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VUSM students land Sarnoff Foundation awards

Nov. 13, 2014, 9:31 AM

Two Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students are among 11 individuals nationwide to receive Sarnoff Foundation Medical Student Research Fellowship awards for 2014-2015.

Calvin Sheng

Third-year student Calvin Sheng is currently doing research in Jon and Christine Seidman’s lab at Harvard University, using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) as a platform for modeling genetic cardiovascular diseases.

“I chose this field of iPSC work because of my experience during the Emphasis program in the VUSM curriculum working in Dr. Charles Hong’s lab here at Vanderbilt. He has been an extremely dedicated and supportive mentor,” Sheng said. “My current mentors at Harvard, Jon and Christine Seidman, are two of the pioneers in the field of human molecular genetics in cardiology.”

Glynnis Garry

Glynnis Garry, also a third-year VUSM student, is currently conducting research in Eric Olson’s lab at UT Southwestern characterizing a number of novel genes that have been found to be downstream targets of Mef2, an essential regulator of heart and skeletal muscle development.

“My experience training in this laboratory has been an outstanding one,” she said. “Training in one of the premier molecular biology labs in the country has been an opportunity for tremendous growth and a wonderful way to begin my career as a physician-scientist. I know that I will consider my experience training with Dr. Olson to be one of the great privileges of my career, and I am very grateful and indebted to the Sarnoff Foundation for leading me to such a great opportunity.”

The Sarnoff fellowship offers opportunities for outstanding medical students to explore careers in cardiovascular research. To expand their exposure to the breadth of cardiovascular research, Sarnoff fellows conduct intensive work in a U.S. research laboratory that is not at their current medical center. The experience is for one year, but the program makes a lifetime commitment to their fellows. Members of the scientific committee guide the fellows during the research year and throughout the fellow’s career.

The Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation was started by the estate of Stanley Sarnoff, M.D., a world-renowned cardiovascular physiologist, who wanted to promote research opportunities for the most promising medical students in order to entice them into the field of cardiovascular research.

“Sarnoff created a model that has been very successful. Many exceptional physician-scientists began their careers as Sarnoff Fellows, including several Vanderbilt physician-scientists,” said H. Scott Baldwin, M.D., Katrina Overall McDonald Professor of Pediatrics and chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and chair of the Sarnoff Board of Directors.

Vanderbilt has extensive involvement with the Sarnoff Foundation, including Nancy Brown, M.D., Hugh J. Morgan Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, Charles Hong, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, and Javid Moslehi, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine and director of Cardio-Oncology, who are members of the Sarnoff scientific committee.

Information about Sarnoff Research Foundation including instructions for applications for the 2015-1016 research fellowship are located at www.SarnoffFoundation.org.

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