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UGSP Fall 2014 Newsletter

Letter from the Director
Over the past 15 years, the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) has supported more than 220 exceptional undergraduate students. In exchange for each year of UGSP undergraduate support, each recipient is obligated to complete a 10-week summer internship and work one year as an NIH employee. Our mission is to create a cadre of highly qualified professionals within NIH positions, which results in a continuous flow of scholars through the NIH gates. Currently, there are 21 UGSP Scholars at the NIH completing their service obligations as postbacs, postdocs and clinicians. In addition, past UGSP Scholars are working in career positions as researcher scientists, physicians, and administrators.

The success of the UGSP continues to be rooted in selecting students with a passion for science and medicine. We provide multiple mentoring opportunities, a bevy of educational workshops, and career and personal development resources. To date, 30% of UGSP Scholars have an M.D. degree, 25% a Ph.D. degree and 20% have an M.D./Ph.D. degree. These UGSP Scholars are committed to careers in research and many of them have gone on to become outstanding researchers, physicians, and physician scientists in their respective fields.

In an effort to further UGSP achievement, the program selected a new cohort 17 new and 6 renewal UGSP Scholars for the 2014-2015 school year, each possessing the same commitment as those who preceded them. With their desire to make a contribution and commitment to achievement and success, this group will undoubtedly advance the objectives and the mission of the NIH UGSP.


Summer 2014 (2013-2014 UGSP Scholars)

Image of UGSP Scholars in Summer 2014

Bottom Row (from left): Angela Davis, Samantha Louis, Kenny Chen, Akosua Osei-Tutu, Jenny Barriga, Bethany Sauls, Haitao Xu.

Back Row: Patrick (James) Jensen, Indra Kar, Joel Adu-Brimpong, Vincent Salazar, Symone Jordan, Haroon Popal, Kimaada Allette, Manuel Rovira-Gonzalez, Joseph Aderemi.

Not pictured: Christian Mayfield, Ashley Pitt, Abhinav Sharma, Mohammad Tariq, Kevin Trujillo


Information about the Summer 2014 Scholars

Joseph Aderemi (2014 Graduate)
Effect of Topical Administration of Nitisinone and Latanoprost in a mouse model of Oculocutaneous Albinism
Lehman College (New York)
Dr. Brian Brooks, Mentor (NEI)

Joel Adu-Brimpong
Effects of Anxiety on Pattern Separation
University of Michigan (Michigan)
Dr. Christian Grillon, Mentor (NIMH)

Kimaada Allette (2014 Graduate)
The Role of the Mismatch Repair Protein MSH6 In Repeat Instability in a Mouse Model of the Fragile X-Related Disorders
Long Island University - Brooklyn (New York)
Dr. Karen Usdin, Mentor (NIDDK)

Jenny Barriga (2014 Graduate)
ATP Hydrolysis-Dependent Polymerization of an Unusual Protein
Kansas State University (Kansas)
Dr. Kumaran Ramamurthi, Mentor (NCI)

Kenny Chen (2014 Graduate)
Characterization of an Immunocompetent Mouse Model for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
University of California, Los Angeles (California)
Preceptors: Dr. Jeffrey Green, Mentor (NCI)

Angela Davis (2014 Graduate)
Fatty Acid Uptake in Humans with T6K+V81I MC3R
Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (Alabama)
Dr. Jack Yanovski, Mentor (NICHD)

Patrick (James) Jensen
Myocardial Strain in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
University of Chicago (Illinois)
Dr. David Bluemke, Mentor (CC)

Symone Jordan (2014 Graduate)
An Interferon Signature in Prostate Tumors of African-American Men
Bowie State University (Maryland)
Dr. Stefan Ambs, Mentor (NCI)

Indra Kar
The Roles of Chaperones in the Endoplasmic Reticulum-Associated Degradation (ERAD) Pathway
New York University (New York)
Dr. Yihong Ye, Mentor (NIDDK)

Samantha Louis
Spectrum and Activity of Anticytokine Autoantibodies in Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphopenia
Tulane University (Louisiana)
Dr. Steven Holland, Mentor (NCI)

Christian Mayfield
Genomic Wide siRNA Screen for Host Factors Important for HCMV Infection
Morehouse College (Georgia)
Dr. Jeff Cohen, Mentor (NIAID)

Akosua Osei-Tutu
Assessing the Mechanism of the Anti-Leukemic Drug Ro5-3335
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Maryland)
Dr. Paul Liu, Mentor (NHGRI)

Ashley Pitt (2014 Graduate)
Biochemical Investigation of Mitoferrin Binding Partners
Florida State University (Florida)
Dr. Anirban Banerjee, Mentor (NICHD)

Haroon Popal (2014 Graduate)
Longitudinal Cortical Development in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Virginia Commonwealth University (Virginia)
Dr. Alex Martin, Mentor (NIMH)

Manuel Rovira-Gonzalez (2014 Graduate)
Familial Immunodeficiency With Progressive B-Cell Lymphopenia Caused by Mutation of Transcription Factor IKAROS
Pennsylvania State University Berks Campus (Pennsylvania)
Dr. Thomas Fleisher, Mentor (CC)

Vincent Salazar (2014 Graduate)
Self-Determination, an Ethical Concern for Minors without Residence
California State University Dominguez Hills (California)
Dr. Christine Grady, Mentor (CC)

Bethany Sauls
Characterization of Transgene Expression and Behavior in Newly Established Transgenic Mouse Lines
The University of Texas at Dallas (Texas)
Dr. Barry Kaplan, Mentor (NIMH)

Abhinav Sharma (2014 Graduate)
Relationship of Rectus Femoris Size and Echotexture to Functional Mobility in Children With Cerebral Palsy
Emory University (Georgia)
Dr. Diane Damiano, Mentor (CC)

Mohammad Tariq (2014 Graduate)
Respiratory Motor Pattern Generation: Role of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) Channels
Georgia State University (Georgia)
Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Mentor (NINDS)

Kevin Trujillo (2014 Graduate)
Structure Based Design of Ligands for the P2Y14 Receptor Using Molecular Modeling
Loyola University Chicago (Illinois)
Dr. Kenneth Jacobson, Mentor (NIDDK)

Haitao Xu
Development of a LDLR-Deficient Human Bronchial Epithelial Cell Line Using CRISPR
University of Florida (Florida)
Dr. Stewart Levine, Mentor (NHGRI)

Summer Reflections
Although my first NIH summer was many years ago, I remember it like yesterday...well, maybe last week. I came to the NIH after completing my degree at a small HBCU in central Alabama and what I remember most about my first NIH summer was the friendly, collegial atmosphere I found upon arrival. In retrospect, that first experience set the tone for the remaining 27 years that I have been at the NIH. Now, as the Director of the NIH UGSP I try to provide a similar environment to trainees when they have their first NIH experience.
- Dr. Darryl Murray, UGSP Program Director

One of the most valuable things I learned during my first summer as a grad student here was that NIH (or any new place, for that matter) is only as lonely as you make it! Once I put myself out there-whether it was to make new friends and explore DC with them or reach out to the OITE for help in choosing a mentor, this huge institution and city started to feel like a home once I opened up. I also learned that in order to thrive in lab, asking questions was essential, even if it was scary.
- Dr. Rayna Carter, UGSP Director of Student Services

I would like to start off by mentioning just how grateful I am for all the support I've received as a UGSP Scholar, both from you and from Dr. Murray, as well as from everyone at the OITE. Working at the NIH has been a formative experience on not only my career aspirations, but also on my personal development. Being around some of the world's greatest biomedical researchers has been nothing short of amazing, and having so many willing and eager mentors to reach out to definitely adds to the great environment I've come to love. For instance, I was eating lunch with my lab mate in the Building 10 cafeteria a few weeks ago, when two physicians came and sat at our table. We had a great conversation about not only medicine and its future, but also about our personal experiences and life stories. That was the day that I truly realized how lucky I am to be at such a great teaching institute, surrounded by some of the most interesting, intelligent people imaginable. I love working at the NIH, and am looking forward to a great year ahead!
- Abhinav Sharma, B.S., 2013-2014 UGSP Scholar


Where Are They Now?
This year a number of UGSP paybacks completed their yearlong commitments and have entered additional training or professional positions at NIH. Others are starting professional positions or fellowships or beginning graduate and medical programs this fall around the country.

  • Matthew Blackburn: Special Volunteer at the NCI, National Institutes of Health
  • Yasmin Crespo-Mejias: MPH Program at the University of Puerto Rico
  • Lena Gamble, MD, PhD: Family Medicine Residency Program at the Cahaba Medical Care (Alabama)
  • Mariya Grygorenko: MPH Program at Johns Hopkins University
  • Yessenia Ibarra, PhD: Public Health Associate at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Oghomwen Igiesuorobo: MD/PhD Program at Boston University
  • Momodou Jammeh: MD Program at Duke University School of Medicine
  • Gabriel Linares, PhD: Research Fellow at the NIMH, National Institutes of Health
  • Kerri Miazgowicz: Postbaccalaureate at the NIAID, National Institutes of Health
  • Anna Nkrumah: Postbaccalaureate at the NCI, National Institutes of Health
  • Anna Oguhebe: MPH Program at George Washington University
  • Jason Qian: MD/PhD Program at Harvard University
  • Erica Richards, MD, PhD: Clinical Fellow at the National Institutes of Health
  • Giselle Roman-Hernandez, PhD: Senior Consultant/Staff Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Namratha Sastry: PhD Program at Northwestern University
  • Dexter Thomas: PhD Program at the University of Utah
  • Mercy Uwakwe: MD/MBA Program at Johns Hopkins University
  • Cameron Waites: MD Program at Harvard University


Welcome, 2014-2015 UGSP Scholars!

Our scholars hail from 23 universities in 12 states: California, Conneticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, MIssouri, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. We are gearing up for Mentor Match 2015 to welcome the new scholars (and renewals) to the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. They will interview with potential mentors, hear about some great science, and interact with current UGSP paybacks working at the NIH.


2015-2016 Application Season

The 2015-2016 Application opens on January 2, 2015. The Exceptional Financial Need (EFN) form is now available for students to send to your financial aid office. This allows students to determine this element of eligibility before starting an application.  Visit the Application Center for additional information.


Upcoming UGSP Events
2014 Winter Potluck on November 21, 2014 at 12:00pm.


Additional Resources and Links

  • Join the NIH Alumni Database
  • Are you a current UGSP scholar, payback, deferring payback, or alumni? We'd love to stay in contact on LinkedIn. You will be invited to our private group once you connect with Dr. Murray or Dr. Carter.
  • Check out this article reminding you about maintaining your connections from past experiences by our OITE colleague, Dr. Phil Ryan, Director of Student Services, Graduate Partnership Program: Want To Get Ahead? Remember Where You Came From!