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Postbac Seminar Series: June 21, 2022

Series: Science Skills; Speaking

Jun 21, 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:

Zoe Waldman (NIDDK)

Title: Sleep and Economic Status Are Linked to Daily Life Stress in African-Born Blacks Living in America

Abstract: To identify determinants of daily life stress in Africans in America, 156 African-born Blacks (Age: 40 ± 10 years (mean ± SD), range 22–65 years) who came to the United States as adults (age ≥ 18 years) were asked about stress, sleep, behavior and socioeconomic status. Daily life stress and sleep quality were assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), respectively. High-stress was defined by the threshold of the upper quartile of population distribution of PSS (≥16) and low-stress as PSS < 16. Poor sleep quality required PSQI > 5. Low income was defined as <40 k yearly. In the high and low-stress groups, PSS were: 21 ± 4 versus 9 ± 4, p < 0.001 and PSQI were: 6 ± 3 versus 4 ± 3, p < 0.001, respectively. PSS and PSQI were correlated (r = 0.38, p < 0.001). The odds of high-stress were higher among those with poor sleep quality (OR 5.11, 95% CI: 2.07, 12.62), low income (OR 5.03, 95% CI: 1.75, 14.47), and no health insurance (OR 3.01, 95% CI: 1.19, 8.56). Overall, in African-born Blacks living in America, daily life stress appears to be linked to poor quality sleep and exacerbated by low income and lack of health insurance.

Bio: Zoe Waldman is beginning the second year of her Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellowship this June. Waldman, along with her outstanding team in the Section of Ethnicity and Health, published their research on how sleep and economic status are linked to daily life stress in African-born Blacks living in the United States in February of this year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Waldman has recently presented her research on this and related topics at the American Heart Association Epidemiology, Post-baccalaureate Poster Days, and NIH intramural journal clubs. 


Samantha Fairlie (NIAID)

Title: Partial gain-of-function variants in CACNA1H link hereditary alpha-tryptasemia with pain phenotypes and fibromyalgia

Abstract: Hereditary alpha-tryptasemia (HaT) is defined by elevated serum tryptase levels caused by increased TPSAB1 copy number associated with multisystem complaints including pain phenotypes. Three CACNA1H coding partial GOF variants are frequently co-inherited with HaT. CaV3.2 is expressed in dorsal root ganglia and nociceptive neurons, and activation has been linked to pain sensation in animal models. Therefore, variants in CACNA1H may contribute to pain phenotypes in patients with HaT.

Examination of clinical phenotypes associated with HaT among ostensibly healthy individuals revealed that pain phenotypes are positively associated with the partial GOF variants in CACNA1H frequently co-inherited with HaT. These variants are significantly more prevalent in fibromyalgia patients compared to population datasets.

Bio: Sam graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. During her undergraduate years, she served as a research assistant in Dr. Anna Marsland’s Behavioral Immunology Laboratory, where she studied the effects of psychosocial stress on the immune system. Currently, she conducts immunogenetics research at NIAID’s Translational Allergic Immunopathology Unit under Dr. Jonathan Lyons and is particularly interested in how calcium channel variants may contribute to pain phenotypes.


Zhan, Alec (NIH/NIAID)

Title: Channeling in Protein Translation and Antigen Presentation? A Semi-intact Cell Model

Abstract: In the classical view of cellular organization proteins are translated freely in the cytosol. From 1994 onwards, Deutscher and colleagues challenged this view by elegantly showing that saponin-permeabilized cells continue translating

proteins, proposing translation is “channeled”, i.e. physically compartmentalized to increase efficiency.  Our goal is to validate these findings and extend them to other cellular processes, mainly the generation of MHC class I peptide complexes. Evidence of channeled antigen presentation would explain why defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) dominate the immunopeptidome and are preferentially loaded onto MHC Class I molecules while only representing a small fraction of the translatome.

Bio: Alec graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in May 2021 with a degree in biology, and he joined Dr. Jon Yewdell’s lab in the Cellular Biology Section of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at NIAID in July 2021. Since joining, he has learned a wealth of immunological and virological techniques that have cemented his desire for a career in such fields. In his free time, Alec loves playing tennis, spikeball, and pickleball, a sport he insists is heavily slept on. He intends to pursue an MD/PhD dual degree in the hopes of further exploring viral immunology and cell biology.