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Postdoc Spotlight: Dr. Eno Essien Ebong

September 7, 2011 | Postdoctoral Development

Although, Dr. Eno Essien Ebong is currently a postdoctoral researcher working with faculty members both at City College and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, her passion for scientific research started early, when she was a summer undergraduate trainee. In 1995, when Ebong began her studies in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she worked as an NIH-sponsored summer apprentice with Dr. Lorraine Flaherty at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center. Under Dr. Flaherty’s guidance she employed the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to analyze the genetic effects on mice of the chemotherapy drug Chlorambucil. Ebong later worked with Dr. Ernest Cravalho, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, to investigate approaches for measuring in vivo tissue stiffness, with a view towards designing a “glove” device for prostate cancer detection. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Dr. Ebong was also involved in industry research with Hewlett- Packard’s (HP) Chemical Analysis and Health Solutions Groups (now part of Agilent and Philips, respectively). At HP she used sophisticated statistical and engineering methods to design, execute, and analyze experiments related to chromatograph and ultrasound transducer development.

From 2000 to 2006, Ebong pursued graduate studies (M.Eng. and Ph.D.) in Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She worked with Dr. Natacha DePaola, integrating biofluid mechanics and blood vessel cell biology to demonstrate that fluid shear stress augments cell-to-cell communication in the human endothelial cells (EC) that line blood vessel walls (Ebong et al., American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2006). For her achievements, Dr. Ebong was awarded the 2006 Karen and Lester Gerhardt Prize by RPI, and the 2006 Zelda and David G. Gisser Prize in Biomedical Engineering by the Rensselaer Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Ebong works with both Dr. John M. Tarbell in the Biomedical Engineering Department at City College and Dr. David C. Spray at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Using rapid cryopreservation and transmission electron microscopy techniques, she has begun to define the structure and blood-flow-pattern-induced reorganization of the endothelial cell sugar coat—or glycocalyx—that is shed in vascular disease (Ebong et al., Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 2011). Dr. Ebong also studies the mechanisms that determine how glycocalyx participates in the process of blood fluid forces affecting the endothelial cell function and dysfunction associated with vascular health and disease. Her long-term career goals are to identify mechanically-regulated cellular and molecular targets and to develop novel tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Dr. Ebong has been an active and engaged member of the CUNY Postdoctoral Development Program. In a recent presentation to the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program (C-SURP) she detailed a number of reasons why a postdoctorate position is necessary for laying the groundwork for a career in scientific research both inside and outside of academia. A postdoctorate extends the career decision-making and transition time period, which enables a researcher to: learn new techniques and/or a new discipline, expand a professional network of leaders and peers in the field, increase her number of publications, gain experience in writing grant and fellowship applications, and enhance her teaching skills. Dr. Ebong also strongly encourages all postdoctoral researchers to map out and adhere to a structured postdoctoral development plan, and to have regular progress reviews with their advisors.