2014 Graduate Pelotonia Fellows

Paula Agudelo
Graduate Program – Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor – Mark R. Parthun, PhD
Project – Influence of HAT1 in Protein Acetylation and Cell Metabolism
Summary - Learn how an enzyme called HAT1 can modify other cellular proteins and help in the regulation of metabolism. This information is useful to understand the connection between cancer development and metabolic problems.

Yuntao Bai
Graduate Program – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor – Qinghua Sun, MD, PhD
Project – Exposure to fine particulate matters (PM2.5) promotes vasculogenesis and tumor growth mediated by tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in an orthotopic lung tumor model
Summary - Investigate how fine particulate matters promote vasculogenesis and tumor growth in animal lung tumor model. This study will provide experimental evidence linking air pollution and potential promotion of lung cancer and explore the underlying mechanisms.

Kyle Beckwith
Graduate Program – Biomedical Sciences
Mentor – John Byrd, MD & Natarajan Muthusamy, DVM, PhD
Project – Targeting CD37 and elucidating its role in B-cell malignancy
Summary - This project seeks to improve our understanding of how a promising new leukemia/lymphoma therapy achieves its anti-cancer activity. Furthermore, it will develop effective strategies for combining it with other cancer therapies and investigate the role of the protein it targets in cancer.

Heather Derry
Graduate Program – Psychology
Mentor – Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.
Project – Cognitive Function and Cardiorespiratory Fitness During Breast Cancer Survivorship
Summary - My project will address whether breast cancer survivors’ physical fitness is related to cognitive problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. This project will also examine whether cognitive problems impact the extent to which women are able to follow their cancer treatment recommendations.

Priscilla Do
Graduate Program – Biomedical Science
Mentor – Natarajan Muthusamy DVM, PhD and John C. Byrd, MD
Project – The role of CTLA-4 in promoting leukemic cell survival in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Summary - This project aims to discover the role of an abnormally increased protein, CTLA-4, in a currently incurable blood cancer, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. This research will evaluate a potential target for therapy.

Julia Harris
Graduate Program – Biomedical Sciences 
Mentor – Joanna Groden, PhD
Project – Regulation of the BLM Topoisomerase IIalpha interaction via BLM phosphorylation
Summary - Evaluate how two important DNA repair proteins interact and allow for unlimited growth and stability of cancer cells. This information may provide insight into how we can disrupt this interaction as a possible chemotherapeutic.

Kyle LaPak
Graduate Program – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor – Christin Burd, PhD
Project – Unraveling the driving mechanisms of 9p21.3 tumor susceptibility
Summary - Like a fingerprint, the DNA of every individual is unique, containing many distinct pieces inherited from our parents and ancestors. Scientists looking for differences between the DNA sequences of cancer patients and cancer-free individuals have found that a small region on chromosome 9 predicts an individual’s risk of developing cancer. My project aims to determine how the pattern of DNA in this region influences tumor development in hopes to slow or prevent the onset of cancer.​

Dongju Park
Graduate Program – Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor – Thomas Ludwig, PhD
Project – PALB2 and its role in BRCAs-mediated tumor suppression
Summary - Understand the roles of PALB2 protein in tumor suppression. Since PALB2 mutations were reported among pancreatic cancer patients, this study will help to establish the causal role for PALB2 mutations during tumor development and identify therapeutic targets useful for patients with pancreatic cancer.

Jason Pitarresi
Graduate Program – Biochemistry
Mentor – Michael C. Ostrowski, PhD
Project – Fibroblast Specific Deletion of Smoothened Accelerates Kras-Driven Pancreatic Tumorigenesis
Summary - Pancreatic cancers are known to be comprised of many other cells in addition to the tumor cells that have been postulated to play an important role in tumorigenesis. Our project is focused on determining the role that these neighboring cells play in the growth and development of the cancer. Furthermore, this project will provide mechanistic details of the complex communication between pancreatic tumor cells and their neighbors thus offering novel avenues for therapeutic intervention.

Kristen Roberts
Graduate Program – Nutrition
Mentor – Steven K. Clinton, MD, PhD
Project – Black Raspberry Bioactives and cancer: Novel Foods, Biodistribution, and Impact
Summary - Learn how two experimental food products made from black raspberries can impact prostate cancer and how other dietary characteristics can change these outcomes. This information will provide insight into how large, nutrition and cancer prevention trials should be designed to answer questions regarding the ability of diet to prevent cancer.

Steven Scoville
Graduate Program – Biomedical Sciences
Mentor – Michael Caligiuri, MD
Project – The Role of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor in Natural Killer Cell Development
Summary - Natural killer cells are a natural defense the human body makes to recognize and kill cancer cells. Our lab evaluates how cancer cells are able to influence gene expression inside natural killer cells to prevent their ability to kill cancer. Successful completion of this project would provide better understanding into how we can harness the power of natural killer cells clinically to fight and prevent cancer.

Benjamin Sunkel
Graduate Program – Biochemistry
Mentor – Qianben Wang, PhD
Project – Inhibiting CREB1/FoxA1 target gene-driven castration-resistant prostate cancer
Summary - We will investigate how the proteins CREB1 and FoxA1 collaborate to activate or repress genes and contribute to prostate cancer growth at various disease stages. We will also evaluate the effect of several drugs that may inhibit CREB1 activity. This work is an important step in identifying new drug targets and treatment options for patients with advanced prostate cancer.​​

Kanu Wahi
Graduate Program – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Susan Cole, PhD
Project – Examining the role of mir-125a in post-transcriptional regulation of the Notch pathway
Summary - Genes in the Notch pathway are required for interaction between neighboring cells. This pathway is frequently disrupted in cancer cells. In this project we will investigate how this pathway is regulated during normal development, which will lead to novel ways of treating cancers where communication between cells is abnormal.

Chao Wang
Graduate Program – Electrical and Computer Engineering 
Mentor – Kun Huang, PhD, Raghu Machiraju, PhD
Project – Discovering Integrative Biomarkers for Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Summary - Develop novel integrative biomarkers predicting patient survival and treatment response for Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). We will achieve this goal by developing new bioinformatics algorithms and workflow to integrate genetic, genomic, clinical and morphological data of the patients.

Catherine Waters
Graduate Program – Biomedical Sciences
Mentor – Kay Huebner, PhD
Project – Fhit loss-induced DNA damage facilitates APOBEC-mediated mutagenesis
Summary - Learn how two proteins involved in multiple cancers, Fhit and APOBEC3, cooperate to cause mutations in DNA. This information will provide insight into how to target these proteins as a strategy for cancer therapy.

Jian Wu
Graduate Program – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Mentor – Biao Ding, PhD
Project – High throughput structural and functional analysis of RNA 3D structures
Summary - This study aims to develop a new method for RNA 3D structure prediction. This may promote the mechanistic studies on the function of long non-coding RNAs in cancer biology.

Bo Zhang

Graduate Program – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Paul K. Herman, PhD
Project – Characterization of the localization of Hrr25/CK1δ to P-bodies
Summary - P-bodies are RNA-containing structures induced specifically in growth-arrested cells and may influence cell proliferation by sequestering key regulators of cell division. This study examines how the localization of a particular growth-regulator Hrr25/CK1δ to P-bodies may play a role in the control of cell proliferation and cancer.

Yihua Zhu
Graduate Program – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Jian-Qiu Wu, PhD
Project – Characterization of a novel protein Rng13 in maintaining contractile ring stability and cell integrity during fission yeast cytokinesis
Summary - Failure in cell division often leads to cancer. Using fission yeast as a model system, a novel protein called Rng13 will be studied for its role in maintaining cell integrity during cell division. This study will be informative for understanding how a successful cell division is ensured to prevent cancer initiation.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 460 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: jamesline@osumc.edu