Three Vanderbilt biomedical researchers named 2022 Pew ScholarsJun. 15, 2022, 3:20 PM
by Marissa Shapiro
Mariana Byndloss, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and William Wan, PhD, assistant professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences, have been named 2022 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust also have selected Alexander Bick, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Genetic Medicine at VUMC, to join the 2022 class of Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research.
Byndloss is investigating how obesity risk factors like exposure to antibiotics and a high-fat diet may affect the beneficial relationship between gut microbiota and the intestinal epithelium and promote obesity during early life.
“The Pew Biomedical Scholar award will provide critical support for our research program, which focuses on understanding how intestinal dysbiosis, a functional imbalance in the microorganisms living in our guts, caused by environmental factors, may be a key factor in multiple human diseases, including childhood obesity,” Byndloss said.
Wan’s lab studies the molecular pathology of mononegaviruses, a family of RNA viruses that include Ebola, measles and rabies.
“As a Pew Scholar, our lab will use and develop cutting-edge methods like cryo-electron tomography to determine how Ebola virus infects host cells,” Wan said. The basic science award “will enable us to address riskier questions that have the potential to yield groundbreaking insights into Ebola virus pathology.”
Bick investigates clonal hematopoiesis, in which hematopoietic stem cells, which ordinarily give rise to multiple blood cell types, become mutated and which can progress to blood cancers.
His lab will use state-of the-art genomic techniques and computational biology to identify specific genes in 1 million individuals with clonal hematopoiesis. This work could lead to the development of early intervention strategies to combat cancer and identify individuals most at risk for malignant disease.
“I am deeply grateful to the Pew and Stewart trusts for their support,” Bick said. “Securing funding for bold, creative projects can be difficult for early career scientists. I am grateful for Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s support of my candidacy and for providing such a collaborative environment to pursue scientific discovery.”
The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences provides funding to young investigators of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health. The Pew-Stewart Scholars Program for Cancer Research supports promising early-career scientists whose research will accelerate discovery and advance progress to a cure for cancer.
According to the Pew Trusts website, each of the three recipients will receive $75,000 per year for four years, for a total of $900,000.
Previous Pew biomedical scholars across Vanderbilt and VUMC include Nancy Carrasco, MD (1989), David Cortez, PhD (2003), Ethan Lee, MD, PhD (2004), Lauren Parker Jackson, PhD (2016) and John Karijolich, PhD (2018).