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UF Medical Guild competition highlights doctoral student research

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Published: April 26th, 2016 • Category: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Students
Thomas Rowe, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate education, presents Brian Mahon with the winning gold award. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Thomas Rowe, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate education, presents Brian Mahon with the winning gold award. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

In a lecture hall packed with students and faculty, six students from the UF College of Medicine Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences competed at the 41st Annual Medical Guild Research Symposium at the Cancer & Genetics Research Complex April 4. The students, all nearing the completion of their doctoral programs, showcased years of dedicated research for their peers, mentors and college faculty. This year’s winner and gold award recipient was Brian Mahon, a student in the biochemistry and molecular biology concentration.

“I was just shocked and excited, and extremely grateful. The award helps me personally, I have a wife and two kids. For us it’s a huge support financially — allowing us to pay bills and live our lives,” said Mahon, in response to winning this year’s gold award.

From each of the seven IDP program concentrations — cancer biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics, immunology and microbiology, molecular cell biology, neuroscience, and physiology and pharmacology — one student was first selected through competitions in each area. Six students ultimately presented their research and were judged by faculty on their research, how they communicated their science effectively and how they synthesized answers to questions.

UF Medical Guild and UF faculty with award recipients. From left: Joseph Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs; Tina Rivkees; Stephen Chrzanowski; Joonseok Cho; Linda Allegra; Brian Mahon; Yuan Lu; Marissa Fernan-Taasan; Danielle Sambo; Daniel Delitto; Lynda Bucciarelli; Jacquelyn Walejko; Justin Kaspar; Mary Benedict; and Thomas Rowe, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate education. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

UF Medical Guild and UF faculty with award recipients. From left: Joseph Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs; Tina Rivkees; Stephen Chrzanowski; Joonseok Cho; Linda Allegra; Brian Mahon; Yuan Lu; Marissa Fernan-Taasan; Danielle Sambo; Daniel Delitto; Lynda Bucciarelli; Jacquelyn Walejko; Justin Kaspar; Mary Benedict; and Thomas Rowe, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate education. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Mahon studies individual molecules and the role they play in discovering new drugs. “The whole process is really exciting. Looking at individual proteins and how they might translate into designing a drug and can help someone in the clinical setting is very exciting,” he said.

Each of the students was recognized for his or her work, with one gold, two silvers and three bronze awards. Other doctoral student awards presented at the ceremony included the Advancement to Candidacy Award and the Council of Academic Chairs Scholarship. Monetary awards were presented to all student award recipients.

The sponsoring organization, the UF Medical Guild, is a volunteer organization of single UF College of Medicine faculty and spouses of UF Health or UF College of Medicine faculty. The guild supports initiatives like the Research Symposium through the Gift Stop shops found within the hospitals. The organization also supports other initiatives, such as grants to health care programs and donations to help build new facilities at UF Health.

“Without these Ph.D. students doing research, we wouldn’t have any medicine to give patients or treat a disease. Rewarding the brightest of the bright is wonderful,” said Lynda Bucciarelli, Medical Guild parliamentarian. “We are very proud as members of the Medical Guild that we can make some money at our gift shops and, in turn, pass these awards along to the candidates.”

41st Annual Medical Guild Symposium Award recipients

Gold
Brian Mahon
“Carbonic Anhydrase IX Inhibition: A “Sweet” Approach to Treat Cancer”
Mentor: Robert McKenna, Ph.D.

Silver
Justin Kaspar
“Peptide Communication in Gram-Positive Bacteria: Uncovering Novel Regulators of XIP Signaling in Streptococcus Mutans”
Mentor: Robert Burne, Ph.D.

Joonseok Cho
“Targeted Manipulation of Hepatic Mitochondrial Metabolism to Prevent Fatty Liver and Obesity”
Mentor: Neohiro Terad, M.D., Ph.D.

Bronze
Danielle Sambo
“Investigating the Role of the Sigma-1 Receptor as a Target for Methamphetamine Addiction”
Mentor: Habibeh Khoshbouei, Ph.D.

Yuan Lu
“Engineering the AAV Vector for Tumor Targeting”
Mentor: Steven Ghivizzani, Ph.D.

Stephen Chrzanowski
Optical Imaging Identifies Muscle Pathology in a New Light”
Mentor: Glenn Walter, Ph.D.

Advancement to Candidacy Award recipients

Daniel Delitto – Immunology and microbiology
Mentor: Shannon Wallet, Ph.D.

Kristen Solocinski – Biochemistry and molecular biology
Mentor: Michelle Gumz, Ph.D.

Jacquelyn Walejko – Biochemistry and molecular biology
Mentor: Arthur Edison, Ph.D.

Council of Academic Chairs Scholarship recipient

Daniel Delitto – Immunology and microbiology
Mentor: Shannon Wallet, Ph.D.