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Volume 2, Issue 1, September 2010

The GSO News Medical College of Georgia Graduate Student Organization

Welcome Back from the GSO President


2010/11 GSO Officers


26th Annual Graduate Research Day


Student: Aisha Cobbs


Student: Irfan Ali


Faculty: Dr. Jennifer Sullivan


Student Accomplishments


Feature Article: Medical Illustration


GSO Fundraiser


2010/11 GSO Officers Colleen Carey In addition to the GSO president’s welcome note, the GSO officers would also like to take the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves. Here we provide you with some basic information about the work we do at MCG and highlight the goals each one of us is eager to achieve within this academic year.

…to“Officers”, pg. 2

The GSO News

Dear fellow graduate students, It’s once again that time of the year - a new academic term has just begun and we have a lot planned for you. Last year we were able to establish many new things for MCG’s graduate students while at the same time also maintaining well-appreciated GSO traditions and even reviving old ideas. In doing so, we were able to meet our goals of improving the overall communication among the graduate student body, connecting students from different programs, combining GSO’s and SGA’s efforts for the benefit of all MCG students, and establishing new relationships with other schools within the University System of Georgia. As a result of these team efforts, we are able to look back on a very active and successful past year for our organization!

While we begin the new academic year with presenting the 1st edition of the GSO Welcome Handbook to the new incoming classes of graduate students (which can be found at http://www.mcg. edu/gradstudies/students.htm), we also plan to extend our focus on the more upper level students by a variety of means. One such goal of doing so is through inviting guest speakers to talk about professional career opportunities, because one can never start planning the future too early! Lastly, I’d like to encourage you to keep an eye out for announcements from your organization. Thanks to your help, input, and participation, GSO has become one of the most influential and well-respected student organizations at MCG and together we can keep it that way! On behalf of the GSO and my fellow officers I wish you all a very successful year and look forward to seeing you at many of the upcoming events we have planned. Samuel Herberg GSO President

photography by Dr. Patricia Cameron

Inside this Issue

Welcome Back from the GSO President


...from “Officers”, pg. 1

3rd year Cellular Biology & Anatomy PhD student in Dr. William Hill’s lab, research interest in stem cells for tissue regeneration. Goal(s) for this year: “To further improve the overall recognition of GSO campus-wide by representing our organization at the highest level of student leaders while also making sure that our services reach the more than 500 graduate students by acting as their point person. Ultimately, I wish for GSO to become an invaluable part of every graduate students’ intellectual and social experience at our institution.”

Vice president Katie Spitler: 2nd year Biomed PhD student in Dr. Clinton Webb’s lab, research interest “using dietary supplementation to improve hypertension.” My goals are “to help organize a new lecture series featuring speakers that will talk about job opportunities that are out there after someone gets a PhD.”

Secretary Paramita Pati: 3rd year BIOMED PhD student in Dr. Dan Rudic’s lab, research interest is in the role of the circadian clock in hypertension and regulation of the circadian clock in the vasculature. Goal for this year: “To provide official correspondence and distribute information related to GSO. Also, to work with the

…to“Officers”, pg. 5 The GSO News

photography by Dr. Patricia Cameron

President Samuel Herberg:

26th Annual Graduate Research Day: Students, trainees and post-doctoral London and Wellcome Research Laborafellows shine Colleen Carey

As one of the longest-standing traditions and highlights of the academic year within the School of Graduate Studies, Graduate Research Day provides an opportunity for both students and postdocs to share with the campus the outstanding work that is being conducted here on campus. As expected, the 26th annual Graduate Research Day held in March 2010 proved to be an impressive display of progressive and innovative projects from all participants. This year over 100 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students showcased research in biomedical sciences, biostatistics, health informatics, medical illustration and nursing. This year, Sir Salvador Moncada (MD, PhD, DSci, FMedSci, FRS) a world renowned scientist and Professor of Experimental Biology and Therapeutics at University College London, United Kingdom was the invited guest speaker. Dr. Moncada earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons at the University of

tories under Sir John Vane. While there he solved the mechanism of action of aspirin, which was published in three classic papers for which he received a PhD in 1973. Dr. Moncada then went on to play a central role in the discovery and development of prostacyclin as a medicine for cardiopulmonary bypass operations and pulmonary hypertension. In 1985 Dr. Moncada began investigations that lead him and his team to identify the newly described, “endothelium-derived releasing factor” or EDRF and his lab made one of the first breakthroughs that later enabled EDRF to be identified as nitric oxide. To date, his work still continues to elucidate new mechanisms in endothelial cell biology and explore new therapies in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Moncada is an excellent speaker and his talk was enjoyed by all who attended. O The staff of GSO News would like to congratulate all participants for their hard work as well as to specifically acknowledge the winners of this years awards. (Next page)


2 010 Gr aduat e R es earch Day Awa rd Winners Overall Excellence in Biomedical Research - Fisher Scientific Aisha Cobbs Ji Cheng Memorial Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research Chaitany a Patwardha n Lowell M. Greenbaum Award for Research Excellence in Pharmacology Scott Webster R. August Roesel Memorial Award for Research Excellence in Biochemistry Mary Zimmer man Virendra B. Mahesh Award for Research Excellence in Endocrinology Limor Raz Excellence in Research Award Graduate Nursing- Annette Bourgault Public Health- Juliane Mo nko Cellular Biology and Anatomy- Moataz Elkasrawy Molecular Medicine- Burles (Rusty ) Johnso n Neuroscience- Christina W ilso n Physiology- Kathryn Spitler UGA Clinical & Experimental Therapeutics - Roshini Prakash Vascular Biology- Irfan Ali School of Graduate Studies (6) Saurabh Agg arwal, Melanie King, Mo hamed Saleh, Frank Spradley, Wararat Kittikuls uth, Brando n Hall Educational Multimedia Award - Medical Illustration Nathaniel Klein Excellence in Postdoctoral Research Awards – International & Postdoctoral Services Office Poster Pres entatio n - Ding Xie Oral Pres entatio n- Eric Belin de Chantemele International Graduate Exchange Trainee Award Tao Wang MCG/UGA Student Exchange Award - MCG/UGA Collaborative Winner – Tiffany Ng uy en Hono rable mentio n – Rus ty Jo hnso n

The GSO News



to conferences and being awarded my own grant funding for every year that I have been at MCG.” Outside of school, she spends time with her husband and family and on the weekends they usually go to the movies, out to restaurants, or travel. Aisha said, “I try to strike a balance between my personal life and school life. I pace myself in the lab and try not to give into my workaholic tendencies. I like going to the Riverwalk and Thurmond Lake when I need some peace and quiet.” Also, she and her husband are expecting their first child soon.

Aisha Cobbs Paramita Pati Aisha Cobbs is a fifth year Biomedical Sciences PhD student in the department of Physiology. She is doing her disserta-

Mohammed Irfan Ali Namita Hattangady Mohammed Irfan Ali has been a student of Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. in Dr. David Stepp’s laboratory in the Department of Vascular Biology. He recently defended his thesis in July 2010. His dissertation project investigated whether improving the metabolic perturbations associated with the insulin receptor in obesity, via the protein tyrosine phophatase 1B (PTP1B) gene deletion, has a role in improving cardiovascular function. Irfan joined Dr. Stepp’s laboratory to continue research in the field of his interest since his undergraduate days. Irfan was raised in Missouri; his mother is of Yemeni decent and his father is from India. As for his decision to join MCG he says simply that the deluge of Katrina made him relocate to MCG from

The GSO News

Originally from Conyers, GA, Aisha decided to attend MCG because she “was impressed with the faculty and the facilities, and MCG seemed like a place where she could develop as a scientist.” During her time at MCG, Aisha has won a number of national and regional awards. She shares authorship on several publications, and is the first author on a publication currently under review. When asked what her most rewarding experience here has been, she said, “Traveling

the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans. Irfan has a number of achievements to his credit at MCG. He is the first author on two publications that are currently in press and he shares authorship on several others. Irfan has been a recipient of several honors such as invitations for oral presentations, competitive awards and the American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from 2008-2010. Irfan cites his article in Circulation Research, the completion of his dissertation and the friendships of colleagues he has acquired as some of his most rewarding experiences at MCG. He is grateful to MCG for the opportunities it has provided him. Irfan has involved himself in various activities, including running for the office of President of the GSO. He is also a family man and enjoys spending quality “Mohammed”, pg. 8

Aisha’s advice for current students is not to be discouraged when experiments don’t seem to go as planned, and she suggests using the experience as an opportunity to take a fresh look at the problem, and that usually it is a minor detail that “Aisha”, pg. 8

photography by Moataz Elkasrawy

photography by Moataz Elkasrawy

tion research in the laboratory of Dr. Adviye Ergul where she is investigating how diabetes alters the cerebrovasculature and how this affects stroke outcome. Regarding her choice of lab, Aisha said her advisor’s mentoring style seemed like a good fit, and she was also very interested in doing diabetes and stroke research.

In future issues the ‘Current Student Spotlight’ will continue to highlight current graduate students throughout each department in the School of Graduate Studies with regards to their current research. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured please email us at with ‘Student Spotlight’ in the subject line.


...from “Officers”, pg. 2


other officers to further the goals of the organization so that we can better serve our members.”

Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer Case Sullivan is a core faculty member in the Vascular Biology Center, with her primary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology. The research program in her laboratory is focused on studying the mechanisms that contribute to the observation that men tend to develop hypertension and renal disease at a younger age compared to women and with greater severity. The model that is studied is the ‘Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat’ which displays a sexual dimorphism in blood pressure and renal injury similar to that seen in people. Current studies are focused on the role of the nitric oxide/nitric oxide synthase pathway, the renin-angiotensin system, and inflammation.

Treasurer Davies Agyekum: 3rd year Molecular Medicine student in Dr. Steffen Meiler’s lab. My research interest include the development of therapeutic agents for treatment of the genetic disorder of sickle cell disease. Goals for this year: “To provide good oversight of finances of GSO ensuring that we can continue to provide the many amenities our student body has come to enjoy.”

Social Chair Colleen Carey: 3rd year Genomic Medicine PhD student in Dr. Jin-Xiong She’s lab. Research interest include the use of genomic profiling techniques for the identification of biomarkers of disease prediction, prevention and therapeutic treatment. Goals for this year: “To continue the increase amount of social events provided for the graduate students as well as to further increase the interaction among all graduate programs on campus.” O

photography by Dr. Patricia Cameron

SGA Representatives

Deeksha Gambhir, Roshini Prakash, Rui Wang, Anil Bhatta, Juan Mo Not Pictured: Rebecca Nalloor

The GSO News

Dr. Sullivan was born in Watertown, NY but from the age of three lived in Claverack, NY. She obtained her B.S. at the State University of New York at Geneseo, and then earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Albany Medical College in Albany, NY. Dr. Sullivan decided to come to MCG in 2000 to do a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Jennifer Pollock because her goal was to learn molecular biology with a focus on nitric oxide. When asked what her most rewarding experience at MCG has been, Dr. Sullivan says, “There are really 2 things that I most enjoy about MCG. First, is the other faculty that I am fortunate enough to collaborate with. We have amazing faculty here at MCG and the collaborations that I have established over the years are part of what makes my job so fun. Interacting with other people that love science and appreciate what we get to do everyday makes my research pro-

photography by Moataz Elkasrawy

Paramita Pati

gram better and my experience in science more fulfilling. Second are the students. I have worked with students at all levels since coming to MCG and part of what I enjoy most about my job is being able to introduce students to science. Whether it is an undergraduate in my lab for the STAR program, a graduate student, or post-doctoral fellows, sharing with them my passion for science and watching them begin to ask their own questions is amazing.” Dr. Sullivan’s advice for current students is to “Keep a positive attitude, believe in your strengths and skills but know when to turn to others for help.” Outside of school, she spends time with her husband and two daughters who are aged five and seven. Regarding her strategy for “survival” she says the following: “to keep a positive attitude in the face of the unavoidable disappointments that a ca- “Sullivan”, pg. 8 The ‘Faculty Spotlight’ will continue to highlight current faculty from departments within the School of Graduate Studies with regards to their current research and accomplishments. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured please email us at GSO@mcg. edu with ‘Faculty Spotlight’ in the subject line.


The GSO News would like to congratulate the following individuals on some recent accomplishments! Folami Lamoke 2nd year Biomed PhD student in Dr. Manuela Bartoli’s lab. Folami attended the 2010 Annul Meeting for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). The title of her talk was “Implication of the Small-G Protein Rac-1 in Amyloid Beta-Induced Oxidative Stress and Retinal Cells Toxicity” in a session entitled ‘Hot Topics and Novel Concepts in AMD Research’. She was also the recipient of a travel award award from the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Tiffany Nguyen A recent graduate, was selected as the MCG winner of the MCG/ UGA Student Exchange Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research. This award is designed to recognize and reward excellence in biomedical research by graduate students and to promote interaction between the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Georgia (Athens). Each year two awards are presented, one to an MCG graduate student and one to a UGA graduate student. Nominees are in their advanced stage of biomedical research and are evaluated on the overall scientific merit and quality of their work, mastery of their scientific field, and verbal presentation skills.

spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), but not in female SHR”.

Paramita Pati Recently attended and presented at the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms 2010 meeting from May 22-May 26. The title of her poster was “Blunted hypertensive response to L-NAME in Bmal1-KO mice”.

Beth Richter Beth has chosen to share some pictures with the GSO News!

MCG Alumni, Aisha Walker and Rachel Novak attended Beth’s hooding ceremony this year.

Mohamed Saleh Mohamed has been busy! He’d like to share with us his accomplishments this past year including a first author poster presentation entitled “Differential Effects of Endothelin A and B Receptor Antagonism on Diabetes-Induced Proteinuria, Glomerular Permeability, and Inflammation” and a first author Oral presentation entitled “Free Radical Scavenging Decreases Endothelin-1 (ET-1) Excretion and Glomerular Permeability During Diabetes”.

A group of graduate students out for May First Friday/Graduation night.

Ahmed El-Awady Also attended EB and presented a poster entitled “A new mechanism explaining the sustained effect of Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 (rhBMP-2 during reconstruction of segmental bone defects”.O

Krystal Brinson Attended the Experimental Biology Conference and presented the following poster “Chronic angiotensin II (Ang II) increases renal oxidative stress in male

The GSO News

A big congrats to the now 2nd year Biomedical Science PhD students for completing their first year course work! Photography by Moataz Elkasrawy


Feature Article: Illustrators attend Portland, Oregon Meeting Steve Harrison Students and Faculty from MCG’s Department of Medical Illustration attended the 65th annual meeting of the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) in Portland, Oregon, from July 27 to August 1, 2010. The international meeting’s program focused on continuing education topics for the contemporary medical illustrator in the areas of basic medical science, surgery, media technology, and business related issues. Nearly 300 professionals and students attended the conference, which was held on the Portland State University campus. Centerpieces of the annual meeting are the medical illustration Salons of Professional and Student medical and fine art.

More than 250 pieces of medical artwork were entered in the Salons, with MCG alumni winning thirteen of the forty judged awards in print media, animation, and textbook illustration categories of the Professional Salon. In the Student Salon, Douglas Walp (Class of 2010) was awarded a Certificate of Merit for his animation, “Kidney Physiology: Reabsorption in the Proximal Tubule,” and Paul Kim (Class of 2011) received an Award of Excellence in Instructional Line Illustration for his surgical series, “Superficial Parotidectomy.” Mr. Kim’s illustration also won the prestigious Orville Parkes Award for Best of Show in the Student Salon. The Parkes Award is named in honor of the former Chairman of the Department of Medical Illustration from 1949-1974. The conference featured one day of workshops and three days of plenary and concurrent sessions by leaders in the fields of medical illustration and animation. Sessions covering topics in

clinical medicine, surgery, and biomedical research were largely presented by faculty members from the Oregon Health Sciences University. Other than the salon awards, several MCG alumni received recognition during the Awards Banquet on Saturday, July 31. Michelle Reinke (Class of 2010) was recognized as a scholarship award recipient by the Vesalius Trust for Visual Communication in the Health Sciences. William Westwood (Class of 1972) was honored by the Association of Medical Illustrator’s Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest honor to acknowledge a medical illustrator whose life, work, and accomplishments have significantly contributed to the profession and fellow illustrators. Mr. Westwood has had a distinguished professional career including stints on the board of governors and as President of the AMI. He owns his own medical illustration business in Albany, New York, and prior to that was on the medical illustration staff at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Special recognition was given to the first student of medical illustration at MCG, George Lynch (1924-2009). Excerpts from a videotaped interview with Mr. Lynch highlighted his illustrious career as an illustrator at Duke University and as Biocommunication Director at Bowman Gray (Wake Forest) School of Medicine. A remastered copy of Mr. Lynch’s award winning filmograph, “A Brief History of Medicine” was aired at the Awards banquet. Nine members of the MCG Medical Illustration Class of 2011 attended the AMI meeting in Portland, with support from the School of Graduate Studies. The MCG Medical Illustration Graduate Program is one of four accredited programs of its kind in the United States. O

2nd year Medical Illustration students at AMI awards banquet in Portland Oregon. Photography by Delia Dykes

The GSO News


...from “Aisha”, pg.4

...from “Mohammed”, pg.4

can be easily remedied. When asked how she feels about the preparation MCG has given her, she said the following: “I feel confident in my ability to solve problems and think critically. I also believe that I can successfully compete for grant funding as an independent investigator. My mentor has also helped me sharpen my scientific communication skills by encouraging me to write and review journal articles, give oral presentations, and submit grant applications.” As far as her future career goals, Aisha would like to ultimately pursue a career as a clinician scientist. The GSO wishes her the best for the future! O

time with his wife and children. Irfan is an instrument rated pilot and a musician as well. He plays the viola, the guitar and is currently teaching his daughter to play the violin. His advice to students is “Choose a mentor based on how you feel around him/ her; do not look at the project first”. He suggests preparing the presentation first, while writing the thesis, as it provides a good outline to one’s thoughts. To relax and unwind, he recommends visiting Clark’s Hill Lake and Walton Way Deli! After a short postdoctoral position with Dr. Sean Didion, Irfan plans to complete his Medical Degree at the St. George’ University School of Medicine. The GSO wishes Irfan all the best in his endeavors! O

...from “Sullivan”, pg.5 reer in science presents (paper rejected, grants triaged) I count on my friends and colleagues in science both at MCG and at other institutions. Surrounding yourself with people that know you and support you is always a good thing.” For the future, she plans to continue to “do good science” and stay funded. The GSO thanks Dr. Sullivan for sharing her story with us! O

2 010 Alumni Scholarship Awar d Wi n ners School of Allied Health Sciences Alumni Association Scholarships Amber McCall Moataz Elkasrawy Brann Alumni Scholarship Colleen Carey Paresh Chothe

The GSO News


GSO Fundraiser

The Graduate Student Organization will be selling peel off cards for only $10 while they last!

*Local Merchants *Only $10 *Buy one get one free coupons *Support MCG’s Graduate Student Organization *Coupons good through December 2011!

For more Information please contact Colleen Carey or Renee Bozard at

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Students of MCG GSO

Graduate Student Organization School of Graduate Studies Medical College of Georgia 1120 15th St. CJ 2201 Augusta, GA 30912-1500

Namita Hattangady Paramita Pati


The GSO News

Samuel Herberg

Feature Article Steve Harrison


September 2010 - GSO News  

Volume 2, Issue 1