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The Pew Charitable Trusts Awards Grants to Yale Scientists

June 14, 2018
by Jacqueline Rocheleau

The Pew Charitable Trusts has awarded grants to four early-career scientists for research in the biomedical sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

Pew’s Biomedical Scholars program provides 4-year grants to early-career faculty to promote advancement in the field of human health. Hesper Rego, PhD, assistant professor of microbial pathogenesis has been named 2018 Pew Biomedical Scholar along with 21 others from different institutions. Aaron M. Ring, MD, PhD, assistant professor of immunobiology, joins four other scientists in the 2018 class of Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research.

Rego joined Yale’s faculty in 2016 and will use her Pew funding to investigate how different tuberculosis cells metabolize antibiotics and then search for the genetic factors responsible for variations in tuberculosis cell metabolism. With this information, tuberculosis medications may become more effective.

Ring, who also joined the faculty in 2016, will repurpose protein engineering technologies to categorize the antibodies that arise in response to cancer therapy in various patients. This research will complement the new treatments that instruct patients’ own immune cells to attack tumors.

A second Pew initiative, the Latin American Fellows Program, funds 10 Latin American researchers each year to receive postdoctoral training in the United States. This year, two researchers who began their careers in Brazil, Carolina Lucas, PhD, and Maria Forni, PhD, will be joining labs at Yale.

Lucas earned her PhD in immunology from the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She will conduct her post-doctoral training at Yale in the lab of Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, where she will study the Chikungunya virus. Transmitted to humans by mosquitos, the virus leaves some people with fever and joint pain lasting up to a week, while other patients can develop debilitating neurological conditions. Lucas plans to find out what, on a molecular level, sets apart the viruses that successfully infiltrate the nervous system.

Forni, who received her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Sao Paulo, will begin her training in the lab of Valerie Horsley, PhD, Maxine F. Singer Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and associate professor of dermatology, who is a past Pew Scholar. Forni will study how a low-calorie and high-nutrient diet delays aging in skin stem cells in mice. She hopes her findings will lead to therapeutics that preserve skin integrity during aging and enhance wound healing in people.

Submitted by Jacqueline Rocheleau on June 14, 2018