Visiting Scholar Program
A goal of the LA CaTS Center is to provide support to develop researchers who have a high likelihood of subsequently competing successfully for independent funding from the NIH or a comparable agency in clinical or translational research. Therefore, the LA CaTS Visiting Scholar Program supports junior investigators in clinical or translational research, and to helps to link them with mentors to assist their development in the field. It is specifically intended for investigators to learn new techniques and to acquire different skills and expertise by interacting with experts in the field outside of the LA CaTS Center institutions. This opportunity is open to investigators at all LA CaTS Center member institutions.
If currently active, the Visiting Scholar Program application instructions can be found here. It is anticipated that 2-4 awards will be made each fiscal year (July 1-June 30).
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Below are the past LA CaTS Center Visiting Scholar Awardees:
2015 Round 1:
Organize plan the best design for testing selective glucocorticoid agonists in mouse models of T1DM, in addition to learning the nuances of a recently reported human B-cell line
The purpose of this Visiting Scholar Award is to discuss the design and use of the non-obese diabetic mouse model for delivery of selective glucocorticoid receptor modulating compounds. Researchers at the University of Florida Department of Pathology are world-renowned for their work in Type 1 diabetes using rodent models and human patients. The ultimate goal is to collect pre-clinical data on the effectiveness of new compounds with the potential to treat diseases with inflammatory components, which includes Type 1 diabetes.
Establish a 3D spheriod model for culturing adipocytes
At the visiting lab, Dr. Elks will be learning to grow fat cells in 3D sphere formations using specially designed plates. This method is better than regular cell culture methods because it allows the cells to grow in a way that most closely resembles the structure of tissues in the body. She plans to bring this technique back to Pennington Biomedical and eventually apply it to cells isolated from human fat during Pennington Biomedical clinical trials. Using this new technique in Dr. Elks lab will allow her to obtain novel data for use in future grant applications and will provide opportunities for future collaborations between basic and clinical sciences at Pennington Biomedical.
Circadian disruption, premature aging and age related bone loss
Dr. Anbalagan will be visiting Alexander G. Robling, Professor Department of Anatomy Cell Biology, Indiana University Medical Center to gain more knowledge in bone biology in which he plans to pursue in his research career. In laboratory, will learn techniques of bone-related endpoints, including undecalcified histology, histomorphometry, plate assays for bone formation and resorption markers, CT scanning, radiographic imaging using planar (2D) and 3D techniques, and also next generation sequencing of the bone cell transcriptome. This will make Dr. Anbalagan's project go smoothly, write grants, and make collaboration with pioneer in the field of bone biology.
Career Development in Palliative Cancer Care Research
As a clinical psychologist focused on conducting research to improve quality of life in advanced cancer, Dr. Hoerger will train for two months with a world-leading palliative care research team at Harvard / Massachusetts General Health. The training will increase Dr. Hoerger's knowledge and skills in this domain, expand his collaborative network, and guide an empirical manuscript and several research grant submissions aimed at improving patients quality of life.
Domestic Violence Community Based Participatory Research
Dr. Wennerstrom specializes in conducting community-academic partnered research. She will visit the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society to gain additional training from community and academic mentors in developing and executing partnered research. With this support, she anticipates collaborating with a community organization to submit an application for NIH funding.
Cost Effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Dr. Sulzer is researching whether mindfulness training is cost-effective. Do persons who take an eight-week course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction subsequently use healthcare resources more efficiently? She will be examining healthcare records at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and plans to use her findings to design a prospective research study funded by NIH.
2017-2018 Round 2:
Career Development in Community-Based Clinical Trials for Early Childhood Trauma
As an Early Stage Investigator, Dr. Gray's is working to develop a clinical program of research that will provide an evidence-based, target-driven framework for the continued development and future implementation of cost-effective parent-child interventions to address and prevent intergenerational transmission of health risk associated with early life adversity. The next incremental step in her research program is to test engagement of potential targets in clinical trials research with high-risk mothers and their young children. Dr. Gray's visiting scholar award will support her mentorship from Dr. Maria Muzik (psychiatrist) and Dr. Katherine Rosenblum (developmental and clinical psychologist) at the University of Michigan, who are leaders in parenting interventions with at risk families, leading dissemination-focused clinical trials. This award will increase Dr. Gray's national competitiveness by securing their mentorship.
Establishing the 2H-labeling Method to Measure in Vivo Adipose Dynamics at Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Dr. White's research interests focus on examining factors and mechanisms that influence the distribution of fat and how adipose tissue location is associated with metabolic health in humans. This visiting scholar award will allow her to acquire direct, first-hand training from Dr. Marc Hellerstein at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. White will learn specifically the 2H methodology, which was developed in Dr. Hellerstein s laboratory to measure in vivo adipose kinetics and turnover rates. The 2H-labeling technique is the only in vivo approach utilized in both rodents and humans. Dr. White's award will enhance her research skill set and establish a new methodology at Pennington Biomedical that will be implemented in future competitive R01-level grants, which will include interventions to assess dynamic changes in adipose turnover.
Dr. Yu is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Molecular Biology, trained in molecular biology and cancer biology, with a focus in prostate cancer research. Dr. Yu will be visiting Georgetown University Medical Center, under the mentorship of Dr. Yuriy Gusev in the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics. This award will enable Dr. Yu to learn bioinformatics skills to analyze public available gene expression datasets and datasets generated from her lab in prostate cancer research.
2018-2019 Round 3:
Development of Mouse Islet Transplantation Procedure at Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Dr. Burke’s research centers on novel approaches to suppress inflammation relevant to autoimmune-mediated processes that lead to onset of T1DM. Such approaches will be used to prevent the onset or reduce the severity of graft rejection mechanisms. This visiting scholar award will allow her to train with Dr. Michael Karlstad at The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) on islet transplantation. Dr. Burke will learn the surgical procedures to transfer mouse islets under the kidney capsule. addition of the transplant component increases the skill sets needed to answer translational questions relevant to autoimmunity and T1D therapy. Dr. Burke will optimize this procedure in her lab to develop preliminary data for grant applications for submission to the NIH and American Diabetes Association. This specialized technique would become available to other interested investigators at Pennington Biomedical, LA CaTS institutions, and any potential external collaborators that wanted to visit to learn our procedures.
2019-2020 Round 4:
Establishing a Translational Model of Traumatic Multisystem Organ Failure in Swine
Dr. Taghavi is a trauma surgeon and surgical critical care physician with interests in acute lung injury, hemorrhagic shock, and regenerative therapies. This visiting scholar award will allow him to visit Dr. Martin Schreiber at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) to learn the surgical techniques used to create a swine model that uses a captive bolt gun to create a pulmonary contusion and a specialized clamp to create a Grade V liver laceration resulting in uncontrolled hemorrhagic shock. After learning this technique at OHSU, he will bring this model to Tulane where it could be established in the Department of Surgery and all his collaboration with successful basic scientists at Tulane would allow him to test other potential therapies discovered in their laboratories. Ultimately, this model will allow him to take ground breaking therapies, after proof of concept is obtained in small animals, and test them in a translational model that allows novel therapies to be brought from bench to bedside.
Microdialysis of adipose tissue for the detection of in vivo nitric oxide production
Dr. Allerton’s research interest focuses on adipose tissue physiology and adaptation to exercise training. He will travel to the Hickner laboratory to learn the procedures and precautions for using microdialysis in clinical research and to become proficient in performing the technique himself. This visiting scholar award will support the necessary travel to Dr. Hickner’s laboratory and the purchase of consumables involved in data collection. The mentoring from Dr. Hickner will be crucial for Dr. Allerton to conduct pilot studies at Pennington Biomedical to generate preliminary data for a successful K-award application.