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2009 Endowment Awardees

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

J. Grace Wallenborn, University of North Carolina, was selected as the 2009 Mary Amdur Student awardee for her research showing that zinc, one of the most common metals associated with particulate matter in the air, was able to reach the heart following pulmonary exposure. “This made my hypothesis that zinc may directly exert toxic effects on the heart following pulmonary exposure plausible.”

Founders Fund

Roger O. McClellan was selected to receive the 2009 Founders Award based on his outstanding leadership and accomplishments, all centered on understanding the effects of chemicals as a basis for minimizing human health risks. His extensive experience in the fields of radiation, inhalation, and chemical toxicology have led to noteworthy publications and he has received many SOT awards for scientific achievements (Frank Blood, Arnold J. Lehman, and Merit).

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Marc-André Verner, Université du Québec a Montréal, received the 2009 Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award for his Ph.D. research, which involves physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling of persistent organic pollutants in infants exposed through breastfeeding. “Receiving this award is very stimulating and supporting for the continuation of my Ph.D. project.”

Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award Fund

Vanessa De La Rosa, University of Texas at El Paso, received the 2009 Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award for her poster entitled “Bioluminescent Bacteria as Biosensors for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.”

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Mathieu Valcke, Universite de Montreal, received the 2009 Perry J. Gehring Best Graduate Student Risk Assessment Award for his work on inter-individual variability in the body’s capacity to eliminate toxicants once exposed in various scenarios. “This award gives me a certain credibility that I did not have before. It might help me once the time comes for me to justify my research interests.”
Scott Auerbach, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, received the 2009 Perry J. Gehring Best Postdoc Risk Assessment Award for his research to develop gene-expression-based pattern recognition models that are capable of differentiating between (hepatic) carcinogens and noncarcinogens based on the genomic changes they elicit after exposure durations of 90 days or less. He plans to use this award to “fuel” future toxicogenomics meetings where studies will be designed to follow-up the one presented at the 2009 SOT Annual Meeting.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Courtney Kozul, Dartmouth Medical School, received the 2009 Hudson/Weisburger Scholarship Fund Award for her research on the effects of chronic low dose exposure to drinking water arsenic and immune response to infection in the lung. She plans to continue toxicology research that will “embrace multidisciplinary approaches to solving complex environmental health problems and preventing human disease.”

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Students Award Fund

Natalie Johnson, Texas A&M University, received the 2009 Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award. This award helped Ms. Johnson attend the 2009 SOT Annual meeting and present her research on the measurement of urinary biological markers of exposure to food-borne and environmental carcinogens in human populations. “This award has supported the building of relationships and collaborations among scientists in fields connected to international food safety. By networking with researchers in the Food Safety Specialty Section, I have been able to expand on my current knowledge. I plan to remain actively involved in this important area.”

Roger O. McClellan Student Award Fund

Chidozie Amuzie, Michigan State University, received the 2009 Roger O. McClellan Student Award for his studies on the most common food borne trichothecene mycotoxin (Deoxynivalenol). He hopes his work will lead to identification of novel biomarkers of effect for chronic low-dose human exposures to environmental chemicals. “Such biomarkers might be critical tools for epidemiological surveillance, thus enhancing human risk assessment and disease prevention. Because I received this award, I was introduced to Drs. McClellan, Barlow, Gabrielson, and other senior colleagues who have similar interests and expressed enthusiasm to support me as I pursue my scientific career.”

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Mamta Behl, Purdue University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009 based on research assessing the effects of lead exposure on the exacerbation of Alzheimer’s disease. Receiving this award allowed her to attend the SOT 2009 Annual Meeting and brought “an unparalleled opportunity to be exposed to research in my field.”
  Gayathri Chadalapaka, Texas A&M University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Award in 2009 for the poster entitled, “Inhibition of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) in Bladder Cancer Cells by Curcumin and Betulinic Acid.”
Yogesh Saini, Michigan State University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Award in 2009 for research on environmental pollutants like metals and ozone. “Receiving this award was one of the most rewarding moments in my career. I felt enthused and motivated to pursue my ongoing research goals with even more strength and perseverance.”
Smita Salian, National Institute for Research on Reproductive Health, Mumbai, India, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009. “This award holds more significance as it comes from a group of distinguished Indian scientists in this country. It gave me the courage and much needed help to come, attend, and present my work to the largest gathering of toxicologists from around the world. The work she presented is a part of her Ph.D. research on the study of the toxic effects of a ubiquitously present endocrine disruptor, Bisphenol A (commonly found in plastics), on the reproductive system.”
Raja Settivari, Indiana School of Medicine, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009 for research on genetic and biochemical aspects of Parkinson’s disease and manganism using C. elegans as the model organism. “For my budding career as a scientist, this award means a lot and it is a great encouragement and honor.”

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Jamie O’Brien-Barnard, University of Rochester, 2009 First Place Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award recipient for her thesis work demonstrating that the small lipid molecule, 15d-PGJ2, stimulates platelet production by inducing reactive oxygen species in megakaryocytes. “This award encourages me to pursue greater endeavors in translational research beyond graduate school and inspires me to continue to work hard to challenge myself. In the future, I hope to advance the science of toxicology by developing models to study environmental effects in the context of systems biology.”
Jennifer Cohen, University of Arizona, 2009 Second Place Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award recipient for her abstract titled “The Tumor Suppressor Gene TSC-2 Modulates Translation Initiation of Cyclin D1 Through ERK Crosstalk with 4EBP1.”
Arunkumar Asaithambi, Iowa State University, 2009 Third Place Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award recipient for his research on a novel signal transduction cascade in Parkinson’s disease model, which may open up new possibilities for drug discovery in Parkinson’s disease. “This is really an exciting time in my Ph.D. This award motivates me to be perseverant in my research and to explore new ideas that might contribute to the growing body of knowledge.”

Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Mamta Behl, Purdue University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009 based on research assessing the effects of lead exposure on the exacerbation of Alzheimer’s disease. Receiving this award allowed her to attend the SOT 2009 Annual Meeting and brought “an unparalleled opportunity to be exposed to research in my field.”
  Gayathri Chadalapaka, Texas A&M University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Award in 2009 for the poster entitled, “Inhibition of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) in Bladder Cancer Cells by Curcumin and Betulinic Acid.”
Yogesh Saini, Michigan State University, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Award in 2009 for research on environmental pollutants like metals and ozone. “Receiving this award was one of the most rewarding moments in my career. I felt enthused and motivated to pursue my ongoing research goals with even more strength and perseverance.”
Smita Salian, National Institute for Research on Reproductive Health, Mumbai, India, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009. “This award holds more significance as it comes from a group of distinguished Indian scientists in this country. It gave me the courage and much needed help to come, attend, and present my work to the largest gathering of toxicologists from around the world. The work she presented is a part of her Ph.D. research on the study of the toxic effects of a ubiquitously present endocrine disruptor, Bisphenol A (commonly found in plastics), on the reproductive system.”
Raja Settivari, Indiana School of Medicine, received a Mehendale/Singh ASIO Student Award in 2009 for research on genetic and biochemical aspects of Parkinson’s disease and manganism using C. elegans as the model organism. “For my budding career as a scientist, this award means a lot and it is a great encouragement and honor.”

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Jingqi Fu, Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, RTP, North Carolina. First Place 2009 Carl C. Smith awardee for his research on the mechanisms of Type 2 Diabetes caused by environmental arsenic exposure. The results of the research, “Low-level Inorganic Arsenite Impairs Glucose-stimulated Insulin Secretion in Pancreatic Beta-cells: Involvement of Nrf2-mediated Antioxidant Response,” may advance preventive measures and treatment strategies for the environmental oxidative stressorinduced diabetes. “I was excited and encouraged to work harder after I received the Carl C. Smith Award and I realized no pain, no gains.”
  Hongfei Zhou, University of Colorado, Denver, was the Carl C. Smith Second Place awardee. Mr. Zhou said, “This award recognized my work on benzene toxicity in human bone marrow endothelium as outstanding research. It is a great encouragement for my further study in toxicology and human health prevention. I am sure that this award will have more positive impacts on me in the future.”
Liang Chen, University of Cincinnati. Third Place 2009 Carl C. Smith awardee for research on the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in hexavalent chromium induced toxicity, including the acute cytotoxicity as well as the inhibition of murine embryonic stem cell differentiation. “I was greatly encouraged after receiving the award. In the future, I hope that I can continuously make contributions to expand our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of health problems caused by environmental pollutants.”
Karen Thomas, University of Utah. Third Place 2009 Carl C. Smith awardee for her research investigated the potential role of the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 in lung cell death and acute lung injury using cell culture and knock-out animal experimental techniques. “Putting together the award application helped me pursue my research because I needed to organize my work and recognized additional experiments to clarify my research.”
  Sanjeeva Wijeyesakere, University of Michigan, Third Place 2009 Carl C. Smith awardee for her poster “Structural Insight into Inhibition/Aging of Neuropathy Target Esterase (NTE) from X-ray Crystal Studies of Its Catalytic Domain Homologue, Patatin-17 (PAT27).”

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