Pelotonia Fellowship Program 2011-2012

From October 2011 to October 2012, the Pelotonia Fellowship Program awarded 45 fellowships to Ohio State students at all levels of scholarship and from multiple disciplines who have chosen to conduct cancer research in the labs of faculty mentors. These recipients included 18 undergrads, 12 grads, one medical school student and 14 postdoctoral fellows. Here’s a look at six fellowship recipients and their research:

BEN HEMMELGARN, an undergraduate fellow majoring in Molecular Genetics, is studying in the lab of Gustavo Leone, PhD. Hemmelgarn’s project, “Dissecting the Intersection Between the Rb and Myc Pathways in vivo,” investigates the relationship between the Rb tumor-suppressor gene and c-Myc transcription factor in the mouse small intestine. He aims to discover the connection between two important cellcycle regulators to gain a better understanding of carcinogenesis.

SRIRAMA JOSYULA, an undergraduate fellow majoring in Biochemistry, is studying in the lab of Michael A. Caligiuri, MD. Josyula’s project, “MicroRNA-155: Role in CD16-Mediated Natural Killer Cell Function in vivo Against Cancer,” will identify the potential of using the microRNA-155 molecule to enhance the response of natural killer (NK) cells, which are part of the human immune system’s defense mechanism against cancer. This work will provide information on targeted methods of treatment that may improve antibody therapies of cancer.

KINSHUK MITRA, an undergraduate fellow majoring in Biomedical Engineering, is studying with Ronald Xu, PhD, and Michael Tweedle, PhD. Mitra’s project, “Novel Medical Device for Enrichment and Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs),” aims to fabricate an assay that allows for real-time invivo detection of CTCs. This would allow for early detection of certain cancer types and synergetic delivery of cancer drugs based on disease expression profiles provided by CTCs.

RACHEL WEISKITTLE, an undergraduate fellow majoring in Psychology, is studying with Sharla Wells-DiGregorio, PhD. Weiskittle’s project, “The Impact of Palliative Care for Cancer Patients and their Family Members,” will determine whether family members of patients who received palliative care report less psychological distress about experiences in the patients’ final days than family members of those who did not receive a specialty palliative care consult. Results from this study will identify leading causes of stress for cancer patients and their families within their hospital experiences.

WILLIAM HANKEY, a graduate fellow in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, is studying in the lab of Joanna Groden, PhD. Hankey’s project is titled “Chromatin-Associated Functions of the APC Tumor Suppressor.” In cells that line the large intestine, the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein interacts with DNA chromosomes and controls many genes involved in cancer. If APC becomes mutated, an intestinal polyp forms that can become cancerous. This project will identify genes controlled by APC and study their value as indicators for cancer prognosis or therapeutic decisions, or as potential targets for new cancer treatments.

TIFFANY HUGHES, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Don Benson, MD, PhD, is studying “The Role of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation in Multiple Myeloma.” Little is known about how people develop multiple myeloma (MM), a form of blood cancer, but environmental exposures may contribute. This project will examine the effects of some environmental substances that may lead to MM. Interestingly, these compounds may simultaneously promote MM and impair the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. This knowledge may help understand where MM comes from and offer insight into its treatment and prevention.

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