Six Weill Cornell Medicine postdoctoral associates, instructors and junior faculties who wish to pursue independent research careers have been awarded the JumpStart Career Development Awards for 2022.
The Jumpstart program supports researchers during the critical career development period, ranging from completion of research training to early years on the Weill Cornell Medicine faculty. By providing one year of initial funding, with the option of up to $300,000 over a three-year period, the program aims to help researchers apply for a National Institutes of Health K award, an early career grant that lays the groundwork to conduct independent research.
dr. Sadaf Amin, a postdoctoral associate in neuroscience, is investigating the role of innate antiviral immunity in brain aging and neurodegeneration. The innate immune system uses nucleic acid sensors in the cell to detect foreign and mislocalized nucleic acid species, such as those from viruses, and mount an inflammatory response against them. dr. Amin aims to investigate the role of antiviral nucleic acid detection pathways in driving maladaptive immune responses and the resulting neuronal changes in Alzheimer’s disease, and to develop novel strategies to alleviate chronic neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
dr. Jorge Baquero, a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology, attempts to characterize the role of a gene called B-lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 (Bmi1) in oral squamous cell carcinomas. Bmi1 is an important part of a complex that represses the transcription of many developmental genes. The gene is highly expressed in adult cancer stem cells implicated in squamous carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC), and HNSCC patients with elevated Bmi1 expression have worse prognosis. dr. Baquero plans to investigate the effects of increasing Bmi1 expression in oral epithelial stem cells to determine how it contributes to the genesis or development of HNSCC and to develop novel therapeutic approaches to cancer.
dr. Seoyeon Bok, postdoctoral fellow in pathology and laboratory medicine, conducts research into the stem cells that make up the skeleton, with a specific focus on the skull. Previous research results suggest that the skull contains two different stem cells that work together to form bone, and variations in how they “talk” to each other is an unrecognized cause for skull disorders in children and newborns. dr. Bok is investigating a possible third stem cell that may also contribute to skull formation. This third stem cell stimulates the formation of specialized bone marrow in the skull and may be involved in multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory diseases of the brain.
dr. Seyed A. Safavynia, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, is investigating the use of non-invasive neuromonitoring techniques to reduce neurocognitive complaints after surgery and anesthesia. His research focuses on understanding the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying altered states of consciousness, including post-anesthetic delirium and delayed recovery of consciousness after sedation exposure in patients severely ill with COVID-19.
dr. Marianne Sharko, an instructor in population health sciences and pediatrics, studies the complex privacy needs of adolescent patients under the 21st Century Cures Act and in the context of variable state privacy laws. She will create educational materials for adolescent patients and their parents that promote fair access to electronic information while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
dr. Kathleen Walsh, an assistant professor of medicine in the Department of General Internal Medicine, is investigating the clinical and molecular epidemiology of drug-resistant tuberculosis in resource-poor areas. Based at the Center for Global Health and in partnership with GHESKIO in Haiti, Dr. Walsh sentinel populations for isoniazid-resistant tuberculosis and strains of M. tuberculosis at high risk of developing further drug resistance. This enables early targeted interventions to prevent the transmission of drug-resistant tuberculosis.