2017 Awardee Bios

OlachiMezu-NdubuisiPhoto.jpgDr. Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi is a neonatologist as well as a licensed optometrist. Her research area of focus is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding eye disease of multi-factorial etiology affecting premature infants, characterized by abnormal retinal vascular development. Dr. Mezu-Ndubuisi’s use of live retinal imaging in anesthetized mice exposed to oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) led to the novel use of in-vivo phosphorescence lifetime imaging to measure retinal vascular oxygen tension and fluorescein angiography (FA) to depict retinal vascular abnormalities, use of in vivo spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) to correlate retinal thickness changes to abnormal vascularization, and recently the unique description of phenotypical characteristics of retinal arteries and veins in OIR mice during developmental maturity. Her in vivo research allows longitudinal study of structural and functional changes from hyperoxia that could lead to neuronal dysfunction. Dr. Mezu-Ndubuisi’s lab will be expanding investigations into the role of oxidative stress on developing tissues, the signaling mechanisms involved in these complex interactions, and therapeutic testing to prevent oxidative injury. Her research findings have been published in several peer-reviewed journals. Her other clinical interests include chronic lung disease in premature babies, and improving nutrition in very low birth weight babies in the NICU. Dr. Mezu-Ndubuisi is also actively involved in international global health activities.

picture_AR.jpgAlena Rudkouskaya is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Albany Medical College in Albany, NY.  She received her Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the National Academy of Sciences in Belarus and post-doctoral training at the Department of Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology, Albany Medical College, and Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Western Ontario.  Dr. Rudkouskaya current research is focused on in vivo imaging of breast cancer xenografts using Fluorescence Lifetime FRET approach, as well as studying internalization and endocytic trafficking of antibodies targeting immune checkpoint inhibitors in cancer cells.  She has published 11 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Alena is a member of Histochemical Society since 2014.

Vashendriya-Hira-picture-(1).jpgVashendriya Vindhya Vasini Hira received her MSc Biomedical Sciences from University of Amsterdam in Dr. Ron van Noorden’s laboratory, where she focused on understanding the similarities between leukemic stem cell niches and glioma stem-like cell niches. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Amsterdam and performs her PhD research project in the Mehta and Sanai laboratories at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Vashendriya’s research project is entitled: 'No Place to Hide: Force Glioma Stem-Like Cells Out of Their Home, the Niche, Before Chemo-irradiation'. It involves work on glioma stem-like cell (GSLC) niches in human glioblastoma (GBM). This study is focused on identifying and targeting novel factors of the GSLC niche to make resistant GSLCs more sensitive to standard treatments. GSLCs in GSLC niches are therapy-resistant, they are held responsible for tumor recurrence and therefore, the interactions between GSLCs and their protective niches are important therapeutic targets. Disrupting the interactions between GSLCs and their niches may render GSLCs sensitive to chemotherapy and radiation. This may improve GBM treatment and ultimately enhance the outlook and quality of life of GBM patients.

nadia-pic.jpgI am Nadia Elisa Morán-García, I was born in Mexico City in 1987. I studied the carreer of Chemistry Pharmaceutics Biology in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I Am a PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Teresa Estrada-García, in the department of Molecular Biomedicine of the CINVESTAV in Mexico City, where I also made my Master degree. In my master thesis I studied the effect of the vitamin A and zinc supplements in the prevalence of the Diarrheogenic E. coli (DEC) groups in children under 3 years. The most prevalent DEC in Mexico is Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), so for the PhD I am developing a mouse model of this bacteria in which we can study “in vivo” the interaction of EAEC with the intestinal epithelial cells. Thanks to the Histochemical Society I have the opportunity to present my work and participate in the Experimental Biology congress of this year.

13411775_10201636487590801_6104780512108838402_o.jpgMaRyka Smith, from Hoyt, Kansas, is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Animal Sciences and Industry: Pre-Veterinary Medicine Option at Kansas State University. She plans to attend veterinary school at Kansas State University this fall and focus on large animals and pathology. She has enjoyed the challenges of her research project and look forward to where it will take her next.