Skip to Content

Postbac Seminar Series: May 19, 2022

Series: Science Skills; Speaking

May 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:

Tai Nguyen (NCI)

Title:  Characterization of Genetic Variants in METTL14

Abstract: N6-methyladenosine (m6A) mRNA modifications influence RNA metabolism and physiology. Changes in expression of the m6A methyltransferase complex (MTC), which are responsible for adding these marks, have been shown to alter m6A levels and cancer phenotypes. However, the consequence of genetic variants in the MTC on catalytic activity and cancer phenotypes remains largely unknown. In this study, we used bioinformatic analysis to identify potentially deleterious variants in METTL14, a member of the MTC, and assessed the functional consequences using a growth-based proliferation screen. The findings will reveal insight into how METTL14 variants contribute to methyltransferase activity and key cancer phenotypes.

Speaker Bio:  Tai is a first-year postbac from Seattle, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2021 with degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. While at UW, he conducted research in Dr. Ray Monnat’s lab, where he established a cancer disease model for individuals with Fanconi Anemia. Eager to broaden his interest in cellular biology, Tai began his fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, where he has been working in Dr. Pedro Batista’s Lab studying the role of RNA modifications in different cellular processes and cancer.


Courtney Vetter (NINDS)

Title: Factors Contributing to Reports of Cognitive Impairment after SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Abstract:.  The COVID-19 pandemic has had many unexpected consequences, one being the Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). PASC has been described as lingering symptoms that do not resolve after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, including cognitive function impairment, fatigue, sleep impairment and myalgias. The majority of our PASC cohort had moderate to severe cognitive impairment complaints. PASC participants were recruited, their SARS-CoV-2 infection was verified, they underwent interviews, and they were given questionnaires asking about symptoms before, during and after their SARS-CoV-2 infection. Multivariable regression analyses were then conducted to create a predictive model of cognitive function scoring in PASC participants.

Speaker Bio: Courtney Vetter graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Chemistry and specialization in biochemistry. While at the University of Virginia, she worked in the Venton lab to optimize the detection of the neurotransmitters octopamine and tyrosine using nanodiamond coated electrodes. She is now a postbaccalaureate IRTA at the NIH and works under Drs. Brian Walitt and Avindra Nath in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where she works on post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection research.


Lila Berle (NIAID)

Title: Identifying and Characterizing Bog Bacteria with Induced Antimycobacterial Activity

Abstract: In this talk I discuss the process utilized to identify isolates that inhibit the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I describe the benefits of using sphagnum peat bogs as natural sources of bacteria exhibiting antimycobacterial activity, and discuss our BSL-3 coculture and mScarlet assays as well as our subsequent data analysis. I present data from some of the most promising species and outline future steps. Specifically, I address our current goal of identifying the biosynthetic gene cluster upregulated within the isolate that is responsible for its antimycobacterial properties.

Speaker bio: Lila Berle obtained her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, from the University of Rhode Island in 2021. She gained experience in research at URI and at McLean Hospital, and has worked as a lead chemistry tutor and as a nationally certified pharmacy technician. Additionally, she volunteered on-campus in emergency medical services and off-campus at the Rhode Island Free Clinic. She currently works in Dr. Barry’s lab to isolate, screen, and study novel bog isolates that secrete antimycobacterial compounds. In her spare time, she volunteers at DCRCC and loves to read.