OETIS Chronicle FY2023 Q1

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Mentor of the Year Award

Congratulations to Professor Peter Adams for receiving the inaugural Mentor of the Year Award for Postdoctoral Training!

Postdoctoral scholars pursue training at Sanford Burnham Prebys to conduct biomedical research under the guidance of a mentor and acquire the professional skills necessary to advance their career. Effective mentoring is integral to the overall satisfaction and success of postdocs and enhances the postdoctoral training experience at the Institute.

The Office of Education, Training & International Services (OETIS), in collaboration with the Postdoctoral Training Advisory Group (PTAG), established the Mentor of the Year Award to reward faculty who demonstrate exceptional mentoring of postdocs which enhances the training experience at Sanford Burnham Prebys.

Nominated by members of his lab and selected by a group of PTAG postdoc representatives, Professor Adams was recognized for creating an environment that motivates his postdocs to pursue their research projects, experience new techniques, take on challenging projects, and help them decide the direction in which they want to move forward.

Check out the Beaker Blog story for more on Professor Adams’ nomination and his acceptance speech.


Mentor of the Year p 1 Meet Nicole Villa p 2 Educator of the Year p 3 Summer Internship Program

pgs. 3 & 4 Welcoming New Graduate Students

p. 4 NPAW & Annual Trainee Research Symposium

Career Development DEI
Students International
The OETIS Chronicle
pgs. 5 & 6 Trainee Accomplishments p 7 Postdoc & Student Counts p 8
Professor Peter Adams receiving Mentor of the Year Award from PTAG postdoc-representative, Marie Berenguer, Ph.D. The Adams Lab; Dr Adams currently mentors nine postdocs and six GSBS graduate students

Meet OETIS team member: Nicole Villa

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in San Diego. I only ever moved away for my three years of college at Northern Arizona University where I earned my B.S. in Public Health. After graduation I moved right back to San Diego and worked at a local non-profit that specialized in working with youth. During that time and amidst the pandemic, I went back to school, while of course staying in San Diego, to earn my M.A. in Human Behavioral Psychology from National University. After completing grad school, I knew I wanted to continue working with individuals to empower and support them in doing what they love which is what brought me to Sanford Burnham Prebys.

What excites you about working at Sanford Burnham Pre OETIS?

I love that everyone loves what they do here at the Institute. being able to work on something that someone is truly pass about is incredibly rewarding. Although my background is science, I can see the love of science from all our amazing tr and faculty Coming from a public health background, I have wanted to help people to ensure they are able to live their be healthy life possible I feel that with my role as the OETIS P Coordinator, I can support our scientists in doing just that.

What led you to pursue a career in higher education/administration?

Early on in my career I collaborated with a variety of K-12 schools implementing different learning curriculums. I always enjoyed being around people learning and discovering who they are and what they loved. Within my previous positions, I was also always drawn to administrative tasks working on a variety of odds and ends projects. When I discovered this position, I was able to finally bring those two things together and get to support others through an administrative role.

To date, what is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

During the onset of the pandemic, I was teaching sexual and reproductive health in middle and high schools. Like so many others, all my work shifted to at home and online. Among everything happening in the world at the time, it was difficult to reach the students I was working with. Fortunately, at this time the social media app Tik Tok was all the rage. I began making videos for my students to supplement our lessons and within a matter of a few months the account reached over 12,000 followers and over 230,000 likes. It was incredible to see people from all over the world interacting with videos I was making at home.

What is one thing about you that would surprise people?

I have an entire nail studio desk set up in my apartment. During the pandemic I began doing my own gel extension manicures and have been doing my own nails ever since. I create custom press on nails with all kinds of different colors and designs for myself, friends, and family. I currently have just over 100 gel polishes in my collection!


Celebrating our Graduate School Educators!

A highlight of the annual GSBS social gathering during the New Student Orientation is awarding the crystal apple to the Educator of the Year which, this year, went to Dr. Kevin Yip. Dr. Yip is a new faculty member who joins us from Hong Kong where he was born and raised. In his laboratory, Dr. Yip uses computational methods to understand biological regulations and their perturbations in human diseases. This made him a natural choice as the new Course Director for Biological Databases as a Research Tool (BDRT), a core course for second-year students. Dr. Yip redesigned and oversaw all aspects of the course, with a core team, and received fantastic evaluations from students on every metric. In addition to the Educator of the Year award, at the social gathering, faculty who taught a tutorial or participated in a course were recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation. Thank you to our amazing instructors for educating GSBS students to become the innovative biomedical scientists of the future!

SPARK-ing Interest in Stem Cells & STEM Education

This summer, we welcomed our inaugural cohort of young scholars from the Summer Program to Accelerate Regenerative medicine Knowledge (SPARK) internship program. Funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the goal of SPARK is to provide California high school students with an opportunity to gain hands-on training in laboratories at leading research institutes in California. In 2021, our Institute was one of just eleven sites selected to host this program. The SPARK program specifically selects students who represent the diversity of California's population, and this is true of our first cohort: four students from Imperial Valley and eight from San Diego. Our SPARK students spent their summers conducting six-week research internships in labs on our campus and at the Sanford Consortium. On the last day of their program, they showed off their hard work by presenting their research findings at our Institute’s annual Intern Celebration, and the week after, they traveled to Oakland, CA for a two-day symposium involving >100 SPARK students from all eleven internship sites.

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STEM Education Cont.

At this Symposium, several SPARK interns from our program were recognized as award winners, tying for best overall oral presentation, best poster presentation, and best blog. In recognition of their successes, below is an excerpt from intern Saranya Anandakumar’s winning submission:*

“AsIestablishedearlier,Iamcertainaboutnothinginmylife,whichiswhyitshouldspeakvolumestoyou whenIsayInowknowthatIwanttomajorinImmunologyandminorinNeuroscience.Still,alittlevoiceinside myheadcriesohwhatifthisisthebestlabyou’lleverbein!Whatifyouthinkthefieldisbetterthanitreally willbe!…Ilovedwalkingineveryday.Everylectureonoligodendrocytesandmicrogliahadmeentranced. Everywesternblotorstemcellexperimentleftmeallgiddyinside.Don’tevengetmestartedonlookingat humanbloodunderamicroscopeItfeltlikefallinginloveandthebestpartwasitdidn'tmatterwhatitwasas longasIwaslearningsomethingnew”


Welcoming our Nineteen New PhD Students!

Ph D | Program Manager, Recruitment, Outreach & Achievement

Early September graced us with beautiful blue skies to greet our nineteen new graduate students to campus for a week of fun and educational orientation events. Starting with a welcome breakfast and photoshoot, our new cohort of students were then treated to a campus tour, a Mindfulness workshop, and a full day of orientation events with our Graduate School Deans and staff. To cap off the week, both new and seasoned graduate students alike dined together for a Mexican buffet, after which Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Rachael McVicar, Vice President Michaela Lynott, and Treasurer Stephen Sakuma led the group on a hike through beautiful Torrey Pines Reserve.

After returning from their outdoor adventures, students gathered with faculty and staff to celebrate the start of their academic year while sipping drinks from the local, Beachin’ Boba food truck. From GSBS & OETIS to our newest graduate class: “Welcome, and we look forward to witnessing your successes!”

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National Postdoc Appreciation Week & Annual Trainee Research Symposium

Since 2009, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has sponsored National Postdoc Appreciation Day/Week (NPAW) to recognize the significant contributions that postdocs make to U.S. research and discovery. This year, OETIS in collaboration with SBP Science Network (SBP-SN) hosted four in-person events on campus in celebration of NPAW:

• 3rd Annual Postdoc Town Hall

• Annual Postdoc Appreciation BBQ for postdocs and their faculty mentors

• 21st Annual Trainee Research Symposium

• Mindfulness workshop with Associate Professor Duc Dong

Sixty-four percent of postdocs participated in at least one of the NPAW events. The highlight of the week was the 21st Annual Trainee Research Symposium, in which postdocs and graduate students were selected to give oral and poster presentations. More than 160 employees and students were in attendance. New this year, trainees were invited to participate in a Science Art Competition that attendees could then vote on their favorite science art image or video. This year’s Symposium awardees were:

BEST PODIUM TALK, Judges’ Selection

Winner: Juliet Nicodemus (Chun lab) Runner Up: Tanja Eisemann, Ph D (Wechsler Reya lab)

BEST PODIUM TALK by popular vote

Winner: Tanja Eisemann, Ph.D. (Wechsler Reya lab)

BEST POSTERS, Judges' Selection

Winners: Michaela Lynott (Colas lab) Shanshan Yin, Ph.D. (Adams lab)

Professor & Director of the NCI Designated Cancer Center, Ze'ev Ronai, proudly displayed his “I appreciate my Postdoc!” sticker

BEST SCIENCE ART by popular vote

Winner: Marie Berenguer, Ph.D. (Duester lab)

NPAW events!

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See next page for a selection of photos from this year’s

Faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and laboratory staff gathered on main campus between Buildings 6 & 7 for a

Poster Session. Trainees were selected based on their abstract submissions to present posters.

Poster judges evaluated trainees based on their posters and their presentations. (Pictured below)

Faculty mentors were invited to join postdocs at the Annual Postdoc Appreciation BBQ Lunch. Professor Peter Adams enjoyed lunch with postdocs within and outside his lab. (Pictured above)

A new element added to this year’s Annual Trainee Research Symposium was a Science Art Competition. Marie Berenguer, Ph.D. (postdoc in the Duester lab) won first place with her submission “Making wishes to the genie of developmental biology.” (Pictured left)

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OETIS recognizes Sanford Burnham Prebys trainee accomplishments

Congrats to Stephen Sakuma for being the recipient of a highlycompetitive NIH F99/K00 Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award through the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

A Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Associate Professor Maximiliano D'Angelo, Stephen was nominated for the award by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Sanford Burnham Prebys. The goal of the F99/K00 is to “encourage and retain outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated potential and interest in pursuing careers as independent scientists.” For Stephen’s career, this eans developing new approaches for targeting cancer, utimatly

shifting his focus to immuno-oncology, where his goal is to identify ways to reduce tumor burden through alteration of the immune system.

Congratulations to Luca Caputo, Ph.D. for receiving >200k to fund his postdoctoral research!!!

Dr. Caputo, a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Lorenzo Puri at Sanford Burnham Prebys, was one of 70 recipients world-wide who recently received funding from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). His research project "DMD-Related Cardiomyopathy Beyond Dystrophin Deficiency in Skeletal Muscle" will contribute to the MDA's goal of helping people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases.

Ph.D. (Wechsler-Reya lab), Guillem Barjau


Ph.D. (Commisso

Tanja Eisemann, Lambies, lab), Shanshan Yin, (Adams lab) were selected as the 2022 awardees for the Fishman Fund Career Development Award. Cynthia Lebeaupin, Ph.D. (Kaufman lab) was selected as the 2022 awardee for the Fishman Fund Fellowship Award
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Karina Barbosa Guerra (Deshpande lab) was selected as the runner up for Outstanding Graduate Student at the 2022 Sanford Stem Cell Institute Symposium.

Postdoc & Student Counts


Office of Education, Training & International Services