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Fellows and Investigators Showcased at Annual NIH Research Festival

By Eddy Ball
November 2009

2009 Research Festival Icon
(Image courtesy of the 2009 Research Festival)

The NIEHS FARE winners
The NIEHS FARE winners posed with NIH Deputy Director of Intramural Research Michael Gottesman, M.D. Shown, left to right, are Saha, Ren, Lannan, Gottesman, Sunman and Smyth. (Photo courtesy of NIH and Diane Klotz)

When NIH held its week-long annual Research Festival( Exit NIEHS October 6-9, seven postdoctoral fellows and two investigators from NIEHS were on hand in Bethesda to celebrate the accomplishments of NIH scientists. A total of 20 NIEHS fellows were recognized as recipients of the 2010 Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE), and seven of the fellows made poster or oral presentations.

In a message afterwards, NIEHS Deputy Scientific Director Bill Schrader, Ph.D., congratulated the NIEHS participants and "the very high number [of FARE winners] for an institute of our size." The FARE is an annual competition that selects the top twenty-five percent of abstracts from fifty different study sections to receive a $1,000 travel award.

In a symposium on "From Synapse to Stroke: The Plastic Nervous System" on October 7, Laboratory of Neurobiology Investigator Serena Dudek, Ph.D., spoke on "From Stroke to Synapse: What's New in Hippocampal CA2?" NIEHS Bioinformatics Branch Investigator Raja Jothi, Ph.D., chaired a symposium on "Epigenetics, Chromatin, and Gene Regulation" held the same day.

NIEHS FARE winners David Draper, Ph.D., and Erica Lannan, Ph.D., also made oral presentations at symposia. Draper spoke on "ABCG1 is a Negative Regulator of Pulmonary Host Defense" as part of the symposium on "Cross-regulation of Innate Resistance and Adaptive Immunity," and Lannan addressed "Identification and Classification of Inflammatory Genes Co-regulated by Dexamethasone and TNF-Alpha" during the symposium on "Understanding Human Immunology."

Also on hand was Director of the Office of Fellows' Career Development (OFCD)( Diane Klotz, Ph.D., who attended both talks. "This is the first year that postdocs have been included in the oral presentations at the Research Festival," she said. "David and Erica both did an excellent job of representing the high caliber of postdoctoral research being performed at the NIEHS."

Another five NIEHS fellows made poster presentations at the Research Festival:

  • Omari Bandele, Ph.D., "Single nucleotide polymorphisms alter sequence-specific p53-DNA binding to gene regulatory elements"
  • Rongqin Ren, Ph.D., "Mechanisms of glucocorticoid dependent cardiac hypertrophy"
  • Ramendra Saha, Ph.D., "Rapid induction of neuronal arc is mediated by a promoter proximal RNA polymerase-II stalling mechanism"
  • Jeremy Smyth, Ph.D., "Phosphorylation of the endoplasmic reticulum calcium sensor STIM1 underlies suppression of store-operated calcium entry during mitosis"
  • Jeffrey Sunman, Ph.D., "The hemopexin domain of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) induces a pro-migratory phenotype in human melanoma cells independent of MMP-9 catalytic activity"

In addition to fellows attending the festival, thirteen others from NIEHS were also winners (see text box). Abstracts for FARE winners can be downloaded from the NIH Felcom Web page. NIEHS winners begin on page 153 of the "Winners by IC" list.

The NIEHS Fellows Honor Roll (Continued)

An additional 13 FARE winners were unable to attend the festival, but still received formal recognition for their scientific achievements:

  • Jim Aloor, Ph.D., "HIV-1 envelope protein gp41 triggers pro-inflammatory responses in the macrophage through toll like receptors-2 and -4 and their adaptors"
  • Abee Boyles, Ph.D., "Maternal alcohol consumption and infant clefts: the role of alcohol metabolism gene variants"
  • Ryan Dackor, Ph.D., "Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) protects murine lungs from bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis and lung dysfunction"
  • Dana Hancock, Ph.D., "Chromosome 9q21.31 as a novel susceptibility locus for childhood asthma: evidence from a genome-wide association study in Mexicans"
  • Andrew Kraft, Ph.D., "The neurites of striatal neurons expressing mutant huntingtin protein are sites of microglial association and proliferation, which facilitates the progression of degenerative phenotypes"
  • Andreas Larrea, Ph.D., "Scrunching during DNA replication"
  • Hideki Nakano, Ph.D. "The impact of surface ALDH1a2 on pulmonary dendritic cells for generation of regulatory T cells leading to immunotolerance to inhaled antigens"
  • Aparna Purushotham, Ph.D. "Hepatocyte-specific deletion of SIRT1 alters fatty acid metabolism and results in hepatic steatosis and inflammation"
  • Li Qian, Ph.D., "Potent neuroprotective effects of long-acting beta2-adrenergic receptor agonists: a potential new therapeutic indication through a novel mechanism"
  • Ritu Rana, Ph.D., "Mediator 25 (Med25) functions as an essential coactivator for HNF4alpha and recruits RNA Pol II to initiate the human CYP2C9 gene expression"
  • Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., "SIRT1 regulates NF-kB-dependent transcription and attenuates macrophage-mediated inflammation"
  • Jeffrey Stumpf, Ph.D., "Yeast homologues of eighteen disease mutations in DNA Polymerase Gamma cause mtDNA depletion and mutagenesis"
  • Xueqian Wang, Ph.D., "The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) regulates P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier (BBB)"

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