STARTUP Externships

 Summer 2016

RISE Scholar Erika Monroy, PhD Student in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Dr. Susan Mooberry‘s Pharmacology Lab, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX

“Dr. Mooberry’s laboratory focuses on the discovery of new cancer drugs from natural products that are more effective and have less toxicity for cancer patients. During my eight week internship I constructed dose response curves for cytotoxic action of anti-microtubule agents and a NCI compound in a variety of triple negative breast cancer cell lines using SRB and immunofluorescence assay to determine the molecular mechanism of action. The overall goal of the projects was to identify compounds that were selective against a specific triple negative breast cancer subtype. Preliminary mouse studies of these compounds are ongoing. Through this internship I acquired pharmacology skills, networked with other scientist in the pharmacology and medicinal chemistry field at the 2016 Annual San Antonio Drug Discovery Symposium, worked with a fantastic research group, and made lifetime connections.” – Erika Yvonne Monroy

RISE Scholar Jessica Jackson, PhD Student in Counseling Psychology at Dr. Norweeta Milburn‘s, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences Lab, UCLA Semel Institute Center for Community Health, Los Angeles, CA

“This summer I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Milburn at the Semel Institute in Los Angles, California. It was an amazing opportunity. Dr. Milburn is the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at the Semel Institute. As her mentee, I learned skills related to conceptualization of research projects and how to determine which statistical analysis is best utilized for a range of research studies. In addition to these weekly meetings, I also participated with the research team that Dr. Milburn leads. This team is also interdisciplinary consisting of psychologist, psychiatrist, bio-statisticians and public policy professionals; currently they are testing a family intervention with participants from the juvenile court system. The intervention has already proven to be effective in improving mental health and decreasing substance use and HIV risk. As a result of working with this team, I submitted an abstract for a poster that was accepted by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry as first author. Dr. Milburn also extended an invitation to work with the team on manuscript under her guidance. During this time, I also had the opportunity to attend mini-research conferences at the California Endowment center, several times during the summer. At these events I observed and learned about the research of collaborators within the community such as The Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science Clinical Research Center, University of Southern California and local think tanks.”   – Jessica Jackson

RISE Scholar Jesus “Jesse” Sambrano, PhD Student in Chemical & Materials Engineering at Dr. Steven W Graves‘ Chemical and Biological Engineering Lab, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

“ated waveform into the backside of the PZT. As the PZT crystals begin to vibrate and produce ultrasonic waves between the two slabs of borosilicate microdevice, a standing acoustic wave is formed. That acoustic wave, consisting of a node and antinode, is then pushed tDuring my summer externship with Dr. Graves, I acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to design and fabricate a microfluidic device to be used in a flow cytometric application. While many static systems and clinical settings incorporate the use of microfluidic chips to examine cells or particles, the research conducted at UNM evolves that further by incorporating acoustophoresis in the design of their cytometric systems. This allows users to physically manipulate their particles or cells of interest. To create this acoustic force, a piezo-ceramic zirconate transducer (PZT) is fixed to the backside of a prefabricated/pre-built microfluidic chip. The PZT is activated by introducing a modulhrough the capillary channel of the device, acoustically focusing particles or cells nearly dead-center of the microflow cell. In short, this research has permitted users to characterize submicron (nano) particles in relatively low concentrations. In a biomedical application, this is promising research to assist in identifying rare events such as circulating tumors. Coupled with time-resolved cytometry, our hope is to identify, collect and quantitate rarer cytometric events than what current methods allow. In addition, this will be the first cytometer to feature this innovative research.”   – Jesse Sambrano

RISE Scholar Jamey Leeanne Rislin, PhD Student in Psychology at the ¡EXITO! Program, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX

“I had the pleasure of working at The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Institute of Health Promotion Research (UTHSCSA-IHPR) in San Antonio, Texas. The UTHSCSA-IHPR investigates health disparities that impact Latinos in South Texas and a range of other locales. The institute investigates the causes of unequal prevalence and the impact of cancer, obesity and other types of ailments. In addition, the center seeks to identify tangible strategies to understand, reconcile and rectify these disparities in health. I worked under the auspices of Dr. Amelia Ramirez, Mr. Kip Gallion and Mr. Edgar Munoz. I completed a 10-week RISE sponsored research internship that allowed me to enhance my skills in research design, development and implementation. I garnered new skills in data analysis by opting to use STATA for computations instead of more familiar data analysis software programs. In addition, I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for the challenges and joys of secondary-data analysis. Through my research project, I sought to better understand the impact of biobehavioral and psychosocial factors on health related behavioral change. In essence, I was interested in the psychosocial factors that contribute to better self-management of cancer amongst Latina and non-Hispanic White breast cancer survivors. If the factors that contribute to self-management are better understood, this data may inform treatment inventions that improve clients’ cancer prognoses and increase survivorship rates. I am actively working on the manuscript for this project and will be completing the results section of the manuscript. I hope to submit the manuscript for publication in a journal that focuses on psycho-oncology. Overall, I had a wonderful experience at UTHSCSA-IHPR. The staff at the institute were warm, helpful, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. It was an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to work under professionals with expert knowledge that were willing to provide scaffolding. I am appreciative of the RISE program’s support and encouragement to pursue this type of research training.” – Jamey Leeanne Rislin

Summer 2015

RISE Scholar Jesus “Jesse” Sambrano, PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

at Dr. Larry A. Sklar‘s Cancer Pathology Lab, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM

“Drs. Sklar, Chigaev, and I modulated the affinity of adhesive cells to elicit integrin activation upon the cell surface. We observed these integrin responses using fluorescence lifetimes as our quantitative method. We sought out to quantify rare events that could not be detected with conventional flow cytometers. The long term goal of this project is newer drug discovery and cancer therapies based on detection and comprehension of these sought rare events. This collaboration is still ongoing.”   – Jesse Sambrano

RISE Scholar Kelly Laje, MS Student in Plant and Environmental Sciences,

at Dr. Juergen Polle‘s Microalgae Biotechnology Lab, CUNY Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY

“During the months of June and July, I worked with my esteemed collaborator and pioneer in the field of algae, Dr. Juergen Polle. I completed the annotation of the carotenoid pathway in a novel strain of green microalga, Coelestrella sp., which I am currently using in my main research project. During the externship I learned to use and apply several protein databases as well as the Geneious software. The purpose of the annotation was to better understand inhibition activity of the pigment synthesis inhibitor Fluridone. The work I completed in Brooklyn was presented at ABRCMS – Seattle, WA (2015), and will be published in the coming months.”  – Kelly Laje

RISE Scholar Megan Stamey McAlvain, MS Student in Anthropology,

at Dr. Beti Thompson‘s Public Health and Community Medicine Lab, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

“I had the opportunity to participate in an eight week internship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center under the mentorship of Dr. Beti Thompson in the Public Health Sciences division. I contributed to a project designed to evaluate the ‘Celebrating Health’ Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) project in the Lower Yakima Valley, Washington. I collected and analyzed qualitative data from this CBPR project that looked at the formalization of the community-academic partnership through the use of Community Advisory Boards (CAB). During the eight weeks my research partner and I developed a manuscript for publication that is at the internal review stage, and we will be moving forward to submit for publication. Additionally, I developed a poster deliverable to highlight one aspect of this research addressing how CBPR collaborations successfully target communities for research using CAB members. As a result of this experience I have a better understanding of how interdisciplinary teams work and what medical anthropology can contribute to the applied fields of CBPR and Public Health.”  – Megan Stamey McAlvain

Summer 2014

Former RISE Scholar Dr. Daniel Ramirez-Gordillo, PhD Biology,

at Dr. Alexander Lin‘s Psychiatry Neuroimaging Lab, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

“Dr. Lin’s laboratory focuses on the clinical application of multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). The potential uses of magnetic resonance spectroscopy being investigated include diagnosing Alzheimer’s, differentiating post-traumatic stress disorder from traumatic brain injury in military subjects, and diagnosing gliomas without the need of biopsies. The project that I worked on focused on using MRS to measure metabolite changes in patients with pathological confirm IDH+ glioblastoma before and after chemo and radiation therapy. Glioblastomas are the most aggressive for of gliomas. The average survival rate is 14 months. However, recently it has being discovered that mutations to the Isocitrate dehydrogenases enzymes are associated with better prognosis. The results of my investigation showed a favorable response to treatment with radiating therapy indicated by decrease in lactate, choline (Cho) and an increase in N- acetyl aspartate(NAA) in 4 of the 5 patients. However, the level of response varied from patient to patient. In addition, we found that an increase in glutamate is associated with seizures. Our results further support the use of MRS to monitor glioblastomas without the use of biopsies. In addition, our results support the use of MRS helps measure metabolite concentration to better understand the changes associated with gliomas”  – Dr. Daniel Ramirez-Gordillo