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Xiaochen "Alex" HeYear: 5 PhDxhe2@umc.edu
Academic background: Graduated from Shandong Institute of Light Industry in 2007 with a BS in biotechnology. Graduated from Mississippi College in 2009 with a MS in biological sciences.
Research and personal statement: After receiving my degree, I worked in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics as a research technician. While doing research on renal artery stenosis and hypertension, I developed a strong interest in biomedical research and decided to pursue higher education and doctoral degree, which led me to the Medical Pharmacology program. As a PhD student, I am interested in the functional role of SIRT3 in endothelial glycolytic metabolism which is critical for maintaining proper endothelial function in the coronary microvasculature and its level has been shown to decrease with advanced age, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The long-term goals of my research are to understand the pathogenesis and identify the intracellular molecular basis that may contribute to cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, and to develop novel therapies that can prevent or reverse these devastating cardiovascular diseases.
Jeanne Aimable IshimweYear: 1 PhDjishimwe@umc.edu
Academic background: Graduated from Belhaven University in 2016 with a BS in chemistry.
Research and personal statement: I started my undergraduate studies at Belhaven University with a goal to pursue a career in medicine. I got opportunities to participate in summer programs in computational chemistry and analytical chemistry. These two experiences fostered my interest in pursuing a career in research. However, my summer internship in the Department of Pharmacology under the mentorship of Dr. Mallikarjuna Reddy Pabbidi is what helped me choose UMMC as the best fit for my next step in education. I believe the institution will equip me with the quality education and training opportunities I need to make a contribution to the scientific literature.
Kenji J. MaedaYear: 1 PhDkmaeda@umc.edu
Academic background: Graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 2016 with a BS in cellular and molecular biology
Research and personal statement: The foundation on which the science of pharmacology is based has always been of great interest to me. During the last year of my undergraduate career, I worked as the lead laboratory TA for the cellular and molecular biology course offered at my institute. This, along with the previous coursework in laboratories, insured that my calling for a professional career should have its roots working in the laboratory. The opportunity to work alongside colleagues to help aid in continual research, potential development of new pharmaceuticals, as well as expanding our knowledge on current drug interactions within biological systems to help better the lives of our society is what ultimately attracted me to pursue a degree in pharmacology at UMMC.
Kasi McPhersonYear: 5 PhD
Academic background: Graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2010 with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry. Graduated from Mississippi College in 2011 with a MS in biology.
Research and personal statement: The overall goal of my PhD dissertation work is to determine the role of enothelin-1 (ET-1) during the development of renal disease associated with obesity-induced metabolic syndrome. As a graduate student, my short term goals include becoming proficient in molecular and whole animal physiological techniques to examine key pathways involved in the early development of obesity induced renal disease. Upon the completion of my graduate training, I will continue my research career in nephrology and pharmacology as a postdoctoral fellow in order to reach my long term goal of developing a successful independent research program that focuses on the prevention and treatment of renal disease associated with obesity.
Bibek PoudelYear: 1 PhD
Academic background: Graduated from Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, in 2007 with BS in medical laboratory sciences and in 2010 with MS in clinical biochemistry with distinction.
Research and personal statement: During my MS dissertation and while working as a teaching faculty in the Department of Biochemistry at Manipal College of Medical Science, Pokhara, Nepal, I was actively involved in conducting a research project focused on hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Then, I had the opportunity to participate in a research project focused on the role of androgens on renal regulation of calcium and phosphate homeostasis in a male mouse model at KU Leuven, Belgium. I have always been interested in hypertension and renal diseases because I find them stimulating and challenging subjects in the research realm of biological sciences, and over the years of studying these major health problems, my interest in them has increased. As a graduate assistant, the UMMC Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology is a professionally managed organization which provides a platform to connect my qualification and experience in hypertension, renal disease and/or related disorders at a molecular, cellular, and whole animal level.
Corbin ShieldsYear: 1 PhD
Academic background: Graduated from Belhaven University in 2016 with a BS in cellular and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry.
Research and personal statement: I began my academic career at Belhaven with the plan to pursue a career as a physician. As I progressed through my undergraduate program, I soon discovered my true calling was in a career focused on uncovering the underlying causes of diseases in order to develop more effective treatments. Coming from a family with history of diabetes and renal disease, I have a profound interest in kidney research. I look forward to the opportunities given to me here at UMMC to not only further my education, but to also make advancements in public health.
Venkata Ramana VakaYear: 4 PhDvvaka@umc.edu
Academic background: Graduated from Bapatla College of Pharmacy in 2010 with a bachelor of pharmacy (B.Pharm) and from University of Mumbai in 2012 with master of pharmacy (MPharm).
Research and personal statement: My interest in pharmacology started in undergraduate school, when I performed skeletal muscle physiology experiments using different drugs. These experiments were fascinating to me and sparked my interest in pharmacology. After graduation, I further pursued my interest, and received a master degree with a concentration in pharmacology. Immediately after completion of my master's, I worked at Johnson & Johnson Ltd, Mumbai, India as a toxicologist for four months before I joined the doctoral program at UMMC in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Throughout the years, I have developed a strong interest in pharmacological drug mechanisms to alter the molecular and pathological conditions of diseases. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Dr. Babbette LaMarca's lab examining the role of mitochondrial oxidative stress in the pathology of Preeclampsia and the possible beneficial effects of employing drugs to reverse mitochondrial oxidative stress in preeclampsia. My long-term carer goal is to become an independent researcher, working in drug discovery.
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