Alumni Profiles

Jeanine Amacher '14

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Amacher

Brief bio and trajectory: I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where I discovered a passion for science during high school. Going into college, I knew that I would focus in a STEM field, but debated a career in research or medicine. I received my BS in Physics at the University of Oregon (2003-07), where I also minored in Biology and Biochemistry. During my time at UO, I was involved in biophysical and materials science research using the membrane protein bacteriorhodopsin for 3 years, solidifying my aspirations for a career in academic research. Following my undergraduate career, I was a research technician in a neuroscience lab studying pain pathways at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) for one year before matriculating at Dartmouth in September 2008. I received my PhD in Biochemistry from Dr. Dean Madden's lab in 2014, where I studied PDZ domain interactions, specifically those that interact with the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Following my time in New England, I was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. John Kuriyan's lab at UC Berkeley. In the Kuriyan lab, I studied protein-protein interactions in signaling pathways, e.g., those involving the ubiquitin ligase Cbl and Src family of tyrosine kinases. I was a Jane Coffin Childs fellow during my postdoctoral work, was involved in scientific outreach in local elementary schools, and guest lectured for several classes (including at San Quentin State Prison). In 2017, I started my independent career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Western Washington University. To date, my lab has 30 current and alumni undergraduate and Master's students. We were initially supported by start-up funds, and are now funded by the NSF (RUI and CAREER grants) and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (Cottrell Scholar Award). I also teach several classes a year, e.g., Biochemistry (including courses focused on protein structure/function and metabolism), Biophysical Chemistry, Biochemistry Lab, and Honors seminar courses (including about the Bioethics of Emergent Technologies like CRISPR/Cas9 and Science in Society (focusing on viral pandemics)).

Outside of the lab, I am married to Dr. Lee Brooks, who is an alumnus of Dr. Mike Whitfield's lab and received his PhD in Genetics from Dartmouth in 2014. Lee is a Support Scientist at 10x Genomics. We have two young sons, 5 and 2, who are very fun and a lot of work! I am also a spinning instructor for faculty/staff classes. I started taking spinning classes during college, but underwent instructor certification while at Dartmouth and taught at Berkeley as well. Our house and the Western campus are both adjacent to the Sehome Arboretum here in Bellingham, Washington and I go trail running or hiking most days.

Lab focus: My lab is broadly interested in protein-peptide interactions, or those that involve recognition of a small number of amino acids by a protein module. These interactions are often transient and regulatory in nature, and members from the same family of peptide-binding domains may have overlapping specificities. We use protein biochemistry and structural biology to investigate the position-specific selectivity determinants of these important interactions. One of our major projects is to look at the evolution of specificity in the PDZ domain, using choanoflagellates as a model system. In recent years, we started exploring another protein family, bacterial sortases, which are a powerful protein modification tool in protein engineering. We solved a number of peptide-bound structures and also use biochemical data of engineered loop-swapped chimeras and molecular dynamics simulations to predict and test exciting new insights into target recognition by bacterial sortases. We are also beginning a new project to look at specificity-determining loops in SH2 and SH3 domains, peptide-binding domains important in tyrosine kinase and other signaling pathways in the cell. All three projects are done in close collaboration with other labs, at Western or elsewhere.

What was your favorite Dartmouth experience?

I loved being at Dartmouth and have very fond memories of my Dartmouth experience. The best ones involve the people I was with day-to-day, including my lab mates and those in Dr. Harry Higgs' lab next door. Seeing protein crystals appear was particularly exciting, as was solving those first crystal structures. I still get a rush solving protein structures for the first time! I met my now husband at Dartmouth and lived with the same fellow-MCB student (Dr. Chelsea Boyd, who graduated from Dr. George O'Toole's lab) for the entire duration of my PhD. Some key special memories are throwing our annual holiday sweater party with Chelsea, racing Dr. Ernest Heimsath down the slopes of the Dartmouth Skiway, getting coffee at the bookstore with Dr. Jill Langer, watching Dr. Pinar Gurel and the Dartmouth figure skating team's exhibitions, hiking with Dr. Kelli Hvorecny, Dr. Devin Schweppe, and many others, and hundreds of additional instances of times with my peers. Even though I got my PhD over 7 years ago now, I still communicate with at least one person from my time at Dartmouth weekly (not counting Lee, my husband!). I recently gave a seminar to my department as a part of my tenure and promotion over Zoom, and several Dartmouth colleagues, including my advisor Dr. Madden, watched my talk, which was extremely special and rewarding. I would not change a thing about my decision to attend Dartmouth or join the Madden lab.

Why do you think MCB is an awesome (and unique) program?

As many of my peers can attest, the interview weekend made it easy to choose the MCB program at Dartmouth for my PhD. I appreciated the clear camaraderie and friendship that I witnessed in the current students, which was not apparent at other programs where I interviewed. Getting a PhD can be very challenging (understatement of the year) and having a strong network of support is critical to success. The MCB program at Dartmouth provided this and more! Coming from the west coast, I also loved experiencing New England and living in Hanover. It's true that New England fall is incredible! Hanover is such a unique community – a small town, but built almost entirely around Dartmouth and DHMC, so rich with culture and intellectuals at the top of their respective fields, including impressive scientific research. The outdoor recreation also cannot be beat, I used to tell college friends and others that it was wonderful waking up on a Saturday morning and knowing that I could not spend my day shopping or running errands (there are not enough stores nearby!), but instead would be going on a hike or skiing at the Skiway or something else active and outdoors.

What advice would you have for 1st year MCB students? MCB students about to graduate?

For 1st year MCB students, I would recommend choosing a thesis lab based 80% on the mentor and 20% on the scientific project. I truly believe that success in science depends on having high quality advisors that, critically, are going to train and mentor you based on how you learn. Science is tough and not intuitive; there are very few young scientists who just "get it" without proper mentoring. The project is important as well in that you need to find a scientific question you are interested in, learning techniques that will help you in your career trajectory, and something that is going to excite you enough to be in lab every day for several years, including some weekends and late nights. But, it's important to remember that the PhD training is meant to prepare you how to think about science, ask questions, and figure out how to progress specific knowledge. In your postdoc or whatever you do next, you will likely be working in a different system and on a different question, so the training you receive is more important than the project itself. That said, publishing papers is currency in academic science, and you want to go to a lab that is productive (and well funded). Understand that the ability to publish papers and do cutting edge research is a bit out of your hands as a PhD student, so again, the right mentor (for you) is going to be vital to your success.

For MCB students who are finishing up their PhD work, my advice is to network, be open to exploring career opportunities that until recently were considered "non-traditional," and to remember that you are well trained for several career trajectories. Networking in science is just as important as other fields, you never know who will end up being an advocate for you. Informational interviews are relatively easy to set up, as most people respond well to, "Your career trajectory is impressive, how did you get to where you are?" The worst thing that can happen if you send an email to someone is that they will not respond, which is honestly not that bad, as you can quickly shift your focus elsewhere. Also, be honest with yourself about your career ambitions, overall level of competitiveness, and that your career trajectory may not be linear. Set goals for yourself, but be flexible as you move through your career and allow these goals to shift as opportunities present themselves. Maybe you started a PhD program because you wanted to be a professor at an R1 institution, but have realized that while you still love science, you vehemently dislike writing grants. In that case, maybe working in the biotech industry makes more sense for you? Overall, the unemployment rate for people with PhD degrees is quite low. However, science is extremely competitive and time gaps in your publication record and/or having a research-based job (e.g., postdoc, research scientist, etc.) are going to make it challenging, though not impossible, to compete for tenure-track academic or industrial research and development (R&D) jobs. You will lose ~10 years of earning power by getting a PhD and doing at least one postdoc, as compared to those who join the workforce immediately following a Bachelor's degree. Some PhDs make up for this with high-paying stable careers, but others do not. Keep this in mind as you navigate your career trajectory and start saving for retirement early, even if it feels like you are not contributing much at the time.

Susan Arruda '05

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Picture of Susan Arruda in her lab.

Dr. Susan Arruda, 2005 graduate of Dartmouth's Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Program, now associate professor at Franklin Pierce University, is working to bring high quality research and research opportunities for undergrads to a small liberal arts setting.

Susan's formative interests in biology started while she was in high school, where her success and enjoyment of Biology classes spurred her on to become a Biology major in college. As an undergraduate, Susan studied at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. Her interests in cellular and molecular biology grew to the point where she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in this area. The Dartmouth MCB program provided what she was looking for in terms of quality of research and location.

Chris Bahl

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Bahl

After finishing my PhD in Biochemistry from the MCB program at the Geisel School of Medicine, I did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design in Seattle.  Next, I joined the Institute for Protein Innovation in Boston where I was the Head of Protein Design.  At the IPI, I led an academic research group that paired computational de novo protein design with high-throughput protein biochemistry and biophysics.  We developed a novel drug discovery platform, which we spun out into a biotech company called AI Proteins, where I am the Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder.  I'm also a part-time Lecturer at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

One thing that's unique and special about Dartmouth is how much the faculty genuinely care about the graduate students.  It is an amazingly supportive and encouraging environment, and the training programs are built from the ground up to support student development.  I haven't come across a better research community to be a graduate student.

Here's a TED talk that I gave a couple of years ago on the technology that AI Proteins is based on:

https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_bahl_a_new_type_of_medicine_custom_made_with_tiny_proteins

Brae Bigge '22

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Brae Bigge

Brae received her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry-Chemistry from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. She is now a member of the Avasthi Lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Department here at Dartmouth. Brae aims to discover functional and biochemical differences between a conventional and a divergent actin in the unicellular, green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In particular, she studies the interactions of these two actins with the Arp2/3 complex and the effects of those interactions on cellular functions, such as ciliary assembly and endocytosis. When she's not busy hanging out with Chlamy in the lab, Brae enjoys hanging out with her family and dog, hiking, kayaking, reading books, and baking.

Selected publications:
Bigge, B.M., Rosenthal, N.E., Avasthi, P. "Initial ciliary assembly in Chlamydomonas requires Arp2/3-dependent recruitment from a ciliary protein reservoir in the plasma membrane." BioRxiv. 2021. doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.24.396002.

Craig, E.W., Mueller, D.M., Bigge, B.M., Schaeffer, M., Engel, B. D., and Avasthi, P.  "The elusive actin cytoskeleton of a green alga expressing both conventional and divergent actins." MBoC, vol. 30, no. 22, 2019. doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E19-03-014.

Meredith S. Brown '22

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Meredith Brown

Graduating with Honors from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Molecular Biology, Meredith is pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular and Systems Biology in the Raman lab where she studies the role of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal transition (EMT), a cell developmental process that is frequently hijacked by cancer cells, in tumor progression and metastasis. She is particularly interested in how EMT contributes to tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer, and how that might affect patient prognosis. In her free time, Meredith takes full advantage of what the Hanover area has to offer including skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. And we should mention she's also great at cooking and baking.

Selected Publications:
Ognjenovic NB, Bagheri M, Mohamed GA, Xu K, Chen Y, Saleem MAM, Brown MS, Nagaraj SH, Muller KE, Gerber, SA, Christensen BC, Pattabiraman DR. Limiting Self-Renewal of the Basal Compartment Induces Differentiation and Alters Evolution of Mammary Tumors. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 7;55(5):544-557.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Paolella BR, Gibson WJ, Urbanski LM, Alberta JA, Zack TI, Bandopadhayay P, Nichols CA, Agarwalla PK, Brown MS, Lamothe R, Yu Y, Choi PS, Obeng EA, Heckl D, Wei G, Wang B, Tsherniak, A, Vazquez F, Weir BA, Root, DE, Crowley GS, Buhrlage, S, Stiles CD, Ebert BL, Hahn WC, Reed R, Beroukhim R. Copy-Number and Gene Dependency Analysis Reveals Partial Copy Loss of Wild-Type SF3B1 as a Novel Cancer Vulnerability. Elife. 2017 Feb 8;6:e23268. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23268.

Katelyn Cassidy '19

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Cassidy

As a graduate student in the MCB program, Katelyn studied in the lab of Dr. Scott Gerber. While in Scott's lab, Katelyn applied genetic engineering and discovery proteomics techniques to study the steady state interactome of HUWE1: an E3 ligase with a disputed role in tumorigenesis. In addition to her thesis work, Katelyn enjoyed collaborating with other researchers in the Dartmouth community. She remembers her time at Dartmouth fondly and is very grateful to have been a member of the MCB program.

Life after Dartmouth

After wrapping up her thesis work in spring of 2019, Katelyn joined the Chemical Biology and Proteomics department at AstraZeneca where she supported pre-clinical stage projects via providing insights into drug candidate selectivity and mechanism. Katelyn had the opportunity to contribute to a variety of projects but was primarily aligned to targeted protein degradation (TPD) efforts; TPD modalities harness the cell's native protein clearance machinery to destroy challenging targets, many of which were previously considered "undruggable" via traditional small molecule occupancy-driven pharmacology approaches.

As a contributor to the AZ TPD initiative, Katelyn developed new capabilities to support the program and generated data to help drive several early-stage drug projects to milestone transitions. In addition to program support at AstraZeneca, Katelyn mentored a postdoc and post-baccalaureate rotation students, served on the global graduate placement steering committee as well as the Discovery Biology Inclusion and Diversity committee. She was also very fortunate to have the opportunity to build her external scientific reputation through invited perspectives* and regular speaking engagements. Katelyn looks forward to soon sharing some of the exciting projects she worked on with her former AZ colleagues through publications in the coming year.

In October 2021, Katelyn joined C4 Therapeutics - a company that is primarily focused on developing TPD medicines in the oncology space - where she is applying her experience in degrader characterization to lead proteomics initiatives. In addition, Katelyn is excited to contribute to platform improvements and looks forward to soon building a small team to help support the growing pipeline.

Outside of work, Katelyn can usually be found having fun outdoors with her family and friends. She also enjoys strategy games, photography, traveling and live music.

Contact Information:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katelyn-cassidy-6785489/

*https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4487-0011

Tiffany Coupet

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Coupet

I graduated from Dartmouth with my PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. My thesis work was performed in Charles Sentman's lab and his lab was focused on studying Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR-T) and Bispecific T cell Engagers. Immunotherapy research is a really popular and fast moving field that has the potential to help many people. I am fortunate enough to have completed my training in an immunotherapy lab because the different lab techniques and data analysis techniques that I learned carried over into my job as a Scientist I for NextCure and now as a Field Application Scientist II for Isoplexis. While I am no longer at the bench doing research, I have the opportunity to work with and help others in their immunotherapy research. I can be reached at tiffany.a.coupet.gr@dartmouth.edu or via LinkedIn.

Tak Shun Fung '22

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Tak Shun Fung

Tak Shun received a BEng (Chemical Engineering) from the National University of Singapore. He is a recipient of the 2019-2020 John H. Copenhaver, Jr. and William H. Thomas, MD 1952 Fellowship, at Dartmouth College. He is in the Higgs lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. Tak Shun is interested in understanding the relationship between actin dynamics and mitochondrial dynamics in mammalian cells. Recently, he found that there are two distinct actin filament populations with different effects on the mitochondria. The first is a calcium-induced actin assembly, mediated by an actin assembly factor called INF2, and results in mitochondrial fission. The second is a mitochondrial depolarization-induced actin assembly, governed by another actin assembly factor, Arp2/3 complex. Acute depolarization of the mitochondrion leads to rearrangements of the inner mitochondrial membrane and not mitochondrial fission, as previously thought. Tak Shun found that the rearrangements are mitochondrial protease OMA1-dependent. Furthermore, he discovered that actin assembly can protect the mitochondria from undergoing these rearrangements. He is currently determining other physiological roles of depolarization-induced actin assembly, especially in the domain of mitophagy and cellular metabolism. Tak Shun enjoys reading, listening to podcasts and running.

Selected publications:
Fung TS, Ji WK, Higgs HN and Chakrabarti R (2019) "Two distinct actin filament populations have effects on mitochondria, with differences in stimuli and assembly factors." Journal of cell science, pp.jcs-234435. (PMID: 31413070)

A M, Fung TS, Francomacaro LM, Huynh T, Svindrych Z, and Higgs HN (2019) "Regulation of INF2-mediated actin polymerization through site-specific lysine acetylation of actin itself." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dec 2019, 201914072; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.191407211 (PMID: 31871199)

Chakrabarti R, Fung TS, Kang T, Elonkirjo PW, Suomalainen A, Usherwood EJ, Higgs HN, "Mitochondrial dysfunction triggers actin polymerization necessary for rapid glycolytic activation." J Cell Biol. 2022 Nov 7;221(11):e202201160. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202201160. PMID: 36102863

Fung TS, Chakrabarti R, Kollasser J, Rottner K, Stradal TEB, Kage F, Higgs HN, "Parallel kinase pathways stimulate actin polymerization at depolarized mitochondria." Curr Biol. 2022 Apr 11;32(7):1577-1592.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.058. PMID: 35290799

A M, Fung TS, Francomacaro LM, Huynh T, Kotila T, Svindrych Z, Higgs HN, "Regulation of INF2-mediated actin polymerization through site-specific lysine acetylation of actin itself." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 7;117(1):439-447. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1914072117

James Geoghegan

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Geoghegan

At Dartmouth I was fortunate to perform my PhD studies in the Supattapone laboratory studying the molecular mechanisms of prion formation. Dr. Supattapone was an outstanding mentor and I gained invaluable experience and training working with him and the other members of the lab. Beyond the  Supatapone lab, the Biochemistry department was a welcoming and engaging scientific environment in which to work. I look fondly on my time at Dartmouth as a member of the MCB program. Soon after graduation, I transitioned to an industrial postdoctoral position at Adimab, which had recently been co-founded by Tillman Gerngross, of the Thayer school. There, I worked on developing Adimab's antibody discovery and engineering platform. Following my postdoc at Adimab, I transitioned to a position as an academic postdoc in Beverly Davidson's laboratory at the University of Iowa. The Davidson lab is focused on developing gene therapies to treat neurodegenerative disorders and I worked on projects related to engineering of AAV vectors for brain delivery of therapeutic molecules. After four years in the Davidson lab I moved back to industry, joining the Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering department at MedImmune (now AstraZeneca). My focus at MedImmune was around characterizing the biophysical properties of candidate drugs (monoclonal antibodies or other protein-based drugs) to understand whether a given molecule had the necessary attributes to warrant selection for clinical development. Later, I returned to Adimab where, as a senior scientist, I lead a research group composed of PhD scientists and technicians. During the last six years I have worked in therapeutic antibody discovery and engineering for our business partners and, more recently, conducting technology development research in the field of antibody science.  The field of biologics, in particular antibody therapies, is exciting and growing and I feel lucky to have been able to apply my training in biochemistry to this scientific area.

My publications can be found here:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=geoghegan+jc

My current and best contact info is here:

jcgeoghegan@gmail.com

603-306-2690

Caitlyn Hauke '17

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Hauke

Dr. Caitlyn Hauke graduated from the Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) program at Dartmouth in 2017, transitioning to a staff position at the college in the Department of Environmental Health & Safety, where she served as Dartmouth's Biological Safety Officer. In 2021, Caitlyn switched gears and joined the private sector as a Biosafety Officer for Clinical Biosafety Services, focusing on human gene therapy clinical trials and providing expertise in facilitating Institutional Biosafety Committee reviews.

Caitlyn began her time at Dartmouth interested in microbiology, infectious disease, and vaccine development after having spent her undergraduate focus on forensic biology. After deciding a career in academic research wasn't her ultimate goal, a career in biosafety allowed Caitlyn to continue to learn and grow in the biological sciences realm in a different way. Caitlyn enjoys her new role in helping to facilitate the clinical trial process and bring groundbreaking research to patients in need.

She credits the MCB program for opening doors to alternative scientific careers. Dartmouth continues to be a supportive community for scientists and academics on a variety of career paths.

In addition to her work in biosafety, Caitlyn is also actively involved in the deathcare world, serving on her municipal cemetery board, the Green Burial Council International Board of Directors, and as a cemeterian in a for-profit conservation cemetery in New Hampshire. She utilizes the teaching, writing, and leadership skills she honed at Dartmouth to educate the public on deathcare, further demonstrating the cross-translational utility of pursuing a terminal degree in the MCB program.

Contact Caitlyn at hauke.caitlyn@gmail.com

Shannon Hinsa-Leasure '04

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Hinsa-Leasure

Hello, I'm Shannon Hinsa-Leasure and currently I am Professor and Chair of Biology at Grinnell College. I complete my PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and MCB in the fall of 2004 under the guidance of George O'Toole. My time in the O'Toole lab trained me to be an independent thinker and a critical reader and writer, skills I work to instill in undergraduates today. Many of my students at Grinnell head off to graduate school and I tell them the most important thing to look for is a supportive mentor, and I tell them how mine let me follow my dreams and spend a month doing Mars simulation work north of the Arctic Circle. Outside of my lab, what I remember most are the people who supported me through the challenges of graduate school and beyond. The camaraderie we built in lab extended to mountain hikes and lake side bonfires. That network of friends continues to be a support system for me today. After leaving the O'Toole lab, I headed to Michigan State as a NASA Astrobiology postdoctoral fellow with Jim Tiedje. Once again, I landed in a tremendous lab with an advisor who helped me navigate my way to Grinnell College and helped me develop a reasonable work/life balance as a new parent. I always knew I wanted to end up in a place that valued teaching and I have been teaching and conducting research with undergraduates for the last 14 years at Grinnell College. Papers don't come as quickly here, but I have involved over 50 students in my research, many of them ending up on publications. Here, I have the flexibility to adapt my research focus so that I continue to challenge myself and learn new skills. We have worked on biofilm formation by Psychrobacter arcticus, to implementing and testing copper alloys to reduce the bacterial burdens around hospital patients, to antibiotic resistance at hog CAFOS, and a new project on Listeria. Although I still miss the mountains, the support for research and quality of students are hard to beat.

https://www.grinnell.edu/user/hinsa

Huy Nguyen '15

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Huy Nguyen

Dartmouth is a wonderful place to perform research. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the upper valley. The welcoming community and picturesque scenery ensured that my time inside and outside of lab was fun. My doctoral work in Giovanni Bosco's lab focused on elucidating how molecular machines called condensins are regulated, and how this fits into genome organization. After Dartmouth, I ventured south to Boston where I joined Chao-ting (Ting) Wu's lab in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral fellow. It is in the Wu lab where I co-developed technologies to highly multiplex genome imaging, thus furthering my interests in genome organization. My obsession with genome organization continues, as the next chapter in my career lies in a start-up I cofounded (https://acuityspatialgenomics.com/). I will be joining Acuity in the latter part of 2021 as Chief Technology Officer where I will help develop technologies for the company.

Koren Nishina

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Nishina

Currently, I am a Product Manager for Instrumentation Software at Promega.  In this role, I manage multiple software products, some of which are used with Promega's instruments (https://www.promega.com/lab-equipment-and-supplies/).  In addition to working with software developers, I work closely with scientists at Promega.  I write code to facilitate their data analysis and help with other data science responsibilities.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need more detail.  I can be reached by email (koren.a.nishina@gmail.com) or by cel (650-703-5744).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/knishina/

https://knishina.github.io/

Chaya Patel

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Patel

During a record-breaking polar vortex, I arrived in Hanover from California for interview weekend and was struck, not by the frigid cold, but by the warmth and spirit of the MCB community. This camaraderie became a common thread linking my years of graduate school and supported me both academically and personally. I joined Dr. David Leib's lab in Microbiology and Immunology and delved into understanding how we can better harness maternal immunity for protection against neonatal viral infection. This is important for many pathogens, but particularly for herpes simplex virus (HSV) which is pervasive in adults but deadly to neonates. Along the way, discoveries in how neonatal HSV can have an impact on the developing brain and behavior led us in exciting directions that are now being pursued by talented scientists in the lab. Excited by translational research, I pursued a fellowship in biotech venture capital to better understand the path from bench to bedside. This laid the foundation for my current position at Mission BioCapital, a venture firm based in Cambridge, MA, investing in early-stage life science companies. While no longer at the bench, I spend my day invigorated discussing cutting-edge research with inspirational scientists and entrepreneurs.

Reflecting on my time at Dartmouth, I realize what a special place the Upper Valley is. Surrounded by nature, the worries of the day melt away as you step outside. Whether it was paddling on the Connecticut, skiing at the Skiway or hiking in the Second College Grant, the options were endless. This eagerness to be outdoors is now a part of who I am and I can not imagine a better setting to have trained.

Publications and Links

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chaya-patel/

Jiang et al. 2017. Maternal antiviral immunoglobulin accumulates in neural tissue of neonates to prevent HSV neurological disease. mBio.

Patel et al. 2019. Maternal immunization confers protection against neonatal herpes simplex mortality and behavioral morbidity. Science Translational Medicine.

Patel et al. 2020. Trivalent glycoprotein subunit vaccine prevents neonatal herpes simplex virus mortality and morbidity. Journal of Virology.

Immune Podcast Episode: https://www.microbe.tv/immune/immune-19/

Geisel Press Release: https://geiselmed.dartmouth.edu/news/2019/dartmouth-researchers-offer-new-insights-into-how-maternal-immunity-impacts-neonatal-hsv/

Compositions and methods for preventing or ameliorating neonatal HSV infection (WO2020077119A1)

Justin Piro '11

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Piro

Dr. Justin Pro graduated from Dartmouth's Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) program in 2011. Following his work studying prion biology and protein misfolding in the Biochemistry department, Justin joined Pfizer's Neuroscience Research Unit as a postdoctoral fellow. His postdoctoral work was focused on understanding endocannabinoid metabolism and its impact on driving inflammation in the context of neurodegeneration and neurological injury. This work led to the development of novel inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism that were advanced into Ph1 clinical trials.

Justin continued to expand his passion for drug discovery as a group leader in the neuroinflammation team at AbbVie where he was developing large and small molecule therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease. Justin is currently leading a neuroimmunology group at Alkermes, that is leveraging the brains immune system to combat neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Justin's interest in biology started in high school and continued to expand during his time as a biochemistry student at Eastern Connecticut State University. At Eastern he participated in several summer research opportunities which solidified his decision to pursue a Ph.D. Dartmouth's MCB program provided a unique mixture of high-quality research and training in an ideal setting for individuals who appreciate spending time in the outdoors. Justin routinely publishes his work in top journals and presents at international conferences. He currently resides just outside of Boston with his wife and two children while continuing to enjoy outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.

Kamran Tariq '22

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Kamran Tariq

Kamran started in MCB graduate program at Dartmouth in 2017 and joined the Luikart Lab in the Summer of 2018. Born and raised in Pakistan, Kamran received his BS in Biotechnology from FC College and MS in Biology from LUMS in Lahore, Pakistan. Kamran's current project involves identifying proteins that rescue PTEN-dependent changes in neurons in a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kamran utilizes in vivo molecular manipulations with viral vectors, transgenic mouse models and advanced microscopy techniques to find new targets for autism therapy. In 2019, Kamran was awarded a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship by Autism Speaks Foundation and is also a recipient of a 2020 Albert J. Ryan fellowship in recognition of his performance in courses, research talent, and participation in scientific community.
In his spare time, Kamran loves to hike in the majestic White Mountains, and cook desi food whilst listening to music from his homeland.

Gretel Torres '22

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Gretel Torres

Gretel received her bachelor's in science from Rider University, where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She participated in NIH funded summer programs at UMass Medical School and presented research focused on humoral immunity in ovarian cancer at the American Association of Immunologist (AAI) as a junior in undergrad. Gretel was awarded the AAI Careers in Immunology Fellowship last year, and was among the first cohort of Guarini Diversity Fellows. Gretel's research focuses on the study of immunotherapeutic triterpenoid CDDO-Me for redirection of tumor associated macrophage (TAMs) activation in melanoma and ovarian cancer. Most immunotherapeutic approaches have had limited success on their own, partly due to the suppression of innate and adaptive immune responses by TAMs in the tumor microenvironment (TME). TAM redirection may relieve immunosuppression in the TME, providing both a means of directly inhibiting tumor growth and potentially enhancing the efficacy of additional targeted and immuno-therapies. Gretel enjoys playing with her cat and hanging out with friends.

Selected Publications:
Wrapp, D. DeVlieger, D. Corbett, K. Torres, G. Van Breedam, W. Roose, K. van Schie, L VIB-CMB COVID-19 Response Team, Hoffman, M. Pöhlman, S. Graham, B. Callewaert, N. Schepens, B. Saelens, X. McLellan, J. (2020). Structural Basis for Potent Neutralization of Betacoronaviruses by Single-domain Camelid Antibodies. Cell, 181. Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.031  

Ball, M., Bhandari, R., Torres, G., Martyanov, V., ElTanbouly, M., Archambault, K., Whitfield, M., Liby, K., Pioli, P. (2020). CDDO-Me Alters the Tumor Microenvironment in Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer. Nature-Scientific Reports, 10. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63482-x.  

Shabaneh, T., Molodtsov, A., Steinberg, S., Zhang, P., Torres, G., Mohamed, G., Boni, A., Curiel, T., Angeles, C., Turk, M.J. (2018). Oncogenic BRAFV600E governs regulatory T cell recruitment during melanoma tumorigenesis. Cancer Res, 78. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0365

Matt Wargo '05

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Wargo

I entered the Dartmouth MCB program in 2000 and graduated in 2005 with my PhD from the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Smith in Biological Sciences. I then moved two buildings away to my postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Deb Hogan in Microbiology & Immunology. My time in the MCB program, including excellent classes, a great journal club culture, and fellow grad students that simultaneously supported and pushed me, was instrumental in helping me develop into the scientist I am now. Currently, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine and my lab investigates how opportunistic bacteria make the transition from their environmental sources into the human lung, work that is currently funded by the NIH, NASA, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Contact Info:

mwargo@uvm.edu

802-656-1115

@WargoLab

Benjamin Wucher '22

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Benjamin Wucher

Ben actually claims espresso as one of his hobbies, so you know he is bringing an intensity to all that he does. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology with Honors in Research. He is a recipient of the GANN Fellowship, a Gilman Fellowship from the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship. In the Nadell lab, he studies the ecological interactions between bacterial biofilms and their natural predators. Specifically, he is interested in how biofilm architecture and spatial structure protect biofilms from the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Ben also spends time mountain biking, backcountry skiing and rock climbing.

Selected Publications:
Wucher, BR, Bartlett, TM, Hoyos, M, Papenfort K, Persat, A, Nadell, CD. "Vibrio Cholerae Filamentation Promotes Chitin Surface Attachment at the Expense of Competition in Biofilms." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2019 Jul 9;116(28):14216-14221. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1819016116. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Wucher, BR, Elsayed, M, Adelman, JS, Kadouri, DE, Nadell, CD. "Predation by Bdellovibrio Bacteriovorus Transforms the Landscape and Community Assembly of Bacterial Biofilms." bioRxiv. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.03.235101v1.

Ashley Zurawel '16

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Zurawel

I did my graduate training in the MCB program at Dartmouth College in the laboratory of Surachai Supattapone, completing my PhD in 2016. In the Supattapone Lab, I studied the interface of the conversion between the PrPC protein, which is normally expressed on the surface of cells, and the PrPSC protein, which is the pathogenic conformer. This work was published in Biochemistry (2014 Jan 12; 53(1): 68-76). I became interested in how protein folding environments can influence disease pathogenesis, focusing on Huntington's disease. This led to a project in collaboration with the Moseley Lab, resulting in the publication "CAG-Expansions Are Genetically Stable and Form Non-Toxic Aggregates in Cells Lacking Endogenous Polyglutamine Proteins," published in mBio (2016 Sep 27;7(5)). This evolved into a proteomics study done in collaboration with the Kettenbach and Cheng Labs, published in Scientific Reports (2018 Jun 22;8(1):95554). While I was a graduate student in the Supattapone lab, I became interested in pursuing a career as a physician-scientist. Dr. Supattapone is an outstanding mentor beyond being an outstanding physician-scientist; he exemplifies the Dartmouth MCB community. I went on to study medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where I continued to do research as a medical student. Combining my training in biochemistry and my passion for childhood health, I completed my Longitudinal Research Project in pediatric hematology and oncology. I was fortunate to work in the laboratory of Dr. Linda McAllister-Lucas, Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. I am currently a resident physician in the Physician-Scientist Training Program at Lurie Children's Hospital/Northwestern Medical Center, which supports my training as a pediatric resident and as a scientist. In the future, I hope to continue to do research as well as practice clinical medicine in an academic setting. The MCB program at Dartmouth has provided me with the training required to be an excellent scientist, and beyond that, the opportunity to be immersed in an enriching, collegial community. While an MCB student, in addition to doing research, I had the opportunity to become involved in Graduate Student Council and was able to keep up my love of the outdoors as a downhill and cross-country skier, swimmer, rower and runner. I am very grateful for my time in the MCB program at Dartmouth, which shaped not only my career, but also my critical thinking abilities and my personal development.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions about the Dartmouth MCB Program or any other questions that may come to mind: azurawel@luriechildrens.org, or Ashley.zurawel@gmail.com.