NEWS | June 21, 2013

Undergraduate students begin summer pathology research fellowships


Nine undergraduate students from across the country joined the pathology and laboratory medicine department this week to begin eight weeks of study and research as Hugh Edmondson Summer Research Fellows.

2013 Edmondson Summer Research Fellows 2013 Edmondson Summer Research Fellows

The fellowship program pairs students with pathology faculty mentors who will guide students’ participation in high-level research at UC Davis labs and clinical facilities. Edmondson Fellows attend a weekly lecture series and may also contribute to work that results in publication in peer-reviewed journals. The fellowship comes with a $2,000 research scholarship. 

Lydia Howell, professor and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine, kicked off the program’s weekly lecture series with a presentation on “Cervical Cancer Screening in the Medically Underserved: Lessons from California’s ‘Every Woman Counts’ Program.” Other topics to be covered include disease biomarkers, whole blood analysis in critical care, apheresis, the role of pathologists in health care and laboratory medicine in Africa.

“Our summer fellowship program is a great opportunity for students to contribute to discoveries at the leading-edge of medicine that will shape the future of health care,” Howell said. “These students represent the next generation of health-care providers and scientists, and we're delighted to provide them with the opportunity to work with faculty who are leaders in pathology and laboratory medicine. We look forward to supporting their growth and development over the next several weeks.”

student in path speed dating interview pathologyThis year’s fellows were chosen from a pool of 75 applicants, 24 of whom were invited to interview with pathology department leaders. The nine selected fellows then participated in a whirlwind round of meetings with mentors in a process involving a series of quick interviews that somewhat resembled speed-dating. Students queried researchers on details of their projects, pitched themselves as the best match and ranked projects according to interests.

The faculty-fellow teams and the research they will conduct are listed below:

  • Mark Douglass of Santa Rosa Junior College will conduct experiments with Ralph Green using isolated intestinal loops to measure a milk protein that affects vitamin B12 absorption. Douglass hopes to build on this experience when he enters UCLA in the fall, where he plans to pursue a bachelor of science degree in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics.  
  • Ali Valdrighi, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience at Pomona College, is paired with neuropathologists Lee-Way Jin, Izumi Maezawa and Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu for a novel project combining super-resolution microscopy and Alzheimer’s disease research. Valdrighi previously worked with children with autism at the UC Davis MIND Institute as a volunteer, which sparked her interest in neuroscience.  
  • Natalie Benning of Sacramento City College also will work with Wachsmann-Hogiu and hematopathologist Jimmy Chen to develop a new generation of whole slide digital microscopy. 
  • Amanda Steele, a biomedical engineering major at UC Davis who plans to graduate this fall, is working with Nam Tran to study the clinical unity of point-of-care renal function testing in burn patient critical care. This work expands on previous studies she conducted with Tran as a member of a biomedical engineering student team that investigated critical care processes in burn patients.
  • Louis Schuetter, a UC Davis student majoring in biomedical toxicology, is interested in the pathology of body tissues and organs as well as surgery, nutrition, cancer, diabetes and inflammatory disease. He will join Alexander Borowsky in a research project examining breast cancer progression mechanisms.  
  • Alyssa Benjamin, originally from Elk Grove, will be entering her junior year at UC Davis as a biological sciences major with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biology. A part-time research assistant at the UC Davis Genomic Variation Laboratory, she assists in conducting research on conservation of local wildlife populations. As a fellow, she will work with Brett Chromy on the proteomic characterization of burn wounds.  
  • David Nam, who will be a junior at Amherst College in Boston this fall, will team up with mentor Mingyi Chen to investigate chronic anemia resulting from post-gastric bypass surgery. The project is part of an ongoing study titled, “Mimicking Myelodysplatic Syndrome: More than just Iron and Copper Deficiency.”  David is interested in pursing a career in chemistry or neuroscience and hopes the fellowship will help inform his decision regarding a career in patient care, research or an ambitious combination of both.
  • Jerry Fang, who will return to Johns Hopkins University this fall as a sophomore, is majoring in biomedical engineering. Fang will work with mentors Leonor Fernando, Denis Dwyre and Jeremy Parsons on a clinical project involving coagulation testing in patients receiving therapeutic plasma exchange. 
  • Nazera Fazli, a biochemistry major from Los Medanos Community College in Antioch, NY, also will work with Fernando, Dwyre and Parsons with their study of intravenous versus oral calcium administration as a prevention of hypocalcemic side effects in patients undergoing apheresis procedures. 

The Edmonson Fellowship program aims to spark interest in health sciences careers. It is named in honor of the late Hugh Edmondson, a mentor of the former pathology and laboratory medicine chair Murray Gardner. Since its inception in 1991, more than 200 Edmondson fellows have participated in the program.

For more information, contact Sharon Wahl, director of the Partners in Education program, at 734-0231.