Six Ph.D. students win AHA fellowships

Heart Association supports health research

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. – Six graduate students at West Virginia University have been selected to receive American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellowships. The recipients are studying in four different WVU Health Sciences Ph.D. programs.

They are Walter Baseler, a graduate of the University of Maryland; Adam Goodwill, of Warren, Pa.; Kelly Miller, of Middleburg, Pa.; Holly Damron, of Oak Hill, W.Va.; and Jianying Huang and Xueping Zhou, both of China.

“Growing up in the state and seeing how obesity and diabetes plague West Virginians, it really means something special to be doing research that can help people here,” Damron said. “There is a lot of great research going on at WVU, and it’s nice to see that recognized on a national level.”

“This accomplishment is a testament to the scientific prowess of our students and their faculty mentors,” said Fred L. Minnear, Ph.D., assistant vice president for graduate education. “It caused some excitement at the Health Sciences Center.”

Minnear noted that in the past seven years, only two students from WVU have received this competitive fellowship. All six of this year’s recipients, he added, benefitted from the Scientific Writing course taught by Bernard Schreurs, Ph.D., a researcher at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. 

About the recipients:

•    Walter Baseler is a Ph.D. candidate in the exercise physiology program. His mentor is John Hollander. His research is focused on diabetic cardiomyopathy -- the heart complications that occur during Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Baseler centers his research on studying mitochondria – which produce energy for cells – and their relation to the contracting and expanding of the heart.

•    Adam Goodwill is a Ph.D. candidate in the cellular & integrative physiology program where Jeff Frisbee, Ph.D., is his mentor. Goodwill has focused his research on vascular adaptations to obesity, particularly in the skeletal muscles that cause movement. He is also studying the process of rarefaction, which is when capillaries and vessels start losing their density.

•    Kelly Miller is a Ph.D. candidate in the immunology and microbial pathogenesis program. Her mentor is Nyles Charon, Ph.D. Miller’s research is focused on bacterial mechanisms of disease. She studies how bacteria make people ill in order learn how to improve human health and wellness. 

•    Holly Damron is a Ph.D. candidate in the biochemistry and molecular biology program. She is a graduate of Concord University. Her mentor is Brad Hillgartner, Ph.D. Damron is interested in researching the mechanisms of metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity.

•    Jianying Huang is a Ph.D. candidate in the cellular and integrative physiology program where she is mentored by Han-Gang Yu, Ph.D. She is interested in researching cardiac pacemaker channels and its association with arrhythmia.

•    Xueping Zhou is a Ph.D. candidate in the cellular and integrative physiology program where he is mentored by Pingnian He, Ph.D. Zhou’s research is focused on cellular mechanisms of reactive oxygen species-induced vascular dysfunction.

AHA Info:
The American Heart Association (AHA) Pre-doctoral Fellowship helps students initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training. A leading priority of the AHA is to fund research that increases an understanding of the causes, treatments and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and strokes. The AHA is second only to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in funding heart research. The AHA currently funds about 2,500 scientists around the United States. AHA-funded breakthroughs include the first artificial heart value, techniques and standards for CPR, implantable pacemakers, treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents.

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For more information:
Kim Fetty, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
kf: 6-12-10

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