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Postbac Seminar Series: April 19, 2022

Series: Science Skills; Speaking

Apr 19, 2022

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.


The meeting information will be shared by email. If you have questions, please contact Lester Rodriguez Santos <> and Omar El Merhebi <>.


This month's presenters are:

Emily Reinoso Jacome (NIDCR)

Title:  Modulation of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Function in AML

Abstract: It has previously been established that inflammation shapes the tumor microenvironment in solid tumor cancers by causing stromal and tumor cells to release factors, such as IL33, that recruit and activate other immune subsets to the area. However, there is currently a gap in understanding how inflammation affects the tumor microenvironment within the leukemic tumor niche. The goal of this study is to characterize the function of a specific immune cell subset present within the tumor microenvironment, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), and determine how the IL33/ST2 axis affects their function.

Speaker Bio:  Emily graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering and an additional major in Biomedical Engineering. At CMU, she worked in Dr. Charlie Ren’s lab as an undergraduate lab assistance focused on optimizing the movement of apical-out airway organoids for the modeling of genetic and environmental ciliopathies. During the transition from in-person to remote work, her role in the lab shifted away from a wet-lab experience, so following graduation she joined Dr. Roxane Tussiwand’s Immune Regulation Unit at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to learn more about the research experience.


Kerry Larkin (NIDDK)

Title: copa-1 mutants experience heightened endoplasmic reticulum stress sensitivity in a C. elegans model of COPA Syndrome

Abstract:  COPA Syndrome is a rare autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease caused by missense mutations in COPA, the gene encoding the alpha subunit of the COPI protein complex. Like many rare diseases, treatments for COPA Syndrome patients remain limited due to a lack of understanding of downstream cellular consequences of the pathogenic variants. In this project, we created a C. elegans model of COPA Syndrome by using CRISPR/Cas-9 to recreate patient alleles in the C. elegans orthologous gene, copa-1, and I am currently characterizing the resulting phenotypes in the worms. By investigating the genetic pathways affected by the mutations, we aim to identify novel treatment targets for COPA Syndrome patients.

Speaker Bio: Kerry Larkin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Music from the College of the Holy Cross in 2020. As an undergraduate, she completed her thesis in Dr. Michelle Mondoux’s lab investigating the cellular effects of a high-glucose diet on male C. elegans fertility. After graduating, she joined Dr. Andy Golden’s lab in NIDDK as a post bac to model rare genetic diseases in C. elegans and identify genetic regulators of the pathogenic genes. She will continue conducting genetics research in graduate school in the fall.


Katie Merriman (NCI)

Title: Multiparametric MRI Features as Predictors for Post-surgical Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer

Abstract: Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related fatalities in men. Multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) is frequently used in the diagnosis of prostate cancer but its usefulness as a prognostic tool is an area of active research.  This retrospective study indicates that features derived from mpMRI, particularly those associated with tumor staging, PSA density, and relative PIRADS 5 lesion volume, are independently associated with higher risk of biochemical recurrence after surgery, while multivariate analysis suggests that PSA density and extraprostatic extension (EPE) score assigned using mpMRI will provide the largest increase to the predictive power of histopathology-identified features.

Speaker bio: Katie graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering  in November 2021 with degrees in Biomedical Engineering and in Electrical Engineering.  She previously completed an internship with the NIH, working under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Adler to improve automated counting and categorization of cells in microscope imaging, and with GE Healthcare creating ground truths for CT imaging-based AI development.