May 2, 2023

Cancer Biology Graduate Program symposium spotlights outstanding student research at Wayne State

Abigail Fielder, at right, presents her poster at the symposium.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine Cancer Biology Graduate Program held its 12th annual Research Symposium on March 31 in the Louis M. Elliman Atrium and the Margherio Family Conference Center.

The tradition began when the Cancer Biology Graduate Program found a permanent departmental home in the Department of Oncology. This year’s event was the first held in person since 2019.

The principal goal of the symposium is to highlight the accomplishments of the program’s M.S., Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students by giving them an opportunity to present their research.

“This year’s Cancer Biology symposium is the first in-person event since before the pandemic. The excitement of our students and faculty was palpable. By every measure, this year’s event was a success and highlighted the high-quality research of our graduate students in Cancer Biology,” said Cancer Biology Graduate Program Director Larry Matherly, Ph.D.

Julio Pimentel received the Leonard N. Simons Award for Exemplary Research and Scholarly Achievement.

A tradition at the annual event is the announcement of the Leonard N. Simons Award for Exemplary Research and Scholarly Achievement, presented each year to a Cancer Biology student who has distinguished him- or herself in scholarship and leadership. This year’s Simons Award went to Julio Pimentel, a doctoral candidate in his fifth year of doctoral study.

His dissertation research topic involves targeting TRAIL resistance in triple-negative breast cancer. He is mentored by Gen Sheng Wu, Ph.D.

In 2016, the Leonard N. Simons Award for Exemplary Research and Scholarly Achievement was established in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and WSU. Simons served as the first chair of the board of the Michigan Cancer Foundation (now the Karmanos Cancer Institute) and throughout his life was a passionate supporter of Detroit’s efforts in the fight against cancer. The award pays tribute to Simons and his dedication to excellence in science and education. The Leonard N. Simons Cancer Research Endowment provides funding for the award.

Joseph Lundgren, pictured with Dr. Larry Matherly, won the inaugural Mary Lou Zieve Award for Professional Development.

In addition, Joey Lundgren won the inaugural Mary Lou Zieve Award for Professional Development. The award is offered annually to a Cancer Biology student to attend a specialized training opportunity through the National Institutes of Health, Cold Spring Harbor, or to attend a specialized scientific conference such as a Gordon Research Conference. Lundgren is a third-year doctoral student mentored by Karin List, Ph.D.

This year’s symposium included five oral presentations and 15 poster presentations from Cancer Biology graduate students. Best presentations were announced at the end of the event.

Dr. Larry Matherly, top row center, with symposium presenters.

The following were the award recipients:

Oral Presentation

First place: Jacob Lindquist, “Catalytic Deficient DNA Polymerase Beta Results in Cisplatin Sensitivity Through Inhibition of Cross-Link Repair”

Second place: Rayane Dennaoui, “Cooperative Functions of Cytokine Signing Through JAK1 and JAK2 in Orchestrating Postnatal Mammary Gland Development and Mammary Cancer”

Poster Presentation

First place: Mathew Schneider, “Levels of Folate Transporters Impact the Compartmentalization of One-Carbon Metabolism in the Mitochondria vs Cytosol Providing a Unique Vulnerability to SHMT Inhibition”

Second place: Madison Wicker, “Molecular Determinants that Promote Cellular Plasticity and Claudin-Low Mammary Tumorigenesis”

Third place (tie): Peter Dimitrion, “HDAC3 Promotes Pathogenicity of Langerhans Cell Histiocytes”

Holly McQuithey, “The Impact of Folate Transporters on Cyclic Dinucleotide Transport and STING Activation”


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