Students Receive Research Funding to Advance Careers as Physician-Scientists
Two Feinberg School medical students have received funding for one year of full-time biomedical research from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support their early careers as physician-scientists. Second-year student Carson Lam and third-year student Sarina Pasricha will each receive a $27,000 stipend, a $5,500 research allowance, and a $5,500 fellow’s allowance from the organization.
Lam and Pasricha are two of 68 students from 26 medical schools and one dental school nationally to receive research training fellowships allowing them to implement a research plan and work at a lab anywhere in the U.S. The pair will conduct their research projects at the Feinberg School under the direction of faculty members Jaime Grutzendler, MD, assistant professor of neurology, who will work with Lam; and Richard Green, MD, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Hepatology, who will oversee Pasricha’s work.
Pasricha’s year of research in the field of hepatology will allow her to gain a better understanding of the genetics and molecular pathogenesis of fatty liver disease. “My research will utilize state-of-the-art genetic molecular biological techniques in order to enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis and susceptibility to steatohepatitis, a hepatic disease that affects millions of Americans,” she says. Pasricha’s research has the potential to help prevent patients from progressing to end-stage liver disease, portal hypertension, and liver failure.
“Sarina’s research will utilize a genetic technique named Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysis to help identify the genes that are responsible for the development and progression of fatty liver disorders,” says Dr. Green. “She is extremely bright, inquisitive, and hard-working; and was awarded this highly competitive grant due to her outstanding qualifications. She has performed exceptional research during her undergraduate training and I am highly confident that she will excel during her upcoming year of research.”
Focusing on neurovascular repair in the brain, Lam sees this opportunity to carry out his own basic science research project from start to publication as important to his future career as a physician-scientist and academic neurosurgeon.
“We have discovered a unique set of mechanisms used by the smallest blood vessels in the brain to repair themselves after occlusion with blood clots,” Lam says. “The brain can actually re-canalize damaged blood vessels without the need for the fibrinolytic system. I believe that by augmenting these mechanisms this research will eventually lead to new and better treatments for diseases, such as strokes and vascular dementias, and for protecting the brain against injury during various kinds of surgeries.”
Lam has been a valued addition to Dr. Grutzendler’s lab since he started working there as an undergraduate. “Carson is an extremely bright, creative, and hard-working student,” Dr. Grutzendler says. “He is eager to try difficult experiments and doesn’t get discouraged easily. His pleasant demeanor and fondness for teaching undergraduates makes him a critical member of our team.”