SBP OETIS Chronicle FY2018 Q3

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OETIS Chronicle

In this issue: ‣ GSBS Interview Day ‣ SBP’s Grant Writing Workshop Series ‣ International Services Immigration Updates ‣ Congratulations to Our Recent Ph.D. Graduates & More!

GSBS Faculty Profile: Dr. Duc Dong By Andrew Bankston, Ph.D. (Program Manager, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences) Duc Dong is an Assistant Professor in the Human Genetics Program and Associate Dean of Admissions in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Born in Vietnam, his family of 7 immigrated to the US when he was 4 and settled in the dawning Silicon Valley – an environment that greatly influenced his development. As a child, Duc enjoyed constructing his own toys and experimenting on bugs. In high school, he interned at NASA for a year and his team won Mars rover engineering contests sponsored by NASA. His experiences nurtured his interests in careers that would allow him to combine his creativity with science, such as an aerospace or genetic engineer. Duc majored in biology at the University of California, Irvine, where he did his undergraduate studies and worked in a molecular evolution lab, as well as in a salamander limb regeneration lab. He earned his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2002. His graduate work helped to define the mechanism of the famous Antennapedia mutation and was among the first to show that a cocktail of genes could be used to reprogram tissue identity in an animal. These studies led to four senior author publications in Development and PNAS. Working in a lab with limited funds as a graduate student taught him how to design simple experiments to resolve fundamental questions. During graduate school, Duc excelled outside the lab as well, becoming a grand champion at a national martial arts competition. Duc did his postdoc at UCSF where he studied organogenesis using the zebrafish. He was awarded a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Fellowship and a Larry L. Hillblom Fellowship for these studies. Being in a postdoctoral lab that was big and well-funded, he was encouraged to focus on “high impact” projects, which resulted in publications in Nature Genetics and Genes & Development. The intense, competitive nature of UCSF and the lab taught Duc that being adaptable and having a positive, focused mindset is important for success in any setting. After joining SBP, Duc received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and the W. M. Keck Foundation Award which funds pioneering science. Duc’s research focus is a culmination of past interests and research experiences. His longstanding interest in evolution, regeneration, genetic engineering, and genetic diseases, combined with his graduate research on master regulator genes in limb lineage specification and postdoctoral studies on organogenesis have led to the many projects that his lab now works on. His research goals have evolved from investigating developmental mechanisms to also exploring new solutions for genetic diseases and regeneration. His lab has developed the first mutant zebrafish monogenic diabetes model and Alagille Syndrome model, and is continuing to develop other (cont. on p. 2) OETIS Chronicle

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GSBS Faculty Profile: Dr. Duc Dong (cont.) disease models for mechanistic studies and drug discovery. His vision now is to understand the genetic and developmental limitations imposed by evolution to inspire us to devise new ways to not only treat diseases, but to advance our own biology using mechanisms that evolution has not been able to use. Duc‘s mentoring philosophy is to nourish his students’ passion for science and to teach them to question and enhance the rigor of their science. He tries to adapt to the individual needs, strength/weaknesses, and goals of each student. According to Duc, SBP students often have extensive training already before graduate school, and it is rewarding to see them develop further into independent, open-minded, and rigorous scientists. He tells his students that it is critical to question and challenge their assumptions, because that’s where they will learn new concepts and make unexpected discoveries. Duc enjoys philosophy and is interested in anything that allows him to express and test his creativity. His four kids and an ever growing passion for doing science take up most of his time. However, he still makes time to teach mindfulness and fitness through martial arts classes at SBP. He has taught tai chi and kung fu for over 20 years and has been teaching here since 2009. He stresses the importance of exercises like these for relaxing the mind and enhancing creativity.

Strength of GSBS community evident in success of Interview Day By Andrew Bankston, Ph.D. (Program Manager, GSBS) Photo Caption: Associate Dean of Curriculum Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D. discusses required coursework with potential candidates on Interview Day.

On February 23, 2018, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) welcomed ten applicants to campus to interview for its doctoral program. Welcomed by an iconic sunny Southern California day, the applicants enjoyed meeting current students, interviewing with prospective faculty mentors and touring the SBP campus. The day started with an orientation to GSBS and an overview of the Ph.D. program, including presentations and discussions with Dean Guy Salvesen, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Student Affairs Malene Hansen, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Curriculum Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Admissions Duc Dong, Ph.D., and OETIS Director Diane Klotz, Ph.D. The students then interviewed with prospective mentors and with the Admissions Committee. Between interviews, current students were available to answer questions and share their graduate student experience. The prospective students enjoyed a campus tour with Vice President for Scientific Resources Craig Hauser, Ph.D., and the day concluded with a happy hour and poster session with the SBP community. The prospective students were able to view and discuss posters from several GSBS students while interacting with faculty and staff. Overall, it was a very successful day! In addition to those who visited on February 23rd, several other applicants were interviewed via Skype. In fall 2018, the Graduate School is excited to welcome eight new students to our campus.

OETIS Chronicle

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SBP leads training efforts in grant writing on the Torrey Pines Mesa By Nisha A. Cavanaugh, Ph.D. (Manager, Postdoctoral & Academic Programs) In response to nearly 70% of postdocs on SBP’s Annual Postdoctoral Survey who expressed an interest in developing grant writing skills, OETIS and several SBP faculty developed and launched in January 2017 a comprehensive Grant Writing Workshop Series to provide postdoctoral scholars and graduate students with the tools and resources to effectively write and submit a grant proposal. In its second iteration, SBP’s Grant Writing Workshop Series gained momentum on the Torrey Pines Mesa; in addition to SBP trainees, postdocs and graduate students from UC San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies were invited to attend. Additionally, based on feedback from the 2017 workshop series evaluations, the series was expanded to include a separate module for early-career faculty (RAPs and Assistant Professors) focused on R-type NIH funding mechanisms and the six modules covered the following topics: • • • • • • • • •

developing a research plan developing a training plan writing and reviewing a specific aims page describing the non-research components of a fellowship or career development award describing an NIH biosketch understanding the grant submission process at SBP learning about various funding mechanisms available to trainees understanding how grants are reviewed and scored learning how to respond to reviewers’ comments

In 2018, more than 200 postdocs, graduate students, staff scientists, and faculty attended a Grant Writing Workshop Series module. Four SBP postdocs completed all six modules and were granted certificates of completion.

Photo Caption: Professor & Faculty Advisor for Postdoctoral Training, Dr. Malene Hansen, kicked off SBP’s Grant Writing Workshop Series with a module on how to develop and effectively communicate a research plan for an NIH fellowship or career development award application. She also presented a separate module for Assistant Professors and Research Assistant Professors that focused on research plans for NIH R-type funding mechanisms.

OETIS Chronicle

Photo Caption: In Module 2, participants compared and contrasted sample Specific Aims pages from an F31, F32, K99, and R01 applications. In a round-table format, we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each Specific Aims page and identified ways to strengthen the applications. At the end of the workshop series, SBP trainees were invited to submit their own Specific Aims page and receive feedback towards enhancing their grant writing skills and communicating their research ideas.

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SBP’s Grant Writing Workshop Series (cont.)

Photo Caption: In Module 3, panelists shared their experience and strategies for successfully obtaining a fellowship or career development award. Panelists, from left to right: Marisa Sanchez (graduate student in Wolf lab); Michael Stec, Ph.D. (postdoc in Sacco lab); Stephanie Grainger, Ph.D. (UCSD postdoc); and Aniruddha Deshpande, Ph.D. (SBP Assistant Professor).

Photo Caption: Module 5 featured SBP faculty (Malene Hansen, Ph.D. (Professor); Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D. (Associate Professor); Guy Salvesen, Ph.D. (Professor); and Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D. (Professor)) participating in a mock study section discussion of a sample F32 postdoctoral fellowship application. Prior to the round-table discussion, Dr. Nisha Cavanaugh walked participants through the Study Section and Review Processes, and the key individuals involved.

OETIS Chronicle

Photo Caption: In Module 4, Sponsored Research Office (SRO) team member, Alyssa Hill, presented the grant submission process at SBP, including who to contact (SRO, the Research Administrative Staff, the faculty, and OETIS) for information and templates. OETIS team member, Nisha Cavanaugh, Ph.D. presented on the structure and components of an NIH biosketch.

Photo Caption: In Module 6, Dr. Malene Hansen wrapped up the Grant Writing Workshop Series by explaining what happens after a grant proposal is reviewed. Special attention was given to Summary Statements and how to respond to reviewer comments in a productive way.

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Congratulations to our recent Ph.D. graduate! Wesley McKeithan, Ph.D. Thesis Title: Reengineering an Antiarrhythmic with Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Mentor: Dr. Mark Mercola Graduated January 19, 2018

Wesley was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from Montgomery Bell Academy in 2007 and matriculated to the University of San Diego (USD) later that year. In 2011, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry. While at USD, he began working in the laboratory of Mark Mercola, Ph.D. under the supervision of a postdoctoral fellow, Alexandre Colas, Ph.D. and studied the role of microRNAs during cardiac development. In 2013, Wesley began his thesis research at the SBP Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in the Mercola lab. While continuing to study molecular mechanisms of cardiac development with Dr. Colas, Wesley began his thesis research to establish an in vitro model of a congenital heart rhythm disorder using induced pluripotent stem cells. Using the model, he developed a more potent antiarrhythmic drug candidate. As a result of his work, Wesley has won multiple poster prizes, including at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute Drug Discovery Conference, and has been an invited speaker at research symposia as well as a guest lecturer at an NHLBI-sponsored laboratory course. After graduation, Wesley plans to pursue a postdoctoral position utilizing synthetic biology techniques to engineer mammalian cells to perform non-natural functions.

OETIS recognizes SBP trainee accomplishments  Jose Nieto Torres, Ph.D. (a postdoc in Dr. Malene Hansen’s lab) was selected to give a talk at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference on Autophagy in Stress, Development and Disease. The title of his talk was, “LC3 Phosphorylation is Critical for Directional Transport of Autophagic Vesicles.” Share your research and career accomplishments with us! Email and tell us your exciting news!

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Apply for the 2018-2019 Torrey Pines Leadership Development Program at SBP For the third year in a row, the Torrey Pines Leadership Development Program (a.k.a SBP Leaders) will accept applications from postdocs and graduate students for next year’s program cohort. Participants will learn more about their leadership styles and preferences, and the leadership styles and preferences of others, towards understanding how they and their future teams can succeed. The application cycle will open in early June 2018. Stay tuned for further details and learn more about the program at

Congratulations to our recent Ph.D. graduate! Monica Gonzalez, Ph.D. Thesis Title: The role of caspases in inflammation Mentor: Dr. Guy Salvesen Graduated February 8, 2018

Monica was raised in Long Beach, California but comes from a matriarchal lineage of courageous, headstrong and perseverant women, rooted in Zacatecas, a state located in north-central Mexico, bordering the states of Jalisco and Aguascalientes. Monica became the first in her family to attend college when she enrolled at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She started her undergraduate studies with the intent of pursuing pharmacy school and even became a licensed pharmacy technician, however, after her freshmen year she discovered her fascination with cell biology. In 2010, after completing her Bachelor of Science in Biology, Monica moved to the central valley to experience graduate school at California State University, Fresno. During her time in Dr. Jason Bush’s Cancer Laboratory, Monica served a two-month internship at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Dr. Guy Salvesen’s protease laboratory. Her Master’s thesis project on the proliferative role of caspase-8 and FLIP resulted from collaborative work between these two groups. In Fall 2013, Monica joined the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at SBP in Dr. Salvesen’s laboratory. Monica’s doctoral study focuses on understanding the role of inflammatory caspases in pyroptosis and inflammation. For the past four summers, Monica has also experienced the joy of teaching and mentoring more than 30 aspiring high school scientists. Monica also volunteers as a Science Education Mentor for Ocean Discovery Institute, before-school tutor for City Heights Prep Charter School and medical interpreter for Champions for Health.

theduate issue of

OETIS Chronicle

Welcome new OETIS team member, Olga Gubanova, M.S., Program Coordinator for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS)! Learn more about Olga in the next the OETIS Chronicle.

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International Services Immigration Updates By Doug Broadhurst, M.A. (Manager, International Services) While immigration related news and proposed regulatory changes continue to filter out from Washington D.C., the first several months of the year has seen little movement on the overall immigration debate. The following summarizes some of the more recent news to consider going forward: H-1B Cap: USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) has announced that they reached the congressionally-mandated cap of 85,000 H-1B petitions for private industry as of April 6th. This total is divided between 65,000 standard petitions and 20,000 reserved for those applicants with a U.S. advanced degree. As of April 10, USCIS has not indicated how many H-1B petitions they received on April 1 when petitions started to be accepted for this H-1B year quota, however the last several years has seen 200,000 plus petitions submitted by that date. Those received will now be put into a lottery to determine which petitions will be counted toward the 85,000 total. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected capsubject petitions as well as those petitions submitted as multiple filings. For H-1B petitions that are selected and ultimately approved for this year, employment can began no earlier than October 1, 2018. USCIS will continue to accept and process cap-exempt H-1B petitions (those filed by non-profit/educational institutes). These include initial H-1B petitions, extensions, amendments, and H-1B changes of employer. They will also continue to process petitions for H-1B workers who have been counted previously towards the cap and have H-1B time remaining. Visa Scrutiny Increases: The current environment has seen increased scrutiny of not only H-1B visas, both cap subject and exempt, but virtually every visa type. For H-1Bs petitions filed nationwide there has been a significant increase in the number of Request for Further Information (RFEs) from USCIS and reports of an uptick in the number of denials. At the U.S. embassies and consulate abroad, although there has been increased questioning during the visa application process (for all visas), SBP scholars continue to travel and visas continue to be issued. Those visa applicants who are subject to further administrative processing during the visa application continue in most cases to receive their visa in 4 - 6 weeks once the administrative processing is completed. April 2018 Visa Bulletin: For those scholars applying or considering applying for U.S. permanent residency, the monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State (Google: Visa Bulletin) establishes which countries citizens are current and can move forward with an Adjustment of Status petition to permanent resident and which countries are backlogged and must wait. In general, citizens of all countries, if eligible, can file the first step in the process, the Form I-140: Petition for Alien Worker. For those self-petitioning and applying in one of the Employment Based (EB) categories, either EB1a (Extra-Ordinary Ability) or EB2 (National Interest Waiver), once they have an approved I-140 to then file the second and final step, the Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, their country must be “Current” or marked as “C” on the monthly Visa Bulletin. If current that means there are available permanent residency slots or spaces for their country and they can proceed with their filing. Throughout the year most all countries remain current in the EB1a category which is has fewer applicants based on the higher criteria for the category. In the EB2 (National Interest Waiver) category, most countries remain current except for citizens of China and India, whose filing dates are backlogged for years: China to 2014 and India to 2008. This is due to the high number of pending petitions from these two countries. As of April 2018, however, the U.S. Department of State has also temporarily backlogged China and India in the EB1a category. They expect this category to be backlogged until October 1, 2018 when the new U.S. government year starts and a new allotment of permanent residency visas are made available. Please plan to join International Services for its next Quarterly Update on May 22, announcements forthcoming. OETIS Chronicle

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OETIS launches new Workshop Calendar Grid on Intranet OETIS has created a new tool on the Intranet to help you with long-term planning for your career & professional development! The new OETIS Workshops & Events Calendar Grid is a visual representation of the workshops, programs, and events that OETIS has planned for the coming year. Workshops held over the course of the next year are categorized in to areas such as “career exploration,” “leadership & management,” and “presentation skills.” The grid is interactive and linked to the OETIS Workshop Calendar; clicking on an individual event will provide you with event details and a workshop description. We hope you will use this interface to plan for the career and professional development opportunities you wish to take advantage of in the coming year. Should you have any questions about the information provided on the Calendar Grid, do not hesitate to contact us at

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UPCOMING EVENTS May 15: Elevator Pitch 2.0 As a graduate student or postdoc enters a new organization and seeks to meet new people or to build relationships to expand their professional network, they’re inevitably asked one question: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” The traditional “elevator pitch”—a 30-60 second introduction about oneself—is commonly practiced, memorized and delivered to initiate this conversation. But what happens next? The follow-on conversation is an organic discussion between two or more individuals that can heavily influence the outcome of a relationship, a business deal or a future interaction. This conversation cannot be rehearsed like the introductory elevator pitch. It needs to be customized to the person(s) you are speaking with in a way that lets them see your authenticity and easily glean the features and benefits of you, the speaker. In a very short time, you must be able to quickly establish a relationship with a new person and show them why it’s important to remain connected to you. Once this occurs, this new contact will want to include you in their network and help you achieve the outcomes you desire. Date/Time: Location: Speaker:

May 15, 2018, 4:00-5:00 pm Fishman Auditorium Josh Henkin, Ph.D. (Founder and Owner, STEM Career Services)

REGISTER AT: June 6: Careers & Coffee – Postdocs in Industry Date: Time: Location:

Wednesday, June 6 10:00-11:00 am Bldg. 2 Rm. 2224


Brent Dawe, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, Janssen Pharmaceuticals) & Samir Lal, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, Pfizer)

REGISTRATION LINK COMING SOON! July 17 – Aug. 30: Analysis of variance and factorial experiment design These lectures will introduce ANOVA and factorial experiment design. Topics will include one-way, two-way and multiway ANOVA, power and sample size for ANOVA, interactions, rank-based alternatives to ANOVA, factorial design of experiments, and fractional factorial designs. Examples will use the R statistics software. Participants wishing to receive a certificate of completion will be required to complete a short homework assignment using R or another statistics software package. Note that Prism and Excel do not provide methods for the analyses in the homework assignment. Participants should have experience or a previous course covering descriptive statistics and t-tests. Dates: Time: Location: Speaker:

Tuesdays & Thursdays, July 17 – August 30 (except Thursday, August 9) 1:00-3:00 pm Bldg. 12 Auditorium Michael Walker, Ph.D.


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Postdoc & Student Counts for FY2018 Q3

Coming in the next issue … • • •

GSBS Recent Graduates OETIS Staff Present at National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Meeting Profile on International Scholars

If you would like to contribute content to the next issue, please contact

OETIS Chronicle

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OďŹƒce of Education, Training, & International Services Sta Diane M. Klotz, Ph.D. Director

Education & Training

International Services

Nisha A. Cavanaugh, Ph.D. Manager, Postdoctoral & Academic Programs

Mary B. Bradley, M.L.A. Manager, Graduate School

Andrew N. Bankston, Ph.D. Program Manager, Graduate School

Olga Gubanova, M.S. Program Coordinator, Graduate School

Susie Bolor Senior International Advisor

Malene Hansen, Ph.D. Faculty Advisor, Postdoctoral Training

Teddi Reilly Interim Vice President, Human Resources

Doug Broadhurst, M.A. Manager, International Services

Leadership Support Guy Salvesen, Ph.D. Faculty Advisor, Graduate Education

Please contact with any questions or concerns.

OETIS Chronicle

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