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Three More Recognized as ‘Emerging Innovators’ at CHOP Research Institute
Three more "emerging innovators" presented their research in April, closing out the 2021-2022 program. The Emerging Innovators Collaborative Research program is organized by the Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs (ATOP). The programs recognize exceptional non-faculty researchers-in-training and research staff who contributed to a collaborative project, producing high-impact research. The emerging innovators are nominated by their department chair, division chief, or faculty mentor, and were recognized at presentations throughout the year. Read on to find out about the final three, and take a look back at those who presented in October and November, and in January and February.
Amaliris Guerra, PhD
Department of Pediatrics - Hematology
Nominated by: Stefano Rivella, PhD
Presentation title: Monoferric forms of transferrin serve as distinct signaling molecules in the modulation of erythropoietin sensitivity and ineffective erythropoiesis
Dr. Guerra and colleagues are researching the role of transferrin in erythropoiesis and the regulation of iron metabolism. They created mouse models with mutations in transferrin that block binding of iron on the N-terminal or C-terminal lobes, and then crossed them to a model of beta-thalassemia. They found amelioration of anemia in the beta-thalassemia models with mutations blocking the N-terminal.
"Our published work has shown that the different monoferric forms of transferrin display distinct signaling properties in erythropoiesis," Dr. Guerra said. "My preliminary data, working with mouse models of beta-thalassemia, shows that one of these forms ameliorates the anemic phenotype. My other work indicates that the different forms of transferrin also play a role in immune activation. I am excited about the translational potential of these monoferric transferrin mutant forms for the treatment of anemia and as an immunosuppressing strategy."
Tatiana Karakasheva, PhD
Department of Pediatrics - Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition
Nominated by: Kathryn Hamilton, PhD
Presentation title: Patient-derived organoids empower generation of a human intestinal stem cell atlas
Dr. Karakasheva and colleagues have a pipeline for efficient generation of 3D organoids from an endoscopic biopsy. The organoids have served many purposes, including demonstrating defects in epithelial lining of patients with very early onset inflammatory bowel disease (VEO-IBD), providing material for single-cell RNA sequencing of epithelium from eosinophilic esophagitis patients and others. They are searching for biologically relevant signaling pathways to inform new treatment approaches aiming at healing the mucosal damage in inflammatory bowel disease.
"Epithelial cells that line the gastrointestinal tract play key, yet incompletely understood, roles in pediatric gastrointestinal diseases," Dr. Karakasheva said. "We use endoscopic biopsies to generate patient-derived organoids to define previously unappreciated differences between patients with or without Crohn's disease. Studies in organoids are enabling us to define in detail how Crohn's disease perturbs intestinal regeneration, which we hope will lay forth a path for novel therapies."
Aditi Vasan, MD
Department of Pediatrics - General Pediatrics
Nominated by: Chén C. Kenyon, MD, MSHP
Presentation title: Association of electronic benefits transfer with increased WIC participation
Dr. Vasan and colleagues analyzed whether transition of benefits from the Women, Infants, and Children program from paper vouchers to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards improved WIC participation. They found that in states that implemented WIC EBT, participation increased by 7.78% three years after implementation.
"Our study demonstrates how even seemingly small barriers to accessing public programs like WIC can substantially reduce participation," Dr. Vasan said. "This finding has important policy implications and underscores the need for user-centered approaches to benefits design and delivery that minimize barriers to participation for low-income children and families. We are continuing to study user-centered approaches to connecting families to government benefits and look forward to using this work to continue to inform local, state, and federal policies that help ensure all food insecure families can access the benefits and resources they need."