UVA Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) Lab Coat Ceremony

The inaugural UVA Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) Lab Coat Ceremony was held on Feb. 8, 2019, in Sandridge Auditorium in McKim Hall. The event was attended by 32 first-year students moving to full-time bench research and the next phase of their graduate career. Seven Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) students who just completed their Step 1 exams, and will be transitioning to the lab, were also honored but unable to attend.
[More info and photos]



Vlad Serbulea

Congratulations Vlad Serbulea, the recipient of the 2018 Peach Award! Michael J. Peach was a Professor of Pharmacology and the Medical School’s Associate Dean for Research, who died unexpectedly in 1992. This award is made annually to a graduate student who embodies enthusiasm for research and the principles of sharing and collaboration. Vlad Serbulea is pictured with Dr. Peach’s daughter (Beth Ginter) and granddaughter (Abby Ginter).





Molly Kelly-Goss

Congratulations Molly Kelly-Goss, the Jill E. Hungerford Prize winner for 2018! (pictured with Nancy and Charles Hungerford, parents of Dr. Jill Hungerford). Jill Hungerford earned her doctorate in physiology in 1995 from UVA and was a gifted young scientist whose life was cut short by cancer at the age of 34. The Jill E. Hungerford, Ph.D. Prize in Biomedical Sciences was created by her parents, recognizing her commitment, achievement, and passion for research aimed at broadening our scientific knowledge.




Irene Cheng

Irene Cheng has been awarded the GBS 2018 Student Leadership Award. Following is a recommendation by one of her classmates:

“Irene has either run or participated in almost every NGP activity and event. Every year Irene is always an active participant at recruitment and all NGP social events. Irene did a phenomenal job of not only running recruitment the year she was in charge but also putting together all necessary materials to be sure it ran smoothly for years to come. Irene is a leader, not only within the NGP, but within UVA and the Charlottesville community as a whole. Within UVA, she has served as WIMS social chair and president, furthering the program in both respects. Last year she also ran Grad Days and provided numerous professional development, social, and development opportunities for graduate students across campus. Outside the University, Irene was in charge of organizing and running the March For Science, Charlottesville. Under her leadership, the event was well-funded and had over 500 participants. She continues to be involved in the community, and is spearheading Science Pub Nights and Science Trivia Nights to bring complex science to the public. Irene is a model NGP student, and I think she absolutely deserves this honor.”


Third annual GBS Student Image Contest Winners!

Following are the winning images for 2018:

Going clockwise, starting from the top left:

“Paths of Thought” by Ben Newman
Axial cross-section of white matter fiber tracts in a human brain computed from diffusion kurtosis imaging and colored by 3D directionality.

“Stuck on You” by Brooke Sauder
Scanning electron micrograph of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC) adhered to a HeLa cell. Adhesion to host cells promotes EHEC virulence.

“Human Brain Cancer Cells: A Journey from Patient to Plastic” by Alexandra Harris
This microscopic look at human tumor cells reminds us of the power of cell culture techniques to help cancer biologists better understand cancer cell behavior and develop novel therapeutics. Here, primary human glioma cells were isolated from a patient tumor removed during surgery and successfully cultured in a dish. A novel media recipe was used to faithfully maintain native phenotypic properties of the parental tumor, allowing scientists to have a more accurate representation of a human tumor to increase their chances of producing more reliable research.

“Protein Prism” by Becky Stanhope
Dried and shrunken Coomassie gels illuminated by rainbow Christmas lights.

Thank you again for all of your awesome entries. These images will be on display soon in the BEC, so keep an eye out!


Kelly Drews and Camille Lewis

Kelly Drews (Kester lab) and Camille Lewis (Vande Pol lab) were awarded fellowships to attend the “Workshop on Biophysical Methods to Study Bimolecular Interactions” at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. The workshop took place in October 2017 for two weeks and attendees came from 40 different countries.

The workshop focused on using physics to study the interactions of molecules. Kelly and Camille learned a lot about new tools and techniques that could be used in biomedical research. They also presented posters and Camille won a “best poster” award. Camille has been studying the interaction of 2 proteins and wanted to learn more about cryo-EM. Kelly has been studying the interactions between lipids and was especially interested in EPR (electron paramagnetic resonance).

This experience provided valuable exposure to a number of scientific techniques and allowed interactions between researchers across the world. There’s no telling what questions will arise with their current project or future projects and they are still communicating with other workshop participants.


Stephanie Melchor and Kari Byrnes

Stephanie Melchor and Kari Byrnes were awarded the Double Hoo Research Grant this year. This grant supports pairs of undergraduate and graduate scholars seeking to pursue joint research projects. These collaborations provide opportunities for more advanced research for undergraduates and valuable mentoring experiences for the graduate student.

Stephanie and Kari are in the lab of Sarah Ewald in the Carter Immunology Center and are studying the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in mice, which can attack any cell type with a nucleus.

Typically, an infected mouse gets very sick during the early stage of infection and loses muscle and fat mass. The immune system is able to control the infection, but never fully clears the parasite, leading to chronic infection and a condition called cachexia. Cachexia is a condition of progressive muscle wasting that also often accompanies chronic human diseases. In fact, 20% of cancer deaths are due to cachexia. Stephanie and Kari want to learn more about how Toxoplasma causes cachexia in mice, and specifically want to know if muscle damage and wasting occur near sites of chronic parasite growth. To address this, they are using a technique called tissue clearing, which draws lipids out of tissues like muscle and brain, rendering the tissue transparent. This will allow them to visualize their parasite (which has been engineered to glow green) in relation to inflammatory cells and damaged tissue under a microscope.

Stephanie Melchor is a 4th year student in the Pathology PhD Program and Kari Byrnes is a 4th year undergrad who is planning to apply to Medical School in the near future.