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, 142 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.

Applications accepted January 15, 2018 through February 15, 2018

Eligibility

Graduate Fellowship Guidelines


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



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



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



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. 



Connection to Cancer  – Last year, I lost my grandfather to cancer. He was a tall, healthy man who taught me not to be scared of any bugs, to love and respect the nature, and in fact, it was my grandfather who first planted the seeds of my interest in biology. I was devastated when cancer snuck up on him unexpectedly and took his life in a matter of weeks. At the time of diagnosis, his cancer was already at an advanced stage and there was nothing we could do but wait out its course. I have been conducting cancer research for over four years now, and the biology and complexity of cancer has been a great interest to me. But losing my grandfather put things in a different perspective; it made me realize what actually losing someone to cancer meant to a family. I believe that every little step counts towards a cancer-free world and doing research is my way of being there for families that are touched by cancer. I want to be involved in science that arms physicians with precise tools and that doesn't leave any room for desperation in our fight against cancer.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



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.



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.



Connection to Cancer – In spite of tremendous progress, cancer still continues to bring indiscriminate devastation to patients and caregivers alike. My interest in cancer research stems from personal experiences. It is my desire to join the fight against cancer and participate in the multi-disciplinary efforts to bring the world closer to being cancer-free.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



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.



Connection to Cancer – I have seen what it's like to suffer from the disease. I have lost family members and friends because of it. But what impressed me the most was to see a child suffering from leukemia and slowly recover from it. Some days, he would look sad and like he was giving up, but at the end of my hospital stay, I was able to see him way better, and that wouldn’t be possible without good research and constant effort.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



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.



Connection to Cancer – During my sophomore year of undergrad, my mom found out she had breast cancer at age 49. After undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy, she was declared cancer free and has been a survivor now for almost 8 years. I was a physics major at the time, and with everything going on, I went from a great student to failing classes. I moved back home the summer after her diagnosis and switched my major to something more biologically driven, with the hopes that I would be able to eventually do cancer research. It was that motivation which sent me to graduate school, and I actually found Ohio State a very attractive choice because of the Pelotonia program.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



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



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



Sunayana Nayak

Sunayana Nayak

Mentor – Anne Strohecker



Project – Identification of Novel Autophagic Regulation



Summary – Identify the location and mechanism of action of Rab20 in autophagic pathway in vitro and provide confirmation of Rab20 regulating stress-induced autophagy in vivo. Knowing the location and mechanism of action of the regulator in autophagy is necessary in the development of therapeutic strategies.



Connection to Cancer – I lost both my grandfathers to cancer when I was young. Recently, we lost one of my dad's cousins to cancer as well. Currently, my childhood friend's dad is suffering with cancer. We have lost too many people to this disease, and for all I know, someday I might get this disease too. If I do, I hope I will be content with the knowledge that I worked at understanding cancer better with the larger purpose of finding a cure for it in mind.



2018 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



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.



Connection to Cancer – I'm interested in cancer research because of the hands-on clinical and research experiences I've had with breast cancer survivors. Many of these women report changes in mood and anxiety after diagnosis, and their stories have really fueled my interest in how mental health affects physical health during survivorship.



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



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



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.


2017 Graduate Student Pelotonia Fellows

Alex Avendano

Alex Avendano

Mentor – Jonathon Song



Project – Identifying contributions of pten deleted pancreatic cancer associated fibroblasts to tumor mechanopathology.



Summary – Study how fibroblasts (within the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer) promote barriers to drug delivery, and to help identify new ideas on how to therapeutically target them to provide remedies for patients with this deadly disease.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Virtual Rider



Donald Belcher

Don Belcher

Mentor – Andre Palmer



Project – Chemo Sensitization of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Facilitated by Polymerized Human Hemoglobins.



Summary – Implementing novel computational models that will help us better understand how and when the HBOCs (hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers) we develop could best improve oxygen delivery to tumor tissue.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Russell Bonneville

Russell Bonneville

Mentor – Sameek Roychowdhury



Project – Assessment of Microsatellite Instability across the Landscape of Human Cancer.



Summary – Determine if MSI occurs in a much wider variety of cancer types than previously thought, and if clinical MSI testing should potentially be more widely performed.



Chia-Wen Chang

Chia-Wen Chang

Mentor – Jonathon Song



Project – Microfluidic Lymphatic Vessel Analogue System for Studying Lymphangiogenesis and Lung Cancer Intravasation



Summary – Understand the role that lymphatic vessels play in tumor microenvironments, in order to develop a strategy to stop lymphatic metastasis.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Virtual Rider



Luxi Chen

Luxi Chen

Mentor – Aharon Freud



Project – Development and Regulation of the Human Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell.



Summary – Study the basic processes regulating the development of human innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in order to provide a strong foundation for future translational work in cancer studies.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider



Miranda Gardner

Miranda Gardner

Mentor – Michael Freitas



Project – The Tale Behind the Tails: A Mass Spectrometry-Based Approach to Investigate the Role of a Histone Methyltransferase, EZH2, in Chromatin Remodeling, Cell Proliferation and Tumorigenesis.



Summary – Identify novel therapeutics for patients suffering from relapsed/refractory forms of diffuse large b-cell lymphoma so that these patients may benefit from improved outcomes.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider



Eileen Hu

Eileen Hu

Mentor – Natarajan Muthusamy and John C Byrd



Project – A Paradigm Shift in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: The Role of Hematopoietic Stem Cells in CLL Leukemogenesis.



Summary – Determine where Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia cells come from so that we can stop the cancer at the source to prevent recurrence and to be able to finally cure the disease.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Hanyang Huang

Hanyang Huang

Mentor – Yi Zhao



Project – Smartphone Based Whole Slide Scanner for Fast Tumor Identification and Accurate Diagnosis.



Summary – An affordable, compact whole slide scanner enabled by adaptive liquid lenses can provide more effective, timely and accurate IOC for improving tumor diagnosis and treatment.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Jose Javier

Jose Javier

Mentor – Marie-Dominique Filippi



Project – Active transforming growth factor ß1 (aTGFß-1) as a predisposing factor of B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia during chronic inflammatory stress.



Debadrita Modak

Debadrita Modak

Mentor – Marcos Sotomayor



Project – Structural Insights into Protocadherin7 Mediated Carcinoma-Astrocyte Gap Junction Formation Which Promotes Brain Metastasis



Summary – Determine the structural aspects of interaction of PCDH7 with itself and with Connexin43. Once the binding interface is known, the key residues in gap junction formation can be identified and thus help in drug discovery.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Madeline Niederkorn

Madeline Niederkorn

Mentor – Daniel T. Starczynowski



Project – Uncovering Mechanisms of Del (5q) MDS/AML Disease Progression Through the TIFAB-USP15 Signalosome



Summary – Develop effective and durable therapies for patients with myelodysplasia and AML.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 25 miles



Andrew Reed

Andrew Reed

Mentor – Zucai Suo



Project – Investigation into the Effects of Human DNA Polymerase ß Cancer Variants on 8-oxoG Repair.



Summary – Understand the mechanism by which known cancer-related mutations in a human DNA polymerase affect the structure and function of that enzyme. In understanding the outcomes of these mutations on enzyme activity and fidelity, we will better understand how these cancers develop.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



Les Sprague

Les Sprague

Mentor – Timothy Cripe



Project – The Virus Induced Therapeutic Adjuvant Effect.



Summary – Oncolytic viruses are an emerging therapeutic that harness the power of viruses to kill tumors directly and trigger immune responses directed against both tumors and the viruses we inject. By combining viruses with conventional therapies makes each treatment more effective than either is on their own.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider: 45 miles



David Weiss

David Weiss

Mentor – Barbara Andersen



Project – The Impact of Stress, Depression, and Treatment on Vaccine Responses in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.



Summary – Provide evidence as to whether vaccines can be effective in preventing infectious morbidity in cancer patients.



2017 Pelotonia Participant – Rider

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Contact

Marie Gibbons

Pelotonia Fellowship Manager


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