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Fellows Honored for Research Excellence

By Eddy Ball
August 2010

IRTA Predoctoral Fellow Jennifer Nichols, B.S.
Nichols, above, studied toxicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She said of her training, "Conducting my graduate research under Dr. Kleeberger at NIEHS has allowed me to take part in a translation research endeavor, working with a multitude of collaborators and resources to address a critical clinical discrepancy." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

IRTA Predoctoral Fellow Lindsay Smith, Ph.D.
Smith, above, completed her doctorate in toxicology in July at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She described her pre-doc experience as "unique and overwhelmingly positive... encouraging and collaborative." She added, "I like it so much here I am staying on for a post-doc." This fall, Smith begins work with the Intracellular Regulation Group. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Jim Aloor, Ph.D.
Aloor won a FARE last year for his abstract, "HIV-1 Envelope Protein gp41 Triggers Pro-inflammatory Responses in the Macrophage Through Toll Like Receptors-2 and -4 and Their Adaptors." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow David Draper, Ph.D.
Draper made an oral presentation, "ABCG1 is a Negative Regulator of Pulmonary Host Defense," at the 2009 NIH Research Festival symposium on "Cross-regulation of Innate Resistance and Adaptive Immunity." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Erica Lannan, Ph.D.
Lannan participated in the 2009 NIH Research Festival symposium on "Understanding Human Immunology" with her oral presentation, "Identification and Classification of Inflammatory Genes Co-regulated by Dexamethasone and TNF-Alpha." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Research Fellow Hideki Nakano, Ph.D.
Nakano won a FARE last year for his abstract on "The Impact of Surface ALDH1a2 on Pulmonary Dendritic Cells for Generation of Regulatory T Cells Leading to Immunotolerance to Inhaled Antigens." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Visiting Fellow Ramendra Saha, Ph.D.
Saha presented his poster, "Rapid Induction of Neuronal Arc Is Mediated by a Promoter Proximal RNA Polymerase-II Stalling Mechanism," at the 2009 NIH Research Festival. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Research Fellow Xueqian (Shirley) Wang, Ph.D.
Wang was honored last year for her abstract, "The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) Regulates P-glycoprotein at the Blood-brain Barrier (BBB)," which also earned her two first-place prizes at the annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting (see story) earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS set records during the 2011 NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence (FARE) competition for the numbers of awards to predoctoral fellows and of consecutive awardees. After reviewing 1,030 submissions of research abstracts, the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom) FARE Subcommittee on July 12 announced 260 awards to fellows in training at the 27 institutes and centers (ICs) that make up NIH.

With 21 FARE(http://felcom.od.nih.gov/subCommittee/FAQ.aspx) Exit NIEHS prizes this year, NIEHS fell short by one of the record number of 22 awards earned by its fellows in 2006. Although NIEHS is in the mid-range in terms of size and budget among the NIH institutes, the Institute tied for third place in the total number of awards, surpassed only by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

In his announcement of the NIEHS winners, Deputy Scientific Director Bill Schrader, Ph.D., wrote, "It is particularly gratifying to see that two predoctoral Intramural Training Award (IRTA) students qualified for these awards." The awards reflect the scientific excellence of the winners, the quality of the NIEHS training and career development program, and the superior mentoring that takes place in the Institute's labs.

The FARE program is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Offices of the Scientific Directors, the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, and the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education, and is funded by the Scientific Directors and the Office of Research on Women's Health. Fellows submit abstracts based their research, which are reviewed and ranked by panels of senior scientists.

The prizes are both an honor and a source of additional support for trainee professional and career development:

  • A $1000 travel award to attend a scientific meeting at which they present their work
  • An invitation to present their posters at the annual Research Festival and attend the FARE award ceremony held in October
  • Eligibility to serve as judges for the following year's FARE competition

2011 NIEHS FARE Honor Roll - Winners, Abstract Titles, and Mentors

Two predoctoral fellows were honored for research excellence:

  • Environmental Genetics Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/enviro-gen/index.cfm) IRTA Predoctoral Fellow Jennifer Nichols, B.S. - Identifying Candidate Susceptibility Genes in a Murine Model of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia - Mentor Steve Kleeberger, Ph.D.
  • Molecular Endocrinology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lst/molecular/index.cfm) IRTA Predoctoral Fellow Lindsay Smith, Ph.D. - Dysregulation of microRNA Expression and Processing During Glucocorticoid-induced Apoptosis of Lymphocytes - Mentor John Cidlowski, Ph.D.

Six postdoctoral fellows took home FARE awards for the second year in a row:

  • Host Defense Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/host-def/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Jim Aloor, Ph.D. - Leucine Rich Repeats and Calponin Homology Containing Protein 4 (Lrch4), a New Regulator of Lipopolysaccharide Signaling - Mentor Mike Fessler, M.D.
  • Host Defense Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/host-def/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow David Draper, Ph.D. - The Cholesterol Transporter ATP Binding Cassette G1 Regulates Adaptive Immunity in the Lung - Mentor Mike Fessler, M.D.
  • Molecular Endocrinology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lst/molecular/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Erica Lannan, Ph.D. - Identification of a Novel Synergistic Gene Regulation Between Glucocorticoid and Cytokine Signaling - Mentor John Cidlowski, Ph.D.
  • Immunogenetics Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/immuno-gen/index.cfm) Research Fellow Hideki Nakano, Ph.D. - Lung Resident CD103+ Dendritic Cells Selectively Prime Th2 Responses to Inhaled Antigens - Mentor Don Cook, Ph.D.
  • Synaptic and Developmental Plasticity Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/ln/sdp/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Ramendra Saha, Ph.D. - Promoter Proximal RNA Polymerase II Stalling May Determine Temporal Expression Kinetics of Neuronal Immediate Early Genes - Mentor Serena Dudek, Ph.D.
  • Intracellular Regulation Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/ltp/intrareg/index.cfm) Research Fellow Xueqian (Shirley) Wang, Ph.D. - Activating PKCbeta1 at the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Reverses Induction of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) Activity by AhR and Restores Drug Delivery to the CNS - Mentor David Miller, Ph.D.

Another 13 fellows received their first FARE awards this year:

  • DNA Replication Fidelity Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lmg/dnarf/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Amy Abdulovic, Ph.D. - Mechanisms of Mutagenesis in vivo due to Imbalanced dNTP Pools - Mentor Tom Kunkel, Ph.D.
  • Molecular Endocrinology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lst/molecular/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Amy Beckley, Ph.D. - Stress-activated, Hormone-independent Glucocorticoid Receptor Phosphorylation at Serine 134 Preconditions Cells and Alters Their Transcriptional Response to Glucocorticoid Hormones - Mentor John Cidlowski, Ph.D.
  • Free Radical Metabolism Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/ltp/freerad/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Saurabh Chatterjee, Ph.D. - Leptin-redox Stress Synergy Exacerbates Steatohepatitis of Obesity in Environmental Carbon Tetrachloride (CCL4) Exposure - Mentor Ron Mason, Ph.D.
  • Transmembrane Signaling Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/ln/ts/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Alejandro Colaneri, Ph.D.- A New Perspective on the Mammalian Genome Bimodal Methylation Pattern - Mentor Lutz Birnbaumer, Ph.D.
  • Cell Biology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/cell-bio/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Huaixin Dang, Ph.D. - The Nuclear Orphan Receptor TAK1/TR4 Plays a Critical Role in the Development of Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Inflammation - Mentor Anton Jetten, Ph.D.
  • Mitochondrial DNA Replication Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lmg/mdnar/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Rajesh Kasiviswanathan, Ph.D. - Translesion Synthesis Past Acrolein-derived DNA Adduct, Gamma-hydroxypropano-deoxyguanosine, by the Human Mitochondrial DNA Polymerase Gamma¬† Mentor Bill Copeland, Ph.D.
  • Transcriptional Responses to the Environment Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lmc/tre/index.cfm) Research Fellow Sergei Nechaev, Ph.D. - Distribution and Dynamics of Promoter-proximal RNA Polymerase II Stalling Based on Global Sequencing of Short RNAs - Mentor Karen Adelman, Ph.D.
  • Molecular Endocrinology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lst/molecular/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Javier Revollo, Ph.D. - Derepression of Gene Expression by the Glucocorticoid Receptor: Silencing of Hes1 is Necessary for the Glucocorticoid Receptor - Mentor John Cidlowski, Ph.D.
  • Synaptic and Developmental Plasticity Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/ln/sdp/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Stephen Simons, Ph.D. - A Novel Mechanism for Caffeine-induced Cognitive Enhancement¬† - Mentor Serena Dudek, Ph.D.
  • DNA Replication Fidelity Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lmg/dnarf/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Jana Stone, Ph.D. - DNA Polymerase Zeta Can Bypass UV Photoproducts Without Assistance from Another Polymerase - Mentor Tom Kunkel, Ph.D.
  • Immunogenetics Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/immuno-gen/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Rhonda Wilson, Ph.D. - Reversible Suppression of Ongoing Th2 and Th17 Responses in the Lung by ICOS - ICOS-ligand Interactions - Mentor Don Cook, Ph.D.
  • Biostatistics Branch(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/bb/index.cfm) Visiting Fellow Sailu Yellaboina, Ph.D. - Computational Prediction and Experimental Validation of Novel Genes Essential for Embryonic Stem Cell Maintenance and Self-renewal - Mentor Raja Jothi, Ph.D.
  • Cell Biology Group(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lrb/cell-bio/index.cfm) IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow Gary ZeRuth, Ph.D. - Suppressor of Fused Interacts with Gli-similar 3 (Glis3), Inhibits Glis3 Activation of Insulin, and Protects Glis3 Against Speckle Type POZ Protein/Cullin 3-mediated Degradation - Mentor Anton Jetten, Ph.D.


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