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2 Tufts biomedical graduate students awarded HHMI research fellowships
Date:8/14/2013

BOSTON (August 14, 2013) The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded two doctoral students from the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University with 2013 International Student Research Fellowships. Seblewongel Asrat, from Ethiopia, studies the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease while Jennifer Nwankwo, from Nigeria, studies red blood cell dehydration in sickle cell disease. The HHMI fellowship program provides support for international pre-doctoral students who are conducting outstanding research in the biomedical and related sciences.

Asrat, a molecular microbiology student, seeks to understand how specific cells in the immune system inhibit replication of the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia. She has identified a novel strategy that immune cells use to overcome pathogen attack. Her advisor is Ralph Isberg, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM), and member of both the genetics and molecular microbiology program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. Asrat is in the MERGE-ID track (Medically-oriented Research in Graduate Education - Infectious Disease) program at the Sackler School. Her co-advisor in this program is Jennifer Chow, M.S., M.D., attending physician in infectious diseases at Tufts Medical Center as well as an assistant professor at TUSM.

Nwankwo studies sickle cell disease, a group of red blood cell disorders that include sickle cell anemia. She specifically studies the role of enzymes that cause red blood cell dehydration and cell adhesion critical events that lead to the painful crises that are the hallmark of sickle cell disease. Her goal is to identify enzymes that could be targeted by new drug treatments for the disorders. Nwankwo is a student in the Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics progra
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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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