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Karmanos, WSU Cancer Biology Program appoints five students to T32 training grant

T32 training grant students in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program include, from left, Shermaine Mitchell-Ryan, Angela Sosin, Elizabeth Tovar and Aimalie Hardaway. Not pictured is Jonathan Irish. 

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine has appointed five students to the T32 training grant in cancer biology for the 2011-2012 school year.

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program is dedicated to providing an outstanding training experience in the rapidly evolving field of cancer research. The research and clinical facilities of Karmanos provide the cornerstone for graduate training in cancer biology. The program is supported by a prestigious T32 training grant from the National Cancer Institute. Larry Matherly, Ph.D., professor of Oncology and Pharmacology, is the director and principal investigator for that grant, now in its 25th year of continuous support.

Since its inception in the late 1980s, the Cancer Biology Graduate Program has graduated more than 70 doctoral degree scientists, many of whom have progressed to postdoctoral and faculty positions at prestigious universities and research centers through the United States.

Aimalie Hardaway is a third-year student in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, and is mentored by Izabela Podgorski, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and Oncology. The title of her project is “Investigating the Role of Bone Marrow Adipocytes in Prostate Tumor Progression in the Bone.”

“The T32 training grant is a great opportunity, because it is rare that a group of people realize your potential as a scientist and are willing to invest in that potential,” said Hardaway, who grew up in Detroit and received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Wayne State University.

Jonathan Irish, a third-year student in the program, comes from Lansing. He received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. He is co-mentored by Zengquan Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Oncology, and Stephen Ethier, Ph.D., voluntary professor of Oncology. His project is titled “Epigenetic Mechanisms of Transformation for the NSD3 Oncogene in Human Breast Cancer Cells With the 8p11-p12 Amplicon.”

“I am honored to be chosen as a T32 trainee,” Irish said. “I believe it reflects upon my drive to excel as a graduate student. The T32 training grant is helping me to further my educational goals by providing financial support, as well as valuable experience in the grant application process.”

Shermaine Mitchell-Ryan obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology at St. Mary’s Public Honors College of Maryland, and a master’s degree in cancer biology prevention and control from the University of the District of Columbia and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She is participating in research that focuses on the development of novel therapeutics that target tumors that express folate receptor alpha. Now in her third years in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, her project is titled “Therapeutic Targeting of Novel Antifolates to Solid Tumors via Folate Receptor Alpha.”

Her dissertation mentor is Dr. Matherly, who directs the Cancer Biology Graduate Program. Dr. Matherly recently nominated Mitchell-Ryan for a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships (F31) to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research from the National Institutes of Health, and the application was accepted. She will continue to be supported by the T32 through March, at which time her support will shift to her own F31 fellowship.

“The T32 appointment serves as a validation of my potential to be trained as a research scientist,” she said. “It has assisted me in my path toward fulfilling my career aspirations of becoming an academic scientist. This appointment has also instilled a tremendous degree of confidence in me as scientist-in-training, assuring me that my goals are well within reach.”

Angela Sosin, a fifth-year student in the program, grew up in Macomb Township. She received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and molecular genetics from Michigan State University. Her dissertation mentor is Ayad Al-Katib, M.D., professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology. In her second full year as a T32 trainee, her project is titled “Targeting MDM2 for therapeutic intervention in B-cell lymphoma.”

“Being a recipient of the prestigious NIH T32 training grant is truly an honor that continues to provide me with astounding advantages during the early stages of my career,” she said. “I am provided with a solid didactic program, cutting-edge research facilities, as well as remarkable mentorship from numerous talented basic and clinical investigators. The T32 grant will allow me to stand out as a highly qualified candidate capable of interacting with basic, clinical and translational researchers. I am truly blessed to have an opportunity to develop the necessary skills to become an independent leader by acquiring expertise in multidisciplinary research.”

A third-year student in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, Elizabeth Tovar grew up in Charlotte, Mich., and graduated from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biotechnology. Her project is titled “The Role of Eicosanoids in Prostate Cancer Progression” and her dissertation mentor is Kenneth Honn, Ph.D., distinguished professor of Pathology and Radiation Oncology.

“The T32 training appointment is important to me because it will help me to currently excel in my chosen program while opening doors for me in the future,” Tovar said.

We congratulate these students on their prestigious appointments to the T32 training grant!

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