While a public event lauding the Women & Science recipients was not possible this year, the Institute is proud to share and celebrate their achievements. Every year, the program provides crucial support to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to pursue high-risk, high-reward research in stages too early to attract traditional funding. The awards are targeted toward supporting future scientific leaders who will also actively foster the increased participation of women and girls in science.
BIANCA BARRIGA | PFAFF LAB
Investigating effects of exercise training on spinal neural networks
Barriga will examine the neurons within the mouse spinal cord that help produce movements—such as walking and running—to better understand what separates the ordinary athlete from runners such as Florence Griffith Joyner, the fastest woman in the world.
YOUTONG HUANG, PHD | LEMKE LAB
Microglial TAM receptors as modulators of pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Brain and spinal immune cells called microglia are thought to play a crucial role in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Huang will use various techniques to assess the impact of proteins called TAM receptors found on microglia, on ALS disease progression.
ANDREEA MANOLE, PHD | GAGE LAB
Neuroinflammation associated with genetic defects in phospholipase A(2) and glucocerebrosidase
Manole will use induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients with mutations in two genes involved in fat metabolism (PLA2G6 and GBA) to study metabolism and neuroinflammation in the context of neurodegeneration, which could lead to improved therapeutic strategies for diseases.
HEATHER MCGEE, MD, PHD | KAECH LAB
Investigating the role of radiation-induced innate immune cell activation in unique tumor microenvironments
There is limited scientific data characterizing the immune response to radiation therapy for cancer. McGee will investigate radiation-induced cell death to see if it triggers the immune response, leading to anti-tumor immunity and the formation of scar tissue.
HSIUYI CHEN, PHD | MCVICKER LAB
Generating HIV-resistant human CD4+ T cells by introducing thousands of chimpanzee alleles with massively-parallel genome editing
The chimpanzee and human genomes are extremely similar, yet chimps are more resistant to developing AIDS after HIV infection. Chen will examine the genetic differences between the two species that confer resistance to HIV, to develop HIV-resistant human T cells.
SEJ CHUNG, PHD | ENGLE LAB
Defining the role of CA19-9 in the pancreatic microbiome
Chung will investigate how levels of CA19-9, a sugar molecule associated with one of the deadliest cancers—pancreatic cancer—affects gut bacteria populations. The work could reveal biomarkers for early detection and possible therapeutic targets for pancreatic tumors.
SHARON (HSIANG-HSUAN) HUANG, MD | JIN LAB
Dissecting the role of sensorimotor feedback in action sequencing
Huang will investigate how the brain integrates feedback to control behavior, which will shed light on neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia, that involve difficulty controlling actions.
JIA NING, PHD | HUNTER LAB
Establishing cell and mouse models to study RNA polymerase III-related neurodegenerative diseases
Mutations in the enzyme RNA polymerase III cause diseases such as hypomyelinating leukodystrophy (HMLD), an early onset neurodegenerative disease. To inform new therapies for this disease, Ning will use genetic models and patient-derived neural stem cells to investigate the mechanism of RNA polymerase III.
ANNELISE SNYDER, PHD | KAECH LAB
Determining the role of microglial metabolic reprogramming in linking infection to Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with previous viral infections, although researchers do not understand precisely how. Synder will examine how viral infections may reprogram how brain-resident immune cells, called microglia, use energy sources in a way that promotes the development of disease.
YUAN XUE, PHD | IZPISUA BELMONTE LAB
Creating biocompatible electric organoids for the mammalian system
Xue will draw inspiration from electric rays and eels to create specialized organoids (“mini organs”) that can generate their own electrical signal, for biotherapeutic uses—such as generating sufficient power to run a cardiac pacemaker.