Graduate Student Pelotonia Fellowship Program

The Pelotonia Graduate Fellowship Program provides two-year research fellowships to the best and brightest Ohio State University graduate students who want to help cure cancer. Cancer is a complex disease, and curing it will take a multidisciplinary effort. So no matter what their field of study, from traditional scientific fields to fields such as business, history and engineering, all Ohio State graduate students may apply.

Graduate students do a significant amount of work in most labs. Ohio State has many graduate students who are working in the broad field of cancer research, but many of them are not working on independent research projects. Receiving a Pelotonia Graduate Fellowship gives these students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the field of cancer research, and to develop and work on their own independent projects.

To date, 154 graduate fellows have been funded. These students come from very diverse graduate programs—from Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry to Biomedical Engineering and Psychology—and are working on diverse projects, including development of new bioinformatics algorithms that predict treatment responses for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), to learning how black raspberries can impact and prevent prostate cancer.

Competition for Pelotonia Graduate Fellowships is fierce. Each year, approximately 75 graduate applications are submitted. Each application is critically reviewed by members of the Pelotonia Fellowship Committee. Because of the prestigious nature of these awards, many students have reported that receiving a Pelotonia Fellowship has distinguished them from their peers when going on to do postdoctoral research or moving on to faculty positions.

Graduate Fellows are paid a competitive annual stipend (~$25K), and Ohio State’s Graduate School has generously agreed to pay their fees and tuition.

Eligibility

Graduate Application Eligibility and Scoring Criteria


2019 Graduate Student Pelotonia Fellows

Russell Bonneville

missing photo

Mentor – Sameek Roychowdhury 



Project – Assessment of Microsatellite Instability Across the Landscape of Human Cancer



Summary – Investigate whether next-generation sequencing data may be leveraged for computational microsatellite instability (MSI) detection within a wide variety of cancer types by assessing the prevalence of MSI across a large spectrum of human cancers and elucidating potential mechanisms of MSI within some diffuse large B-cell lymphomas.



Swagata Goswami

Swagata Goswami

Mentor – Raj Muthusamy 



Project – Protein Phosphatase 2A in Cell Fate Decisions of Acute Myeloid Leukemia



Summary – Establish the role of cell cycle regulators like p21, Retinoblastoma protein and transcription factors like c-Myc in mediating Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-driven cell fate changes, as well as validate in vivo therapeutic efficacy of OSU-2S using genetic overexpression and knockdown systems, single-cell analysis using mass cytometry, CHIP-Seq, biochemical assays and murine models.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Stephen Lo

Stephen Lo

Mentor – Barbara Andersen



Project – A Pilot Study to Test a Cognitive Behavioral Model for Dyspnea in Patients With Lung Cancer



Summary – Determine the relevancy of a disease- and symptom-specific cognitive behavioral model of dyspnea in patients with lung cancer in order to advance treatments and improve a patient’s quality of life and functional status.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Matias Montes

Matias Montes

Mentor – Dawn Chandler

 

Project – miR-29b: A New Player in MDM2 Alternative Splicing in Rhabdomyosarcoma



Summary – Test the hypothesis that miR-29b binds the MDM2 pre-mRNA with in vitro FRET assays and miRNA pull-downs, and that it acts as a novel trans-acting splicing regulator involved in the alternative splicing of MDM2.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Duc Phan

Duc Phan

Mentor – Venkat Gopalan



Project – Investigating RNase P-Mediated 3′-Maturation of MALAT1 and NEAT1, Two lncRNAs Up-Regulated in Cancer



Summary – Uncover molecular determinants for the processing of precursor-tRNAs (pre-tRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) by RNase P and build the foundation for a therapeutic strategy designed to inhibit 3′-maturation of lncRNAs without affecting tRNA 5′-biogenesis.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Sanjana Rajan

Sanjana Rajan

Mentor – Ryan Roberts



Project – Autocrine IL6 Signaling Enables Chemoresistance in Osteosarcoma



Summary – Determine if IL-6 dependent autocrine signaling in a pre-existing clonal subset of osteosarcoma cells enables chemotherapeutic resistance by facilitating the adoption of a protective hypoproliferative senescence-associated stem-like phenotype.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Kyle Sullivan

Kyle Sullivan

Mentor – Leah Pyter



Project – Circadian Disruption of Cognition and Immunity by Chemotherapy



Summary – Examine the extent to which paclitaxel chemotherapy changes circadian rhythms in cognition and gene transcription in the brain, as well as determine the effects of chemotherapy on rhythmicity in circulating leukocytes and cytokines.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Zechariah Thompson

Zechariah Thompson

Mentor – James Cowan



Project – Utilizing Dendrimeric Metallopeptides as Anti-Metastatic Drugs Against Cancer-Specific Antigens



Summary – Investigate catalytic metallopeptides as anti-metastasis inhibitors by coupling previously reported dendrimeric peptides with an appended catalytic amino-terminal copper and nickel (ATCUN) metal-binding motif. In doing so, we combine the antigenic binding capacity of the peptide with the ability to perform glycosidase chemistry on the target carbohydrate moiety of interest through the metal-binding domain.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 100 miles



Clarissa Wormsbaecher

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Mentor – Craig Burd



Project – Determining the Mechanism by Which In Utero BPA Exposure Increases Susceptibility to Breast Cancer



Summary – A study to examine whether Bisphenol A (BPA) induces cell-type-specific epigenetic histone modifications, which drive a deregulated stromal compartment of the mammary gland to increase its susceptibility to breast cancer.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Max Yano

missing photo

Mentor – John Byrd



Project – Targeting Leukemia-Expressed CTLA4 to Reverse CLL-Induced Immune Dysfunction



Summary – We hypothesize that Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Antigen 4 (CTLA4) contributes significantly to the immune dysfunction seen in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. Therefore, blocking it with antibodies or suppressing its expression pharmacologically will restore immune function, thereby decreasing the risk of infections and secondary cancers in these patients while stimulating a potentially curative anti-leukemia immune reaction.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 100 miles



Zhongxia Yi

missing photo

Mentor – Guramrit Singh



Project – Characterizing the UPF3B-Independent Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay, a Target for Cancer Therapy



Summary – The goal of this proposal is to understand what subsets of mRNAs are targeted by UPF3B-dependent and -independent nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) branches and how NMD occurs without UPF3B.



2019 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles




2018 Graduate Student Pelotonia Fellows

Marcos Corchado

Marcos Corchado

Mentor – Helen Chamberlin



Project – The Role of LPR-3 as a Cell Non-Autonomous Regulator of Oncogenic Let-60/Ras in C. Elegans



Summary – Elucidate the mechanism of LPR-3 and test the hypothesis that LPR-3 is secreted and binds to a receptor to promote activated let-60 signaling. The results from this work will provide the groundwork to uncover a conserved mechanism for deregulation of Ras signaling in human cancer and identify novel therapeutic targets for treatment.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Marcos shares more details about his research project.



Corrine Haines

Corrine Haines

Mentor – Craig Burd



Project – Identifying the Mechanism by Which GREB1 Regulates Breast Cancer Proliferation



Summary – Study how the protein GREB1 regulates the proliferation of breast cancer in order to determine if could serve as a biomarker for response to therapies already approved by the FDA for other cancers.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Watch as Corrine shares more details about her research project.



Kevin Huang

Kevin Huang

Mentor – Alex Sparreboom 



Project – Mitigating Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiac Toxicity Through OCT3 Inhibition



Summary – The anthracycline doxorubicin is among the most effective and commonly used anticancer agents, but its use is associated with potentially life-threatening cardiotoxicity. By identifying a previously unrecognized pathway of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity that is initiated by an organic cation transporter system and is highly sensitive to pharmacological inhibition, it could lead to the future development of new targeted interventions to mitigate this debilitating side effect.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 100 miles



Watch as Kevin shares more details about his research project.



Ezgi Karaesmen

Ezgi Karaesmen

Mentor – Lara Sucheston-Campbell



Project – The Role of Pharmacogenomics in Survival Outcomes Following Blood or Marrow Transplants



Summary – Research how germline genetic variation, combined with the conditioning regimen given to a patient, can have a significant modifying impact on overall patient survival following a blood or marrow transplant.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Watch as Ezgi shares more details about her research project.



Esko Kautto

Esko Kautto

Mentor – Richard Wilson



Project – Using Long-Read Technologies for Fusion Detection in Cancer Genomes



Summary – Develop a technological approach that can detect every large structure variant in a patient's tumor genome. Comprehensive characterization of these molecular events will be critical for clinical care, as it will allow physicians to choose the best treatment for their individual cancer patients.



Watch as Esko shares more details about his research project.



Ila Marathe

Ila Marathe

Mentor – Venkat Gopalan  



Project – Screening for Inhibitors of M. smithii RNase P to Identify Anti-Obesity and Anti-Cancer Therapeutics



Summary – Validate and test the utility of a fluorescence polarization-based HTS assay to identify inhibitors specific for M. smithii RNase P. By identifying an Msm-targeted therapeutic, we expect to fight obesity and minimize the associated cancer risk.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Ila shares more details about her research project.



Effie Miller

Effie Miller

Mentor – Hannah Shafaat



Project – Harnessing Reactivity in the Novel Mn/Fe Proteins: A Biosynthetic Approach to Cancer Research



Summary – Utilize a multi-faceted approach consisting of steady state and time-resolved biophysical and spectroscopic techniques to probe the reaction mechanism in R2lox and provide a comprehensive understanding of the molecular elements that influence substrate binding and reactivity.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Effie shares more details about her research project.



Brandon Murphy

Brandon Murphy

Mentor – Christin Burd



Project – Defining Mutation-Specific NRAS Function in Melanoma



Summary – Understanding the pathways necessary for oncogenic NRAS to drive melanoma formation will identify vulnerabilities downstream of oncogenic NRAS that could be pursued and targeted to identify new and more effective treatment options.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Watch as Brandon shares more details about his research project.



Ansel Nalin

Ansel Nalin

Mentor – Aharon Freud



Project – Notch Signaling Regulates Human NK Cell Maturation in Secondary Lymphoid Tissues



Summary – Study how Notch signaling in the SLT microenvironment regulates the developmental transition from immature to functional NK cells. We will perform in vitro culture studies and in vivo adoptive transfer experiments using NK and other SLT-resident cells isolated from human tonsils using protocols optimized and published by our lab.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Riding for the fourth year



Watch as Ansel shares more details about his research project.



Sunayana Nayak

Sunayana Nayak

Mentor – Anne Strohecker



Project – Identification of Novel Autophagic Regulation



Summary – This project will map the activity of a novel regulator and test the functional consequences of targeting this gene in an established model of non-small cell lung cancer.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Sunayana shares more details about her research project.



Avelina Padin

Avelina Padin

Mentor – Janice Kiecolt-Glaser  



Project – Longitudinal Effects of Adjuvant Chemotherapy and Depression on Cardiovascular Fitness and Central Adiposity in Breast Cancer Survivors



Summary – Investigate longitudinal relationships among chemotherapy, depression, cardiovascular fitness and central adiposity in breast cancer patients to mitigate negative health outcomes and other risk factors.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Virtual rider



Mi Seul Park

Mi Seul Park

Mentor – Kotaro Nakanishi



Project – Human Argonaute3: A New Target of Cancer Research



Summary– Despite its significant potential as a new target of cancer therapeutics, little is known about the molecular mechanism of the AGO3-specific sorting system. The goal of this research is to provide insight into Argonaute3 as a new target of cancer research and provide a comprehensive list of mRNAs influencing carcinogenesis.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Mi Seul shares more details about her research project.



Giovanna Merchand Reyes

Giovanna Merchand Reyes

Mentor – Susheela Tridandapani



Project – Discerning Nurse-Like Cell Development as New Therapeutic Strategy to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia



Summary – Investigate whether epigenetic changes associated with increased Mek/Erk and AP-1 activity drive the development of NLCs with the purpose of identifying novel therapeutic targets that may aid in the treatment of CLL.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Watch as Giovanna shares more details about her research project.



Christopher Schwebach

Chris Schwebach

Mentor – Dmitri Kudryashov



Project – Characterizing Novel Mechanisms for Regulation of Cancer



Summary – Distinguish how PLS2 regulation contributes to the migration of cancer cells and utilize PLS2 as a target for therapies inhibiting metastasis through modulation of the actin cytoskeleton in cancer cells.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Watch as Christopher shares more details about his research project.



Maximillian Westphal

Max Westphal

Mentor – Anil Pradhan



Project – New X-ray Sources and Heavy Element Nanomoieties Enhance Radiation Therapy and Reduce Patient Risk



Summary – Study monochromatic and quasimonochromatic X-ray devices and nanoparticles to better understand how their spectra interact with cells, tissue and heavy atoms for enhancing biomedical imaging and therapy.



Watch as Maximillian shares more details about his research project.


Previous graduate student Pelotonia fellows

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Application Cycles

Spring: Jan. 15-Feb. 15


Undergraduate
Graduate
Postdoctoral
Professional


Awards begin June 1 or mid-August


Autumn: Sept. 15-Oct. 15


Graduate
Postdoctoral
Professional


Awards begin January 1 or February 1

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Contact

Marie Gibbons

Pelotonia Fellowship Manager


Phone: 614-685-1960
marie.gibbons@osumc.edu