Return to Issue #02 March / 2016
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Keystone Symposia Diversity Life Sciences Programs E-Newsletter
 
 

DLSP Health Disparities Working Groups

The DLSP has constructed two health disparities working groups with Fellows and DAC members as lead scientists (see Table): Health Disparities Working Group-Cancer (HDWG-C) and Health Disparities Working Group-Genetics/Genomics (HDWG-G). HDWG-C is focusing on cancer health disparities with six Keystone Symposia Fellows (KSF) across cohorts and DAC member Dr. George Langford. HDWG-G also has six different KSF from across the cohorts and is focusing on genetics/genomics health disparities, led by DAC member Dr. Agnes Day. Both working groups plan to present health disparities workshops at two different Keystone Symposia conferences in 2018.

DLSP Health Disparities Working Groups (Composition)

 HDWG-Cancer
 HDWG-Genetics/Genomics
 Lead: Dr. George Langford, Syracuse University  Lead: Dr. Agnes Day, Howard University
 Melinda Aldrich, Vanderbilt University
 (KSF Class of 2013)
 Lydia Contreras, The University of Texas at Austin
 (KSF Class of 2011)
 Sharilyn Almodovar, University of Colorado Denver
 (KSF Class of 2012)
 Dana Crawford, Case Western University
 (KSF Class of 2009)
 Jamaine Davis, Meharry Medical College
 (KSF Class of 2014)
 Digna Velez Edwards, Vanderbilt University
 (KSF Class of 2012)
 Dana-Lynn Koomoa, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii
 (KSF Class of 2009)
 Amol Kulkarni, Howard University
 (KSF Class of 2015)
 Avery Posey, University of Pennsylvania
 (KSF Class of 2016)
 Vinicio de Jesus Perez, Stanford University
 (KSF Class of 2013)
 Lindsey Trevino, Texas A&M Health Science Center
 (KSF Class of 2016)
 Manu Platt, Georgia Institute of Technology
 (KSF Class of 2011)


Melinda Aldrich  

Melinda Aldrich
Vanderbilt University

My research is focused on racial disparities in lung cancer and COPD, with a particular focus in African Americans. As a genetic epidemiologist, much of my work involves identifying genetic and environmental contributions to lung disease. This work is accomplished by utilizing both epidemiologic cohorts and electronic health records.


Sharilyn Almodovar  

Sharilyn Almodovar
University of Colorado Denver

I am interested in HIV evolution and its implications in vascular co-morbidities particularly in the lung. There are several pulmonary diseases that are over-represented in the HIV population, like lung cancer, COPD, and Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). My research is focused on the role of HIV proteins in the causation/progression of PH in patients and animal models (macaque and humanized mice).


Lydia Contreras  

Lydia Contreras
The University of Texas at Austin

My lab works understanding stress responses at the molecular level. Some of the environmental stresses of interest to our lab include radiation, and air pollutants exposure. We innovate methods to look at new biomarkers in RNAs, proteins etc. and characterize the impact of external stresses on cellular systems (using approaches based on proteomics, transcriptomics, biochemistry). Our focus is on how the genome (gene expression) changes mechanisms of regulation under these conditions. We look at RNAs and noncoding as a central focus in our lab.


Dana Crawford  

Dana Crawford
Case Western Reserve University

My expertise is in genetic epidemiology and human genetics, and my current research interests map to the interface of genetic epidemiology and big data biomedical informatics. My laboratory accesses epidemiologic and clinical collections to characterize common and rare genetic variants associated with human complex traits such lipid and inflammation profiles and cardiovascular disease in diverse populations. We also are interested in identifying pleiotropy and environmental modifiers of these genetics associations, including pharmacogenomics.


Jamaine Davis  

Jamaine Davis
Meharry Medical College

My lab is one of the few in the world that directly links deep-sequencing to structural biology in an effort to advance discoveries in precision medicine. Our approach uses interdisciplinary techniques, to inform clinical/translational medicine, to elucidate mechanisms of genomic maintenance and regulation in diseases. Our challenge is to understand how genomic and proteomic variations affect health, disease and drug response, with a particular emphasis on the roles of BRCA1 in breast cancer. Knowing that BRCA1 mutations contribute to tumor development, and that BRCA1 mutations vary across racial/ethnic groups, we postulate the differences in breast cancer development/mortality in racial/ethnic groups can be attributed to the roles of BRCA variants.


Vinicio de Jesus Perez  

Vinicio de Jesus Perez
Stanford University

Dr. Vinicio de Jesus Perez received his MD from the University of Puerto Rico Medical School and completed an internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine in Denver, followed by postdoctoral research training at Stanford University. He is presently assistant professor of medicine and staff physician of the Stanford Adult PH Clinic where he trains fellows pursuing careers in PH and IPF. His research work is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).


Dana-Lynn Koomoa-Lange  

Dana-Lynn Koomoa-Lange
Cancer Research Center of Hawaii

Dana-Lynn Koomoa-Lange's research utilizes molecular biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques to investigate the role of ion channels and calcium signaling in cancer biology, immunology and neurobiology. She has several research projects that are funded by NIH and NSF that also include activities to increase the participation of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in biomedical research.


Amol Kulkarni  

Amol Kulkarni
Howard University

My research area is drug development and synthesis particularly in the areas of antiretroviral agents, neuroprotective agents, anti-Ebola compounds.


Manu Platt  

Manu Platt
Georgia Tech/Emory

The Platt Lab studies proteolytic mechanisms in a number of diseases: pediatric strokes in children with sickle cell disease, HIV-mediated cardiovascular disease, tendinopathy in overuse injuries, and personalized medicine applications to predict individual patient-specific cancer metastasis potential. My broader background is on the biochemistry and cell biology side of biomedical engineering that has been merged with systems biology tools and approaches. Most of our research projects involve the cardiovascular system and tissue remodeling, initiating first with my dissertation work on shear stress and endothelial cell biology investigating the biomechanical regulation of cathepsin-mediated remodeling during atherosclerosis. This work has segued into sickle cell disease arterial remodeling. We have been investigating disturbed flow induced cathepsin activity and elastic lamina degradation to advance lesions in cerebral arteries in sickle cell disease, and in people living with HIV.


Avery Posey  

Avery Posey
University of Pennsylvania

My research focuses on the development of personalized cancer therapies using a patient's own immune cells. I use gene therapies and antibody-based T cell therapies to target cancer-specific glycoepitopes on hematopoetic and epithelial malignancies. Thus, my areas of interest are in genetics, personalized medicine, immunology, and cancer biology.


Lindsey Trevino  

Lindsey Trevino
Texas A&M Health Science Center

Her current research is focused on understanding the molecular basis of how early life exposure to endocrine disruptors (EDCs) promotes the development of metabolic diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes in adulthood. She is particularly interested in how adverse exposure to EDCs during critical periods of development disrupts the epigenome leading to developmental reprogramming and alteration of metabolic “set-points” in the liver to promote obesity.


Digna Velez Edwards  

Digna Velez Edwards
Vanderbilt University

I am a genetic epidemiologist with a research focus on understanding and identifying genetic risk factors for complex diseases with a specific focus on diseases that disproportionately impact minorities and genetic factors related to women's health and reproductive outcomes. To conduct these studies I utilize large clinical databases that link electronic health record (EHR) information to DNA and the Right from the Start cohort, a community-based prospective pregnancy cohort. My current research projects include genetic studies of preterm birth, miscarriage, uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse, and keloids. These studies include genome-wide association analyses, next-generation sequencing, evaluation of biomarkers, and phenome-wide association studies.