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Illustrating Commitment to Education, CHOP Research Honors Trainees

Published on April 23, 2014 in Cornerstone Blog · Last Updated 2 months 1 week ago


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The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute has long been committed to education, offering programs at all levels, from those for undergraduates to opportunities for physician fellows. As part of its commitment to training the next generation of pediatric pioneers, every year CHOP Research takes time to honor its exceptional trainees, and recently announced the 2014 Distinguished Research Trainee Award winners.

Comprised of a physicist, a molecular biologist, and a cancer geneticist, the 2014 awardees’ expertise spans the research spectrum. Doctoral candidate Jennifer Lynch, as well as James Psathas, PhD, and Jennifer Kalish, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow and a physician fellow, respectively, were recognized with this year’s Distinguished Trainee Awards.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Emory University, Jennifer Lynch came to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a doctorate in Physics, with a concentration on biomedical optics. Since 2010 she has worked with CHOP’s Daniel J. Licht, MD, aiding in several congenital heart defect investigations as well as using optical spectroscopies to monitor cerebral hemodynamics.

Lynch was the winner of the “Outstanding Investigator” Award at Cardiac Center’s Cardiology 2014 conference in Orlando, Fla. in February. She has also been the lead author on a number of recent papers, including a recent Academic Radiology study on using near-infrared spectroscopy to measure cerebral venous oxygen saturation.

“Most physics graduate students would shy away from clinical studies,” but Lynch “wholeheartedly embraces” and relishes in the complexity of clinical physiology, Dr. Licht said, adding, “I see a very bright future for her at the interface of physics and clinical research.”

The second awardee, James Psathas, PhD, was nominated by Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD. A molecular biologist and biochemist, Dr. Psathas studies the mechanisms of oncogenesis. In 2012 he contributed to a Journal of Clinical Investigation study of CD19, while in December 2013 Dr. Psathas was the first author of a Blood paper on B cell signaling. In both cases, it was Dr. Psathas’ “painstaking bioinformatics work” that led to successful publication, Dr. Thomas-Tikhonenko said.

And rounding out the 2014 award winners is geneticist Jennifer Kalish, MD, PhD, who was nominated by Matthew Deardorff, MD, PhD. Currently working in the laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania’s Marisa S. Bartolomei, PhD, Dr. Kalish is also an attending physician in the Division of Genetics as well as an instructor in Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Much of her work has been focused on better understanding Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS), a rare genetic overgrowth disorder that is associated with an increased risk of childhood cancers, in particular kidney cancer and hepatoblastoma, a form of liver cancer. In late 2013 Dr. Kalish received a “Young Investigator” grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to further study the mechanisms of BWS.

“There’s such amazing research that goes on at CHOP, and it’s an honor to be recognized as part of that research,” Dr. Kalish said.

To read more about each of this year’s awardees, and to learn more about training opportunities at CHOP Research, see the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs Trainee Web Portal. And to learn more about CHOP Research’s educational programs, click here.