February 28, 2023

Doctoral student named to Oakland County's 40 Under 40

Julio Pimentel was named to the Oakland Together 40 Under 40 Class of 2023.

Oakland County has recognized a Wayne State University School of Medicine doctoral degree student for making a difference in the southeast Michigan community.

Julio Pimentel, who is in his final year of his doctoral degree training in Cancer Biology, was selected as a member of the Oakland Together 40 Under 40 Class of 2023. Now in its 11th year, the program recognizes and spotlights dynamic leaders under the age of 40 “making a difference in Oakland County and beyond.”

“These are people who pursue positive change in their workplaces and communities. They are the innovators, the dreamers and the entrepreneurs who will be the leaders of the future,” said Dave Coulter, Oakland County executive.

Pimentel works and studies in the lab of Gen Wu, Ph.D., professor of Oncology.

“I am overjoyed to have been chosen and to know that my work in the Wu lab has been recognized by those who work or live in Oakland County,” said Pimentel, 31, a resident of Oak Park.

Pimentel’s research focus in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program is overcoming tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, or TRAIL, resistance in triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, is an aggressive disease that does not respond to widely-used targeted endocrine therapies because of the absence of progesterone, estrogen and HER2 receptors. While previous studies indicate the majority of TNBC cells are highly sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, the development of TRAIL resistance limits its efficacy. Pimentel’s study evaluated the effects of protein phosphatase 2A, or PP2A, inhibition on TRAIL-induced cell death in TRAIL-resistant TNBC cells. He generated two TRAIL-resistant cell lines from TRAIL-sensitive parental cells (MDA-MB-231 and SUM159), and found that both TRAIL-resistant cell lines are sensitive to the PP2A inhibitor LB-100 compared to their corresponding TRAIL-sensitive counterparts. The findings suggest that the inhibition of PP2A activity could be a novel therapeutic strategy for overcoming TRAIL resistance in triple-negative breast cancer.

Those recognized as members of the 40 Under 40 class receive an invitation to the 2023 State of the County address and reception, invitation to an Oakland Together 40 under 40 Award celebration, tickets to attend Leadership Oakland’s Breakfast of Champions, Personal Leadership - Young Professionals Panel and are promoted on the Oakland Together 40 Under 40 website. Candidates must live or work in Oakland County, be at least 18, and have been born after Dec. 31, 1982.

Pimentel has twice received the National Latino Leader Award from the Society of Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the Sciences Conference.

The Wayne State University Board of Governors, in 2020, recognized him for exhibiting “Profiles in Warrior Strong.” The recognition acknowledges positive accomplishments continued throughout the university community despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Pimentel won first place in poster presentations at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute Junior Faculty Research/Retreat, and the Cancer Biology Director's Award. He was selected in 2018 for a WSU Dean's Diversity Fellowship, designed to attract new doctoral students and support departmental recruitment of students who demonstrate academic excellence and are underrepresented in their disciplines.

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