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Graduate Students Win Travel Award to Microbiology & Immunology Annual Meetings

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Around Campus | Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (Triple-I) | Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity | April 15, 2015

Every academic year, four travel awards are given by the Department of Microbiology & Immunology to graduate students to present at one of the following annual meetings: American Association of Immunologists, American Society for Microbiology, and American Society for Virology.

We are proud to announce the recipients of the second annual Microbiology & Immunology Graduate Student Travel Award are Curtis Clark, Meghan Guzman, Helia Nasrollahi, and Stacey Stahl.

Guzman and Nasrollahi are both Ph.D. students in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program and mentored by Dr. Paolo Casali

Stahl is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and is mentored by Dr. Phillip LoVerde

Clark, a graduate student in the M.D. /Ph.D. program will be attending the annual meeting for the American Association of Immunologists which will take place May 8-12 in New Orleans.

“Attending this preeminent conference directly related to my research training should be an invaluable experience in my development as a future investigator,” Clark said.

Clark explained that he is looking forward to learning the latest developments in the field of immunology such as new state-of-the-art techniques.

Currently, Clark is working in Dr. Tyler Curiel’s lab where he is researching cancer immunology.

“I find this field fascinating in that we are able to study the role of the human immune system in fighting cancer, an amazingly complex interaction that has evolved over a vast period of time,” Clark said. “I find it intriguing in that we are essentially looking at a snapshot of one of nature’s more peculiar and ongoing experiments that is the evolution of cancer mechanisms that evade the immune system’s ability to destroy malignant cells.”

In addition to attending the conference, Clark will be presenting his abstract, “B7-H1/PD-1 signals in carcinoma and lymphoma immunopathogenesis and immunotherapy.”

“I am thrilled by this honor and look forward to reporting our influential findings,” Clark said. “I especially look forward to receiving feedback from leaders in the field -- this dialogue will invaluably influence both my work and scientific development.”

Clark is grateful for the support that he has been given by the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at UT Health Science Center.

“Attending a national conference is a considerable financial commitment,” Clark said. “The Microbiology & Immunology Graduate Travel Award is a huge support to students in making attendance to prestigious research conferences feasible and without monetary worry.”

Dr. Casali, chairman of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, said that it was a difficult decision for the committee.

“They were chosen based on their productivity, academic rigor, along with an eagerness to learn,” Dr. Casali said. “All of them wanted to go, but unfortunately we can’t send all of them.”

Kay Eskew, academic coordinator in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, explained that the annual meetings are important because they allow students to gain new experiences.

“The more experience that students get answering questions from talking to other scientists and giving presentations to audiences that they are not familiar with then they will be better able to communicate as scientists,” Eskew said. “It’s a very good educational experience because it helps prepare them moving forward in their careers.”



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