National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases Summer Research Fellowship Mentors

National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases Summer Research Fellowship for MD Students National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases Summer Research Fellowship Mentors
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National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases Summer Research Fellowship for MD Students National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases Summer Research Fellowship Mentors

NYU School of Medicine has compiled a list of faculty mentors who are involved in research projects focused on diabetes, digestive disorders, and kidney diseases that qualify for funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, T35 training grant.

There may be additional opportunities to perform original research that qualifies for NIDDK funding based on your interests and ongoing work in a mentor’s lab.

2018 NIDDK Summer Research Opportunities

Our program coordinator Ashley Falzone can assist with scheduling an appointment with research faculty whose work aligns with your interests. You can reach her at ashley.falzone@nyumc.org or at 212-263-2109. You can also contact a mentor directly.

Research Project: “Digestive Hormones and Intestinal Microbiome after Helicobacter pylori Eradication”

Mentor: Martin J. Blaser, MD

Our research assesses the response of digestive hormones to Helicobacter pylori eradication from healthy young adults. From ongoing clinical trials we have archived serum specimens of gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal hormones for examination. We also have fecal specimens for microbiome analyses of antibiotic-induced changes.

Research Project: “Effect of Antibiotic Treatment on Oxalate Metabolic Gene Expression”

Mentor: Martin J. Blaser, MD

We have established murine models of antibiotic exposures that lead to alterations in adiposity. Intestinal bacteria can metabolize oxylate, preventing its absorption and increasing the subsequent risk of oxalate nephrolithiasis to the host. Using specimens collected from antibiotic-treated mice and control mice, we are assessing oxalate levels in bodily fluids and in relation to microbial physiology.

Research Project: “Mechanisms of Type 1 Diabetes in Mouse Models”

Mentor: Martin J. Blaser, MD

We are studying the effects of antibiotic exposures in mouse models of type 1 diabetes. We have collected numerous specimens for immunological, metabolic, and microbiological analyses, with the goal of integrating multiple data sets. Of interest, past fellows have studied ileal gene expression.

Research Project: “Development of the Microbiome in a Birth Cohort of New York City Babies”

Mentor: Martin J. Blaser, MD

We have enrolled more than 40 mothers and their newborns and followed them for at least 3 years, collecting serial specimens to study the dynamics of microbiomic, metabolic, and immunological changes. We are interested in how the early life microbiota develops, and its relationship to exposures including altered birth (C-section), nutrition (formula-feeding), or antibiotics. We have collected serial specimens from babies and from their mothers to address the dynamics of microbiomic, metabolic, and immunological changes.

Research Project: “Engineering Designer Yeast Chromosomes to Make Small Molecules”

Mentor: Jef Boeke, PhD

Synthetic neochromosomes can be designed and built up from standardized parts to produce a wide variety of small molecules and metabolites that may be of clinical relevance.  We have built toy systems that produce carotenoids and violaceins which produce visual pigments, making it easier to optimize the systems.  We seek to improve the technology and use it to tap the tremendous chemico/biological richness of the microbiome to produce a vast array of small molecules.

Research Project: “Designer Mammalian Neochromosomes for Xenotransplantation”

Mentor: Jef Boeke, PhD

We seek to design and construct synthetic systems to build mammalian neochromosomes with an ultimate eye to reducing the risks associated with xenotransplantation.  We are exploring ways to deliver such molecules to a wide variety of mammalian cells, including pig cells, which could lead to new ways to make xenotransplantation safer.

Research Project: “Neochromosomes to Model Human Disease”

Mentor: Jef Boeke, PhD

We seek to humanize yeast cells to make them effective models for a wide range of human disorders.  This works well for disorders affecting a gene system that is conserved between human and yeast, such as metabolic systems. We are currently assembling a neochromosome with over 25 huan genes to reconstruct the "purine metabolome” which includes many genes responsible for perplexing human genetic disorders.

Research Project: “Development of an Organoid System to Investigate Gene-Microbe Interactions in Inflammatory Bowel Disease”

Mentor: Ken Cadwell, PhD

Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease, but how these components interact with one another remains unknown. We have developed two animal models based on the susceptibility genes ATG16L1 and NOD2, in which disease is dependent on infectious agents.

Our research project uses intestinal organoids to determine whether infectious triggers can induce epithelial defects in vitro, thereby establishing a reductionist model to investigate disease origin and test therapies.

Research Project: “Role of Adenosine Receptors in Promoting Fat Browning”

Mentor: Bruce Cronstein, MD

In collaboration with Dr. Elisabetta Mueller we are examining the effect of local and systemic administration of agents that, directly or indirectly, stimulate adenosine A2A receptors in adipose tissue on the formation of brown fat (fat cells with increased mitochondria that actually burn energy) from white adipose tissue as well as regulation of macrophage function and phenotype in adipose tissue.

Research Project: “Activation of the Yersinia enterocolitica Psp Response”

Mentor: Andrew Darwin, PhD

The Psp stress response system is essential for virulence of the intestinal pathogen Yersinia enterocolitica. This project will use genetic and biochemical techniques to understand the signal transduction mechanisms that lead to its transcriptional upregulation.

Research Project: “Stress Relief by the Yersinia enterocolitica Psp Response”

Mentor: Andrew Darwin, PhD

The Psp stress response system is essential for virulence of the intestinal pathogen Yersinia enterocolitica. The goal of this project is to investigate how two of its components, the PspB and -C membrane proteins, can prevent bacterial cell death being caused during production of a critical virulence factor known as a type three secretion system.

Research Project: “Isolation and Characterization of Envelope Stress Suppressors in Yersinia enterocolitca

Mentor: Andrew Darwin, PhD

The Psp stress response system is essential for virulence of the intestinal pathogen Yersinia enterocolitica. To help us understand its physiological function, this project will use a genetic screen to identify and characterize bacterial genes that can compensate for its loss, or in other words can suppress a Psp null phenotype.

Research Project: “Effects of Sleep Restriction on Activation of Endogenous Brown Adipose Tissue in Humans”

Mentor: Yu-Shin Ding, PhD

We aim to: 

  • determine the effects of different amounts of sleep restriction on body's ability to generate heat.
  • learn how to analyze the PET and MR data obtained from imaging study of brown fat using the NYU Langone’s state-of-the-art combined PET/MR scanner with simultaneous acquisition.
  • determine if metabolic protection in the receptor of advanced glycation endoproducts (RAGE) null mouse (i.e., high fat diet-induced obesity) is due to increased energy expenditure (brown fat thermogenesis).

Research Project: “Brown Adipose Tissue Imaging in the RAGE Null Mouse”

Mentor: Yu-Shin Ding, PhD

We aim to determine the effect of low-dose penicillin (LDP) on brown adipose tissue mass in LDP treated animals.

Research Project: “Low-Dose Penicillin Effect on Brown Adipose Tissue Mass”

Mentor: Yu-Shin Ding, PhD

We aim to determine the effect of low-dose penicillin (LDP) on brown adipose tissue mass in LDP treated animals in collaboration with Martin Blaser, MD, and Chad Trent, PhD.

Research Project: “Impact of the Food Environment on Child Body Mass Index”

Mentor: Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH

The dramatic increase in obesity in the United States has fueled growing interest in the role of the “food environment,” or the availability of both healthy and unhealthy food in a geographic community. Studies have found that low-income and minority neighborhoods have fewer supermarkets and that neighborhoods with fewer supermarkets have higher obesity rates. However, there are significant limitations to this research and correlation may not indicate causation. 

Food choice and consumption patterns are deeply ingrained, and it is possible that the causal arrow goes both ways and that food choice and proximate food resources are not as related as many assume. The relationship between these two factors may be overestimated or underestimated due to weaknesses in the current research. These weaknesses include failure to address spatial autocorrelation—the extent to which adjoining areas are similar and may produce spillover effects—and the “modifiable areal unit problem,” the fact that area boundaries are arbitrary and can be redrawn in a way that alters area-level measures.

We are analyzing existing administrative data to address this gap in knowledge regarding the impact of the food environment on body mass index (BMI). Our data set is large and comprehensive, consisting of repeated BMI measurements from almost all New York City public school children across multiple years. Our data also include the exact residential and school location of each student. When we combine these data with available data on the locations of food sources, we have a unique and powerful resource for answering key questions regarding the impact of food availability on the BMI of children and youth.

Research Project: “Impact of the Built Environment on Child Body Mass Index”

Mentor: Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH

Despite the attention given to childhood obesity in the research and policy community, obesity rates remain disturbingly high, and population-level solutions are elusive. Our research focuses on characterizing the relationship between population characteristics and the built environment, including structural aspects surrounding the home and school neighborhoods and the physical characteristics of the home and school buildings.

Research Project: “CRAC Channels in Th1 and Th17 Cells as Mediators of Colitis and Therapeutic Targets"

Mentor: Stefan Feske, MD

The overall goal of this project is to understand the role of Ca2+ influx mediated by Ca2+ release activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels in the proinflammatory function of Th17 and Th1 cells and how they control autoimmunity in IBD. Elucidating how SOCE regulates the colitogenic function of T cells will allow us to assess the benefits and risks associated with CRAC channel inhibition as a potent immunosuppressive treatment for IBD. 

Research Project: “VLDL Overproduction in Insulin Resistance and the Role of the Insulin-mediated Degradation of apoB100 via Autophagy"

Mentor: Edward A. Fisher, MD, PhD, MPH

The overall goal of the project is to obtain detailed understanding of dyslipidemia in insulin resistance (IR) and diabetes (DM). People with IR and DM  oversecrete VLDL from the liver, which leads to high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Specifically, the student will extend our recent discovery that under normal circumstances, insulin can promote the autophagic degradation of partially assembled VLDL particles prior to their secretion by the liver.  If this degradation pathway is impaired in IR/DM, it would result in VLDL oversecretion.

Research Project: “Diabetes and Atherosclerosis"

Mentor: Edward A. Fisher, MD, PhD, MPH

Diabetics have increased rates of coronary artery disease.  We have found in mouse models of diabetes that hyperglycemia increases the level of leukocytes, some of which enter atherosclerotic plaques and become cholesterol-laden macrophages.  Diabetics tend to have low levels of HDL.  Other people have found that HDL can reduce leukocyte counts in hypercholesterolemic mice, and we have found in a mouse model of diabetes that correction of low HDL reduces the elevated counts caused by hyperglycemia. We are now pursuing the mechanism by which HDL does this and what is in common between the hypercholesterolemic and hyperglycemic metabolic settings.

Research Project: “Maternal-fetal Microbiome Transmission"

Mentor: Robert C. Froemke, PhD

How does the microbiome form, and how much of this is transmitted or depends on the microbiome of the mother peri-natally? This project continues a collaboration between the Froemke and Blaser labs on the effects on maternal antibiotics on pup microbiome constitution and mother-pup behavioral interactions

Research Project: “Neural Circuitry of Hormonal Secretion in the Mammalian Brain"

Mentor: Robert C. Froemke, PhD

Neurons of the hypothalamus release various peptides into the brain and body depending on the external environment and internal state (e.g., in response to changes in hunger, estrous cycle, or temperature). Recent advances in biotechnology and optogenetics make it possible to monitor and visualize neural activity and peptide release in vivo in behaving animals. Here we will examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of hypothalamic oxytocin secretion.

Research Project: “Oxytocin Signaling from Brain to Body"

Mentor: Robert C. Froemke, PhD

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide hormone synthesized and released from the hypothalamus and posterior pituitary. There is a single genomic oxytocin receptor, and our lab made the first specific antibody to mouse oxytocin receptors. We are characterizing the physiological action of hormone signaling throughout the body, asking if there are coordinated changes occurring in multiple organ systems after conception to prepare for reproduction. Specifically, here we aim to determine what effects oxytocin (including optogenetic release of endogenous oxytocin) has on peripheral tissues including blood vessels, pancreas, heart, and kidney.

Research Project: “Lipid Metabolism and Macrophage Polarization"

Mentor: Ira J. Goldberg, MD

We will create mice with deletion of two genes required for uptake of lipid into macrophages. We will then test whether loss of lipid uptake prevents macrophage to an alternatively activated (M2-like) phenotype.

Research Project: “Cardiac Fatty Acid Uptake"

Mentor: Ira J. Goldberg, MD

We have deleted a fatty acid transporter, CD36, in endothelial cells. We will study how this deletion affects uptake of fatty acids in the heart.

Research Project: “A New Era of Targeted Drug Discovery and the Path of Development: From Molecular Signaling to the Global Market and Back Again—An Educational Program"

Mentor: Gabrielle Gold-Von Simson, MD

We have expanded an innovative course series at NYU School of Medicine in the field of drug discovery and development with a focus on diabetes, diabetic complications, and obesity. The educational program is a series of courses and seminars that delineate how the very nature of drug discovery and development impinges upon the scientific understanding of a drug and its targets, from its genesis at the bench through postmarketing experience and back again.

Research Project: “Molecular Mechanisms That Regulate Germ Line Stem Cell Plasticity”

Mentor: E. Jane Albert Hubbard, PhD

Altering nutritional input or the activity of conserved nutrition-sensitive signal transduction pathways (insulin, TOR and TGFß) in the genetically tractable model organism Caenorhabditis elegans impacts stem cell quiescence and activation. These same pathways are involved in human disease, notably cancer. We have several projects that use the powerful genetic and genomic tools in this organism to uncover the precise molecular mechanisms that underlie this regulation.

Research Project: “Diabetes, Research, Education, and Action for Minorities (DREAM) Initiative”

Mentor: Nadia S. Islam, PhD

The DREAM Initiative is a five-year community based participatory research study based in the Center for the Study of Asian American Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center. The goal of the initiative is to implement and evaluate a community health worker intervention designed to prevent and manage diabetes in the South Asian community in New York City.

Research Project: “Targeting Translational Control in Osteoarthritis”

Mentor: Victoria G. Kolupaeva, PhD

The goal of this project is to investigate the chondro–protective effect of the inhibitor of a cap-binding protein eIF4E in osteoarthritis (OA) and to identify specific targets that are affected by eIF4E inhibition in OA joint.

Research Project: “Novel Determinants of Inhibitory FGF Signaling in Chondrocytes”

Mentor: Victoria G. Kolupaeva, PhD

This project focuses on the role of P-bodies in mediating unique inhibitory FGF response in chondrocytes.

Research Project: “Using Geographically Targeted and Community-Based Methods to Identify Factors Associated with Micro-Level Disparities in Diabetic Outcomes and Enhance Monitoring of Glycemic Control Among Black Men”

Mentor: David C. Lee, MD

This study uses a novel, geographically targeted approach consisting of both quantitative methods and qualitative interviews to identify which neighborhood-level factors account for local disparities in diabetic outcomes among black communities in the New York City area. In addition, this study aims to determine the feasibility of performing point-of-care HbA1c testing in Black-owned barbershops within neighborhoods with a high prevalence of diabetic complications to measure glycemic control among diabetic black men.

Research Project: “Statistical Methods in Analyzing High Dimensional Microbiome/Metagenomic Data”

Mentor: Huilin Li, PhD

Our research focuses on developing and implementing novel statistical methods to study the dynamic of the microbiome distribution. We are identifying individual bacteria that affect an individuals’ susceptibility to complex traits and applying these methods to ongoing studies at NYU School of Medicine to enable more biological findings.

Research Project: “Human T-Cell Immunity to Luminal Microbiota”

Mentor: Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD

Changes in microbiota are associated with metabolic and inflammatory disease in humans including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our lab has identified the ability of segmented filamentous bacteria to induce intestinal CD4+ T helper 17 cells and drive autoimmune arthritis in mouse models. However, the role of microbial-derived antigens in shaping the intestinal and systemic CD4+ T-cell repertoire is unknown.

Our research focuses on preparing CD4+ T-cell clones from peripheral blood and intestinal tissue and identifying clones that specifically respond to naturally processed antigens derived from intestinal bacteria—particularly Prevotella copri, which has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis. We aim to help develop tools that identify and define the role of microbiota-specific T cells in human disease.

Research Project: “Visualization of Microbial-Specific T Helper 17 Cells in the Intestine”

Mentor: Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD

The way that microbial-specific CD4+ T helper 17 cell and regulatory T-cell generation occurs in the intestine is unclear. Using novel segmented filamentous bacteria and Helicobacter hepaticus−specific T-cell receptor transgenic mice, we will study how these T cells interact with antigen-presenting cells microscopically to gain insight into how they polarize to CD4+ T helper 17 cells compared with regulatory T cells.

Research Project: “Role of Microbiota-Induced CD4+ T Helper 17 and Regulatory T Cells in Tumor-Specific T-Cell Responses”

Mentor: Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD

We have shown that segmented filamentous bacteria, a commensal microbe, can induce CD4+ T helper 17 cell differentiation in the gut. In contrast, Helicobacter hepaticus induces regulatory T cells. Our research focuses on determining how colonization of mice with either bacterium influences the growth of tumor cells expressing antigens from either of the commensal bacteria. Insights from this work may inform studies on how microbiota influence cancer immunotherapy.

Research Project: “Role of C-Type Lectin Receptors in Liver Inflammation”

Mentor: George Miller, MD

Using mouse models and human liver specimens, we are investigating whether ligation C-type lectin receptors exacerbate hepatic fibroinflammatory disease after liver injury.

Research Project: “Role of Hepatic Dendritic Cell Lipid Content on Their Immune Phenotype”

Mentor: George Miller, MD

Our research studies how intrahepatic dendritic cells acquire lipids and the mechanisms by which lipids modulate dendritic cell phenotype and immune stimulatory function.

Research Project: “Role of Receptor-Interacting Protein Kinase 3 in Liver Injury and Regeneration”

Mentor: George Miller, MD

Receptor-interacting protein kinase 3, or RIP3, regulates necroapoptosis. We hypothesize that RIP3 plays a critical role in hepatocyte injury and regulation of hepatocyte regeneration.

Research Project: “Role of Netrin-1 in Adipose Inflammation and Insulin Resistance”

Mentor: Kathryn Moore, PhD

The increased accumulation of macrophages and lymphocytes in adipose tissue during obesity propagates chronic inflammation, which is closely associated with systemic insulin resistance, development of metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have explored the mechanisms by which these immune cells are recruited. However, the signals that cause macrophages to persist in adipose tissue, promoting chronic inflammation, are not understood. 

We recently uncovered a novel role for the neuronal guidance cue Netrin-1 in inducing macrophage chemostasis, thus blocking macrophage emigration from atherosclerotic plaques. Our preliminary data indicate that Netrin-1 is also increased in adipose tissue from obese mice and humans compared with lean controls.

Lethally irradiated wild-type mice reconstituted with NTN1-null bone marrow display protection against diet-induced adipose inflammation and insulin resistance compared with mice with wild-type marrow. Based on these data, we hypothesize that Netrin-1 critically regulates immune cell trafficking and accumulation in white adipose tissue and metabolic dysfunction in high-fat diet feeding, thereby leading to insulin resistance and diabetes. 

To test this hypothesis, our research focuses on determining the mechanisms of Netrin-1 regulation in white adipose tissue; the contribution of macrophage-derived and regulated T cell−derived Netrin-1 on white adipose tissue inflammation in mouse models of tissue-specific or conditional deletion of Netrin-1; and whether Netrin-1 targeting using a nanoparticle delivery system improves metabolic parameters in obese mice.

Research Project: “Lumenogenesis in the Caenorhabditis elegans Renal Tubule”

Mentor: Jeremy F. Nance, PhD

This project examines how the lumen forms in the Caenorhabditis elegans excretory cell, which is analogous to the mammalian kidney. 

Research Project: “Oxalate Transporters in Humanized Mouse Models”

Mentor: Lama Nazzal, MD

The goal of this experiment is to quantify the expression of transporters of the SLC26A family in the intestines of mouse models. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction will be used to quantify the RNA expression of these genes.

Research Project: “Developing a Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction for Different Strains of Oxalobacter formigenes

Mentor: Lama Nazzal, MD

The goal of this experiment is to design primers and develop a protocol to quantify different Oxalobacter formigenes strains in fecal samples. 

Research Project: “Sensor Mechanisms of Heat Shock Response Activation”

Mentor: Evgeny A. Nudler 

The major goal of this project is to understand the molecular mechanism of the heat shock response activation.

Research Project: “Nitric Oxide Signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans

Mentor: Evgeny A. Nudler 

The goal of this project is to identify and characterize new genes that control aging and stress resistance.

Research Project: “Brain Energy Metabolism Assessment with Multinuclear MRI”

Mentor: Prodromos Parasoglou, PhD

In this project, students will have the opportunity to become involved in the acquisition and post processing of MR imaging and spectroscopy data to assess the level of phosphorus containing metabolites (i.e. PCr, ATP), the levels of which reflect cellular energy production and expenditure. Insufficient neuronal availability has been linked to metabolic disorders (i.e. insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes) and can lead to cognitive impairment.

Research Project: “Multinuclear MRI Assessment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy”

Mentor: Prodromos Parasoglou, PhD

This project focuses on the implementation of new multinuclear magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy methods for quantifying metabolic and microvascular functions in the skeletal muscle of diabetic patients with lower-extremity complications, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Students will have the opportunity to use magnetic resonance data acquisition and postprocessing to compare microvascular and metabolic functions in patients with type 2 diabetes with and without diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Research Project: “Direct Regulation of Hexokinase by Ras”

Mentor: Mark R. Philips, MD

Glucose metabolism is altered in cancer cells but the mechanisms are poorly understood.  We have discovered a direct interaction between the most important human oncogene, Ras, and hexokinase, the first enzyme in the glycolytic pathway that phosphorylated glucose.  The project available will utilize biochemical methods such as co-immunoprecipitation to characterize the molecular interaction between Ras and hexokinase.

Research Project: “The Role of Activating Transcription Factor 4 in General Stress Response”

Mentor: Hyung Don Ryoo, PhD 

Amino acid deprivation or excessive misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum activates a stress response pathway mediated by activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). We will use Drosophila to determine precisely how ATF4 is activated, and how this helps the organism resist various forms of cellular stress. 

Research Project: “The Role of Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE) in Diet-Induced Obesity”

Mentor: Ann Marie Schmidt, MD

Receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) and its ligands are highly expressed in the adipose and liver tissue of mice fed for two weeks with a high-fat diet prior to the development of obesity, and RAGE-null mice are protected from diet-induced obesity. The goal of the project is to use mice with conditional, cell-specific deletion of RAGE to test the hypothesis that both inflammatory- and adipocyte-specific signals mediate RAGE-dependent development of obesity and metabolic dysfunction in mice fed a high-fat diet.

Research Project: “The Role of mDia1 in Diabetic Nephropathy”

Mentor: Ann Marie Schmidt, MD

The cytoplasmic domain of receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) binds to the formin mDia1, and mDia1 is required for the actions of RAGE in contributing to the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathic changes in mice. The goal of the project is to dissect the effects of podocyte RAGE and mDia1 in the development of glomerular disease in diabetic mice.

Research Project: “The Development of Small Molecule Antagonists that Block Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE) Signaling”

Mentor: Ann Marie Schmidt, MD

We have developed a high-throughput screening assay to discover small molecules that block the interaction of the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) cytoplasmic domain with mDia1. In this project, further in vitro and in vivo analysis of lead hit molecules in the assay will be tested.

Research Project: “CHORD NYC: Community Health Outreach to Reduce Diabetes”

Mentor: Mark Schwartz, MD

This research project is a randomized controlled trial integrating community health workers into primary care teams at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and VA NY Harbor Healthcare System to provide health coaching to prediabetic patients. We are testing whether this model will reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Research Project: “Effects of Micro Aspiration Induced Lower Airway Dysbiosis on Lung Cancer”

Mentor: Leopoldo N. Segal, MD 

We have observed that enrichment of the lung microbiome with anaerobes (possible though microaspiration) is associated with up regulation of PI3K/ERK pathways and lung cancer. In this project, we will examine swallowing parameters and lower airway dysbiosis in subjects with lung cancer and smoking controls. We will also evaluate the effects of micro aspiration using a lung cancer mouse model that allows us to study changes lower airway microbiota.

Research Project: “Evaluation of Regional Lower Airway Microbiome in Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Bronchiectasis”

Mentor: Leopoldo N. Segal, MD 

We have observed that enrichment of the lung microbiome with anaerobes (possible though microaspiration) is associated with a blunted TNF alpha production to TLR stimulation, an innate immune response commonly impaired in nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) disease. In this project, we will examine regional differences in microbiome and host immune response comparing areas of NTM bronchiectasis with airways without significant disease.

Research Project: “Lifestyle Management of Chronic Kidney Disease in Obese Diabetic Patients”

Mentor: Mary Ann Sevick, ScD, RN

Our research compares the efficacy of three technology-supported behavioral interventions to usual care in engaging older, obese patients with diabetes and concurrent chronic kidney disease in multiple behavior changes. These behavioral changes include weight loss, physical activity, and restriction of dietary sodium and phosphorus.

Research Project: “Use of the Personalized Nutrition Program Algorithm for Reducing Glycemic Excursions in Weight Loss (American Heart Association) (Pending)” 

Mentor: Mary Ann Sevick, ScD, RN

Using standard care as the control, this project compares the effectiveness of one-size-fits-all dietary recommendations with a personalized nutrition program algorithm for weight loss and reducing glycemic load. Our evaluation is based on the percentage of baseline body weight lost and inflammatory markers, as well as the mediating effects of glycemic variability and receptor for advanced glycation end products, or RAGE.

Research Project: “The Effect of Telomeres on Metabolism”

Mentor: Agnel Sfeir, PhD

Recent work from our lab uncovered an extra-telomeric function for the highly conserved telomere binding protein, RAP1, that acts as a transcriptional coregulator for many metabolic genes. Our goal is to investigate whether RAP1 mediates a crosstalk between telomere biology and metabolic homeostasis.

Research Project: “Studying Mitochondrial DNA Replication and Repair”

Mentor: Agnel Sfeir, PhD

Acquired genomic aberrations in mitochondrial DNA lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, a chief cause of neurological and aging diseases. Mitochondrial DNA mutations range from single-base substitutions to highly deleterious large-scale deletions. This research implements innovative methods to study mitochondrial DNA replication and repair to uncover how misregulation leads to mitochondrial DNA sequence loss and subsequent cellular dysfunction.

Research Project: “Advanced Diffusion-Weighted MRI Biomarkers of Renal Function in Healthy Kidney and Diabetic Nephropathy”

Mentor: Eric E. Sigmund, PhD 

This project is devoted to applying a comprehensive model to diffusion-weighted MRI contrast in the kidney, judiciously merging separate formalisms capturing microscopic flow and structural anisotropy.  The resulting analysis workflow is expected to dramatically enhance diagnostic specificity in complex pathologies like diabetic nephropathy, where separating microstructure, perfusion, tubular flow changes, and water exchange is crucial.

Research Project: “Role of the Histidine Phosphatase PHPT1 in Pancreatic Beta Cell Function”

Mentor: Edward Y. Skolnik, MD

The aim of this project is to assess the mechanism whereby PHPT1 knockout beta cells have impaired glucose-induced insulin release.

Research Project: “Characterization of Postingestive Sugar Sensor in the Brain of Flies and Mice”

Mentor: Greg S. B. Suh, PhD

We recently showed that taste-blind mutants still prefer a sugar solution based on its nutritional content after starvation and have identified a candidate sensor that detects the nutritional value of sugar. The objective of this project is to characterize the function of that sensor.

Research Project: “Identification and Characterization of Post-Ingestive Essential Amino Acid Sensor in the Brain of Flies”

Mentor: Greg S. B. Suh, PhD

We recently showed that taste-blind mutants that are insensitive to the taste of umami or protein still prefer a solution containing 10 essential amino acids over 10 non-essential amino acids after protein deprivation. The project is to identify the sensors and characterize their function.

Research Project: “Understanding the Role of the Brain's Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone System in Feeding in Flies and Mice”

Mentor: Greg S. B. Suh, PhD

We demonstrated that corticotropin-releasing hormone system mediates feeding behavior in addition to its known function as stress hormone. Our goal is to understand its role as a feeding stimulant in flies and mice.

Research Project: “Identification and Characterization of Urothelial Stem Cells”

Mentors: Tung-Tien Sun, PhD

The purpose of this project is to employ approaches to identify corneal epithelial and hair follicular epithelial stem cells to identify and localize urothelial stem cells in the lower urinary tract.

Research Project: “Regulated Trafficking of Urothelial Membrane Proteins”

Mentor: Tung-Tien Sun, PhD

Uroplakins are major urothelial differentiation products that form two-dimensional crystals and cover the apical surface of bladder epithelium. They play key roles in forming urothelial barriers. Our study aims to better understand how uroplakins are synthesized, assembled, and targeted to the apical surface of bladder urothelium.

Research Project: “Environmental Stressors in Pediatric CKD”

Mentor: Howard Trachtman, MD

Assess the impact of environmental exposures (bisphenol A, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organophosphates) on the clinical course in pediatric patients with chronic kidney disease. The project is designed to test the hypothesis that environmental exposures are a modifiable risk factor for progressive decline in kidney function especially in children with glomerular disorders. 

Research Project: “Community-Based Research to Improve Organ Donation Registration among Black Men”

Mentor: Stephen P. Wall, MD

The objective of this research is to use video educational programming to increase organ donor registration among black men who visit black-owned barbershops. Another goal is to identify the specific video education strategy (targeted versus tailored) that is most effective for improving organ donor registration in this setting.

Research Project: “Optimizing Educational Video Designs to Improve Minority Organ Donor Registration”

Mentor: Stephen P. Wall, MD

The objective of this research is to use video educational programming to increase organ donor registration among Latinos who visit Latino-owned barbershops and beauty salons. Another goal is to identify the specific video education strategy (incorporating live footage; ending choices including uplifting, negative consequence, and open ended) that is most effective for encouraging organ donor registration in this setting.

Research Project: “Pathogens Subvert Metabolism of Their Host”

Mentor: Jeffrey N. Weiser, MD

One aspect of this project examines how pathogens take advantage of the metabolism of their host to proliferate and cause infection. Current models of this process use the bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and influenza virus.