This month we highlight several award-winning NICHD fellows who are participating in the funding and career development programs available at the NIH. We are excited to introduce you to the NICHD recipients of the following awards:
- NICHD Developing Talent Program
- NICHD Postdoctoral Fellows Recruitment Incentive Award (FRIA)
- NIH Intramural Research Scholar Program
- Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship (IARF)
- Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE)
We’d also like to introduce you to our newest clinical fellow in adult endocrinology, Dr. Sonal Vaid, in this month’s “Clinical Corner” column. Then mosey on over to Dr. Anshika Jain’s Rep Report followed by our September announcements and events.
Enjoy this award-packed issue!
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
Questions or comments? Please email our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to all fellows who received the annual Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) for the 2021 competition. FARE is an NIH-wide competition that recognizes the important research of intramural fellows. We extend sincere congratulations to our 18 winners for their success and the honor they bring to the intramural programs of our institute. A special thanks to all NICHD fellows who submitted an abstract for sharing their research with the intramural community.
Below is the list of NICHD award recipients (and their NICHD mentors), including each fellow’s research topic:
Rajakumar Anbazhagan (Dufau) – “Role of Phosphorylated Gonadotropin-Regulated Testicular RNA Helicase (GRTH/DDX25) in the Regulation of Germ Cell Specific mRNAs in Chromatoid Bodies during Spermiogenesis”
Jordan Aoyama (Storz) – “Glucose-induced Spot 42 small regulatory RNA encodes a 15-amino acid protein SpfP that blocks Crp-dependent activation”
Katherine Bonnington (Machner) – “First insight into vacuolar acid resistance by pathogen Legionella pneumophia”
Jessica Gleason (Grantz) – “Examining variations in child development outcomes by gestational age at delivery among term births”
Milena Jovanovic (Marini) – “Studies of OI patient and murine osteoblasts to investigate phenotypic variability of dominant Osteogenesis Imperfecta”
Dongjin Lee (Petros) – “A novel approach to label actively transcribed genes during development using Mammalian Targeted DamID”
Elodie Mailler (Bonifacino) – “Role of the autophagy proteins ATG2 and ATG9A in lipid mobilization from lipid droplets”
Cole Malloy (Hoffman) – “Pin1 isomerization of Kv4.2 regulates seizure intensity in mice”
Miranda Marvel (Weinstein) – “Kdm4ab: A novel epigenetic regulator of vertebrate neural development”
Sahar Melamed (Storz) – “Overlapping and competing roles of the two RNA-binding proteins, ProQ and Hfq”
Marion Ouidir (Tekola-Ayele) – “Dyslipidemia in ethnic-diverse pregnant women is associated with placental DNA methylation at loci relevant for cardiometabolic diseases”
Joshua Pemberton (Balla) – “Acute manipulation of outer membrane phospholipid composition directly alters mitochondrial dynamics and ultrastructure”
Saroj Regmi (Dasso) – “Modular organization of the nuclear pore structure: Y-complex and NUP188 stabilize different modules”
Christopher Rhodes (Petros) – “Integration of single cell transcriptomes and chromosome accessibility to detect regulatory elements critical to interneuron development”
Joyce Thompson (Rocha) – “Rapid reshuffling of master transcription factors allows exit from plasticity to establish cell-fates”
Lauren Walling (Storz) – “Small RNA-mediated regulation of carbon and nitrogen metabolism in Escherichia coli”
Ashley Xiao (Loh) – “Neurotrophic factor-α, not BDNF, is critical in preventing stress-induced hippocampal CA3 cell death and cognitive dysfunction in mice”
Aoshu Zhong (Storz) – “Transposase inhibitors encoded within the transposase gene”
The NICHD Division of Intramural Research is committed to train, support, and sustain a diverse cohort of individuals, including those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in science.
Established in 2011, the NICHD Developing Talent Program provides a superlative research and mentoring experience to scholars while tailoring an academic and professional development plan to the needs of the individual. Read below to learn more about our current NICHD Developing Talent Program participants and each of their goals as a Developing Talent Scholar.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Dansereau
NICHD advisor: Dr. Ajay Chitnis
Undergraduate school: Colgate University
Specialty interests: developmental biology
Hobbies: reading, binge-watching TV shows
Rachel is generating various transgenic zebrafish lines to control the migration of the primordium.
She would love to continue her educational career by pursuing a PhD and eventually becoming a professor.
Photo courtesy of Kyla Roland
NICHD advisor: Dr. Henry Levin
Undergraduate school: Davidson College
Specialty interests: viral pathology, bacterial pathology, and genomics
Hobbies: reading, hiking and nature, cooking, and music
Kyla examines how the endogenous Tf2 transposable elements regulate gene networks in response to stress in S. Pombe. Her immediate plan is to go to graduate school following her postbac.
Jacob Olondo Kuba
Photo courtesy of Jacob Olondo Kuba
NICHD advisor: Matthias Machner, PhD
Undergraduate school: University of Maryland, College Park
Specialty interests: molecular/cell biology, neuroscience, molecular dynamic simulations, endocrinology
Hobbies: photography, cooking, soccer, weight training
Jacob is studying the host-pathogen interactions between Legionella pneumophila and Acanthamoeba castellani through an artificial evolution experiment. He is currently planning on applying to medical school next year (2021).
Photo courtesy of Esther Kwarteng
NICHD advisor: Dr. Jack Yanovski
Undergraduate school: Duke University
Specialty interests: child health, health disparities
Esther is studying the characterization of eating behaviors as well as understanding the interactions between psychological and social factors that result in the development and maintenance of obesity in youth. She plans to attend medical school following her postbaccalaureate research training.
The objective of the NICHD FRIA is to encourage investigators in the Division of Intramural Research to recruit a diverse group of individuals, including those from groups traditionally underrepresented in science, for potential postdoctoral fellowship appointments in NICHD laboratories. The awards are made to PIs who are strong scientists and exhibit superior mentoring ability, as well as a demonstrated commitment to the career development and academic progress of their fellows.
Dr. Gisela “Gigi” Storz has been awarded the 2020 FRIA award for her recruitment of Dr. Aisha Burton. Dr. Burton studies the regulatory roles of small proteins on two component systems in E. coli. Read below to learn more about Dr. Aisha Burton and the most important lesson she has learned from her NICHD mentor, Dr. Storz.
Photo courtesy of Aisha Burton
NICHD advisor: Dr. Gisela Storz
Graduate school: Indiana University
Specialty interests: molecular biology
Hobbies: yoga, bike riding, reading
The Intramural Research Scholar Program aims to build the workforce diversity of independent research scientists by selecting scholars who have a commitment to building a diverse Intramural Research Program (IRP). These scholars will manage resources, including trainees, and are scientifically independent from their previous mentors. Participants are considered highly competitive for Investigator (tenure-track) positions in the IRP and outside after succeeding in this position.
Dr. Philip Adams, postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Gisela “Gigi” Storz, began an Intramural Research Scholar position on August 2, 2020. In his work, Dr. Adams characterizes RNA-mediated gene regulation in Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, during tick and mammalian infection. Check out his research at https://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/atNICHD/Investigators/adams.
Read below to learn more about Dr. Adams, including his thoughts on the importance of diversity in science, followed by a few tips on becoming a successful scientist:
Photo courtesy of Philip Adams
NICHD advisor: Dr. Gigi Storz
Graduate school: University of Central Florida
Specialty interests: bacterial gene regulation, RNA biology, Lyme disease
Hobbies: cooking, traveling and eating new food, group fitness classes, playing with his cat Watson
The NICHD Office of Education keeps a running list of funding opportunities for fellows—one of which is the Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship. The IARF program, supported by the Office of AIDS Research (OAR), the Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE), and the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), aims to recruit graduate students and postdoctoral scientists from a diverse group of disciplines to further cross disciplinary research into HIV and AIDS. During the 2020 IARF funding round, NICHD Graduate Partnership Program (GPP) student Dr. Mor Alkaslasi received one of the coveted IARF awards.
As a member of Dr. Claire Le Pichon’s laboratory, Dr. Alkaslasi uses transcriptomics to study molecular mechanisms of neuronal injury and their roles in neuropathic pain. Read below to learn more about Dr. Alkaslasi, including her thoughts on the importance of interdisciplinary research.
Photo courtesy of Mor Alkaslasi
NICHD advisor: Dr. Claire Le Pichon
Graduate school: Brown University-NIH GPP
Specialty interests: neurodegeneration, neuroimmunology, bioinformatics
Hobbies: reading, hiking, puzzles
Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program. As both a Hoosier and a Boilermaker Engineer, Dr. Vaid’s studies have allowed her to travel during medical school and serve her community back home in Indiana during her residency. She loves art, nature, the ocean, traveling, human psychology, humor, and learning about different cultures. Her interest in endocrinology originally stemmed from her curiosity about the origins of disease states and metabolic syndromes. She believes medicine is an art and hopes to always remain creative through patient care and research.Sonal Vaid, MD, is a new clinical fellow in adult endocrinology in NIH’s
We asked Dr. Vaid a few questions about herself to get to know the person behind the degree. Introducing Dr. Vaid:
Where are you from, and what path brought you to an endocrinology fellowship at NIH?
I’m from Carmel, Indiana (Roots: Northern India). After completing many endocrine electives during both medical school and residency, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Since my days in biomedical engineering at Purdue, medical school and through residency, I would refer to NIH for articles and guidelines. I knew that if I wanted to gain expertise in a field, I would want to train at a place that would teach me how to conduct clinical research, dissect meaningful research, and think critically in order to always practice evidence-based medicine.
What do you plan to investigate as an endocrinology fellow?
I am intrigued by how metabolic syndrome over time leads to the development of multiple disease states. I am interested in the prevention of fatty liver and cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes, obesity, and those who have developed metabolic syndrome. Additionally, neuroendocrine tumors have always caught my eye.
In your profile, you mention you like to travel. Where are a few of your favorite places, and what did you like about them?
Travel opens one’s mind to a world beyond her own. I enjoy going to places where I can enjoy the ocean, mountains, native fresh fruit, and just be one with nature. While I lived in Indiana, I enjoyed escaping to the windy city, Chicago during any time of the year. Miami is a second home to me as I was there during medical school and took my breaks on the quiet northern beaches swimming, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.
What has been one of your most memorable travel experiences?
My last memories of travel are of the majestic Lake Diablo situated in the North Cascade mountains, while visiting Seattle, WA. Upon finding this hidden gem, I found the views from the bottom of the lake and the top of the mountains to be serene breathtaking and refreshing.
Another favorite memory of mine is of the picturesque rolling hills and pebble beaches of Costa Verde in Lima, Peru. I immersed myself into the Peruvian culture and sipped on traditional Chicha Morada while watching the waves crash on the beach. In the afternoons, I would walk to the local market and buy some of my favorite exotic fruits such as cherimoya, dragon fruit, and prickly pear. The best part was that they were sold at a great price and it was amazing to be able to enjoy them every day.
DUE THIS MONTH: Intramural Research Fellowship (IRF)
Funding opportunity for all NICHD fellows
In 2017, DIR launched the Intramural Research Fellowship (IRF), a competitive research funding opportunity for NICHD postdoctoral, visiting, and clinical fellows. Its main objective is to promote grant writing among our intramural trainees, while enhancing awareness of the various components of an NIH grant application.
The IRF submission date is Monday, September 14, 2020.
NICHD Postbac Orientation Session
Wednesdays, September 16 & October 14, 1–2 PM
Our institute has approximately 100 postbacs conducting both clinical and basic science research. The Office of Education would like to bring our postbacs together to meet each other and discuss volunteer and training opportunities on campus, while also facilitating the transition of postbacs back to the physical workspace in situations where a return is appropriate.
We aim to enrich fellows’ NIH experience with career development, outreach, and social activities. Learn about:
- Guidelines and clearance for the return of postbacs to the physical workplace
- NIH Library resources
- The annual postbac course
- Shadowing opportunities in the NIH Clinical Center
- And more!
This year’s NICHD Postbac Orientation Session is mandatory for all postbacs who started in or after March 2020. To register, please contact Ms. Monica Cooper (email@example.com).
Salzman Virology Award Application Deadline is September 21
The Salzman Virology Awards honor the 40-year career of Dr. Norman P. Salzman in virology research and his accomplishments in mentoring of young scientists. Two awards will be given. One postdoctoral fellow will receive a plaque and an award of $2,500. One graduate student/postbaccalaureate trainee will receive a plaque and an award of $1,000. The mentors of the awardees will each receive a plaque. The winners will give talks during the 22nd Annual Norman P. Salzman Memorial Symposium while selected other applicants will be invited to present posters.
The application due date for the Salzman Virology Awards is September 21, 2020. Application forms and eligibility information can be found at fnih.org/SalzmanSymposium.
PRAT Program Applications are Due October 2
Fellows in the NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) program receive three years of stipend support to conduct independent, mentored research in an NIH intramural laboratory. The PRAT application process is similar to the F32 Postdoctoral NRSA, and applicants who are already in the NIH intramural program may apply if they began postdoctoral training on or after June 1, 2019 and are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The PRAT program is especially interested in ensuring the applicant pool reflects the diversity of the biomedical PhD talent pool, and strongly encourages applications from scientists in groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. For more information about the program, eligibility, and the NIGMS mission, please visit https://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/pages/prat.aspx.
Gain Programming Skills While Teleworking from Home
During this time of extended telework, the NICHD’s Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core (BSPC) is offering to help fellows gain valuable programming and data analysis skills. BSPC can provide several resources for learning the R programming language as well as develop custom learning plans using online resources to meet specific learning goals. If you are interested in programming and data analysis, please contact Dr. Ryan Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Submissions!
Behind the Mask: Real Stories from NIH Staff About Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since January 2020, COVID-19 has impacted the NIH community in many ways—from researching and providing information about the disease, to developing therapeutics and vaccines, to caring for patients in the Clinical Center, to re-configuring the ways we perform our jobs. To preserve this important period in NIH history, the Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum has initiated “Behind the Mask: Real Stories from NIH Staff About Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The project is seeking personal reflections about how those who work at NIH have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and is collecting documents, photos, objects, and other types of media that will help narrate the story of COVID-19. Materials in languages other than English, such as Spanish, will be accepted.
To learn more about the project and to participate, visit: https://history.nih.gov/display/history/Behind+the+Mask.
SAVE THE DATE: Friday, November 13, Annual DIPHR & DIR Joint Scientific Retreat
Please mark your calendars for the annual DIPHR & DIR Joint Scientific Retreat which will be held virtually this year on Friday, November 13. More information coming soon!
Wednesday, September 16, 1–2 PM
Postbac Orientation Session
NICHD Office of Education
We would like to bring our postbacs together to meet each other and discuss volunteer and training opportunities on campus, while also discussing new guidelines and clearance requirement for the return of postbacs to the physical workplace.
This year’s NICHD Postbac Orientation Session is mandatory for all postbacs who started in or after March 2020. To register, please contact Ms. Monica Cooper (email@example.com).
Thursday, September 24, 1–2 PM
“Making the Most of Your PhD and Postdoc: How to Develop Career Relevant Skills in Academia”
Lauren Celano, CEO Propel Careers
This webinar will provide advice on ways to proactively build, develop, and enhance specific skills during your PhD or postdoctoral training in order to build transferrable skills that are valuable for your career. Lauren will provide an overview of skills useful for both research and non-research careers such as consulting, business development, communications, and medical affairs. She will also highlight ways to build transferrable skills such as collaboration, leadership, management, and presentation skills, as well as hard skills like budgeting, vendor management, protocol development, and writing. Additionally, she will showcase ways to highlight these skills on a resume so that organizations looking to hire you are aware of the value you bring to them.
Please email Ms. Monica Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are planning to participate.
Ongoing Events Around Campus
NIH-Wide Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) Events
For more information and registration, please visit Upcoming OITE Events.
NIH Library Training and Events
For more information and registration, please visit the NIH Library Calendar.