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Mentor Academy

MSTP Mentor Academy members provide MSTP students the opportunity to receive guidance and feedback from a MSTP faculty member with a proven track record of excellent mentorship skills outside of the MSTP Leadership Team. The meeting will include review of the Individual Development Plan (IDP).

An Academy Member is selected by each incoming MSTP student, based on attibutes that are important to the student.

​MSTP Academy Members

Lynne Abruzzo, MD, PhD​

Dr. Abruzzo’s research focuses on the pathophysiology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and other low-grade B-cell leukemias and lymphomas. In particular, using classical cytogenetic and newer genomic technologies to identify prognostic markers in CLL, and to determine how to combine newly discovered and existing prognostic markers to produce signatures that are clinically relevant to the management and treatment of patients with CLL.​
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​​Brandon Biesiadecki, PhD

Research Interest
My research interests are focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of how muscle regulatory protein phosphorylation alter heart function in the normal and diseased heart. In the heart, the signaling induced phosphorylation of muscle regulatory proteins is a key mechanism responsible for the beneficial physiological and detrimental pathological changes in heart function. The goal of my research is to design targeted interventions that manipulate native signaling mechanisms to tune contraction of the heart and improve heart dysfunction in disease. Towards this goal we employ an integrated and multi-level experimental approach applying molecular biology, biochemistry and animal physiology to provide a comprehensive understanding towards the development of novel treatments for heart dysfunction.

Training Philosophy
My mentoring goal is to provide the trainee with the skills and knowledge necessary for their success. Towards this goal my training philosophy involves a highly interactive, hands-on approach to mentoring. To date I have been the primary mentor to 2 PhD students that have graduated to further pursue biomedical research. Additionally, I have been the primary mentor of multiple undergraduate students with many proceeding to advanced PhD and MD degrees. I have a strong interest in the promotion of trainee education as demonstrated by my work with the OSU Medical Sciences Training Program, Biomedical Sciences graduate program and the Nishikawara Merit Scholarship Endowment Fund in Phyisology. In addition, I have been invited to present National doctoral student advancement talks and again organized the Early Career Investigator Session at the 2016 International Myofilament Meeting.

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Deena Chisolm, PhD

​Dr. Chisolm serves the Director of the Center for Population Health and Equity Research in the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on improving the health and healthcare of minority and at-risk adolescents with an emphasis on children with special health care needs and behavioral health issues. She has explored questions in these areas using a combination of epidemiologic, informatics, and qualitative research methods. She is the Principal Investigator on the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities funded grant entitled “Health Literacy-Disparities and transitions in teens with special health care needs” and on three National Institute on Drug Abuse funded grants studying adolescent risk behavior trajectories and predictors of disparities for racial/ethnic and sexual minority youths. She has over 50 peer-reviewed papers in areas including health literacy, health information technology, health disparities, and behavioral health. Dr. Chisolm also serves as co-director of the Patient Centered Pediatric Research Program (PC-PReP) Fellowship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She has mentored pre and post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty including service as primary mentor on an NHLBI K-award.

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Aharon Freud, MD, PhD

I am a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology. I completed the Ohio State University Medical Scientist Training Program from 2000-2008, and I obtained my PhD in Immunology in the Biomedical Graduate Sciences Program. My graduate studies focused on characterizing the anatomical sites and cellular intermediates involved in human natural killer (NK) cell development. After I received by MD, I trained for five years in the Department of Pathology at Stanford University, where I completed four years of anatomic and clinical pathology residency training and one year of hematopathology subspecialty clinical training. In 2013, I joined the faculty at OSU, and I spend 25% doing clinical work as a hematopathologist and 75% leading a research lab. My lab studies the immune system, with a focus on the development of human NK cells as well as other recently described innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). We also investigate Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type, which is a form of aggressive cancer associated with high mortality and morbidity. For many years throughout my clinical training and currently as junior faculty I have been involved in mentoring MD/PhD students. These activities have been in the form of co-mentorship, whereby I served as an ad hoc mentor to students in others’ labs and/or I have served on students’ thesis committees. I also have faculty P status, which means that I can serve as thesis advisor for graduate students. However, I am currently waiting to secure extramural funding before taking on this important role which is certainly a goal of mine for the future. I find great enjoyment and satisfaction in mentoring and working with MD/PhD students. I often learn so much from our students, and it is a wonderful experience to be able to “give back” and “pay it forward” with any wisdom I have gained over the years during my training and as I build my research program currently. I believe that mentoring the next generation of physician scientists is one of the most fulfilling and important duties I can perform in our university and in our society.​

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Tamar Gur, MD, PhD

​As a Perinatal Psychiatrist with a background in Neuroscience, I investigate the effect of prenatal stress on the developing central nervous system, with a particular interest in the microbiome and inflammation. Laboratory work focuses on a rodent model of prenatal stress, and techniques used span from microbiome analysis, cytokine analysis, qPRC, immunohistochemistry and behavior analysis of mothers and their offspring. Translational research extends to microbiome samples from infants, and examination of stress in pregnant mothers. My mentoring experience ranges from undergraduates, to medical students, rotation students, and Psychiatry and OB/GYN residents. My philosophy is to understand the individual needs and strength of the individual scientist and to help harness their curiosity and energy to be productive and engaged.

Amy Johnson, PhD

I am currently an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology at The Ohio State University and co-director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Leukemia Research Program. I lead a team of researchers studying signaling pathways in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and acute myeloid leukemia using in vitro strategies as well as correlative samples and mouse models. My group was the first to publish preclinical findings with idelalisib and ibrutinib, work that was instrumental in the development of early phase clinical trials with these agents, and my investigations of correlative samples from these studies continue to provide valuable information regarding the biologic effects of these drugs, including drug resistance. My expertise is in cell signaling research, including immunoassays, flow cytometry, and in vivo animal experiments. I have over 20 senior or co-senior author papers in high-impact journals such as New England Journal of Medicine, Blood, Oncotarget and Leukemia. I am an advisor to graduate students from BSGP, Pharmaceutics, and Veterinary Biosciences. My students have graduated typically with 2-3 first-author papers and gone on to post-docs at the NIH, OSU, and Harvard.

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Balveen Kaur, PhD

Dr. Balveen Kaur is a full time Professor and Vice chair in the Department of Neurological surgery, Radiation Oncology and Neurosciences at The Ohio State University. She also co- directs the OSU post doctoral office and is also serving as the Associate director of shared resources within the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was recruited to The Ohio State University in 2005, after she completed her post doctoral training from Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-Oncolgy, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. She has an active research interest in translational therapeutics and is considered an expert in the field of oncolytic viral therapy. Dr. Kaur has published more than 95 manuscripts and three book chapters pertaining to cancer biology, tumor microenvironment and novel therapeutics. She has a strong track record of mentoring students and post doctoral fellows. She has graduated six students as thesis advisor who are currently pursuing research at top notch institutions (Mayo Clinic, OSU, Duke and the Ludwig cancer Institute). Fellows she has mentored are now pursuing their own faculty/staff/Scientist positions (examples include: Okayama University Japan, University of Chicago, Bowling Green state University, Amgen etc). She also serves on several national/international committees.

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Jose Otero, MD, PhD

I am a physician scientist at The Ohio State University, and am boarded in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology. Being a troubled teenager that ran away from home to being on faculty at OSU has given me a broad perspective that I hope to share with students. I do a significant amount of clinical work, but based on my high degree of clinical specialization and the nature of my clinical practice, I do all of my work adjacent to the research laboratory. Below I delineate my research description.

Research Description
The research program that I have built at OSU lies within basic and translational neuropathology research. We are heavily engaged in team science initiatives, but we also have areas where we are the principal scientific drivers. A unifying technical theme in all our projects is the implantation (or improvement) of morphological and microscopic assays. Specifically, we have significant expertise in unbiased stereological studies of the central nervous system, immunohistochemistry, and the interpretation of electron microscopic preparations of the nervous system. Our work draws inspiration from developmental neurobiology and stem cell biology. Below I discuss only the research primarily driven by our own laboratory. I have mentored three academically oriented physicians in my lab, one vet physician-scientist, countless undergraduates and pathology residents, and co-mentored several graduate students.

Our laboratory research is centered around three broad areas that I delineate separately for your convenience below:

Developmental neuropathology of hindbrain disorders: Much of the developmental neurobiology literature has focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of progenitor cell specification at early embryonic time points. Which processes regulate the maturation of these cell populations later in development is an open question. A second question is the extent to which neuronal circuitry maturation requires astrocyte function. Neuropathology of cell cycle dysfunction: The post-natal mammalian brain has several stem cell niches, some of which persist into adulthood. We discovered that different stem cell niches show differential requirements to cell cycle proteins. The general theme of this work is to understand how cell cycle components regulate brain function in post-natal animals.

Modernization of diagnostic neuropathology:

Diagnostic pathology's challenge is to distill a biological process into simplified categories that clinicians use for treatment decisions. In anatomic pathology practice, most information is obtained by morphological evaluation using a brightfield microscope. In our translational research, we work with chemical engineers and software engineers to develop novel paproaches to diagnostic pathology using modern tools that are available to us in basic neuroscience research.

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Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD

Sameek Roychowdhury is a graduate of The Ohio State University, B.S. Molecular Genetics 98’, Ph.D. 04’, M.D. 06’. He trained as a medical oncologist in the field of genomics and precision cancer medicine at University of Michigan from 2006-2012. At The Ohio State University, the mission of his research team is identifying the right therapy for patients using genomics. Towards that goal, the team develops novel diagnostics, tools and methods to analyze and interpret genomics data, and novel therapies in clinical trials. We value a team-oriented approach to solve problems, organization, and together reaching our peak performance and being the best we can be.​

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Amanda Toland, PhD

​​Research Interests
Amanda Ewart Toland, PhD is an Associate Professor at the Ohio State University (OSU) with a focus in cancer genetics. She is board certified by the American Board of Genetics and Genomics as a PhD Medical Geneticist. Her laboratory studies the role of genetic variants in modifying disease risk of a variety of hereditary and sporadic cancers using in vitro, in vivo and population-based approaches. Current studies are focused on new means to classify variants of uncertain clinical significance in hereditary breast cancer genes, the integration of low-penetrance genetic variants to modify risk prediction into the clinic, and the identification of driver mutations and circulating microRNAs in metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas.

Mentoring Experience
Dr. Toland has served as Thesis Advisor to 3 PhD students and has served as a Thesis Committee Member to over 20 PhD candidates. Additionally, she has mentored 2 medical students in research and trained over 20 undergraduate students including 5 who have completed Honors Thesis research projects. Many of her undergraduate mentees have continued in PhD, MD or MD/PhD programs. Two of her PhD advisees are currently in postdoctoral fellowships and one runs a grant program at the OSU Center for Clinical Translational Sciences, after completing postdoctoral work at the NIH. Dr. Toland is currently a research mentor for 2 Master’s level Genetic Counseling Trainees and 3 undergraduate students. In addition, Dr. Toland has been attended the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)-CAN Mentor Facilitator Training Workshop in Chicago, a workshop that enables faculty to facilitate mentor training at all academic levels at their own campuses.

Jennifer Woyach, MD

I am a hematologist/oncologist physician scientist with a clinical and research focus on hematologic malignancies, specifically chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and other lymphoid malignancies. The main focus of my laboratory research is on the mechanism of resistance to targeted therapies in CLL and development of therapeutics to overcome resistance. We also are interested in immunomodulation associated with targeted therapies and the use of targeted therapies to treat autoimmune complications associated with lymphoid malignancies. My approach to mentoring is to help trainees acquire the skills to approach problems is a systematic manner and to think of new ways to approach problems. Being a clinician, I am always thinking about how we can apply our laboratory work to patients in the clinic, and I encourage my trainees to do the same. I have a fairly small laboratory group with trainees at a variety of levels and experienced technicians, but work as part of the CLL Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory which affords me and my trainees access to equipment and expertise of faculty collaborators with varied expertise.​
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Chadwick Wright, MD, PhD

​Dr. Wright received his M.D. and Ph.D. (Physiology) degrees, and completed his Diagnostic Radiology residency training at The Ohio State University. He then completed a Nuclear Medicine fellowship at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University and is dual board-certified in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. In August 2012, he joined the Department of Radiology at OSU Wexner Medical Center as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Division of Molecular imaging & Nuclear Medicine. Dr. Wright spends 50% of his time practicing clinical nuclear medicine and the other 50% dedicated to research activities. His current interests are focused on the development and assessment of next generation PET technologies, PET imaging for theranostics, and clinical trials using nuclear medicine methodologies.