The Vanderbilt MSTP would like to congratulate the incoming class of 2014 on completing their first two years of medical school and on joining the following laboratories & departments for their graduate studies:
||Bennett Landman, PhD
||James Cassat, MD, PhD
||Michael Miga, PhD
||Robert Carson, MD, PhD
||W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD
Danny Winder, PhD
||Brad Grueter, PhD
||Melinda Aldrich, PhD, MPH
||Chemical & Physical Biology
||Brian Bachmann, PhD
||Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology
||Edward Sherwood, MD, PhD
||Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology
||Jeffrey Rathmell, PhD
||David Cortez, PhD
||Mark Wallace, PhD
||Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
||Alvin Powers, MD
Here’s what they had to say about joining their labs and departments:
Having a background in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics, I decided to continue my graduate work in Biomedical Engineering, focusing on image analysis and statistics. In choosing my current group, I decided to look for a lab where the work would provide me with skills that I can carry to my future career as an investigator. In particular, I wanted to improve my skills in programming in multiple languages and statistical analysis of large data sets. It so happens that my group, the Medical Image Analysis and Statistical Interpretation (MASI) Lab, studies images obtained in neurology and aims to provide clinically relevant biomarkers to our current imaging techniques in order to improve diagnosis and our understanding of disease progression.
I chose to join the Cassat lab because it will allow me to combine two fields into a single project: I will work closely with Scott Guelcher in engineering while working with Jim Cassat on the microbiology/immunology of osteomyelitis.
I have a longstanding interest in pathways of cellular metabolism and became interested in neuroscience research during my M1 year working in an epilepsy clinic. My PI is a physician-scientist and I am excited to have the opportunity to see translational benefits of our work. My project will focus on cell signaling pathways in the brain and how aberrations in these pathways contribute to the development of epilepsy.
I am interested in understanding how tumors evade the immune system. Kim is a leader in the kidney cancer field, and immunotherapy has recently been approved for treating advanced metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Her husband, Jeff Rathmell, is an immunologist at Vanderbilt, and they collaborate to study the immune microenvironment in RCC. Having both of their expertise equips me with the tools necessary to investigate how cancer communicates with the immune system.
The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe.
I’ve had a strong interest in genetics since I was in high school, so joining the Human Genetics department seemed like a natural choice. I chose to work with Melinda Aldrich because I appreciated her emphasis on examining genetic variants in diverse populations to better understand risk factors for diseases such as lung cancer. By working in her lab, I will learn techniques to deal with large-scale genomic datasets, which will become increasingly common as sequencing technologies continue to advance.
As an undergraduate I double majored in Chemistry and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and I wanted to blend my dual interests in chemical biology and data science in grad school to tackle problems important to human health. The research environment created by Brian Bachmann, and my co-mentor Jonathan Irish, has given me the chance to do just that. The breadth of research expertise in the Bachmann lab—from discovering new microbes, to genetic profiling, isolating new natural products, and re-engineering biosynthetic pathways to make new analogs—means that I can follow the questions that come up in my project to their molecular root.
I did not join the MSTP thinking that I would do a PhD in immunology. However, throughout clinical rotations, I became increasingly interested in critical illness and ICU medicine. I found Ed's lab through fellow MSTP student Ben Fensterheim (G3). After a quick rotation, I knew that Ed’s mentoring style and the direct applicability of the lab's research to my own interests were a great fit.
My research experiences until now has focused mainly in neuroscience. After deciding that I wanted to focus my career on neuroimmunology, I thought it would be more beneficial for me to be trained in immunology, rather than in neuroscience, so I chose to pursue a PhD in Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology. In Dr. Jeff Rathmell’s lab, I am working on metabolism in T cells, and I hope to gain insight into the fundamentals of immunology that I can later apply to neuroimmunology.
I first became interested in the pancreas for its unique role in regulating both digestion and metabolism. I chose to pursue a PhD in Molecular Physiology & Biophysics because I enjoy linking physiology at the whole body level with molecular signaling. The Powers lab studies pancreatic islet biology in both healthy and diseased states (diabetes), uses a variety of biological techniques across disciplines, and affords me a unique opportunity to work with both primary human tissue / models.