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Johns Hopkins Honors Young Investigators in Annual Celebration - 04/15/2015

Johns Hopkins Honors Young Investigators in Annual Celebration

Institution’s brightest young minds will give talks, present posters on research
Release Date: April 15, 2015

What: Young Investigators’ Day event
When: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 4 p.m.
Where: Vernon B. Mountcastle Auditorium, Preclinical Teaching Building, 1800 Orleans St., Baltimore, Maryland

The 38th annual Young Investigators’ Day ceremony at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will recognize 20 junior researchers for their accomplishments in the laboratory. The Young Investigators’ Day celebration is the biggest event of the year honoring trainee researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Six awards will go to postdoctoral fellows, and 14 will go to graduate students—one medical student, two M.D.-Ph.D. students and 11 Ph.D. students. The awardees will each give lectures or poster presentations highlighting their research accomplishments.

Young Investigators’ Day was created in 1978 to recognize student investigators and to provide a forum for them to present their work. Each award is named after a former researcher, student or trustee of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Some of the Recipients:

David Herzfeld

When not in the lab, David enjoys theater because, he says, it’s the exact opposite of what he does for a living. He’s worked on many theater productions in Baltimore, including five shows at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. He usually works behind the scenes as a lighting or sound designer, but he has acted in a few shows.

The Milwaukee native worked in theaters in high school and college, and his first job was in a theater. Working in community, semiprofessional and professional theatres, David has designed over 20 shows.

For his Ph.D. dissertation research, he will receive the Mette Strand Award. David studies how people learn motor movements, such as using a joystick, riding a bike or learning to drive. He found when people learn a new task requiring their motor skills, they learn faster when they make mistakes and have to correct for them.

He plans to graduate in the next year and will remain in his Ph.D. mentor Reza Shadmehr’s laboratory for a postdoctoral fellow position.

John Issa

John will be awarded the inaugural David Yue Award, named after his late mentor, who passed away unexpectedly in December. “He was not only a great scientist and a passionate teacher, but also someone who cared immensely about his students and their success,” says John. “For that reason, there is some solace in receiving this award, knowing that no one was as happy and proud to see their students do well as David Yue.”

For his research project, John mapped the auditory system in the brain to see which neurons in the brain lit up when an animal processed sounds from its environment. He set up a way to watch individual neurons fire in a mouse that was awake. John recalls when he first got the experiment to work. “After I called over Dr. Yue to see, he excitedly grabbed every professor and student he could find in the floors above and below us in the Traylor and Ross buildings to come watch.”

John will graduate in May from the M.D.-Ph.D. program and will continue working on his research at Johns Hopkins in the lab of co-advisor Eric Young.

Kirsten Meyer

A New Zealander by birth but raised in Bangladesh and India, Kirsten’s decision to dedicate her career to developing drug treatments for tropical diseases was influenced by her upbringing. She’s been testing drugs known as Hsp90 inhibitors against the parasite Trypanosoma brucie, which causes African sleeping sickness. Using these drugs, she cured mice that had received an otherwise-lethal dose of the parasite.

Kirsten also developed a new system to find the best dosing for the drugs. Some drugs need to be kept in the body a long time to kill off parasites, but the Hsp90 inhibitors only needed short exposures in high concentrations. In this case, less of the drug is needed to kill off the bugs than with other treatments.

For her research in Theresa Shapiro’s lab, she will be awarded a Paul Ehrlich Award, named after the pharmacologist whose discovery led to the development of a drug still in use today to kill off Trypanosoma parasites.

As seen in the 2016 Biennial Report. Learn more.

On the Web:

  • Visit the Johns Hopkins Medicine Education page
  • Read the trainee blog Biomedical Odyssey