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Trainees - Comings and Goings

2015 Entering PGY-I Research Track Residents

Samantha Friend, M.D., Ph.D.

Samantha comes to us from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where she received her M.D, and her Ph.D in Immunology. Her Doctoral thesis focused on T cell regulation, and her current research interests include the role of immune function in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Her peer-reviewed publications include:
  • Friend SF, Deason-Towne F, Peterson LK, Berger AJ, Dragone LL. Regulation of T cell receptor complex-mediated signaling by ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like modifications. Am J Clin Exp Immunol. 2014 Dec 5;3(3):107-23
  • Friend SF, Peterson LK, Treacy EC, Stefanski AL, Sosinowski T, Pennock ND, Berger AJ, Winn VD, Dragone LL. The Discovery of a reciprocal relationship between tyrosine-kinase signaling and Cullin neddylation. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4; 8(10): e75200. 
  • Peterson LK, Pennington LF, Shaw LA, Brown M, Treacy E, Friend SF, Hatelvik O, Rubtsova K, Rubtsov AV, Dragone LL. SLAP deficiency decreases dsDNA autoantibody production. Clinical Immunology. 2014 Feb; 150(2), 201-209.
  • Friend SF, Peterson LK, Kedl RM, and Dragone LL. 2013. SLAP deficiency increases TCR avidity leading to altered cognate antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Immunologic Research. 55(1-3), 116-124.

Yash Joshi, M.D., Ph.D.

Yash graduated the Temple University School of Medicine where he received both his M.D and Ph.D degrees, the latter in Pharmacology. His research focus has been the cellular basis for neurodegenerative disorders, using cross-species models.

Examples of his recent peer-reviewed publications include:
  • Joshi YB, Giannopoulos PF, Praticò D. The 12/15-lipoxygenase as an emerging therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Mar;36(3):181-186.
  • Joshi YB, Chu J, Praticò D. Knockout of 5-lipoxygenase prevents dexamethasone-induced tau pathology in 3xTg mice. Aging Cell. 2013 Aug; 12(4): 706-11.
  • Joshi YB, Di Meco A, Praticò D. Overexpression of 12/15-lipoxygenase increases anxiety behavior in female mice. Neurobiology of Aging. 2014 May; 35(5): 1032-6.
  • Joshi YB, Di Meco A, Praticò D. Modulation of amyloid-beta production by leukotriene B4 via the gamma-secretase pathway. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2014 Feb; 38(3): 503-6.
  • Joshi YB, Giannopoulos PF, Chu J, Praticò D. Modulation of lipopolysaccharide-induced memory insult, gammasecretase, and neuroinflammation in triple transgenic mice by 5-lipoxygenase. Neurobiology of Aging. 2014 May; 35(5): 1024-31.
  • Joshi YB, Giannopoulos PF, Chu J, Sperow M, Kirby LG, Abood ME, Praticò D. Absence of ALOX5 gene prevents stress-induced memory deficits, synaptic dysfunction and tauopathy in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Human Molecular Genetics. 2014. 23(25):6894-902.

2015 PGY-II Research Track Residents

Mercedes Szpunar, M.D., Ph.D.

Mercedes joined our research track after completing the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Pathology, where she studied the biology of stress and sympathetic nervous system effects on breast tumor metastasis. In addition to psychoneuroimmunology, Mercedes’ research interests include maternal health and early brain development, and their relationship to developmental brain disorders. Parallel to her scientific training, Mercedes has heavily invested her energy in areas of Medical Training and Scientific Policy, holding national-level positions in organizations such as the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) and American Physician Scientists Association (APSA).
Her peer-reviewed publications include:
  • Szpunar MJ, Burke KA, Dawes RP, Brown EB, Madden KS. The antidepressant desipramine and α2-adrenergic receptor activation promote breast tumor progression in association with altered collagen structure. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 Dec;6(12):1262-72.
  • Madden KS, Szpunar MJ, Brown EB. Early impact of social isolation and breast tumor progression in mice. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Mar;30 Suppl:S135-41.
  • Madden KS, Szpunar MJ, Brown EB. β-Adrenergic receptors (β-AR) regulate VEGF and IL-6 production by divergent pathways in high β-AR-expressing breast cancer cell lines. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Dec;130(3):747-58.
  • Wilton R, Yousef MA, Saxena P, Szpunar MJ, Stevens FJ. Expression and purification of recombinant human receptor for advanced glycation endproducts in Escherichia coli. Protein Expr Purif. 2006 May;47(1):25-35.

Alejandro Meruelo, M.D., Ph.D.

Alejandro came to our research track after completing the Medical Scientist Training Program at UCLA. Prior to UCLA, Alejandro graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with a B.S. in Physics. He received his Ph.D. in Computational Biology from the UCLA Institute for Genomics and Proteomics, where his research focused on prediction of protein structure and function. In the past year, Alejandro has become increasingly interested in applying computational biology to the brain, in particular to neuroimaging. He has studied the use of brain imaging to understand the neurobiology of addiction, and is pursuing this line of inquiry during his Research Residency at UCSD, under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Tapert.

His peer-reviewed publications include:
  • Hwang BJ, Meruelo AD, Sternberg PW. C. elegans EVI1 proto-oncogene, EGL-43, is necessary for Notch-mediated cell fate specification and regulates cell invasion. Development. 2007 Feb; 134(4): 669-79.
  • Meruelo AD, Bowie JU. Identifying polymer-forming SAM domains. Proteins. 2009 Jan; 74(1): 1-5.
  • Meruelo AD, Samish I, Bowie JU. TMKink: a method to predict transmembrane helix kinks. Protein Science. 2011 Jul; 20(7): 1256-64.
  • Meruelo AD, Han SK, Kim S, Bowie JU. Structural differences between thermophilic and mesophilic membrane proteins. Protein Science. 2012 Nov; 21(11): 1746-53.

Nate Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Nate received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University and his M.D. from Northwestern School of Medicine. His graduate studies were in the area of molecular genetics, and his hope is to apply genetic tools to understand the biology of brain disorders and therapeutics. His current plan for his Research Track is to pursue studies of genetic and epigenetic markers for lithium sensitivity in Bipolar Disorder.

Nate’s peer-reviewed publications include:
  • Miller ND, Nance MA, Wohler ES, Hoover-Fong JE, Lisi E, Thomas GH, Pevsner J. Molecular (SNP) analyses of overlapping hemizygous deletions of 10q25.3 to 10qter in four patients: Evidence for Hmx2 and Hmx3 as candidate genes in hearing and vestibular function. American Journal of Medical Genetics: Part A. Feb 27 2009;149A(4):669-80.
  • Wang W, Carvalho B, Miller ND, Pevsner J, Chakravarti A, Irizarry, RA. Estimating Genome-Wide Copy Number Using Allele-Specific Mixture Models. J Comput Biol. Sept 2008;15(7):857-866.
  • Ting JC, Roberson ED, Miller ND, Lysholm-Bernacchi A, Stephan DA, Capone GT, Ruczinski I, Thomas GH, Pevsner J. Visualization of uniparental inheritance, Mendelian inconsistencies, deletions, and parent of origin effects in single nucleotide polymorphism trio data with SNPtrio. Hum Mutat. Dec 2007;28(12):1225-35.
  • Alagramam KN, Miller ND, Adappa ND, Pitts DR, Heaphy JC, Yuan H, Smith RJ. Promoter, alternative splice forms, and genomic structure of protocadherin 15. Genomics. Oct 2007;90(4):482-92.

2015 Psychiatry Summer Research Fellows

Joshua Dyer is a first year student at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has four years of military experience as a Navy Corpsman, including two years serving with a marine infantry unit. He will be studying neurobehavioral predictors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Drs. Dean Acheson and Victoria Risbrough.

Robert Cox is a first year medical student at Drexel University College of Medicine. His undergraduate studies were in molecular cell biology, and his clinical interests include Addiction Psychiatry. Robert’s summer project will focus on the neural and molecular basis of addiction phenotypes in laboratory animals, working in the laboratory group of Dr. Athina Markou.

2014 Psychiatry Summer Research Fellows

Sara Timtim joined us after her first year at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She received her B.S. from Stanford University in Environmental Engineering, and has conducted, and presented findings from, studies of adjunctive therapies in treatment-resistant Bipolar Disorder. Sara spent her summer fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Terry Jernigan, Professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, and Radiology and Director of the UCSD Center for Human Development.

Brian Becerra joined us after his first year at at Stony Brook University. He received his B.S. in Human Biology from UCSD, and has conducted laboratory research in Biomedical Sciences at UCSD and as part of a PRIME summer internship at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Brian spent his summer fellowship in the laboratory of David Feifel, M.D., Ph.D., a former UCSD Research Track Resident and current Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the UCSD Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Medicine Unit.