Rosa Lapalombella, PhD, has been named as the new director of the Pelotonia Fellowship Program (PFP), which provides funding that enables Ohio State students in any discipline and at all levels of scholarship to conduct cancer research in the labs of faculty mentors.
Lapalombella, an associate professor in the Division of Hematology at Ohio State and member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James, succeeds former PFP Director Joanna Groden, PhD, who is now vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In announcing Lapalombella’s appointment, OSUCCC director Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD, and OSUCCC deputy director Peter Shields, MD, described her as a highly skilled and much-respected scientist whose lab team is dedicated to identifying therapies for hematologic malignancies—including acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma—that arise from nongenetic influences on gene expression. Her team also focuses on developing therapies for patients with sickle cell anemia and Richter syndrome.
Pollock and Shields also noted that Lapalombella has a history of mentorship; she has mentored a number of fellows and junior faculty in obtaining career enhancement grants. Her students and postdoctoral fellows have received scholarships and awards to support their salaries. “We believe this experience puts her in a position to effectively mentor a wide range of trainees in her new role as PFP director,” they stated.
In this role, Lapalombella will oversee the peer-review process used to evaluate student applications for Pelotonia fellowships and identify those with the highest scientific merit for funding. As a component of the OSUCCC – James Intramural Research Program, the PFP has trained many students to become independent cancer researchers under the guidance of Ohio State faculty. Since 2010, the program has invested more than $15 million of funds generated by Pelotonia in fellowships for 484 cancer research projects undertaken by students across multiple colleges at Ohio State, including 223 undergraduates, 143 graduates, 112 postdoctoral fellows and six professional students.