October 22, 2016.

Students Yiyang Wu and Michael Klingener receive travel awards from the GSO

Mike and Yiyang both received competitive Distinguished Travel Awards from the Graduate Student Organization to support their attendance at national conferences.  Mike, a student in Dr. Adan Aguirre's laboratory, will be presenting his work on the role of ADAM10 in central nervous system myelination at the American Society for Neurochemistry meeting to be held March 19-23, 2016, in Denver.  Yiyang is pursuing her research under the guidance of Dr. Gholson Lyon.  She will discuss her work on modeling the genetic disorder Ogden syndrome using human induced pluripotent stem cells at the 37th Annual Sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society, to be held in San Francisco in May 2016.

Student Abraham Kohrman and Faculty David Matus receive attention for research on cell invasion

An article published by Abraham, Dave, and colleagues in Developmental Cell has garnered considerable attention from the media, including commentaries in Scientific American and Inverse.  Their work uses the C. elegans model to demonstrate that cell proliferation and cell invasion are mutually exclusive events, a finding that has implications in understanding the metastasis of cancer cells.

Moises Guardado is awarded an AGEP-T FRAME research grant

Moises, who is pursuing his dissertation research under the mentorship of Paul Bingham and Zuzana Zachar, has received grant support from Stony Brook's Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate - Transformation (AGEP-T) Frontiers of Research and Academic Models of Excellence (FRAME) program.  This program is funded by the National Science Foundation and designed to increase diversity in the academy in STEM disciplines.  The title of Moises's project is 'Investigation of Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition Induction by Nutrient Microenvironment.'

Student Sitapriya Moorthi is named President of the SBU Graduate Career Association

Congratulations to Sita, who will head the SBUGCA's Executive Committee for the 2015-16 academic year.  The SBUGCA will be hosting an introduction to 'The PhD Career Ladder Program' on Friday, August 14th, from 12:00 to 1:00 in Room 217 Frey Hall.  Upcoming activities of the SBUGCA can be found on its website, on Facebook, or on Twitter @SBU-GCA.

Student Cara Moravec presents her work at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting

Cara gave a well-received oral presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting, held at Albert Einstein College of Medicine on July 17th.  The title of her talk was 'Modulation of Larval and Adult Zebrafish Behavior by Maternal Rest/NRSF.'  Cara is pursuing her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Howard Sirotkin.

Student Michael Klingener wins prestigious NIH fellowship

Mike has been awarded a three-year F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. His proposal was entitled 'The Role of ADAM10 in Central Nervous System Myelination and Remyelination', and the funding will be used to support Mike's dissertation studies in the laboratory of Adan Aguirre, Department of Pharmacological Sciences.

Student Brian Kinney is selected to speak at two conferences

Brian recently delivered a talk entitled, "Analyzing the Mechanism of Wnt Mediated Cell Fate Decisions in the Zebrafish Tailbud" at the 2015 Northeast Society for Developmental Biology Regional Meeting held at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, April 10-12, 2015.  Brian was also selected to speak at the 11th International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics held in Madison, WI, June 24-28, 2014.  His talk was entitled, "Wnt Promotes EMT and Mesodermal Cell Fate in the Zebrafish Tailbud via Znf703 and Cdh6." Brian is carrying out his work in the laboratory of Dr. Ben Martin.

Student Meng Lin is selected to speak at the inaugural New York Area Population Genomics Workshop

Meng (more familiarly known as Lemon) was selected to deliver a talk at the inaugural New York Area Population Genomics Workshop, which was hosted by the New York Genome Center on January 15th and attended by a prestigious group of area geneticists.  Lemon is pursuing her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Brenna Henn, and her very well-received presentation was entitled, 'Genetic Architecture of Short-Statured Height in South African San.'  The San are the earliest people known to have inhabited southern Africa.

Alex Bott wins Best Poster award at the Micro Department's retreat

Alex, a student in Wei-Xing Zong's laboratory, won an award for Best Poster at the annual retreat of the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department, held October 10, 2014 at the Port Jefferson Village Center.  The title of Alex's poster was 'Myc induces expression of glutamine synthetase through thymine DNA glycosylase-mediated promoter demethylation,' and the full abstract is as follows:

The proto-oncogene Myc is known to promote glutamine usage by up-regulating glutaminase, which promotes the catabolism of glutamine and thereby fuels the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Here we report that in a number of human and murine cells and cancers, Myc overexpression leads to elevated expression of glutamate-ammonia ligase (GLUL), also termed glutamine synthetase (GS), which catalyzes the de novo synthesis of glutamine. Elevated expression of GLUL promotes cell survival under glutamine limitation, while silencing of GLUL leads to decreased cell proliferation and xenograft tumor growth. Stable isotope based metabolite flux analysis showed that GLUL overexpression increased cataplerotic flux at the α-ketoglutarate step of the TCA cycle and increased glutamine synthesis. Mechanistically, Myc binds to the promoter of thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) and upregulates its expression, which leads to the active demethylation of GLUL promoter and its increased expression. These results demonstrate an unexpected role of Myc in promoting glutamine synthesis, and suggest a previously uncovered molecular connection between DNA demethylation and glutamine metabolism in Myc-driven cancers.

Kimberly Bell is the graduate student project coordinator for an initiative to improve skills of Teaching Assistants

In the Spring semester of 2013, the course director for the Introductory Biology Lab sequence (BIO204/205: Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I and II) approached the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (AACCS) with a problem. Inquiry labs are relatively new in this course and are challenging to teach. Students design components of each lab, make hypotheses and predictions, choose variables, analyze data and even design a full experiment. It was clear that the teaching assistants (TAs) needed a different strategy for teaching these courses, as a higher level of communication is required for these labs compared to the cookbook labs of the past. The AACCS offered to help improve the communication skills of the TAs in an effort to improve student learning. TAs volunteered for a series of workshops containing portions of two long-standing courses from AACCS’s repertoire, "Improvisation for Scientists" and “Distilling Your Message.” Kim had successfully taught both BIO 204 and 205 and had taken "Improvisation for Scientists", and she reports, "It was clear to me that improving my general public speaking would also improve my teaching in this environment." As a result, Kim was asked to be the graduate student project coordinator in order to design surveys (integrated into existing course surveys), plan assessment strategies, observe workshops, participate and demonstrate during the workshops, and analyze data. Preliminary results show that TAs who participated in this professional and communication development were rated similarly to experienced adjunct faculty on course evaluations and were rated “more clear” and “more interesting” in their teaching by students than TAs who did not participate. Students also noticed a significant change in their TAs' communication skills over the semester, as did the TAs. Student grades on the competency exam (similar to a lab practical) were higher for sections taught by TAs who participated in the workshops. Initially intended solely for professional development, analysis of this data at the end of the semester showed these striking differences. This is an ongoing endeavor, and Kim and her colleagues hope to share these findings in a publication in the near future, as well as replicate the Spring 2013 data this upcoming Spring semester.

Diana Guimet featured at CIE's Research Cafe

Diana recently presented her research at the Center for Inclusive Education's Research Cafe.  Diana also currently holds a Turner Dissertation Fellowship to assist in completion of her work.  Diana is a student in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Hearing.  Her dissertation, which she plans to defend this fall, focuses on the regulation of infection by adenovirus.  Diana has also earned Sigma Xi and Turner travel awards and was the 2013 recipient of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology's award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement by a Graduate Student.

Incoming students Moises Guardado and Steve Tsotras are awarded Turner Fellowships

Congratulations to first-year students Moises and Steve, who received fellowships from Stony Brook's W. Burghardt Turner program.  These competitive and substantial awards are intended to increase diversity among students pursuing graduate and professional degrees at the University.  The fellowships are named in honor of W. Burghardt Turner, a Professor of History at Stony Brook for more than 20 years who did much to promote the success of underrepresented students.

Michael Klingener and Sitapriya Moorthi are named Scholars in BioMedical Sciences

Michael and Sitapriya were both selected as Stony Brook Scholars in BioMedical Sciences (SBS) starting in Fall 2014.  The SBS program is designed to foster translational science by pairing graduate students working in the basic sciences with clinical mentors.  Moreover, Scholars are provided with courses and other resources that foster insight into the clinical aspects of their research.  Mike is pursuing research on myelination in the central nervous system in Dr. Adan Aguirre's laboratory, and Sita is exploring the role of sphingomyelin synthase in leukemia in the laboratory of Dr. Chiara Luberto. 

Rachel Caston wins award at the NASA Exploration Science Forum

Rachel Caston presented her research on the genotoxicity of lunar dust at the 1st Annual NASA Exploration Science Forum, held at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, July 21-23, 2014.  Rachel's poster won third prize, earning her a $1000 travel grant to a conference of her choice.  Rachel is currently a student in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Demple, where her dissertation project focuses on changes in mitochondrial DNA repair after cellular differentiation.

Emmanuel Asare wins AGEP-T FRAME research grant from the NSF

The National Science Foundation's AGEP-T FRAME program fosters diversity in academic programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Emmanuel, an AGEP-T FRAME Fellow, recently received a research grant from the program to support his studies on poliovirus in the laboratory of Dr. Eckard Wimmer.

Christian Ruiz receives an NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship

Christian has received a Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship, supported by the National Science Foundation and intended to help underrepresented students transition from master's to doctoral studies in the sciences. Christian is a second-year student who recently joined the laboratory of Dr. Geoffrey Girnun, where he studies cancer metabolism.

Cindy Thomas-Charles showcased at Commencement

Graduating student Cindy Thomas-Charles's accomplishments were highlighted by President Stanley at the 2013 Winter Commencement.  Cindy was also named Researcher of the Month by the Center for Inclusive Education in October 2013.  Cindy completed her dissertation work on interactions of Francisella tularensis, a potential bioweapon, with host cells in the laboratory of Dr. Martha Furie.

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