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Environmental Factor, May 2012

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Former NIEHS fellow receives travel award

By Robin Arnette

Quiana Childress

While at NIEHS, Childress worked with Clinical Research Unit medical director and Laboratory of Respiratory Biology researcher Stavros Garantziotis, M.D. They studied a protein that may have a role in the tissue rejection that some lung transplant patients face. (Photo courtesy of Crafte Eye Photography)

Quiana Childress intends to be a physician one day, but relishes the thought of doing biomedical research just as much as caring for patients. Childress, a former NIEHS fellow, was selected to receive a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Minority Access to Research Careers travel award to attend the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting April 21-25 in San Diego. She joined the nearly 14,000 other scientists and exhibitors at the multidisciplinary conference that covered fields as diverse as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, and pharmacology.

Childress is currently at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., participating in the post-baccalaureate program, which provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills they need to successfully graduate from health profession schools. When she isn’t studying for classes, she investigates vascular signaling under the guidance of her faculty advisor Evangeline Motley-Johnson, Ph.D., who is also associate dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Meharry.

Motley-Johnson’s laboratory examines protease-activated receptor signaling in endothelial cells, or the cells that line the inner layer of blood vessels, and how this signaling regulates nitric oxide production. Her lab presented its current findings at the meeting.

When asked why her research is important, Childress said, “Endothelial dysfunction is a major contributor to hypertension. I would like to understand the signaling pathways involved in this disease so that therapeutic agents can be developed at the molecular level.”

Motley-Johnson has mentored several graduate students and knows the importance of students attending national conferences. She said these gatherings offer invaluable career development opportunities for students, everything from networking with seasoned scientists to learning about the latest research through seminars and poster sessions. Motley-Johnson was thrilled that Childress had a chance to polish her scientific skills by participating in the meeting.

“Quiana will be able to build on her knowledge base,” Motley-Johnson said, “which will help her focus her career goals.”

Doctor, researcher, survivor

Childress believes when she eventually becomes a physician, her research experience will greatly benefit her patients by helping her understand disease in a fundamental way. Although she hasn’t attained her goal yet, her past triumphs leave little doubt that she will complete her mission (See Environmental Factor story, see NIH Record story  ).

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