BMS Awards and Publications, Edition 1

Information gathered by Terry Solomon and Chelsea Painter


Hank Bradford, Jack Houston and Dana Steffen received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP) awards.

Shereen Ghosh, Natalie Hollingsworth, Ryan Marina, Ian Matthews, and Alison Vrbanac all received honorable mentions for their NSF GRFP applications.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GFRP)The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GFRP) is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The fellowship funds graduate students in the preliminary stages of their graduate school education. The intent of the fellowship is to promote the development of knowledgeable and experienced scientists to contribute to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Two thousand awards were distributed for the 2017 GFRP.


Steve Rees and Samantha Jones won UCSD Frontiers for Innovation Scholars Program (FISP) Scholarships.

UC San Diego Frontiers for Innovation Scholars Program (FISP)The FISP program is a project fellowship for undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The focus of the fellowship is to promote interdisciplinary research within the UC San Diego community. The fellowships awardees have the opportunity to develop their communication and collaboration skills in order to bridge their two different disciplines. 197 fellowships were awarded in the 2015/2016 Academic Year.


Ayla Sessions was awarded an F31 from the NHLBI.

The Ruth L. Kirschstain Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31) funds predoctoral students for their dissertation research in order to promote their advancement into independent research scientists. In addition, the F31 has a diversity grant that supports students from an underrepresented group in the associated research fields. This fellowship is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a component of the NIH.


Jennifer Dumdie was awarded an F30 from the NICHD.

The Ruth L. Kirschstain Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award for MD/PhD and other Dual Degree Fellowships (F30) is similar to the F30 grant in that it funds predoctoral students for their dissertation research, but those students must be in a MD/PhD or other dual degree training program. The program seeks students that intend to train to become physician-scientists. This fellowship is sponsored by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a component of the NIH. 


Nina Gao was awarded a Global Health Graduate Research Grant to study at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia for three months.

The Global Health Institute at UC San Diego sponsors various global health activities including field experiences, internships, and international health conferences as well as providing seed funding for research projects. The awardees include undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, professors and directors of assorted public health divisions. Nina was one of two graduate student researchers to receive this award that is intended to promote globalization of UC San Diego’s research and training programs.


Afsheen Banisadr won a poster award at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in August 2016.

The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) holds an annual four-day meeting for the biomedical engineering community to communicate the latest research in the various subfields. Their meetings also focuses on professional development and the unification of the academic, public, and private sectors. There were five poster awards presented at the 2016 annual conference.


Chelsea Painter won an Outstanding Poster Award at the Proteoglycan Gordon Research Conference in July 2016.

Gordon Research Conferences are smaller conferences focused on the latest research in specific biological, chemical, and physical science fields. Attendance at these meetings is limited to 200 scientists, which allows for informal, relaxed discussions promoting the advancement of the field. There are usually ten poster awards distributed at each conference.

PUBLICATIONS (beginning with the most recent)

Jon Okerblom recently published a first author paper entitled “Loss of CMAH during Human Evolution Primed the Monocyte-Macrophage Lineage toward a More Inflammatory and Phagocytic State” in the Journal of Immunology. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1601471

Afsheen Banisadr recently published a second author paper entitled “Metastatic State of Cancer Cells May Be Indicative of Adhesion Strength” in Biophysical Journal. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.12.038. There was also a nice write-up about it by the BBC.

Samantha Jones was first author on a review titled, “RNA Decay, Evolution, and the Testis” in RNA Biology. DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2016.1265199

Anthony Schmitt was first author on a paper entitled “A Compendium of Chromatin Contact Maps Reveals Spatially Active Regions in the Human Genome” in Cell Reports. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.061

Fernando Martinez was first author and Julia Nussbacher a co-author on a paper titled, “Protein-RNA Networks Regulated by Normal and ALS-Associated Mutant HNRNPA2B1 in the Nervous System” in Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.09.050

Michael Williams was first author of a paper with Jim Sanford and Alison Vrbanac that was titled, “Staphylococcus aureus Induces Increased Serine Protease Activity in Keratinocytes” in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.10.008

Ayla Sessions was first author on a paper entitled “Extracellular matrix downregulation in the Drosophila heart preserves contractile function and improves lifespan” in Matrix Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.matbio.2016.10.008

Jim Sanford was first author and Michael Williams was third author on a paper entitled “Inhibition of HDAC8 and HDAC9 by microbial short-chain fatty acids breaks immune tolerance of the epidermis to TLR ligands” in Science Immunology. DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aah4609

Anthony Schmitt was first author on a paper entitled “Genome-wide mapping and analysis of chromosome artchitecture” in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. DOI: 10.1038/nrm.2016.104 

Congratulations again to all of you! 

 We would like to announce new awards and publications on a quarterly basis, so please let Terry Solomon ( know if you publish or receive an award!



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