Eight CUNY Students Named 2013 Salk Scholars

Eight outstanding City University of New York students – recognized for research on subjects including cancer, immunology, cardiovascular disease, genetics, neuroscience, autism spectrum disorder, nuclear physics and the physical interactions of dye molecules – have been awarded Jonas E. Salk Scholarships to study in the medical field in 2013, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein has announced.

The awards, among the more prestigious awarded by the University, recognize the high ability and scholarship of students who plan careers in medicine and the biological sciences and who are judged likely to make significant contributions to medicine and research. They are selected on the basis of original research papers undertaken with prominent scientist/mentors.

“I am very proud of this year’s Salk Scholars for their commitment to academic quality and to public service, whether as physicians treating the sick and underprivileged, or as researchers working toward medical breakthroughs,” Chancellor Goldstein said. “Their work exemplifies the proud legacy of Dr. Jonas E. Salk.”
Dr. Salk, a 1934 graduate of City College, developed the polio vaccine in 1955. He turned down a ticker-tape parade in honor of his discovery, asking that the money be used for scholarships. The city provided initial funding for the Salk Scholarships in 1955.

The endowment provides a stipend of $8,000 per scholar, to be appropriated over three or four years of medical studies, to help defray medical school costs. Salk Scholars also receive achievement citations and diagnostic kits that include an otoscope and ophthalmoscope.

The 2013 Salk Scholars represent Baruch, Brooklyn, City and the Macaulay Honors colleges. Two scholars will attend SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, while the others were accepted to Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York University School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, and The Commonwealth Medical College.

The Salk Scholarships will be awarded on Thursday, May 16, 2013 from 9am – 11am at Baruch College in the William and Anita Newman Conference Center, 151 East 25th Street, 7th Floor, Manhattan.

The keynote speaker will be Magee Hickey, Emmy Award-winning television news reporter for PIX 11 News, who has covered most of the big stories in the tri-state area in the past 25 years.

2013 Salk Scholarship Winners

Mizanur R. Ahmed
Brooklyn College
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Mizanur, who is presently participating in an immunology research project at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, is pursuing a degree in chemistry and anthropology. He has worked as a volunteer at New York Methodist Hospital, where he provided patient care in the cardiology and neurology departments, and at Lutheran Medical Center, where he was a clinical observer in the emergency department. In addition, he was a volunteer with the Brooklyn College chapter of Global Medical Brigades in June 2012 when the group participated in a medical mission to Panama. Mizanur worked with the New York City Police Department’s Youth Soccer League during the summer of 2009. He has worked with the Arab-American Association of New York to improve the lives of members of his community by teaching English, assisting with immigration needs, participating in programs focused on the development of youth education and offering health relat
ed workshops targeting mothers within the community, including a breast cancer informational session.

Anna Groysman
The Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College
SUNY Downstate College of Medicine
Anna is majoring in chemistry and philosophy and has completed 320 hours of summer clinical experience as a participant in Project Healthcare at Bellevue Hospital, a very intense experience that involved assisting patients who are alcoholics, drug addicts, rape victims, prisoners and trauma victims. Since September 2007, when she was still in high school, Anna has been involved with SUNY Downstate’s Department of Radiation Oncology, where she is presently working on an independent project focused on predicting cell survival curves after induction of double strand breaks and identifying the mechanism of break repair. During the summer of 2011, she assisted a team studying the effectiveness of markers to target cancer cells and developed a quantitative strategy to compare experimental results with predictions for hybrid spheroid growth. Because Anna became so well-versed in the techniques and procedures of the laboratory, she was given the responsibility to teach these skills to medical students involved in the lab’s research projects. She has studied abroad in Spain and Argentina, where she learned Spanish, and plans to expand her knowledge by studying medical Spanish and medical Russian.

Alana Lewis
City College
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Alana, who was born in Guyana, was a participant in PAVERS (Patient Advocacy Volunteer in Emergency Research Services) at NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital. She has also conducted research on a project to characterize mitochondrial DNA deletions as possible biomarkers of oncogenic processes brought about by UVB-induced DNA damage in human epidermal cells. She quickly learned and implemented the requisite techniques including cell culture, isolation of genomic DNA templates, real-time PCR, plasmid cloning and sequence analysis. Alana also made several unique contributions of her own including the design of novel primers and reaction conditions that made possible more consistent and reproducible quantitation of the mtDNA deletions she was studying. Alana has a fascination with science and the human body and plans to apply her knowledge of medicine to improve the lives of others and reduce human suffering.

Christopher Lopez
Baruch College
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Christopher suffered an episode of Bell’s palsy — a form of temporary facial paralysis — at an early age that guided him to a career in medicine. Researching facial diseases showed him that destitute children around the world may live their entire lives with deformations like cleft palate because surgery is either too expensive or unavailable. Chris pursued a double major in biology and English literature, and his honors thesis dealt with the role of medicine and disease in Shakespeare’s plays, which won him the school’s prize for the best thesis that year. Also an outstanding physics student, he was a tutor in Baruch’s Student Advisement and Counseling Center. Professor Stefan Bathe, a world-renowned nuclear physicist, arranged for Chris to analyze data at Brookhaven National Laboratory dealing with the PHENIX project, which seeks to model conditions of the early universe by colliding sub-atomic particles close to the speed of light. Chris familiarized himself with the physics behind the nuclear collisions, learned the tools required to analyze the data accumulated by the particle detectors and was able to analyze a subset of the data himself by checking for correlations of signals from various detectors. With his expertise in biology, physics and English literature, Chris is a unique student whose abilities span a wide range of subject areas.

Irina Mironova
Baruch College
The Commonwealth Medical College
Irina, who grew up in rural Russia, has been a volunteer at Lenox Hill Hospital, where she has worked for several years with patients in the ER and in the Open Heart Recovery Unit. She has also volunteered since 2010 in the Survivors of Torture Program at the International Institute of New Jersey, where she assisted with translation of documentation and prepared émigrés for asylum and immigration law. Irina has also excelled in research, participating in a project studying how the physical interactions of dye molecules with various fabrics determine color. The theoretical explanation of these effects may have significant practical applications in fabric dyeing. Earlier this year, Irina’s group produced an article in Dyes and Pigments, the preeminent journal in the field. While mastering the extensive background literature of this project, Irina earned co-authorship by developing a consistent dyeing procedure for the fabrics being studied, no simple task because of the many difficulties associated with use of these molecules as dyes. Prior to this work, no reproducible dyeing technique utilizing these molecules had existed.

Susanna Nguy
City College
New York University School of Medicine

Susanna is described by her faculty mentor, Professor Kamilah Ali, as “by far the best undergraduate student I have trained since being a graduate student at Yale University.” Susanna’s research project was to delineate the novel functional role of Apolipoprotein D in macrophages as it pertains to atherogenesis, a key remodeling process in the vascular wall for the development of cardiovascular disease. She was required to master and implement new techniques and experiments and established for the lab the isolation of bone-marrow myeloid lineage cells from mice, cell culture maintenance and propagation, flow cytometry (and analysis software- FloJo) and confocal microscopy analyses. After mastering these new techniques, she set up all experiments to analyze the behavior of bone marrow-derived macrophages from C57BL-6 and ApoD-null mice. Susanna demonstrated remarkable research productivity despite the rigorous academic demands of her honors program and extracurricular activities. Her goal is to continue cardiovascular research and follow up with clinical research projects she has worked on at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Ivan Jacinto Santiago
City College
Harvard Medical School

Ivan’s approach to research is described by his professors as analytical, careful and possessing highly developed critical thinking skills. Ivan quickly demonstrated an ability to master research techniques and concepts. During the past two years he has become very proficient in Drosophila genetics and cell biology, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. He also has excellent oral and written communication skills, and an article reporting his research findings is under preparation for publication in a professional journal. Ivan has been involved in teaching other incoming undergraduates as a peer mentor in the City College Academy for Professional Preparation and served as vice president of the CCNY Biology Club. Professor Tadmiri Venkatesh, Chair of the Biology Department, calls Ivan “the best undergraduate that I have come across in the past 20 years. He is highly passionate about neuroscience research and is very committed to a career in this area.” Ivan has also been offered doctoral fellowships in neuroscience programs at Harvard, Yale and the University of California, San Francisco.

Emma Schatoff
City College of New York
Weill Cornell Medical College
Emma has a strong interest in oncology, disease mechanisms and drug targets, and the genetics of disease. Since 2010 she has conducted independent honors research concerning the molecular genetics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using the fruit fly Drosphila as an experimental model, which has been highly productive and produced interesting and important data. Her work on ASD involves studying the molecular genetics of Neurobeachin (Rugose) in Drosophila. Emma is a co-author of two papers that have been submitted for publication in professional journals and will be the lead author on another paper that is being prepared for publication. She has also served at Mount Sinai Hospital as a patient care and music volunteer, participated in the Gateways to the Laboratory Program as part of the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program as a summer intern and is an accomplished violinist.

About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University is comprised of 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. The University serves more than 269,000 degree credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students.College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.
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