The Edge Newsletter

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Volume 7, Issue 1 - Fall 2012
Science Without Borders: Profound Step Towards Treating Leukemia

Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) scientists discover a potential new drug target for hard to treat cancers.  Rebecca Chan, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Reuben Kapur, Ph.D., Frieda and Albrecht Kipp Professor of Pediatrics, as well as other colleagues at the School of Medicine have found that the protein tyrosine phosphatase, SHP2, is hyperactive in cells that have a mutation in the KIT receptor in several types of leukemia.

In collaboration with Zhong-Yin Zhang, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the researchers found that a novel small molecule inhibitor of SHP2 phosphatase activity combined with an inhibitor of the PI3K pathway prolonged the survival of animals expressing the mutant KIT receptor.  According to Dr. Kapur, “The combination significantly enhanced the survival of the animals bearing the mutation.”  He goes on to state, “It’s more than a synergistic effect.  It’s pretty profound.”

Read the online Blood article of the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Halesha Basavarajappa Awarded First Ever Ausich Graduate Student Research Scholarship

Halesha Basavarajappa, doctoral student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been awarded the first ever Ausich Graduate Student Research Scholarship from Kemin Health. Halesha studies under the mentorship of Tim Corson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Opthalmology, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  This is a competitive two year award given to those doing research that contributes to the knowledge of natural compounds found in human diets.  Kemin Health is a supplier of specialty ingredients in supplements and food in worldwide markets.

Congratulations Halesha!

Indiana University Awarded Near Record Funding for Research and Sponsored Program

Indiana University (IU) receives $533 million in external research grants and sponsored program awards in fiscal year 2012. This is the second-highest annual total in IU’s history; a 9.2 percent increase over 2011 fiscal year’s grants and awards.

IU President, Michael A. McRobbie states, “… That we have been able to sustain our research excellence when research universities are facing unprecedented financial challenges and dwindling funding opportunities makes this achievement even more impressive.”

The IUSM received large awards that include: $15 million from USAID to continue the Kenya project with AMPATH; $15 million from IU Health for the Strategic Research Initiative; and $7.8 million from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services to evaluate and expand the Aging Brain Care Model of innovative brain care for elderly individuals with dementia or depression.

IU Vice President for Research Jorge Jose states, “Our faculty are successfully competing with top researchers from across the nation and the world for limited research monies, and the resulting research will both contribute to breakthroughs in all disciplines and have a significant economic impact across the state.”

Read the full news release.

Alumni Spotlight on Michael Kalwat, Ph.D

Mike_Kalwat.jpgMichael Kalwat, Ph.D, and graduate of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program at the IUSM, successful defended his thesis, F-Actin regulation of SNARE-mediated insulin secretion, on August 16th, 2012.

Michael Kalwat, Ph.D., studied under the mentorship of Debbie Thurmond, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Basic Diabetes Research Group, Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and of Cellular and Integrative Physiology.  He was a member of the first IUSM BioMedical Gateway (IBMG) Program for Ph.D. study cohort that entered Fall 2007.

Dr. Kalwat is continuing his research in diabetes, but has shifted his focus to the gene transcription and cell signaling aspects of the disease as a post-doctoral student at the University of Texas – Southwestern in Dallas.  He joined the lab of Melanie Cobb, Ph.D. in the Department of Pharmacology.

We wish Dr. Kalwat well on his new academic and career endeavors!

View Dr. Kalwat's publications, funding, and honors and awards.


IUSM Students Rock! Julia Hum Brings Home Top Honor from ASBMR

Julia Hum, a doctoral candidate in Cellular and Integrative Physiology, was awarded the 2012 ASBMR Young Investigator Award for her abstract presentation, Spatial Patterns of Src Activity Differ in Response Mechanical Loading or EGF in Osteocytes.

Julia received her award at the annual ASBMR meeting during the President’s Dessert Reception on October 14th, 2012.

Congratulations Julia!


Message from the Director

The ever evolving world of science, a moving target if you will, creates excitement for some, trepidation for others.

Deciding to pursue your Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences is no easy decision. It should start with a passion to understand the world around you, an understanding of the career paths that those before you have taken, and careers that are being created daily in the life sciences industry.  But most importantly your decision must come from the knowledge of yourself, your dreams, and determination to move mountains!  Uncovering scientific knowledge is more than rewarding and fulfilling, it is literally life changing for some, for those lives that you may touch and make better if you discover a cure along your journey. This is not an easy path, talk to any doctoral student and they will tell you the daily struggles they endure. Then talk to a student whose research may be close to unlocking a mystery in breast cancer or leukemia, or a multitude of incurable diseases.  Discoveries do not come easy, they come from the blood, sweat, and tears of amazing faculty mentors, graduate students, post-docs, lab technicians and all those working around the clock to ensure that the research engine continues… that the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, one by one.

If during your search you discover that you want to pursue a career as a research scientists consider applying to the IBMG Program for Ph.D. Study. You will find a well-respected faculty, a large number of potential mentors to choose from, a strong student and post-doc community who can become lifelong friends and colleagues, a collaborative spirit, access to advanced techniques, specialized equipment, and an exciting intellectual environment highlighting translation, biomedical, and basic sciences all at IUSM!  Wherever you choose to go for your post-graduate studies, we wish you the very best!!

Monica L. Henry
Director, IBMG Program for Ph.D. Study


Attention Prospective Students:
Mark Your Calendar!

The IBMG Application Deadline is December 15th!

Upcoming Events

Nov 12-16
IBMG Student Advising Meetings

Nov 21-25
Thanksgiving Break

Dec 7
IBMG Rotation 1 Ends
IBMG Spring Advising Form Due

Dec 10
IBMG Final Day of Fall Classes

Dec 14
IBMG Rotation 1 Lab Student Evaluation Form Due
IBMG Rotation 2 Mentor Agreement Form Due 

Dec 15
IBMG Application Deadline for Fall 2013 Entry


Resources for Prospective Students

U.S. News article about higher salaries for Graduate degrees
According to a recent U.S. News article the National Association of Colleges and Employers September 2012 Salary Survey claims those holding a graduate degree take home a larger salary than those that hold an undergraduate degree. But… there are caveats!  Read the article.


"We Chose..." Campaign
Learn why Yanique Thomas of Morgan State University, Peter Corridon of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Tuskegee University, Baindu Bayon of Indiana University and Marisol Resendiz of New Mexico State University chose the IUSM and the IBMG Program for Ph.D. Study.  View a few of their reasons and our latest diversity outreach postcard.


Center for the Business of Life Sciences Student Associates Program
The opportunities at Indiana University School of Medicine are endless! One option for doctoral students, in consultation with their faculty mentor, is to pursue a Student Associates Certificate at the Center for the Business of Life Sciences.  This gives graduate students in the sciences an opportunity to be paired with MBA students at the Kelley School of Business and learn real-world skills that translate to innovation in biomedical/life sciences industry.

Dr. Michael Olaopa, and George Telthorst, Director, Center for the Business of Life Sciences explain this unique program in a recent interview which will be available soon on the IUPUI Graduate Office YouTube Channel


IUSM Graduate Division News
Spotlights-Alumni, Faculty, Students
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