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Meet Our 2018 Travel Award Recipients

Learn a little more about the 2018 NAVBO Travel Award Recipients

Members of the NAVBO Membership Committee are holding interviews with our recent travel award recipients to find out a little bit more about them, what brought them to NAVBO and what their future will bring.

Mabruka Alfaidi, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

 

Mabruka stands with Drs. Masanori Aikawa and
Bill Muller as she is presented with her Travel
Award at Vascular Biology 2018

VB2018 14In a recent interview with Dr. Arif Yurdagul of the NAVBO Membership Committee, Mabruka shared some of her meeting experiences. 

How did you first learn about NAVBO?
I had originally wanted to attend the AHA meeting in 2014 to present my work outside the UK, but my mentor at the time, Dr. Sheila Francis, suggested that the NAVBO conference may be better-suited for what I wanted. Upon my abstract being selected to present an oral presentation, I’ve been a member since then.

Tell us about the research you presented and your mentor?
I was interested in different aspects of endothelial cell biology and when I attended NAVBO in 2014 I met Dr. Wayne Orr, who was investigating how endothelial cells responded to different types of shear stress. Along with Dr. Martin Schwartz, he defined how the extracellular matrix impacted proinflammatory responses and identified Pak and Nck as central players in these pathways-where Pak/Nck association promoted both NF-kB activation and endothelial cell permeability. We’ve since identified various roles for different Nck isoforms in response to shear stress in vitro and in vivo.

What was your favorite event at the meeting?
The nanotalks were by far my favorite event - even though the talks were about 5 minutes long, I was able to learn so much.

Did you meet any people at the meeting who influence your research?
I met Dr. Masanori Aikawa, I’ve always looked up to him. At my poster, I managed to talk and receive feedback from many scientists that have a great impact on my research, including Drs. Yun Fang, Filip Swirski, and Carlos Fernandez-Hernando.

What benefits did the travel award have for you?
The recognition was extremely positive. I received much more attention at my poster than I’ve had in previous meetings. Furthermore, because of the travel award, I'm now able to go to another meeting to further discuss my work. Without the NAVBO travel award, this would have been much more difficult.

What benefits can a trainee expect from attending NAVBO?
The culture that has been cultivated at NAVBO allows for great interactions between senior scientists and trainees, especially meetings at lunch and dinner times. The trainees get a lot of attention, which helps us move toward the next steps in our careers. In addition to attending meetings, I also feel like I contribute-something that has been very rewarding by having a one on one time during the poster sessions.

What future goals do you have for your work?
Build on the work I presented at the NAVBO meeting and publish the work. Also apply for different transition grants

And, how can NAVBO help you achieve these goals?
By presenting my work at the meeting, I received questions that I didn’t consider before - this has allowed me to substantiate some of the results I got. I’ve also received advice from senior investigators that has allowed me to better strategize my career plans.

Contributor:  Arif Yurdagul, Columbia University 
Published December 13, 2018 - NAVBO NewsBEAT


Thanh Theresa Dinh, Stanford University

 

Theresa stands with Drs. Masanori Aikawa and
Bill Muller as she is presented with her Travel
Award at Vascular Biology 2018

VB2018 15In a recent interview with Dr. Mary Wallingford of the NAVBO Membership Committee, Theresa shared some of her meeting experiences.

How did you first learn about NAVBO?
I first learned about NAVBO while looking for pertinent conferences in my field.

Tell us about the research you presented?
I am looking at the role of two transcription factors and how they act on the molecular level to modulate high endothelial cell identity,a specialized type of EC that is imperative for leukocyte trafficking.

How did your mentor facilitate this work?
My mentor supports me through guidance of my research, monetary assistance and is a sound board of my ideas and hypothesis.

What was your favorite event at the meeting?
The poster session.

Did you meet any people at the meeting who influence your research?
Yes, I was able to hear/meet Paul Kubes, Courtney Griffin, Karen Hirschi and William Muller. Courtney, especially, was able to give me insight on the academic process and being a mother while juggling her career.

What benefits did the travel award have for you?
It allowed me to attend the conference and listen to leaders of the field speak. In addition, I was able to present my research and get direct feedback on my work. All things I would not have been able to do had I not gotten the travel award.

What benefits can a trainee expect from attending NAVBO?
The opportunity to network and develop collaborations with other members in the field.

What future goals do you have for your work?
To publish in a high impact journal and obtain a faculty position!

And, how can NAVBO help you achieve these goals?
To provide more networking opportunities.

Contributor: Mary Wallingford, Tufts Medical Center
Published January 10, 2019 - NAVBO NewsBEAT


Tvisha Misra, Sickkids

 

Tvisha Misra

MisraTvishajpgIn a recent interview with Dr. Mary Wallingford of the NAVBO Membership Committee, Tvisha shared some of her meeting experiences.

How did you first learn about NAVBO?
I learned about NAVBO from word of mouth from colleagues and also from my mentor who encouraged me to attend and present my work and learn more about the field.

Tell us about the research you presented?
In the Scott lab I am looking at the role of ccm3in early development and disease. Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are focal dilations in the cerebral vasculature leading tohaemorrhaging, strokes and in extreme cases death. Of the three proteins associated with CCMs, CCM1/2/3, loss of CCM3, a highly conserved scaffold protein, leads to the most severe form of the disease. Though various models have been used to study endpointvascular defects, not much is known about the earliest cellular events which eventually lead to CCMs. We use the zebrafish as a vertebrate model to understand the role of Ccm3 in early vascular development and disease progression. I used CRISPR/CAS9 to generateand characterise vascular defects in ccm3mutant models. A lot of my work focuses on time lapse imaging of developing blood vessels in early embryos to characterise when and how the vascular defects arise. Ccm3 has no known enzymatic activity and isproposed to function as a scaffold protein. Our collaborators in the Gingras lab (author list from the abstract), conducted BioID to find interaction partners (the ‘interactome’) of Ccm3. We selected the strongest candidates to probe their role in vasculardevelopment through generating CRISPR/CAS9 mutants. I am, thus, establishing a model to study Ccm3 function in vivoover time, and, probing Ccm3 function and mechanism of action through understanding the role of its interaction partners in vascular development.

How did you mentor facilitate this work?
Dr Scott has always been very supportive of my choice of project and the methods I use to address my questions. He has always encouraged me to develop the projects in directions where my own interests lie and is always available for scientific input. He has also always encouraged me to attend various conferences and present my work to get as much exposure in the community as I want.

What was your favorite event at the meeting?
For me it was the lunch with PIs on day 2. Many times we do not get to interact with people who are not directly related to our own fields specially if we are presenters (posters give a bit more one on one interaction time, I suppose), and most interactions are limited to the science we present. An event like this gave us the chance to talk not just about our research and results but future prospects in academia and the individual PIs’ philosophies relates to various scientific careers and possibilities. As trainees looking to stay in an academic research environment such input is very useful. All the trainees I talked to also really enjoyed the lunch and we were hoping that we could have more such events in the future.

Did you meet any people at the meeting who influence your research?
Absolutely. Interestingly, during my journey from the airport to the resort I was assigned to a car with a group leader whose recent work relates directly with my current project and part of what I presented at the conference and I had a wonderful time discussing my results with him. Just after my talk I was approached by another group leader who talked in length to me about my work and gave his input on various aspects of my project. It was great to have these one on one discussions with various experts in the field.

What benefits did the travel award have for you?
As a postdoctoral fellow in my third year, I look for every opportunity to present my work and learn as much about the field as possible. Travel awards like these allow me to attend more such meetings than the usual limited funding would allow. Of course, such awards also contribute towards building my scientific portfolio for my future.

What benefits can a trainee expect from attending NAVBO and how can NAVBO help you achieve these goals??
Smaller, more specialized conferences such as NAVBO give trainees like us the opportunity to communicate with the leaders of our fields in a closer setting than what one experiences at bigger meetings. I really enjoyed talking to some members who had been attending the conference for many years and seeing the sense of community that has built up in that time. Everyone I talked to were very positive about their experiences and since I am interested in pursuing a career in basic research in an academic environment I look forward to attending more NAVBO conferences in the coming years.

What future goals do you have for your work?
My interest in the vascular system started with my work with drosophila tracheal development during my doctoral work, which I translated to studying the vascular system in fish for my postdoctoralproject. I am fascinated by the mechanisms that control vascular development and maintenance of proper cardio-vascular function, and the zebrafish, for me, provides a great model to study this using advanced genetic and microscopy techniques. I hope to continue to conduct such research in an academic environment in the future as well.


Tvisha's abstract:
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are focal dilations in the cerebral vasculature leading to haemorrhaging, strokes and in extreme cases death. Of the three proteins associated withCCM, CCM1/2/3, loss of CCM3, a highly conserved scaffold protein, leads to the most severe form of the disease. Though various models have been used to study endpoint vascular defects, not much is known about the earliest cellular events which eventually leadto CCMs. We use the zebrafish as a vertebrate model to understand the role of Ccm3 in early vascular development and disease progression. With CRISPR/CAS9 we generated a ccm3a/bdouble mutant.ccm3a/b(-/-)embryos exhibit cardiac edemas,loss of blood flow, and embryonic lethality. Time lapse imaging was used to characterise defects in endothelial cell migration, lumen formation, blood flow, and membrane dynamics. To explore the mechanism of Ccm3 function, BioID was used to determine the potentialinteractome of Ccm3. Cellular Ccm3 resides mostly in the striatin interacting phosphatasesand kinase (STRIPAK) complex. We generated CRISPR/CAS9 mutants of these components of the STRIPAK complex, consisting of largely unstudiedgenes, to assess their role in vascular development and their relationship to Ccm3. CCM disease progression is strongly linked to RhoGTPase activity. We determined that unlike Ccm1/2, which act via Rho, Cdc42 is implicated in Ccm3 function: ccm3a/bKOembryos show aberrant Cdc42 activity and KO/KD of cdc42leads to transient cerebral haemorrhages in embryos. Altogether, we have established a model to study early changes in Ccm3 deficient endothelial cells and probe mechanisms of function of Ccm3 invivo.

Contributor: Mary Wallingford, Tufts Medical Center
Published January 10, 2019 - NAVBO NewsBEAT