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October 20, 2017

Clinical Scholars Program Celebrates New Graduates
By Michelle Romanick

Six graduating Clinical Scholars received Masters’ of Clinical and Translational Science degrees at a dinner celebrating them and their mentors on June 8, 2017.
Dr. Kemal Akat studied RNA molecular mechanisms in the cardiovascular system in Dr. Thomas Tuschl’s Laboratory of RNA Molecular Biology.  His research included aortic valvular disease, as well as circulating RNA molecules using next-generation sequencing with the goal of improving the diagnosis of patients with heart disease and other disorders.  Dr. Akat is a resident in Internal Medicine at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine and will continue his research as a Visiting Fellow in the Tuschl Lab.
Dr. Julien Hsieh‘s research focused on improving smell testing in healthcare and the development of an ontology-based smell and taste phenotyping system     in Dr. Leslie Vosshall’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior. Dr. Hsieh’s research focuses on improving smell testing in healthcare and the development of an ontology-based smell and taste phenotyping system. His research may benefit the 19.4 million U.S. citizen that experience smell and/or taste abnormalities. Dr. Hsieh has resumed his ENT residency at the Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland in the Department of Ear Nose and Throat-Head and Neck Surgery.    He is continuing his research on clinical olfaction at the Geneva University Hospital.  
Dr. Gadi Lalazar’s research focuses on liver carcinogenesis and specifically on a rare liver cancer called Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Dr. Sanford Simon’s Laboratory of Cellular Biophysics. There is currently no approved therapy for this cancer and the overall survival is poor. Dr. Lalazar is using patient derived xenografts to understand the oncogenic dependence of this cancer and as a tool for pre-clinical drug development. Dr. Lalazar will continue his research in Dr. Simon’s laboratory.
Dr. Shinji Noda studied Asian atopic dermatitis phenotype with combined features of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis with increased Th17 polarization in Dr. James Krueger’s Laboratory of Investigative Dermatology.  Dr. Noda found that Asian patients with atopic dermatitis have a distinct skin phenotype characterized by epidermal hyperplasia and Th17 activation. The precise stratification of disease phenotypes will contribute to building strategies for a future personalized approach with targeted therapies. Dr. Noda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Tokyo.
Dr. Christina Pressl’s research focuses on face perception deficits in pharmaco-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy in Dr. Winrich Freiwald’s Laboratory of Neural Systems.  Dr. Pressl’s research investigates the functions and malfunctions of face perception and face memory to gain a deeper understanding on how the brain memorizes, recognizes, and perceives socially important cues.  Her aim is to understand how malfunctions of neural networks can lead to behavioral changes, how these can results in conditions like face blindness (prosopagnosia), and lead to psychological or social disabilities. Her research combines advanced neuroimaging with behavioral and genetic measures. Dr. Pressl is now in the Rockefeller University PhD graduate program and will continue her research in to collaborate with the Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Dr. Lotta von Boehmer’s research focused on induced host immune response to HIV-1 after antibody therapy in Dr. Michel Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology.  Dr. Von Boehmer systematically induced broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 in mice, a daunting task given the complicated features of HIV-1 immunity. She also identified a broadly neutralizing antibody that may help define strategies for developing a vaccine for HIV-1. Dr. von Boehmer was awarded a K99 (Pathway to Independence Award) grant from NIH and is a Senior Academic Researcher in the Mark M. Davis Laboratory at Stanford University, California.