Meet the 2022-2023 ISCRM Fellows

The ISCRM Fellows program began in 2017, the year the Washington State Legislature first included funding for ISCRM in the state budget. In a critical show of support for stem cell research, the legislature appropriated $2.25 million for core staff and technologies, innovation pilot awards for faculty, and a trainee fellowship program to help the UW fulfill its mission, increase capacity for labs, and provide foundational research experiences for graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral students embarking on science careers. In 2019, the annual funding was increased to $2,625,000.

The FY21 ISCRM Fellows were selected from a deep pool of undergraduate students, PhD students, and postdocs making critical contributions to medical research. Please join us in congratulating the following recipients.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marina Pavlou, PhD, Reh Lab
ISCRM fellowship funding will allow Marina Pavlou, PhD to test the potential of growth factors Ascl1 and Atoh1 to reinstate developmental plasticity in adult non-human primate Müller glia. The goal is to regenerate neurons from glia in the retina and recover the cell classes that die in blinding diseases and to ultimately recover vision.

 

Graduate Student Fellows

Row of headshots of seven graduate students

Mark Andrade (Cirulli Lab)
With a goal of advancing regenerative medicine approaches to treating diabetes, ISCRM fellow Mark Andrade will explore the feasibility of activating Sonic Hedghog and/or Wnt signaling in pancreatic beta-cells “after” they have differentiated into endocrine cells and will test whether the competency of beta-cells to replicate as a result of αE-catenin downregulation may change as a function of age, and/or in response to injury and metabolic stressors.

Ross Bretherton (Davis/DeForest Labs)
Funding will allow Ross Bretherton to explore the role of dilated cardiomyopathy and cardiac fibrosis in heart failure. In his investigation, Bretherton will characterize crosstalk between cardiomyocytes, cardiac fibroblasts, and extracellular matrix in DCM and subsequent heart failure and will identify the cellular mechanisms underlying enhanced ECM alignment using an in vitro engineered heart tissue model.

Heber Lara (Moltke Lab)
Heber Lara will use ISCRM fellowship funds to uncover the role of a growth factor in the small intestinal epithelium. His aims are to establish this growth factor as an important intestinal epithelial signal and to characterize it as a supportive signal in Type 2 immunity.

Morgan Jones (Escobar Lab)
ISCRM fellowship funds will enable Morgan Jones to determine how a poised chromatin state is initially formed as well as how terminal effector and memory precursor CD8+ T cells maintain the intermediate chromatin state of bivalent chromatin. In the investigation, they will identify differential regions of poised chromatin between TE and MP states and employ a CRISPR-Cas based technology to discover protein complexes permitting bivalent chromatin.

Brizzia Munoz Robles (DeForest Lab)
With her ISCRM fellowship, Brizzia Munoz Robles will develop a generalizable strategy to customize the biochemical properties of cell-laden biomaterials in 4D through functional protein photoassembly. The goal is to reveal new methods to recapitulate signaling over shorter biologically relevant time scales.

Alex Ochs (Boyle Lab)
Alex Ochs will use his ISCRM fellowship to conduct a proof-of-concept computational modeling evaluation of whether subthreshold optogenetic stimulation to induce a weak repolarizing current could suppress engraftment arrhythmia. The goal is to validate a potential approach that could improve the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for heart attack victims.

Kalen Robeson (Davis/Regnier Labs)
To improve the field’s understanding of MBNL1-directed transcriptome maturation, Kalen Robeson will use human iPSC models to determine the role of MBNL1 in differentiation into skeletal muscle and to determine the function of MBNL1 in the muscle tissue resident stem cell response to injury. The goal is to produce insights that will advance regenerative treatments to restore lost muscle function.

 

Undergraduate Fellows

 

Leona Binyam-Temelso, Murry Lab
ISCRM fellowship funding will enable Leona Binyam-Temelso to identify the minimal set of gene edits possible to generate human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes that will not produce arrhythmias once transplanted into large animal models. The goal is to advance the Murry Lab’s effort to develop a safe, effective cell therapy for heart disease.

Willow Chernoske, Escobar Lab
With ISCRM fellowship funding, Willow Chernoske will develop and conduct a proof of concept for a CRISPR-Cas12a biotinylation system designed by the Escobar labb to determine the epigenetic mechanisms that maintain the poised chromatin state of memory CD8+ T cells. The goal is to produce insights relevant to the fields of immunology and chromatin biology.

Lauren D’Amico, Moussavi-Harami Lab
An ISCRM fellowship will allow Lauen D’Amico to study sarcomeric mutations that cause alterations to tension-time index (TTI). Understanding how these variations are linked to disruption in the force-generation capacity of cardiomyocytes will help inform future studies aimed at developing more effective treatments for cardiomyopathies.

Ashi Jain, Wills Lab
Ashi Jain will use ISCRM fellowship funding to investigate a hypothesis that two splice variants of the transcription factors Meis1 and Pbx3 have different gene expression patterns in different cell types over regenerative time. The goal is to advance the long-term mission of the Wills Lab to understand the factors and processes that enable complex tissue regeneration in the spinal cord and limbs.

Hailemikael Yirdaw, Kueh Lab
As an ISCRM Fellow, Hailemikael Yirdaw will develop and test designed protein scaffolds that greatly enhance the sensitivity of CAR T cells to tumor antigens. Achieving a new generation of CARs with improved sensitivity would open the door to more effective therapeutics for a wide variety of tumors.