Stacey Cifelli is a graduate student in the Integrative Neuroscience program working in Dr. Teresa Wood’s laboratory in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience. She is currently studying the role of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in oligodendrocyte development. Stacey graduated from the University of Delaware in 2007 with a degree in neuroscience. Her interest in research began with her undergraduate work in physical therapy. While at UMDNJ she has become a member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences/Foundation of UMDNJ Society of Research Scholars. She hopes that her work studying oligodendrocyte development will be applicable to understanding the molecular mechanisms of the demyelinating disease Multiple Sclerosis.
Sarah Darmon is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. She graduated from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania in 2005 with a major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Sarah discovered her love for science at an early age. While other children wanted to be teachers & doctors, Sarah wanted to be a lab researcher responsible for important life changing experiments. While at Ursinus College, Sarah performed an internship at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. There, she was in charge of a drug metabolism study. Sarah is currently studying in Dr. Carol Lutz’s lab, where her focus is on regulation and mechanism of alternative polyadenylation.
“The moment you analyze your data and discover that your experiment worked, it’s exhilarating.”
Fabiana Di Sanzo is a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics working in the laboratory of Dr. Leonard Mindich at the Public Health Research Institute Center at New Jersey Medical School. Her research investigates the nature of the mechanisms of genomic packaging in viruses that have complex RNA genomes. Fabiana graduated from Rowan University in 2001, majoring in Biology with a pre-dental concentration. While attending dental school, she realized her passion for biomedical research and knew that she wanted to focus her education on molecular biology. In 2009, she was awarded the American Society for Microbiology Gisela Mosig Graduate Student Research Award for excellence in phage molecular biology. As an active member of the Graduate Student Association, Fabiana especially enjoyed the opportunity to serve as student council President from 2009-10. Fabiana is currently working toward her Ph.D. with a goal of pursuing a career in the field of Virology.
Karim Helmy is a MD/PhD candidate at New Jersey Medical School and is performing thesis research in the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He graduated from Stanford University in 2002 with Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and subsequently worked as a research associate with Dr. Menno van Lookeren Campagne in the Immunology Department at the biotechnology company Genentech. After completing two years of medical school, Karim joined Dr. Eric Holland’s brain tumor lab at MSKCC through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Student Research Scholar’s Program. Enjoying his return to the lab and aspiring to a career at the intersection of medicine and science, Karim joined the MD/PhD program at NJMS under the guidance of Professor Pranela Rameshwar. Utilizing a technology that permits isolation of translating RNA in vivo, Karim is studying the role of translational regulation in brain tumor therapeutic response and resistance to radiation, as well as a broader role for translational regulation in cell cycle progression.
Justyna Korczeniewska is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2004 with a major in Biology. After doing her required laboratory rotations, Justyna chose Dr. Barnes’ laboratory. The lab is focused on the role of interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-5 in the death receptor induced apoptotic signaling pathway. The field of death receptor signaling is important to her because it has the potential to make a significant contribution to cancer research. Justyna is working towards her Ph.D. in Biochemistry.
“The faculty are always approachable and committed to giving you a quality education.”
Viktor Lukacs is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology. He graduated as an M.D. in 2007 at Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest and is now conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Tibor Rohacs. His thesis focuses on the regulation of thermo-sensitive TRPV1 channels during physiology and pathology of sensory neuron function using a combination of electrophysiology and fluorescent imaging techniques. TRPV1 channels are important molecular players in the development of both noxious and innocuous sensory modalities as well as the development of the crucial acute inflammatory response to injury. Their regulation is thus highly relevant for the development of more effective and specific pain medication. Viktor has received several research awards including first prizes at both the Semmelweis and Hungarian National Research student conferences as well as the Pro Scientia Gold Medal for excellence in student research. He is an active member of the Graduate Student Association on the Newark campus, having served as president of the GSA for the term 2011-2012.
Lisamarie Moore is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Neurology and Neurosciences who is working jointly with Drs. Steve Levison and Peter Canoll at Columbia University. Her focus is to identify the cells of origin in glioblastoma, an aggressive incurable brain cancer, often driven by platelet-derived growth factor and epidermal growth factor signaling with genomic mutations in tumor suppressors PTEN and p53. She is characterizing the histological features of tumors formed from phenotypically defined transformed neural precursors to map them to commonly found human brain cancers. Lisa has received an NIH NINDS F31 fellowship to support her thesis research. Before joining the GSBS at NJMS Lisamarie worked at General Electric Global Research Center, Forest Research Institute at Forest Laboratories and Sophion Bioscience. Lisamarie graduated from New Jersey Institute of Technology with a M.S. degree in biomedical engineering and from Old Dominion University where she received a B.S. in Information Technology. She has received awards and fellowships from The Biotechnology Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the UMDNJ School of Nursing and the Executive Women of New Jersey. Lisamarie is actively involved with the GSBS community. She has served as student mentor for the Undergraduate Summer Student Research program and has held several offices in the Stem Cell Education society. She was also a featured student in the UMDNJ publication "The Pulse."
Jessian L. Munoz is a 3rd year MD/PhD candidate in the Department of Medicine-Division of Hematology/Oncology working under the mentorship Dr. Pranela Rameshwar. His thesis research combines a model with human Mesenchymal Stem Cells to understand neurodevelopmental pathways by small RNA molecules and extrapolate the findings to understand chemoresistance of neural tumors. Jessian was a summer fellow at the GSBS in 2007 and worked in the laboratory of his current mentor. Jessian graduated from the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey in 2009 with a B.S. in Biology.
Jessian is the recipient of several awards: NJMS-Alumni Association Research Fellowship (2010), Drs. George and Helene Hill Endowed Scholarship (2011) FM Kirby Neurosciences Fellowship (2011) and a NACME Sloan PhD scholar award (2011). He was recently awarded the 2012 GSBS Dean Morris Schaffer Endowed Scholarship. Jessian has already published original and review articles.
Jessian presented his work at the 2011 Graduate Student Association (GSA) Research Symposium, where he was awarded the prize for best poster presentation. He has served as the Treasure of the GSA and was elected President for the 2012-13 academic year. He plans to pursue a career as a physician scientist. The combined MD/PhD program between the medical and graduate schools at UMDNJ is providing him with the training to integrate science and medicine for a career in academia.
"The GSBS at UMDNJ is a supportive research center for those interested in both translational and applicable science, truly Bench-to-Bedside"
Zakiya Qualls is a Ph.D. student in the Infection, Immunity, & Inflammation Track (I^3) working in the lab of Dr. Abraham Pinter in the Public Health Research Institute. Dr. Pinter's lab studies the immunology of HIV-1, with aims to identify novel HIV-1 antibody targets and vaccine approaches. Zakiya is currently focusing on determining what amino acid(s) and/or regions of the HIV-1 envelope make certain isolates of the virus unusually sensitive to neutralizing antibodies. Zakiya graduated from Howard University in 2011 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Her undergraduate research experiences at the NIH, Howard, and the Amgen Corporation reinforced in her the passion she felt as a child about understanding the world around her and encouraged her to choose scientific research as a career path. Instead of the seemingly obvious choice of medical school, Zakiya chose to attend graduate school with the hope of gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to discover therapies and cures to pathologies disproportionately affecting the African diaspora worldwide. Zakiya is currently a UMDNJ Foundation Scholar, Alfred P. Sloan Scholar, Student Advisor to the 2012-2013 I^3 class, and has recently become involved with the UMDNJ-Newark Institutional Review Board.
Lauren Rota is a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program, who is working with Dr. Terri Wood in the NJMS-UH Cancer Center. For her thesis research she is assaying the role of the IGF-signaling axis in breast/mammary gland stem cell self-renewal and proliferation during normal development and breast cancer initiation/ progression. Lauren is also a member and the director of public relations for the Stem Cell Education Society. She graduated from Montclair State University with her B.A. in Psychology and went on to attain her M.S. in Biomedical Science at UMDNJ in 2008. It was during her Master’s in Dr. Wood’s lab, that she realized her passion for research in biomedical sciences and decided to pursue her Ph.D.
“The quality of research done at UMDNJ is superb and the faculty is dedicated to producing excellent scientists.”
Raghavendra Shamanna is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. He graduated from The University of Agricultural Science, Dharwad in India with a major in Cell Culture, Immunology, Protein and Molecular Biology. The advanced courses and eminent scholars of international repute to train students to compete at all levels of science, is one of the reasons Shamanna decided to attend the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Currently, he is working in Dr Michael B. Mathews’s lab where they are researching the molecular mechanism of Nuclear Factor 90 (NF90) and Nuclear Factor 45 (NF45) in regulating mitosis. Shamanna is currently working toward his Ph.D. with a goal of beginning a career in the field of biomolecular studies.
"Dr. Mathew's way of teaching and dynamic thinking to solve a given problem influenced me to work under his guidance.”
Jony Sheynin is a PhD candidate in the joint program in Biomedical Engineering between UMDNJ and NJIT. He works in the Stress and Motivated Behavior Institute (SMBI) in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Catherine Myers. Jony is studying human avoidance behavior, which is a prominent symptom in anxiety disorders. His work includes developing computer-based tasks to investigate such type of behavior, clinical studies of healthy subjects, as well as patient populations and computational modeling as a tool for simulating the clinical outcome. Jony’s multi-disciplinary background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering (2006) and a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences, focused on human neurogenetic research (Cum Laude; 2008), both obtained from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. After obtaining a certificate as a Clinical Research Associate and working as a Clinical Research Coordinator, Jony came to UMDNJ with the goal of integrating his computational skills with a biomedical research. Jony’s future endeavors include extending his clinical research experience to other domains, such as neuroimaging techniques and work with different groups of psychiatric patients.
“The close collaboration with institutes such as NJIT and SMBI, the variety of laboratories and the extremely professional network of professors and peers makes UMDNJ an excellent choice for every science oriented individual who wants to make a significant step in his career and contribute to the international scientific efforts.”
Nolan Skop is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Biomedical Engineering program between NJMS and NJIT. Under the guidance of Drs. Steve Levison (NJMS), Chirag Gandhi (NJMS) and Cheul Cho (NJIT), Nolan has been working on a neural tissue engineering application for traumatic brain injury repair. His novel regenerative design is an injectable, multifunctional, polysaccharide-based scaffold that supports the delivery of neural stem cells into a traumatically injured brain. The scaffold complex is capable of supplying the transplanted stem cells with proliferation and survival proteins, such as fibronectin and fibroblast growth factor-2. Nolan anticipates that this technique for delivering stem cells will become a foundation to build upon when trying to regenerate brain cells de novo.
Nolan graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering. His passion in tissue engineering applications began as an undergraduate. Nolan pursued his interest in stem cells and is currently the President of the UMDNJ Stem Cell Education Society (SCES). He is a recipient of a 3 year fellowship from the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research (NJCBIR). He is an avid NY Rangers fan.
Joel Schneider is a graduate student in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine where is working with Dr. Diego Fradenraich. Joel graduated from Brandeis University in 2006, and then worked at for a small biotech start-up, where he decided to pursue a doctorate in stem cell biology. Joel is evaluating the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells for the cardiovascular complications associated with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Joel is creating functional cardiac cells from embryonic stem cells, as well as from induced pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cell-like cells). These cardiac cells, which beat in culture, can then be engrafted into the heart in a patient specific manner.
Joel thinks that the Graduate School at Newark is a great place to launch one’s career in research. The faculty is highly supportive of student ideas and suggestions . Joel also believes that since there are so many different areas of research being investigated, across a wide number of departments, a student is guaranteed to find a great lab to join tailored to their own interests.
Ahmet Tunceroglu is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology working towards his M.D./Ph.D dual degree. He graduated in 2004 from Cornell University in New York with a major in Biochemistry. During his visit to the UMDNJ Ahmet observed the knowledgeable faculty and their passion about teaching. He is currently working in Dr. Raymond Birge’s lab where they are trying to establish a possible role for the Crk II adapter protein in the onset and/or progression of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.
“The camaraderie in both the lab and the department combined with the opportunity to add to the ever-growing body of scientific knowledge are just a couple of the many positive attributes of being a student at UMDNJ.”
Alok Upadhyay is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. He graduated from Himachal Pradesh University in India with a major in Biotechnology. Alok decided to join the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program because of the distinctness of the doctoral program and the multicultural environment. He is currently in Dr. Virendra Pandey’s lab where they are working on the structural and functional relationship of HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase. “The frequent interaction and scientific discussions with faculty members is very encouraging.”
Lisong Yang is a Graduate Student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. She graduated in 2005 from the University of Science & Technology of China with a major in Biological Science. Lisong was attracted to the UMDNJ’s plethora of faculty offering exciting research opportunities in diverse fields of biology. She is currently working in Dr. Betsy Barnes’ lab where they are researching the potential cooperation between IRF5 and p53 after DNA damage. Lisong is working towards her Ph.D. in Biochemistry with a goal of obtaining a position within a research institution or university.
“The professors are very approachable .”