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Environmental Factor, July 2014

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NIEHS research fellow earns endocrinology internship

By Robin Arnette

Diana Cruz-Topete

Cruz-Topete is a native of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and has been with NIEHS since 2012. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

John Cidlowski, Ph.D.

Cidlowski urges his postdocs to apply to several programs to advance their careers. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS Research Fellow Diana Cruz-Topete, Ph.D., was one of seven young scientists to receive a 2014 Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology (FLARE) Internship from the Endocrine Society. She accepted the award at a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society June 21-24 in Chicago (see text box).

As a FLARE intern, Cruz-Topete will participate in several society-based committees, and mentor undergraduate students from underrepresented groups participating in the Endocrine Society program, to increase diversity in the biomedical sciences.

Cruz-Topete’s mentor, John Cidlowski, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction, as well as the Molecular Endocrinology Group, encouraged her to apply for the FLARE Workshop, which provides leadership training. She was fortunate to be accepted into the workshop, and took part in the two-day training Feb. 7-8 in New Orleans.

“The workshop was very helpful, because it went through all of the choices you have as a Ph.D., with talks on academia, industry, grant writing, and how to improve your CV,” Cruz-Topete said.

Having a FLARE for science

At the end of the workshop, the FLARE committee interviewed attendees and named Cruz-Topete as one of the winners of the coveted one-year internship. The internship gives her the opportunity to encourage young people from underrepresented groups to continue their paths in science, and, at the same time, gives her a chance to talk about her research and why endocrinology is so exciting.

Members of the Cidlowski group study the effect glucocorticoids and the glucocorticoid receptor have on various systems of the body. Specifically, Cruz-Topete examines how they regulate cardiac function under normal and stressful conditions.

She hopes to bring what she’s learned at NIEHS, and the skills gained under FLARE, to an academic position someday. Cidlowski believes she’ll make a great mentor. “Diana thoroughly loves doing research, and that drive will inspire her students,” he said.

The FLARE program, which launched in August 2012, provides training and professional development opportunities for senior graduate students, postdocs, and clinical research fellows from underrepresented groups doing hormone health research. The FLARE awards are supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Several members of NIEHS also attended the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago.

  • Yukitomo Arao, Ph.D. — staff scientist, Receptor Biology Group
  • Christine Bruske Flowers — director, Office of Communications and Public Liaison
  • John Cidlowski, Ph.D. — head, Laboratory of Signal Transduction and the Molecular Endocrinology Group
  • Jerrold Heindel, Ph.D. — health scientist administrator, Division of Extramural Research and Training
  • Christine Jewell — biologist, Molecular Endocrinology Group
  • Kenneth Korach, Ph.D. — head, Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology and Receptor Biology Group
  • Sivapriya Ramamoorthy, Ph.D. — research fellow, Molecular Endocrinology Group
  • William Schrader, Ph.D. — Deputy Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research
  • Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D. — health scientist administrator, Division of Extramural Research and Training

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