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Environmental Factor, September 2012

Fellows shine for research excellence

By Nisha Cavanaugh

Kin Chan, Ph.D.

Intramural Research and Training (IRTA) Fellow Kin Chan, Ph.D., “A reporter system for identifying mutagens acting preferentially on single-strand DNA,” lead researcher Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Georgette Charles, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Georgette Charles, Ph.D., “Regulation of APA site choice in the maintenance of ES cells,” lead researcher Guang Hu, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Tracy Clement, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Tracy Clement, Ph.D., “Testis expressed actin-like 7b (Actl7b) is required for mouse spermatid morphogenesis and male fertility,” lead researcher Mitch Eddy, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

As a testament to the top-notch research and training at NIEHS, fellows fared very well in this year’s NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) competition, receiving 19 of the 220 highly coveted awards for their winning abstracts. (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2012/9/science-fare/file81323.pdf) (169KB)

NIEHS had the third highest number of award recipients, surpassed only by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The FARE award recognizes outstanding scientific research performed by intramural NIH fellows. The program is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom) and is funded by the Scientific Directors and the Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Fellows submitted abstracts earlier this year, which were ranked by study sections made up of  previous FARE awardees and NIH senior scientists. Exceptional abstracts — the top 25 percent in each study section — were selected based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality and presentation.

NIEHS Deputy Scientific Director William Schrader, Ph.D., commented in a message to winners, “This juried review of submitted research abstracts is a highly competitive event. Your research excellence and the environment provided by your mentors are achievements in which all of the NIEHS community can take pleasure.”

The prestigious award provides the winners with:

  • A $1,000 travel award to attend a scientific meeting of their own choosing to present their research.
  • An invitation to present a poster at the annual NIH Research Festival and attend the FARE award ceremony held on the NIH Bethesda campus in October.
  • Eligibility to serve as a peer reviewer for the following year’s FARE competition.

Furthermore, the recipients are recognized at the NIEHS Director’s Award Ceremony, typically held in December.

This year, the nineteen awardees spanned nine laboratories and branches. Impressively, six recipients came from only two groups:

  • Kin Chan, Ph.D., Julie Lowe, Ph.D., Steven Roberts, Ph.D., and Maria Shatz, Ph.D., of the Chromosome Stability Group, mentored by Michael Resnick, Ph.D., and Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D.
  • Georgette Charles, Ph.D., and Xiaofeng Zheng, Ph.D., of the Stem Cell Biology Group, mentored by Guang Hu, Ph.D.

In spite of the stiff competition, two fellows were repeat winners, earning their second FARE awards:

  • Lindsay Smith, Ph.D., from the Intracellular Regulation Group, mentored by David Miller, Ph.D., with this year’s title of “Glucocorticoid receptor regulation of P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier.” She commented, “Submitting a FARE award is a great exercise in writing and winning the FARE award is incredibly affirming and rewarding.” Smith was previously awarded as a predoctoral fellow in the Molecular Endocrinology Group, mentored by John Cidlowski, Ph.D.
  • Kirsten Verhein, Ph.D., from the Environmental Genetics Group, mentored by Steven Kleeberger, Ph.D., with this year’s title of “Differential susceptibility to ozone-induced lung inflammation maps to mouse chromosome 17: role of Notch receptors.” Verhein noted, “Submitting an abstract for a FARE award is a great experience, because it’s a chance to have your work critically evaluated by the NIH community.”

To learn more about submitting an abstract for future FARE awards, please visit the FelCom website at http://www.training.nih.gov/felcom. (https://www.training.nih.gov/felcom) 

(Nisha Cavanaugh, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS DNA Repair and Nucleic Enzymology Group.)


Swati Ghosh, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow Swati Ghosh, Ph.D., “An integrated approach reveals that Tet1 maintains mouse embryonic stem cell identity partly by regulating LIF dependent Stat3-mediated gene activation,”  lead researcher Raja Jothi, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Brant Hamel, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Brant Hamel, Ph.D., “The N-terminus of the glucocorticoid receptor regulates its nucleocytoplasmic localization,” lead researcher John Cidlowski, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Fumin Lin, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow Fumin Lin, Ph.D., “Role of GLIS3 in the generation of pancreatic beta cells from ES and iPS cells,” lead researcher Anton Jetten, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Steven Roberts, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Steven Roberts, Ph.D., “A permanent record of transient hyper-mutation associated with single-strand DNA in human cancers,” lead researcher Dmitry Gordenin, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Lindsay Smith, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Lindsay Smith, Ph.D., “Glucocorticoid Receptor Regulation of P-glycoprotein at the Blood-Brain Barrier,” lead researcher David Miller, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Darshini Trivedi, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Darshini Trivedi, Ph.D., “The deficiency of beta-arrestin2 attenuates abdominal aortic aneurysm formation in mice,” lead researcher Robert Langenbach, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Staton Wade, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Staton Wade, Ph.D., “MicroRNA-mediated regulation of the BRG1 chromatin remodeling complex underlies the balance between pluripotency and differentiation in human embryonic stem cells,” lead researcher Trevor Archer, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Xiaofeng Zheng, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow Xiaofeng Zheng, Ph.D., “Identification of a novel component of the self-renewal circuitry conserved in mouse and human ES cells,” lead researcher Guang Hu, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Jacqueline de Marchena Powell, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Jacqueline de Marchena Powell, Ph.D., “A novel approach to isolate the function of the galanergic subpopulation of the locus coeruleus,” lead researcher Patricia Jensen, Ph.D.


Zhenglin Gu, Ph.D.

Research Fellow Zhenglin Gu, Ph.D., “Cholinergic coordination of pre- and postsynaptic activity induces time-dependent hippocampal synaptic plasticity,” lead researcher Jerrel Yakel, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Bonnie Joubert, Ph.D.

Research Fellow Bonnie Joubert, Ph.D., “Epigenome-wide association study identifies DNA methylation differences in cord blood related to in utero tobacco smoke exposure,” lead researcher Stephanie London, M.D., Dr.P.H.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Julie Lowe, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Julie Lowe, Ph.D., “An unexpected role for p53 in NF-kappaB-mediated inflammatory response,” lead researcher Michael Resnick, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Maria Shatz, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow Maria Shatz, Ph.D., “p53 cooperates with MAP kinase and NFkB signal transduction pathways to potentiate human immune/inflammatory response,” lead researcher Michael Resnick, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Dan Su, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Dan Su, Ph.D., “Chromatin state primes stress specific p53-regulated gene responses,” lead researcher Douglas Bell, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Kirsten Verhein, Ph.D.

IRTA Fellow Kirsten Verhein, Ph.D., “Differential susceptibility to ozone-induced lung inflammation maps to mouse chromosome 17: Role of Notch receptors,” lead researcher Steven Kleeberger, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Qingshan Wang, Ph.D.

Visiting Fellow Qingshan Wang, Ph.D., “Substance P exacerbates neurotoxins-induced nigral dopaminergic neurodegeneration through activation of microglial NADPH oxidase,” lead researcher Jau-Shyong Hong, Ph.D.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)




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