DDW News

DDW® awards basic science grants to young researchers

Dr. Wahlang
Banrida Wahlang, PhD

DDW® has awarded 20 Basic Science Travel Awards to young researchers for the third year in a row.

The researchers, who were selected to win a $1,000 travel grant from a pool of more than 250 applicants, will be featured in Saturday afternoon’s DDW Clinical Symposium Basic Science Quick Shots. Award recipients will discuss their work during the 90-minute session, which will be followed by a reception outside the session room.

“I view this meeting not only as a bigger and broader platform to meet, interact and network with fellow colleagues and established scientists in the field, but also to learn more about associated conditions, new diagnostic techniques and analytical tools related to hepatology,” said award winner Banrida Wahlang, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Louisville, KY. “I am a young investigator who is striving toward being an independent research principle investigator, and I look forward to the opportunity to communicate about my research ideas and network with fellow colleagues, as well as established scientists in the field of liver research.”

Reviewers from all four DDW sponsoring societies collaborated to select the 20 award winners. Applicants were required to be the first or presenting author of a basic science abstract accepted at DDW for an oral or poster presentation. Applicants also were required to be participants in a training program or within three years of completing their training.

Dr. Wahlang, an AASLD member, won the award for the abstract “Molecular Mechanisms of PDE4 Inhibition on Alcohol-Induced ER Stress and Hepatocyte Survival in an Alcoholic Liver Injury Model.”

“I will be presenting research based on therapy-driven studies for alcoholic liver disease,” she said. “The project is significant given that, to date, there are still no FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs for alcoholic liver disease and alcohol-induced liver fibrosis in spite of the growing number of clinical cases for these lifestyle-related disorders.”

Dr. Wahlang’s research involves elucidating cellular mechanisms in alcohol-induced liver injury to identify molecular targets that could become pharmacological targets.

Basic Science Travel Awards applicants, who ranged from undergrads to post-doctoral fellows, submitted an abstract, a personal statement, a CV/resume and a letter of recommendation from a faculty sponsor summarizing his or her attributes and the impact that attending DDW would have on his or her research and career. Reviewers evaluated each applicant’s role in the research and their potential for future contributions to the field.

“Because DDW strongly focuses on basic science research pertinent to mechanisms related to disorders of the digestive system as a whole, this conference will benefit me extremely in terms of learning more about my topics of interest, as well as inculcating new ideas directed toward my current and future research work,” Dr. Wahlang said.

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the Program section in Saturday’s issue for the time and location of this and other DDW events.

2018 Basic Science Travel Award Winners

Jonathan T. Busada, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health
Endogenous Glucocorticoids are Required to Suppress Spontaneous Gastric Inflammation and Metaplasia in the Mouse

Alexandra Chang-Graham, BA
MD/PhD Student, Baylor College of Medicine
Rotavirus Infection Induces Intercellular Calcium Waves Through Purinergic Signaling

Amy C. Engevik, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Deficits in Apical Sodium and Water Transporters Along with Maintenance of CFTR Account for Diarrheal Pathology in MYO5B KO Mice and Patients with MVID

Jennifer C. Jones, MS
PhD Candidate, University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus
Cellular Plasticity and Stem Cell Reversion of Defa4Cre-Expressing Paneth Cells in Response to Notch Activation or Intestinal Injury

Runping Liu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Commonwealth University
Bile Acid-Induced Activation of ERK/Sphingosine Kinase 2 Contributes to Intestinal Inflammation and Barrier Dysfunction in Multi-Drug Resistance 2 Gene Deficient Mice

Vanessa Mitsialis, MD
Fellow in Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
High Dimensional Immune Phenotyping Using Mass Cytometry Reveals Unique IL1b Signatures in Peripheral Blood and GI Tissue of Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease and IL10R Deficient Patients

Ranjan Preet, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Kansas
The RNA Binding Protein HuR Regulates Extracellular Vesicle Secretion in Colorectal Cancer

Nicolette J. Rodriguez, MD, MPH
Resident Physician/PGY-2, Yale New Haven Hospital
Phenotypic Expression of CDH1 Germline Mutations Unselected for Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer

Joshua Royal, MSc
PhD Student, University of Louisville
Epicertin, A Cholera Toxin B Subunit Variant, Enhances Intestinal Wound Healing in a Mouse Acute Colitis Model and Human Ulcerative Colitis Colon Explants via an Unfolded Protein Response

James K. Ruffle, MBBS
Trainee Medical Doctor and Honorary Research Fellow in Neurogastroenterology, Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Visceral Pain Endophenotypes Associate to Intricate Subcortical Brain Morphological Differences Contingent on Differing Autonomic Physiology or Personality

Benjamin D. Shogan, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Chicago
Preoperative Intestinal Microbial Dysbiosis is Associated with Postoperative Ileus in Patients Undergoing Colorectal Surgery

Joshua J. Thompson, BS
MD/PhD Student, Vanderbilt University
Blood Vessel Epicardial Substance (BVES) Coordinately Reduces LRP6 Receptor and Cytoplasmic β-Catenin Levels to Modulate WNT Signaling and Intestinal Homeostasis

Werna Uniken Venema, MS
MD/PhD Candidate, UMCG
Single Cell RNA Sequencing of T Cells in Crohn’s Disease Identifies Tissue Specific Drug Targets


Elizabeth J. Videlock, MD

Clinical Instructor of Medicine, UCLA
Gene Expression Network Analysis of the Gut-Brain Axis Supports an Association Between Alpha-Synuclein and Markers of Enteric Glial Cells

Praveen Vimalathas, BS
Lab Manager/Research Assistant, Massachusetts General Hospital
α4β7 Integrin is Dynamically Expressed in Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Mediates Eosinophil Transendothelial Migration

Banrida Wahlang, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate, University of Louisville
Molecular Mechanisms of PDE4 Inhibition on Alcohol-Induced ER Stress and Hepatocyte Survival in an Alcoholic Liver Injury Model

Ting Yu, PhD
Research Scholar, University of Michigan
Mucosal Oxidative Stress and Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Contribute to Diabetic Diarrhea Which is Prevented by Resolvins

Tianhao Zhou, BS
PhD Student, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Liver Specific Deletion of microRNA-34a Alleviates Cellular Senescence and Liver Fibrosis During Experimental Cholestasis

Iris Zhuang, BS
MD Student, Baylor College of Medicine
Microbiomic Profiling of Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

Winnie Zou, BS
MD/PhD Student, Baylor College of Medicine
Epithelial-Secreted WNT Ligands are Essential Drivers of Intestinal Stem Cell Response to Virus-Induced Villus Damage

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