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LaShae Nicholson and Rafael Perez Receive Kavli Postdoctoral Award for Academic Diversity

December 21, 2021

LaShae Nicholson, PhD, from the laboratory of Stephen Strittmatter, and Rafael Perez, PhD, from the laboratory of Marina Picciotto, have been selected to receive the Kavli Postdoctoral Award for Academic Diversity.

The Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine is committed to fostering and supporting an inclusive and representative neuroscience research community. The Kavli Postdoctoral Award for Academic Diversity aims to support exceptional scholars who bring a diversity of perspectives, identities, and backgrounds to academic research, including those from groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences. This Award supports up to two years of mentored research in the neurosciences at Yale University, including salary, benefits, and a research allowance.

LaShae Nicholson: After training in the US and Germany, Nicholson joined the Strittmatter lab at Yale in 2020, working Alzheimer's disease. Her proposed work will characterize the cellular and physiological vascular dysfunction during the pathological development of Alzheimer’s disease. Her long-term goal is to use a systems biology and genetic sequencing approach to study cellular interactions that contribute to disruptive changes in neuronal morphology and function in cognitive disorders.

Critical advancements in the understanding and finding curative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases lie at the intersection of clinical and basic research. However, I strongly believe that the elevation, participation, and inclusion of minority and diverse voices is an important, yet overlooked aspect of this process, especially when it comes to patient-driven care.

LaShae Nicholson

Rafael Perez: At Yale, Perez joined the Picciotto lab as a postdoctoral associate in 2020, working on associative learning in opioid addiction. His proposed work focuses on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that allow contextual cues to alter behavioral responses to opiates - in particular, understanding tolerance to the harmful effects of opioids in specific environments. His long-term goal is to shed light on how neurobiological and environmental factors interact to increase vulnerability to addiction.

"I aspire to investigate how biology interacts with the challenges that plague minority communities and drive disparities in substance use disorder outcomes. My goal is to combine basic science with translational research to resolve these critical questions", said Perez.

Submitted by Pauline Charbogne on December 22, 2021