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Postbac Seminar Series: January 17, 2019

Series: Science Skills; Speaking

Jan 17, 2019

This event is recommended for: Postbacs.

Science isn't complete until the results have been shared with others, and talking about your results is one of the important ways of making them public. The Postbac Seminar Series provides a unique opportunity for two Postbacs each month to present their research to a diverse audience of their peers.  The atmosphere is relatively informal and non-threatening.  The series allows Postbacs who attend to learn about the different types of biomedical research being conducted at the NIH while meeting other postbacs.  Read more about the seminar series.

This month's presenters are:

Name: Rosalie Nolen


Research Title: Psychosocial Impacts of Mendelian Eye Conditions: A Systematic Review

Research Summary: Mendelian eye conditions comprise a diverse group of disorders, including retinal degenerations and congenital malformations. Many results in significant, sometimes progressive, visual dysfunction. We performed a systematic review of the literature with the goal of better understanding the psychosocial effects of these conditions. Our review process was adherent to published standards and included pre-established search terms and inclusion criteria, a review of relevant references, and a quality appraisal step. Thematic analysis was performed on included papers. Results indicate that several domains of functioning are diminished in individuals with Mendelian eye conditions, including mental health, relationships, and quality of life. Additionally, current literature gaps were revealed, as well as the need for increased rigor in study design. This information can inform clinical practice and direct future research priorities.

Bio: Rosalie graduated summa cum laude from Temple University in 2018 with a B.S. in biology and minor in psychology. At NIH, Rosalie works on both clinical and behavioral research in the Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function branch of the National Eye Institute. She hopes to attend medical school in 2020.


Name: Zoe Schmiechen


Research Title: The effects of altered TGFβ signaling on human T follicular helper cell development and function

Research Summary: T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are a subset of CD4+ T cells that play a crucial role in the development of memory B cells and plasma cells, and allergen specific IgE. Patients with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome (LDS) type 1 and 2 have an autosomal dominant mutation in the genes encoding TGFβ Receptor 1 or 2, respectively, and have a strong predisposition to develop allergic diseases. We hypothesized that altered development and function of Tfh cells could contribute to increased IgE-mediated allergic phenotypes in LDS. Comparing a cohort of pediatric LDS patients with age-matched healthy volunteers, we found that LDS patients have an increased frequency of memory T cells, Th2 cells, and Tfh cells, which is restricted to the Tfh2 compartment. In vitro, cell cultures suggest a cell-intrinsic propensity for naïve CD4+ T cells in LDS patients to acquire a Tfh fate, and these Tfh cells may have enhanced function towards promoting B cell differentiation.

Bio: Zoe received a B.A. in Biological Chemistry from Grinnell College in 2017. At the NIH, she works in the lab of Dr. Pam Guerrerio, where they study patients with Loeys-Dietz syndrome and allergic disease. Zoe will begin a biomedical PhD program in Fall 2019.


Name: Benjamin Gersten


Research Title: Ototoxicity Following Cyclic Administration of Platinum Based Chemotherapeutic Agents in Mice

Research Summary: While cisplatin is a widely used chemotherapeutic agent that targets a variety of cancers, it is highly ototoxic and causes hearing loss in many patients. Oxaliplatin and carboplatin are generally considered less ototoxic than cisplatin, even though all three of these drugs are structured around a core platinum atom. The reasons for the differential effects of these platinum-based drugs remain unknown. Our lab recently developed an in vivo cisplatin administration protocol that is similar to clinical cisplatin administration in that it utilizes multiple cycles of drug administration. Using this protocol, we recently showed that cisplatin accumulates in the stria vascularis and remains there indefinitely. Here we administered these three drugs to mice using the three-cycle protocol with the objective of determining 1) if oxaliplatin and carboplatin are ototoxic in this context, and 2) if carboplatin and oxaliplatin are retained in the stria vascularis in a manner similar to cisplatin.

Bio: Ben graduated in 2018 from Columbia University with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior and from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America with a degree in the Hebrew Bible. At the NIH Ben works in Dr. Lisa Cunningham’s lab studying the mechanisms of chemically induced hearing loss, in particular, focusing on ototoxic chemotherapeutic agents. In the future, Ben would like to study the auditory system in graduate school.