NCI and Frederick National Laboratory staff members were among those honored at the Spring Research Festival Awards Ceremony on May 28. The ceremony was the culmination of the festival, which was sponsored by the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR), May 4–7.
Maj. Gen. Brian Lein, commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), presented the awards.
Recognized for their presentations at the NICBR Scientific Symposium were Center for Cancer Research (CCR) scientists Dionysios (Dennis) Watson, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Human Retrovirus Section, Vaccine Branch, and Leah Randles, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Structural Biophysics Laboratory. Balamurugan Kuppasamy, Ph.D., staff scientist, Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Signaling, NCI CCR, received recognition as Outstanding Session Chair.
The symposium kicked off the festival on May 4, bringing together postdoctoral fellows and postbaccalaureates, technical staff, and graduate students from the NICBR partner agencies, who made 15-minute presentations on a topic of their choice.
Watson was honored to be selected for an award. “There is a lot of high?quality work being done by really intelligent and skilled researchers at Fort Detrick. So it was really a big honor to be recognized in this environment,” he said. He believes that the interaction among scientists is one of the greatest benefits of the Spring Research Festival and noted that he used the opportunity to start a collaboration with researchers from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Outstanding Posters Recognized
Awards were also granted for outstanding posters on display at the poster sessions on May 6 and 7. Ludmila Szabova, Ph.D., scientist with Leidos Biomedical Research who works in the Center for Advanced Preclinical Research, was recognized for her poster in the Cancer Biology category. Szabova enjoys the teaching aspect of presenting a poster and strives to explain her research in simple terms. “At the end of the day, you want people to walk away with a good feeling that they learned something new from you,” she said.
Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., said he appreciates the Spring Research Festival because it is “one of the few opportunities to hear what your … colleagues have been working on and to tell them what you have been working on.” A research fellow in the Cancer and Developmental Biology Laboratory, NCI Center for Cancer Research, Anderson said he was “pleasantly surprised” when he learned he had won an award for his poster in the Developmental and Cell Biology category.
Senior Computational Scientist Eckart Bindewald, Ph.D., Basic Science Program, Frederick National Lab, was also surprised to learn his poster had been selected for an award in the Informatics category. “I often spend time talking to other presenters rather than explaining my own poster, so I did not expect my poster to be chosen for an award,” he said. In addition to providing an opportunity to exchange ideas with other scientists, the poster presentations are “a great way to involve our student interns in presenting their work,” Bindewald said.
Yang Feng, Ph.D., said she was honored to be selected from among the “many excellent posters” at the poster sessions. A research biologist in the Protein Interactions Group, Cancer and Inflammation Program, NCI CCR, Feng appreciated the chance to interact with investigators from other agencies. “Talking to these scientists was intellectually stimulating and made you think [about] problems from different angles. I probably would not have met these scientists if not for the Spring Research Festival,” she said.
The winning posters were selected from a field of nearly 140 posters in 15 different categories. Posters were judged on the clarity and originality of the research concept, quality of the experimental design, quality of the display, and overall organization and presentation.
The Spring Research Festival, sponsored by NICBR, is an annual event that brings together scientists, students, and community members to learn about the full range of the research being conducted at Fort Detrick, and facilitates collaboration between researchers at the NICBR agencies. Amanda Cecil, New Products and Ideas (NPI) administrator/management assistant, Strategic Partnerships, USAMRMC, chaired the event. In addition to the Scientific Symposium, the festival includes a collaboration forum, a Poster Blitz, and two poster sessions. This year marked the 19th year of the festival.
Winners Recognized at the 19th Annual Spring Research Festival Awards Program
Outstanding presentation, NICBR Scientific Symposium:
Balamurugan Kuppusamy, Ph.D., staff scientist, Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Signaling, NCI CCR: “The CEBPD Transcription Factor: A Signaling Hub for Promotion of Cancer Cell Stemness”
Leah Randles, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Structural Biophysics Laboratory, NCI CCR: “E2 Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzyme Interacts with Ubiquitin Receptor Rpn13”
Dionysios (Dennis) Watson, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Human Retrovirus Section, Vaccine Branch, NCI CCR: “Scalable Production of Bioactive Exosomes for Therapeutic Applications”
Outstanding Posters by Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:
Natasha Freed, student intern, Synthetic Biologics and Drug Discovery Facility, Cancer and Inflammation Program, NCI CCR: “Interrogating Ras Function with Protein Mimetics”
Mihika Shah, student intern, Protein Characterization Laboratory, Cancer Research Technology Program, Frederick National Lab: “Methods to Study KRAS Protein Complexes”
Ludmila Szabova, Ph.D., scientist, Leidos Biomedical Research, Center for Advanced Preclinical Research, NCI CCR: “Development of High Grade Serous Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (SEOC) Mouse Models”
Andrew Waters, research associate, Cancer Research Technology Program, Frederick National Lab: “Silent Mutations in KRAS 4B Lead to a Tumorigenic Phenotype in NIH/3T3 Cells”
Developmental and Cell Biology:
Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., research fellow, Cancer and Developmental Biology Laboratory, NCI CCR: “Fgf3 Regulation of BMP Signaling Is Required for Neural Tube Closure”
Maria Kaltcheva, predoctoral fellow, Cancer and Developmental Biology Laboratory, NCI CCR: “Interdigit BMP Signaling Directly Regulates Programmed Cell Death during Mouse Limb Development”
Erin O'Connor, student intern, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, NCI CCR: “IL-15 Promotes Proliferation of CD8+ Endogenous Memory Cells”
Matt Trivett, research associate, AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, Frederick National Lab: “Transduction with a Retroviral Vector Encoding CXCR5 Induces Homing of CD8+ T Cells to Lymphoid Tissue In Vivo”
Eckart Bindewald, Ph.D., senior computational scientist, Basic Science Program, Frederick National Lab: “Multi-strand Structure Prediction of RNA and DNA with Pseudoknots”
Structural Biology and Chemistry:
Ruslan Gibadullin, postbac CRTA fellow, Chemical Biology Laboratory, NCI CCR: “Synthesis and Lectin Recognition of a New Type of O-glycosylation, O-GalNAc Modified Tyrosine”
Matthew Harris, research associate, Natural Products Support Group, Applied and Developmental Research Directorate, Frederick National Lab: “Challenges and Considerations of Multi-gram Scale Isolations of the Natural Product Silvestrol”
Therapeutics, Vaccines, and Drug Delivery:
Yang Feng, Ph.D., research biologist, Protein Interactions Group, Cancer and Inflammation Program, NCI CCR: “Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis by Targeting Folate Receptor Beta Positive Macrophages”
Gene Therapy, Genome Editing and Genetics:
Jordan Jensen, postbac, Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, NCI CCR: “Bactericidal Virus Engineering”
Nathalie Walker, student intern, Office of Scientific Operations, NCI at Frederick: “Science for Dummies”
Certificate of Appreciation:
Kylie Walters, Ph.D., senior investigator and head, Protein Processing Section, Structural Biophysics Lab, NCI CCR, for organizing the NICBR Scientific Symposium