MD-PhD Dual Degree Program

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Current MD-PhD Students


Jason Engel (G3)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: Mississippi State University

Field of Study/Interests: Development of novel therapeutics to protect microvasculature in ischemic kidney disease. Investigation of the role of immune infiltration in chronic renal microvascular injury and recovery. 

Honors/Awards:  A. Wallace Conerly, M.D. Scholarship; High Impact Paper: Basic Science - Hypertension Winter 2019; Caroline tum Suden/Frances Hellebrandt Professional Opportunity Award; APS Renal Section Predoctoral Excellence in Renal Research Award Finalist; Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: Alpha Omega Alpha Research Award Committee Chair

Funded Fellowship Application: American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship (19PRE34380314) entitled “Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Treatment of Renovascular Disease”

Published Papers as MD/PhD Student:

Engel JE, Chade AR. Macrophage polarization in chronic kidney disease: a balancing act between renal recovery or decline? Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 314: F1409-F1413, 2019. 

Engel JE, Guise E, Williams M, Bidwell GL, Chade AR. Targeted VEGF therapy induces long-term renal recovery in chronic kidney disease via macrophage polarization. Hypertension. 74: 1113-1123,2019 *Selected as High Impact Paper-Basic Science 2019

Guise E, Engel JE, Williams ML, Mahdi F, Bidwell GL, Chade AR. Biopolymer-delivered vascular endothelial growth factor improves renal outcomes following revascularization. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 316: F1016-F1025,2019.

Chade AR, Williams M, Engel JE, Guise E, Harvey T. A Translational model of chronic kidney disease in swine. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 315:F364-F373, 2018.

Harvey TW, Engel JE, Chade AR (2016). Vascular endothelial growth factor and podocyte protection in chronic hypoxia: Effects of endothelin-A receptor antagonism. Am J Nephrol. 43:74-84,2016

Interests/Hobbies: Chess




Hannah Turbeville (G3)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Medical Laboratory Science

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi

Field of Study/Interests: Developmental programming effects of preeclampsia and potential therapeutic targets with particular interest in resultant hypertension and chronic kidney disease

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Portland Press Predoctoral Research Award Finalist; Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society; Meyer and Genevieve Falk Endowment Award; Three-time ASN travel award recipient

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: American Physician Scientists Association Partnerships Committee Chair; Local APSA Vice-President/Institutional Representative; SOM Career Day Planning Committee; Trainee Representative for UMMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science; SOM Admissions Ambassador; Station Lead for Physiology Understanding Day at MS Children’s Museum.

Funded Fellowship Application (Title and Award Number): National Institutes of Health NSRA Pre-doctoral Fellowship for Combined Degree Students (F30DK118864) entitled “Therapeutic Role of Intrapartum PDE-5 Inhibition on Vascular and Renal Function in Offspring of Preeclamptic Pregnancy.”

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Turbeville HR, Taylor EB, Garrett MR, Didion S, Ryan MJ, Sasser JM. Preeclamptic pregnancy exacerbates postpartum renal injury despite lack of long-term blood pressure difference in the Dahl salt sensitive rat. Hypertension.  73:650-658,2019.

Taylor EB, Barati MT, Powell DW, Turbeville HR, Ryan MJ. Plasma cell depletion attenuates hypertension in an experimental model of autoimmune disease. Hypertension. 71:719-728,2018.

Interests/Hobbies: Medical education, medical missions, travel, scuba diving, all things Disney




Talal Younes (G3)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Biology and Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: William Carey University

Field of Study/Interests: Pediatric neuro-oncology; developmental origins of pediatric tumors; vascular effects of preeclampsia; experimental therapeutics for preeclampsia

Honors/Awards: Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society; Gold Humanism Honor Society; American College of Physicians Young Achiever

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: Physiologists-in-Training Group Coordinator

Funded Fellowship Application: American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship (18PRE34050024): “The Role of Anti-Angiogenic Factors in Cerebrovascular Dysfunction of Preeclampsia.”; St. Baldrick’s Foundation Summer Fellowship (Co-PI): “Whole Exome Sequencing of Disseminated Pilocytic Astrocytoma.”; UMMC Pediatrics Intradepartmental Discovery Support Program (Co-PI): “Molecular Characterization of Disseminated Pilocytic Astrocytoma.”

Published Papers as MD/PhD Student:

Duncan JW, Younes ST, Hildebrandt E, Ryan MJ, Granger JP, Drummond HA. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha impairs cerebral blood flow control in pregnant rats: Role of TNF-alpha on vascular beta-epithelial sodium channel.  Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. In Revision.

Younes ST, Maeda KJ, Sasser J, Ryan MJ. The glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist liraglutide attenuates placental ischemia-induced hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 318:H72-77,2020. * Selected for the American Physiological Society APSselect, a monthly collection from APS that highlights the best recently published articles in physiological research

Younes ST, Ryan MJ. Pathophysiology of cerebral vascular dysfunction in pregnancy-induced hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 21:53,2019.

Younes ST. Shift: A medical student’s reflections on the practice of medicine and nursing. Am J Med Sci. 355:402-403,2018.

Interests/Hobbies: Philosophy, theology, apologetics, reading, gardening




Meredith Cobb (G2)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: BS in Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi

Field of Study/Interests: My research is in nephron deficiency and its potential role in the development of diabetic kidney disease. My medical specialty interest is Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (Med-Peds).

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Poster Award Winner, American Heart Association Hypertension Scientific Sessions 2019; American Society of Nephrology Kidney STARS 2018 and 2019; The Jackson Fund Scholarship for The 60th McKusick Short Course Associated Student Body President’s Award; University of Southern Mississippi Student Hall of Fame

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:

Inaugural Physician Scientist Interest Day for Underrepresented Students Event Co-Chair; American Physiological Society Science Policy Committee Trainee member; Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium 2019 External Event Committee; UMMC Associate Student Body Secretary; UMMC Admissions Ambassador; American Physician Scientist Association Institutional Representative; Carl G. Evers Society

Published Papers as MD/PhD Student:

Showmaker K, Cobb MB, Johnson AC, Garrett MR. Whole genome sequencing and novel candidate genes for CAKUT an altered nephrogenesis in the HSRA rat. Physiol Genomics. 52:56-70,2020.

Interests/Hobbies:  Cycling and watching funny TV shows with my husband; being a mom to my three year old daughter.




Ezekiel Gonzalez-Fernandez (G2)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: California State University - Long Beach

Field of Study/Interests: Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias 

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Henderson Award; RISE Fellow; American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:

President, local Chapter American Physician Scientists Association

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Fan L, Wang S, He X, Gonzalez-Fernandez E, Lechene C, Fan F, Roman RJ. Visualization of intrarenal distribution of capillary blood flow. Physiol Rep. 7:e14065,2019.

Lv W, Fan F, Wang Y, Gonzalez-Fernandez E, Wang C, Yang L, Booz GW, Roman RJ. Therapeutic potential of microRNAs for the treatment of renal fibrosis and CKD. Physiol Genomics. 50:20-34,2018.

Shekhar S, Wang S, Mims PN, Gonzalez-Fernandez E, Zhang C, He X, Liu CY, Lv W, Wang Y, Huang J, Fan F. Impaired cerebral autoregulation: a common neuropathy in diabetes may play a critical role in diabetes-related alzheimer’s disease. Curr Res Diabetes Obes J. 2:e555587,2017.

Interests/Hobbies: Kayak fishing, tea parties with daughters, reading the Bible




Jamarius Waller (G2)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: B.A Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Mississippi

Field of Study/Interests: Medical: Pediatrics and therapeutic drug development and drug pharmacokinetics

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Martin Frank Diversity Fellowship Recipient

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: Mentor for Undergraduate Students; Local American Physician Scientist Association Chapter; UMMC Admissions Ambassador; Organizer-President

UMMC Bi-annual African American Visit Day; Treasuer and Mentorship Chairman, Local American Physician Scientist Association Chapter; Treasurer,

UMMC Student National Medical Association; Graduate Student Ambassador, APS

Funded Fellowship Application: NIH F31 Fellowship: “The use of a biopolymer-fused form of VEGF-B for the treatment of Preeclampsia.”

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Kuna M, Waller JP, Logue OC, Bidwell GL 3rd. Polymer size affects biodistribution and placental accumulation of the drug delivery biopolymer elastin-like polypeptide in a rodent pregnancy model. Placenta. 72-73:20-27,2018

Bidwell GL 3rd, Mahdi F, Shao Q, Logue OC, Waller JP, Reese C, Chade AR. A kidney-selective biopolymer for targeted drug delivery. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 312:F54-F64,2017.

Interests/Hobbies: Mentoring community youth; spending time with my family; Dungeons & Dragons; Chess





Jacob Pruett (G1)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi

Current Field of Study/Interests: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Sodium-glucose co-transporters, endocrinology

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Virendra B Mahesh Award of Excellence in Endocrinology; Best Oral Presentation: Southeast Medical Scientist Symposium; Kidney STARS Travel Grant; Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA); Gold Humanism Honor Society

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: Chair of AOA Research Award Committee (2019-2020); Co-Chair of GHHS Mini-Projects Committee (2019-2020); Current member of: the American Society of Nephrology, the American Physician Scientists Association, and the American Physiological Society

Interests/Hobbies: Traveling; Spanish; video games



Shelley Rae Edwards (M2)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Neuroscience

Undergraduate Institution: Millsaps College

Field of Study/Interests: Neuroscience

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: APSA 

Interests/Hobbies: Gardening