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Environmental Factor

March 2011

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Trainees honored by SOT Carcinogenesis Specialty Section

By Eddy Ball
March 2011

Zhengyu Yin, Ph.D.

Yin maintains that better understanding the role of RAP80 could lead to the development of new and novel therapeutic approaches for radiotherapy and other anticancer procedures. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Jessica Graham

Along with her NIEHS support, Graham is also funded by a predoctoral fellowship from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research. Graham anticipates these studies will enable the future development of novel approaches to breast cancer screening, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Graham)

Two of the first of this year's Society of Toxicology (SOT) awards to NIEHS/NTP trainees and scientists are going to NIEHS Visiting Fellow Zhengyu Yin, Ph.D., and NIEHS-supported doctoral student Jessica Graham.

The Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Endowment Graduate Student Awards and Postdoctoral Awards will be conferred at a reception March 6 by the SOT Carcinogenesis Specialty Section (CSS), recognizing the top abstracts submitted by a large pool of students and postdocs involved in carcinogenesis research.

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., congratulated Yin and Graham on their performance and pointed to the importance of training. "Both the intramural and extramural programs understand the importance of cultivating the next generation of environmental health scientists," she said. "We look to these young investigators as our best resource for pursuing the goal of promoting public health through solid scientific research."

Zhengyu Yin

Yin, who graduated in 2009 from the Toxicology Graduate Education Ph.D. Program( Exit NIEHS at the University of Rochester supported by an NIEHS center grant, is a member of the NIEHS Cell Biology Group( headed by Principal Investigator and Chief of the Laboratory of Respiratory Biology Anton Jetten, Ph.D.( As part of his first place award in the postdoctoral category, Yin will receive $500.00 for his abstract, "RAP80 Plays a Critical Role in Maintaining Genomic Stability." He will also receive an honorable mention from the Molecular Biology Special Section (MBSS) for the Postdoctoral Fellow Research Award competition.

Yin used experiments with RAP80 knockout mice to demonstrate that RAP80 is a tumor suppressor gene and that deficiency of RAP80 leads to genomic instability and predisposition to cancer. According to Yin, the gene encodes a UIM-containing protein playing a critical role in DNA repair.

Jessica Graham

Graham is a graduate student in the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology( Exit NIEHS of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and is supported through an NIEHS center grant( Her advisor is Principal Investigator and Professor Helmut Zarbl, Ph.D, who is director of the NIEHS-funded Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease at UMDNJ/Rutgers. For her first place win in the graduate student category with her abstract, "The Fry tumor suppressor encodes an inhibitor of epithelial mesenchymal transition," Graham will also receive a plaque and $500.

Graham's analysis of approximately 4,500 human breast tumor mRNA profiles and studies using the human MDA-MB-231 mammary tumor cell line showed that decreased expression, function, or loss of mammalian FRY results in increased susceptibility to mammary carcinogenesis and progression of breast cancer.

Established in 1986, the CSS will celebrate its 25th year as an SOT specialty section at a reception in March. Along with recognizing student and postdoctoral trainee accomplishments, members of the CSS will also hear a brief tribute to long-time members of the section by NIEHS grantee James Swenberg, D.V.M., Kenan Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering and former director of the Curriculum in Toxicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.


Anton Jetten, Ph.D.

"Zhengyu is among the brightest young scientists I've worked with at NIEHS," Jetton said of his protégé. "He's thinking creatively about how to intervene in the progression of cancer in new ways that may lead to new treatment strategies available to oncologists." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Helmut Zarbl, Ph.D.

"Jessica is the best graduate student I have mentored in 24 years. The fact that she received this Singh Award - her second award from SOT as a graduate student - speaks volumes about Jessica's intellect, creativity, and fearless approach to cancer research. It also speaks about the quality of training at UMDNJ/Rutgers and the boost we get from NIEHS support. " (Photo courtesy of Helmut Zarbl)

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