About LA CaTS

Meritorious Scholars

4th Cohort: Funding Period July 2016 - June 2017

Derrick Samuelson, PhD - LSUHSC

Mentors: Judd Shellito MD and Alistair Ramsay, PhD

"Alcohol Use and Susceptibility to Bacterial Pneumonia"

Dr. Derrick Samuelson is a post-doctoral fellow at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Samuelson earned his PhD in Molecular Biosciences and Microbiology at Washington State University in 2013. His research was focused on hos-pathogen interactions and cellular signaling, specifically the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. After completing his PhD, Dr. Samuelson started his post-doctoral fellowship at LSUHSC and started working on the development of a live oral vaccine against Pneumocystis pneumonia and understanding the influences of the intestinal microbiota on pulmonary infection and immunity in immunocompromised individuals.

As a Meritorious Post-doctoral Scholar, Dr. Samuelson will determine if alcohol-induced changes influence the intestinal microbial community. Using an alcohol animal model, he will determine the effects of alcohol consumption on the gastrointestinal, oral, and respiratory microbial tract and pathogen clearance. Specifically, his goal is to evaluate the role of ethanol in pulmonary immune responses and susceptibility to Klebsiella pneumonia. From these findings, Dr. Samuelson hopes to describe the role of alcohol-related immune defects and its influence in patient’s predisposition to respiratory bacterial pneumonia. 

3rd Cohort: Funding Period July 2015 - June 2016

Elizabeth Martin, PhD - Tulane

Mentors: Bridgette M. Collins-Burow, MD, PhD and Jeffrey M. Gimble, MD, PhD
"Decellularized Breast Cancer Extracellular Matrix in the Induction of Tumor Metastatic Recurrence"

Dr. Elizabeth C. Martin is a post-doctoral fellow at Tulane University in the Department of Medicine.  Dr. Martin completed her PhD in Biomedical Research at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA in 2013. Her dissertation focus was the evaluation of the effects of microRNAs, specifically miR-155, on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell biology with a focus on estrogen receptor signaling.  Following her PhD, Dr. Martin joined the Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at Tulane University where she used proteomic analysis of patient serum to detect potential prognostic markers and activated pathways involved in the development of heterotopic ossification. 

During the LA CaTS Meritorious Post-doctoral Scholarship, Dr. Martin will evaluate breast cancer-derived extracellular matrix as an avenue for tumor recurrence under the guidance of Dr. Bridgette Collins-Burow. It is believed that the tumor microenvironment can support cancer stem cells and maintain "stemness". Following primary therapy, residual matrix may remain at the sites of metastasis and instigate signaling to cancer stem cells which can then re-propagate the metastatic lesion. Given the different extracellular matrix compositions of breast carcinomas and normal tissue, the extracellular matrix may act as a pro-tumorigenic agent. The identification and characterization of the tumor extracellular matrix, will lead to novel methods for intervention. Therapeutically-driven alterations to the extracellular matrix may prevent recurrence of breast carcinomas through the removal of a permissible microenvironment.

2nd Cohort: Funding Period July 2014 - June 2015

Amir Al-Khami, PhD - LSUHSC

Mentors:  Augusto Ochoa, MD and Paulo Rodriguez, PhD
"Overcoming tumor-induced immune suppression by targeting fatty acid uptake"

Dr. Amir A. Al-Khami is a senior postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - New Orleans. The long-term goal of his research is to develop strategies that elicit tumor-specific T cell responses that will be robust and long-lived to generate durable tumor eradication. Dr. Al-Khami completed PhD in cancer immunology under a program between Tanta University Egypt and The Medical University of South Carolina USA. His dissertation established some of the mechanisms by which lymphodepletion enhances adoptive T cell therapy of cancer. Following PhD, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship to study the activation-induced cell death in tumor-reactive CD8+ T cell subsets, in addition to a novel transgenic mouse model of cancer, which was developed in the laboratory using a human tyrosinase epitope-reactive T cell receptor.

In Dr. Augusto Ochoa’s laboratory, Dr. Al-Khami is currently focusing on the therapeutic targeting of an immunosuppressive cell population, named myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), as a means to restore T cell antitumor immunity. Under the LA CaTS Meritorious Post-doctoral Scholarship, he will investigate the role of fatty acid uptake in the regulation of MDSC accumulation and function in cancer.

1st Cohort: Funding Period July 2013 - June 2014

Amanda E. Staiano, PhD, MPP - Pennington Biomedical

Mentor:  Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D.
"Leveraging electronic medical records to explain race disparities in pediatric Type 2 diabetes"

Dr. Amanda E. Staiano is a senior postdoctoral fellow in population science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her research focus is pediatric obesity, including the clinical, behavioral, and socio-demographic determinants and correlates of childhood obesity and its ensuing cardiometabolic risks. Dr. Staiano completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Georgetown University where she examined how technological devices like active video games and online advergames affect youths’ adiposity, physical activity, and eating behaviors. She then completed the NIDDK-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship to study the causes and consequences of depot-specific adiposity in youth, including how sex, race/ethnicity, maturational stage, physical activity, and sedentary media use affect children’s fat distribution and accumulation. She also examined the relationship between measurements typically assessed in clinic (including body mass index, waist circumference, and blood chemistry for cardiometabolic risk) and direct measures of adiposity using magnetic resonance imaging and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. She is Principal Investigator on an intramural project sponsored by LSU’s Improving Clinical Outcomes Network (ICON) to determine the appropriate screening and diagnostic guidelines for cardiometabolic risk assessment in pediatric patients.

During the LA CaTS Meritorious Scholar fellowship, Dr. Staiano will examine of the rate of fat accumulation as a mediator for the higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among African American versus White adolescents, based on a retrospective cohort study of the pediatric electronic medical records from LSU hospitals and clinics. The proposal addresses a critical gap in our understanding of how obesity may mediate the race disparities in pediatric type 2 diabetes. Dr. Staiano’s research will provide a clearer picture of the contributors to type 2 diabetes in children and the best clinical tools for the early detection of obesity, diabetes and cardiometabolic risk during childhood and adolescence.

 

Roadmap Scholars

5th Cohort: Funding Period July 2016 - June 2018

S. Amanda Dumas, MD, MSc - LSUHSC

Mentors: Ryan Pasternak, MD and Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD

"Mind the Gaps: The Contraceptive Experiences of Parenting Adolescents"

Dr. Amanda Dumas is an Assistant Professor in the Louisiana State University Health Science Center Division of Adolescent Medicine and Ambulatory Pediatrics. She received her medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2007. After medical school, she completed her residency training in Pediatrics at the Brown Pediatric Residency Program in Providence, RI. She then moved to Pittsburg, PA  and completed a fellowship in General Academics Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in 2013. During this time, she earned a Masters of Science in Clinical Research, which a research focus in pediatric health disparities.
Since joining the LSU faculty, Dr. Dumas' primary research interests focused on prevention of repeat adolescent pregnancies. As a Roadmap Scholar, she will examine patterns of preconception and postpartum contraceptive use among parenting adolescents in Louisiana. She will also determine the access parenting adolescents have to medical services. From this, the goal is to develop a sustainable partnership between adolescent parents and stakeholders in adolescent parenting in order to provide adequate medical and supportive care and decrease adolescent pregnancy.

Anne Gilmore, PhD - Pennington Biomedical

Mentors: Leanne Redman, PhD and Lucio Miele, MD, PhD

"Attitudes toward Nutrition and Physical Activity Intervention during Cancer Treatment"

Dr. Anne Gilmore is an Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. She completed her PhD in Nutrition at Texas A&M University where she also worked as a clinical dietitian for inpatient services, including patients with cancer. She then joined the Reproductive Endocrinology & Women's Health Laboratory at Pennington as a postdoctoral fellow. During that time she studied nutrition, energy balance, and body composition.

With her experience as a dietitian and behavioral and metabolic research, Dr. Gilmore will examine breast cancer patients' attitudes toward perceived barriers to nutrition and physical activity interventions during and post neoplastic treatment. Her plan is to measure the physical and metabolic changes that occur throughout treatment for breast cancer, including clinical outcomes such as vital signs, anthropometrics, physical activity, markers for cardiovascular disease risk and hormonal mediators, and quality of life questionnaires. Dr. Gilmore plans to identify lifestyle interventions that are tailored to the needs of breast cancer patients.

Mimi Sammarco PhD - Tulane

Mentors: Keith Van Meter, MD and Rebecca Schroll, MD

"Oxygen Application to Promote Survivability and Improve Limb Salvage after Extremity Trauma"

Dr. Mimi Sammarco is an Assistant Professor at Tulane University Medical Center Department of Surgery. She earned her PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics at LSUHSC in 2005. From there, she completed her first postdoctoral fellowships at LSUHSC, where she studied Friedreich Ataxia, neurodegenerative disease, and the role of iron and oxygen regulation in the disease. She then completed her second postdoctoral fellowship (F32 sponsored) at Tulane University where she studied limb injury and the role of oxygen in regeneration and aging.

As a Roadmap Scholar, Dr. Sammarco will examine whether applied pressurized oxygen can be used to prevent loss of life and promote salvage of limb tissue following trauma. She will provide comprehensive evidence based data in a large animal model to guide pressurized oxygen as a primary line of treatment.  Overall, Dr. Sammarco hopes to develop a primary treatment model for traumatic limb injury that is can be used in patients and improve overall survival.


4th Cohort: Funding Period July 2015 - June 2017

Sarah Jolley, MD - LSUHSC

Mentors: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, Bennett DeBoisblanc, MD and David Welsh, MD
"Prevalence and Mechanisms of Critical Illness Myopathy in Patients with Chronic Heavy Alcohol Use"

Dr. Sarah E. Jolley is an Assistant Professor in the Louisiana State Health Sciences Center Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She completed her medical training at Louisiana State University in 2003. After medical school, she moved to Seattle, WA where she completed an Internal Medicine residency, chief residency and Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship at the University of Washington. During her time as a NIH T32 Pulmonary and Critical Care research fellow, she completed a Master's degree in Epidemiology where her thesis focused on racial/ethnic disparities in survivorship after Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Dr. Jolley's primary research interests focuses on long-term outcomes after critical illness, particularly neuromuscular sequelae of acute lung injury. Her current work investigates chronic alcohol use as a risk factor for myopathy in patients with respiratory failure and explores the role of ghrelin and myostatin, key muscle regulatory hormones, in maintenance of lean muscle mass. These studies build upon prior work exploring delivery of early therapeutic exercise to maintain muscle mass in critically ill patients. It is hoped that her current studies will identify novel therapeutic targets that when combined with early therapeutic exercise will improve long-term physical function for ICU survivors.

Maissaa Janbain, MD - Tulane

Mentors: Cindy Lessinger, MD, Rebecca Kruse-Jarres, MD and Roy Weiner, MD "Adjunctive Antifibrinolytic Therapy with Factor Concentrate Prophylaxis in patients with Hemophilia A and B"

Dr. Maissaa Janbain received her MD degree in 2005 from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Lebanese University in Lebanon. She then pursued a residency in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In December 2014, she completed a fellowship in Hematology/ Oncology at Tulane University. In January 2015, she joined the faculty at Tulane as an assistant Professor in Clinical Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/ Oncology. During her fellowship, she was granted the NHF-Baxter fellowship award allowing her to dedicate more time in training and research in the domain of coagulation medicine and especially the care of patients with hemophilia.

Dr. Janbain has a particular interest in global assays including thromboelastomtery and thrombin generation tests and their clinical application in various hematologic disorders. She is also interested in improving the adherence to treatment and therefore the quality of life of patients with hemophilia. Her current research focus on improving the outcome of prophylaxis in patients with hemophilia with the addition of antifibrinolytics, as well as studying the correlation of global assays findings with the bleeding pattern and the clinical phenotype of these patients.

She is board certified in internal medicine, and is currently member of the American Society of Hematology, the Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research Society and the International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis.

Shigeki Saito, MD - Tulane

Mentors: Joseph Lasky, MD
"Substantiating HDAC Inhibition as a Therapy for Pulmonary Fibrosis"

Dr. Shigeki Saito received his MD degree from the University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan).  He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at St.Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center (New York, NY), a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Tulane University, and another fellowship in Pulmonary Hypertension at Stanford University.  He joined the faculty at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in 2013.  He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care Medicine. 

Dr. Saito's research interests include pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and acute lung injury. During the LA CaTS Roadmap Scholar fellowship, he will be investigating the role of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in pulmonary fibrosis.

Amanda Staiano, PhD - Pennington Biomedical

Mentors: Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD, Corby Martin, PhD, and Jennifer C. Rood, PhD
"Sedentary Behavior, Eating Attitudes and Weight Gain in Young Adults"

Dr. Amanda E. Staiano is an Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Director of the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory. Her research focus is pediatric obesity, including the clinical, behavioral, and socio-demographic determinants and correlates of childhood obesity and its ensuing cardiometabolic risks. She has a particular interest in the role of physical activity and sedentary behavior as contributors to obesity, with a focus on screen-time including television viewing and video game play. Dr. Staiano completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Georgetown University where she examined how technological devices like active video games and online advergames affect youths' adiposity, physical activity, and eating behaviors. She then completed the NIDDK-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship and the LA CaTS Meritorious Scholar fellowship to study the causes and consequences of depot-specific adiposity in youth, including how sex, race/ethnicity, maturational stage, physical activity, and sedentary media use affect children's fat distribution and accumulation.

During the LA CaTS Roadmap Scholar fellowship, Dr. Staiano will examine the associations among sedentary behavior (specifically television viewing), eating attitudes (including disinhibition and food cravings), eating behaviors, and fat gain, based on data collected from the longitudinal InSight Study of young adults. She will build expertise in the measurement of dietary intake and psychological constructs of eating behaviors to use in clinical obesity reduction trials and the use of the metabolic chamber, doubly labeled water, and indirect calorimetry to assess energy expenditure. Dr. Staiano's research will identify intervention targets to reduce sedentary behavior, improve eating behaviors, and create "healthy" screen-time options for youth and young adults.


3rd Cohort: Funding Period July 2014 - June 2016

Christopher McGowin, PhD - LSUHSC

Mentors: Michael Hagensee, MD, PhD and Angela Amedee, PhD
"The impact of chronic Mycoplasma genitalium infection on inflammation-dependent HIV replication and antiretroviral drug resistance"

Dr. Chris L. McGowin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, and in Internal Medicine's section of Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. He has been focused on basic and clinical aspects of infectious diseases and women's health, most notably with sexually acquired pathogens and associated reproductive tract syndromes. Dr. McGowin received his PhD in pathology from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas in 2009, followed by a fellowship in infectious diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. 

Research in Dr. McGowin's program is currently focused on the mechanisms of disease by the emerging sexually transmitted pathogen, Mycoplasma genitalium. As a chronic infection in women, M. genitalium is associated with inflammatory urogenital syndromes such as cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal infertility, and also with HIV acquisition and transmission. Through clinical investigations and advanced in vitro models of human reproductive tract disease, the McGowin lab is investigating several aspects of host-pathogen interaction in the cervix, including in the context of HIV co-infections. Dr. McGowin has developed novel strategies of comparative transcriptomics and informatics pipelines to elucidate microbial and host determinants of infection and inflammatory disease.

Michael Hoerger, PhD - Tulane

Mentors: Roy Weiner, MD, Paul Duberstein, PhD, and Ronald Epstein, MD
"Hope and Shared Decision Making in Advanced Cancer: A Health Disparities Perspective"

Michael Hoerger, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and decision scientist, a Contributing Member of the Tulane Cancer Center, and an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry. He completed his BS in psychology at Michigan State University and PhD in clinical psychology at Central Michigan University, prior to joining the University of Rochester Medical Center for an internship in clinical health psychology and a National Research Service Award T32 postdoctoral fellowship in healthcare decision making. Dr. Hoerger directs the Translational Psychological Science (TPS) Group aimed at translating basic psychology research on decision making toward reducing the emotional burden of healthcare decision making in cancer.

Dr. Hoerger's long-term goal is to improve quality of life in cancer, and he is committed to developing the psychosocial oncology research infrastructure needed for Louisiana to gain its first National Cancer Institute designated cancer center. Through the Roadmap Scholars Award, he will gain additional research training, expand his network of mentors and collaborators, and conduct pilot research aimed at building knowledge that will enhance shared decision making and reduce disparities by increasing patients' hope for adjustment. Dr. Hoerger is a member of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, Division 38 (Health Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He has over two dozen publications, serves as a reviewer for as many professional journals, and mentors students through initiatives of the Newcomb College Institute, Center for Public Service, and Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation.

John Apolzan, PhD - Pennington Biomedical

Mentors: Eric Ravussin, PhD, Corby Martin, PhD, and Tim Church MD, MPH, PhD
"Effects of aerobic exercise detraining on energy balance in overweight persons"

Dr. John Apolzan completed his PhD in Foods and Nutrition with a specialization in Ingestive Behavior and a minor in Gerontology at Purdue University in 2009.  He completed his first postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Regents University Department of Physiology in Nutritional Metabolism and Obesity.  This was followed by a second postdoctoral fellowship in Ingestive Behavior at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  He is an ACSM certified Health Fitness Specialist.  Dr. Apolzan is now an Instructor (junior faculty) in the process of being promoted to Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.   

Dr. Apolzan's research interests involve overseeing and managing human clinical intervention trials examining nutritional, physical activity, and body weight outcomes. He has experience in clinic-based and mHealth interventions. He also has worked extensively with the remote food photograph method (RFPM) and SmartIntake© app.  Besides the Roadmap Scholar, Dr. Apolzan was awarded a Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (NORC) pilot award to examine the effect of two isocaloric energy restricted diets that vary in dietary protein on weight loss in overweight and obese adolescents. Overall, he wishes to continue to conduct translational research in the areas of human clinical nutrition, exercise physiology, and obesity to further reduce disease prevalence.


Special Roadmap Award 2013:
Funding Period May 2013 - January 2014

Isolde Butler, MD, MPH - Tulane*

Mentors:  John Schieffelin, MD, MSPH and James Robinson, MD
"The role of anti-dengue non-structural protein 1 in pathological changes of human endothelial cells in dengue virus infection"

Dr. Butler received her Medical degree and Master's degree in Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2005 from Tulane University. After completing medical school in 2005, she spent one year at the Tulane National Primate Research Center studying the effects of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus on the gut tissue of non-human primates. In June 2009, Dr. Butler completed her Internal Medicine residency at Tulane University. During the 2007-08 academic year of her residency, she received the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans Resident of the Year Award. Dr. Butler remained an additional year as Chief Resident before pursuing a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Tulane University in July 2010. Dr. Butler completed her Infectious Diseases Fellowship in June 2012 and joined the faculty of Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Section, as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in July 2012

Dr. Butler's primary research interests are hemorrhagic fever viruses, Dengue virus and dengue immunology. Her current work evaluates the human antibody response in severe dengue disease, with a focus on the role of autoimmune reactions triggered by the dengue NS1 protein. She plans to utilize the concepts to develop new rapid diagnostic and prognostic tests for use in endemic countries.

* Scholar had a change in career path and accepted a staff physician position at NO/AIDS Task Force.


2nd Cohort: Funding Period July 2013 - June 2015

Matthew Lammi, MD - LSUHSC

Mentors:  Judd Shellito, MD, Ben deBoisblanc, MD, and Hamid Boulares, PhD
"Inhaled iloprost, dynamic hyperinflation and oxidative stress in COPD patients"

Dr. Matthew R. Lammi received his MD degree from Temple University School of Medicine in 2005.  He completed a residency in Internal Medicine, chief residency, and a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.  He joined the faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the section and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in September of 2012.  He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care Medicine.
Dr. Lammi's research interests include dynamic hyperinflation and exercise physiology in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary manifestations of scleroderma, and pulmonary vascular disease. In particular, he will be investigating the role of the pulmonary vasculature in the pathogenesis of disease progression and exercise intolerance in COPD. The effect of an inhaled prostacyclin analog will be studied in humans with COPD and an animal model of the disease, with a focus on dynamic hyperinflation during exercise as well as oxidative stress. It is hoped that treatment focused on the pulmonary vasculature will represent a new treatment option to patients with COPD.

Courtney Peterson, PhD - Pennington Biomedical

Mentor:  Eric Ravussin, PhD
"Time-restricted feeding to improve insulin sensitivity"

Dr. Courtney M. Peterson is currently an Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, working in the Skeletal Muscle Physiology Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Eric Ravussin.  Dr. Peterson's research interests center on dietary interventions for the treatment of obesity and diabetes, particularly in the areas of intermittent fasting, circadian rhythms, and botanicals.  She has worked on a number of studies ranging from the effects of hypoxia on insulin sensitivity to the impact of resistant starch on diabetes risk factors and gut microbiota; she also works on mathematical modeling of metabolism and body composition.  Recently, she was awarded a LA CaTS Pilot Grant to conduct a study on the effects of time-restricted feeding on glucose tolerance and vascular condition in people with pre-diabetes.

Dr. Peterson received her Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 2011.  Her dissertation research was in the field of theoretical cosmology and focused on understanding the dynamics of multi-particle models of inflation, a period in the early Universe shortly after the Big Bang. After obtaining her PhD, she switched fields into clinical obesity and diabetes research, obtaining an NIH T32 Obesity Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue postdoctoral work at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  Dr. Peterson is currently supported by a LA CaTS Roadmap Scholars Fellowship.

Alvaro Alonso, MD - Tulane*

Mentors:  Patrice Delafontaine, MD and Paul Whelton, MD
"IGF1 for the treatment of myocardial infarction"

Alvaro Alonso, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute. He attended Mexico City's Universidad Panamericana School of Medicine, where he graduated with a special commendation award. He trained in Internal Medicine at Boston's Tufts-New England Medical Center (now Tufts Medical Center), and in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology at the University of Massachusetts and UMass Memorial Medical Center. He also completed a Vascular Medicine and Endovascular Interventions Fellowship at Tufts University-St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. He has been involved in teaching initiatives since his years as a medical student, and is a firm believer in Academic Medicine and its three vital components: superior patient care, education, and research. Doctor Alonso is Board Certified in the following: Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, Interventional Cardiology, Echocardiography, Nuclear Cardiology, Vascular Medicine, and in Endovascular Interventions.

Dr. Alonso has over 30 manuscripts with over 500 citations by others in the scientific literature, and is main author of a recently published Peripheral Vascular Disease book. His research includes works in acute coronary syndromes, cardiovascular disease in chronic kidney disease patients, contrast-induced acute kidney injury, peripheral vascular disease, evidence-based medicine, and clinical effectiveness. He has also earned Scholarships and Awards at State and National levels and meetings.  His focus of research, under this proposal will be on the use of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) for the treatment of patients presenting with myocardial infarction.

* Interruption due to departmental needs.

1st Cohort: Funding Period July 2012 - June 2014

Jennifer Cameron, PhD - LSUHSC

Mentor:  Michael Hagensee, MD, PhD
"miRNAs as candidate prognostic biomarkers of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia"

Dr. Jennifer E. Cameron completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans in 2004. She was appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Virology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, followed by a second Postdoctoral Fellowship appointment in the Cancer Center at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. As a Fellow at Tulane University, Dr. Cameron was a recipient of the Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) sponsored by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at LSU, with a joint appointment in LSU's Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center.

Dr. Cameron's research interest is investigating the mechanisms by which DNA tumor viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) interact with the host and promote cancer. Her ultimate goal is to translate her findings into improved diagnostic and prognostic cancer screening tests, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment. A main focus of her research is revealing the role of small non-coding RNAs known as microRNAs in regulating and/or promoting virus-mediated oncogenesis. She is currently exploring the potential of microRNAs to predict the likelihood that a woman with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) will develop cervical cancer. The research will identify miRNAs that are candidates for prognostic screening tests. The development of a prognostic test for cervical cancer risk represents an important advancement over currently available diagnostic screening tests for cervical cancer.

Zachariah McIver, DO - Tulane*

Mentor:  Roy Weiner, MD
"Prevention of GVHD using a novel ex-vivo photodepletion technique to selectively target mitochondria in alloreactive T cells"

Dr. Zach McIver received his medical degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2004. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in 2007, and in 2011 completed a fellowship in Hematology at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. McIver joined the faculty of the Tulane University School of Medicine Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology in September 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine.  Dr. McIver's research interests include improving outcomes for patients with a hematological malignancy receiving an allogeneic stem cell transplant, and the prevention of graft-versus-host disease.

He is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Bone Marrow Transplant, and the American Osteopathic Association. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hematology.

* Scholar relocated to Wake Forest University to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine

Holiday Durham, PhD, RD, LDN - Pennington Biomedical

Mentor:  William Cefalu, MD and Carol Lammi-Keefe, PhD
"Gestational diabetes mellitus impacts maternal placental fatty acid transfer and trafficking to the infant"

Dr. Holiday Durham is a junior faculty instructor in the Department of Diabetes and Nutrition at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. She received her PhD in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and completed her dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  She is a registered and licensed dietician in LA.  At Louisiana State University, she was awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture postdoctoral fellowship. 

Dr. Durham's research focuses on clinical and molecular aspects of maternal and infant health and nutrition, with an emphasis on fatty acid metabolism. She is particularly interested in placental fatty acid transfer in gestational diabetes mellitus and the regulation of the endocannabinoid (fatty acid analogs) metabolome during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The overarching goal of her translational work is to decrease adverse infant outcomes associated with compromised fatty acid transfer. 

Dr. Durham is a member of the American Nutrition Society, American Oil and Chemical Society and the International Society for Cannabinoid Research.

 

 

Visiting Scholars

2015 Round 1:

Organize & plan the best design for testing selective glucocorticoid agonists in mouse models of T1DM, in addition to learning the nuances of a recently reported human B-cell line
Jason Collier, PhD Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The purpose of this Visiting Scholar Award is to discuss the design and use of the non-obese diabetic mouse model for delivery of selective glucocorticoid receptor modulating compounds. Researchers at the University of Florida Department of Pathology are world-renowned for their work in Type 1 diabetes using rodent models and human patients. The ultimate goal is to collect pre-clinical data on the effectiveness of new compounds with the potential to treat diseases with inflammatory components, which includes Type 1 diabetes.

Establish a 3D spheriod model for culturing adipocytes
Carrie Elks, PhD Pennington Biomedical Research Center

At the visiting lab, Dr. Elks will be learning to grow fat cells in 3D sphere formations using specially designed plates. This method is better than regular cell culture methods because it allows the cells to grow in a way that most closely resembles the structure of tissues in the body. She plans to bring this technique back to Pennington Biomedical and eventually apply it to cells isolated from human fat during Pennington Biomedical clinical trials. Using this new technique in Dr. Elks’ lab will allow her to obtain novel data for use in future grant applications and will provide opportunities for future collaborations between basic and clinical sciences at Pennington Biomedical.

Circadian disruption, premature aging and age related bone loss
Muralidharan Anbalagan, PhD Tulane University

Dr. Anbalagan will be visiting Alexander G. Robling, Professor Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University Medical Center to gain more knowledge in bone biology in which he plans to pursue in his research career. In laboratory, will learn techniques of bone-related endpoints, including undecalcified histology, histomorphometry, plate assays for bone formation and resorption markers, CT scanning, radiographic imaging using planar (2D) and 3D techniques, and also next generation sequencing of the bone cell transcriptome. This will make Dr. Anbalagan’s project go smoothly, write grants, and make collaboration with pioneer in the field of bone biology.

Career Development in Palliative Cancer Care Research
Michael Hoerger, PhD Tulane University

As a clinical psychologist focused on conducting research to improve quality of life in advanced cancer, Dr. Hoerger will train for two months with a world-leading palliative care research team at Harvard / Massachusetts General Health. The training will increase Dr. Hoerger’s knowledge and skills in this domain, expand his collaborative network, and guide an empirical manuscript and several research grant submissions aimed at improving patients’ quality of life.

Domestic Violence Community Based Participatory Research
Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD Tulane University

Dr. Wennerstrom specializes in conducting community-academic partnered research. She will visit the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society to gain additional training from community and academic mentors in developing and executing partnered research. With this support, she anticipates collaborating with a community organization to submit an application for NIH funding.

Cost Effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Sandra Sulzer, PhD Xavier University

Dr. Sulzer is researching whether mindfulness training is cost-effective. Do persons who take an eight-week course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction subsequently use healthcare resources more efficiently? She will be examining healthcare records at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and plans to use her findings to design a prospective research study funded by NIH.

LSU Health Shreveport Xavier University of Louisiana LSU Health New Orleans Pennington Biomedical Research Center Tulane University Louisiana State University The Research Institute for Children at Children's Hospital New Orleans Ochsner Health System