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Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Academic Diversity

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The Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity Program is a competitive program with a goal of increasing the diversity of the community of scholars devoted to academic research at both The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania (PENN).

Both organizations seek to attract promising researchers and educators from different backgrounds, races, ethnic groups, and other diverse populations whose life experience, research experience, and employment background will contribute significantly to their academic missions.

Fellowships are available for postdoctoral training in all areas of study at either CHOP or PENN. Candidates from the STEM fields are encouraged to apply. Successful candidates will receive scholarly mentoring and research training as well as courses and workshops to enhance their research success skills and prepare them for a faculty position in a major university or in other sectors of the economy such as industry, government or nonprofit organizations.

One of the world’s premier pediatric hospitals and research institutions, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) views diversity as the key driver of achievement, particularly when innovation is critical. As such, CHOP is committed to contributing to and supporting an inclusive and representative biomedical research workforce both on our campus and in the greater scientific community.

CHOP’s Research Institute aims to be the predominant clinical and basic pediatric research training institution in the United States. Whether you are a postdoctoral fellow, physician fellow or graduate student, all CHOP-based researchers are privy to world-class training programs and support services.

CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania (PENN) are independent entities; together they create a rich intellectual and scientific community, sharing several departments, faculty, and resources. CHOP and PENN partner to fund Postdoctoral Research Fellowships for Academic Diversity. This partnership allows fellows from CHOP and PENN to form a cohesive cohort and to take advantage of programming and support at both institutions.

  • Candidates must be US citizens or permanent residents
  • Graduate students who will complete their Ph.D. requirements by the fellowship start date
  • Postdoctoral scholars who have completed their dissertation within the last three years
  • Postdoctoral fellows who have been at CHOP less than one year at the time of application are eligible, candidates who are not currently at CHOP are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Professional applicants (M.D., D.M.D., V.M.D., J.D., etc.) within a year of completing their post-degree professional training
  • Applicants must submit a completed application package (including reference letters and a letter of support from the selected CHOP based mentor)
  • Applicants will need to identify a CHOP-based faculty mentor, use the Investigator Search Tool to browse CHOP mentors

Postdoctoral Fellows will receive a $54,000 salary in year one, which will increase in $2,000 increments in years two and three. Fellows will also receive full employee benefits, annual allowance for travel ($2,000) and supplies ($5,000), and a one-time relocation allowance for external candidates (up to $5,000).

CHOP Faculty Please NOTE: The Research Institute covers 80% of the salary and benefits and 100% of the travel, supplies, and relocation allowances for the duration of the three year appointment. The faculty member would be required to provide funding for the remaining 20% of salary support and benefits. Please contact academicdiversity@email.chop.edu with any questions.

  • Train in Basic, Behavioural, Clinical, or Translational Research areas under direct supervision of a CHOP-based Faculty member
  • Opportunities to present work internally at CHOP Poster Day, Emerging Scientists Symposium, and within respective Departments/Divisions
  • Funding to support travel to external scientific meetings
  • Support with identifying, applying for, and securing additional funding mechanisms
  • Supports the fellow to develop into an independent investigator, create his/her professional network, and understand the process of attaining independent funding
  • Includes a personalized mentoring component to support trainees with various career goals
  • Facilitates the fellow's participation in all programming provided by Penn’s Office of Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs
  • Provides workshops and seminars to prepare fellows for the next step in their careers
  • Mentoring team developed to align with your personal and professional goals
  • Formal Workshops series available to help with grant preparation and developing teaching skills
  • Access to programming provided through CHOP’s Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs (ATOP) and Penn’s Biomedical Postdoc Program

Arwa Abbas, PhD | Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Pennsylvania • Philadelphia, PA | Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • CHOP Research Mentors: Joseph Zackular, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Project Title: The Impact of Gut Microbiota on Disease Severity during Clostridioides Difficile Infection
  • Project Description: As a post-doctoral researcher at CHOP, I aim to understand the multiple interactions between the host, its resident gut microbiota, and pathogens and how these interactions influence human health and disease. The Zackular lab's pathogen of interest is Clostridioides difficile, which is the leading cause of hospital-acquired gastrointestinal infections and is a major public health burden in the United States. It's known that disruptions in the gut microbial ecosystem is required for C.difficile to colonize and cause infection. C.difficile infection can range from mild diarrhea to severe complications including death. The factors that influence this spectrum of disease are currently being investigated and my project focuses on how other members of the perturbed microbial community can impact C.difficile virulence factors, such as toxin production and biofilm formation, or indirectly influence disease by modulating host innate immune cells, such as macrophages. The goals of this project are to determine which microbial small molecules, enzymes, and genetic elements mediate these changes to C.difficile behavior. Overall, I believe this work will elucidate the mechanisms by which other bacteria can protect against or promote disease in the context of C.difficile infection and ultimately inform treatment options for patients.

Melvin (Shawn) Bates, PhD | Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: Texas A&M University • College Station, TX | Neuroscience
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Seema Bhatnagar, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
  • Project Title: Stress-Induced Locus Coeruleus Activity and Cognitive Function
  • Project Description: The locus coeruleus (LC) is a major component of the stress response that integrates input from neural circuits. Understanding how stress affects the central noradrenergic system that arises from LC and the effect this has on learning and cognition is critically important. To do this, local field potentials will be examined in cortical regions downstream of LC following exposure to chronic stress, or pharmacological stimulation of LC with CRF, a neuromodulator that is released into LC after stress. The goal of this project is to understand the role of stress on the LC and possible implications for learning and cognition, and to further elucidate if there are sex differences in LC function that may underlie sex-specific patterns observed in stress related psychiatric disorders.

Rui Fu, PhD | Violence Prevention Initiative

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Pennsylvania • Philadelphia, PA | Applied Psychology (Human Development)
  • CHOP Research Mentors: Stephen Leff, MD and Tracy E. Waasdorp, MD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Violence Prevention Initiative
  • Project Title: Parenting Influence on School-based Bullying and Aggression Prevention Programs
  • Project Description: There are two main objectives of this project. First, parent-related constructs (i.e., positive parenting practices, child disclosure with parents, and parent-school connectedness) that are associated with children’s involvement in bullying and aggression as both a perpetrator and bystander in an elementary-school aged urban minority sample will be explored. Second, factors that are associated with parent involvement in school-based bullying and aggression prevention programming will be investigated. The goal of this project is to focus on aggression and peer bullying of different forms as well as the design and assessment of school-based interventions in addressing aggression and bullying.

Jean-Bernard Lubin, PhD | Infectious Diseases

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Delaware • Newark, DE | Microbial Genetics and Biochemistry
  • CHOP Research Mentors: Paul Planet, MD, PhD and Michael Silverman, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Infectious Diseases
  • Project Title: A Pediatric Microbial Community to Dissect Host-Commensal Interactions in Type 1 Diabetes
  • Project Description: Our current research explores the ontogeny of the pediatric microbiome. Specifically focusing on the role of the gastrointestinal microbiome in the development of type 1 diabetes and how perturbations of commensal microbial communities influence pathogenesis and immunity. The goal is to develop a gnotobiotic mouse model of the pediatric microbiome for general use, and identify microbes that protect against the development of type 1 diabetes and the mechanisms employed.

Mallory Perry, PhD, RN, CPN, CCRN | Critical Care Pediatric Nursing

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Connecticut • Storrs, CT | Behavioral Nursing Science
  • CHOP Research Mentors: Martha Curley, PhD, RN
  • CHOP Department/Division: Child and Adolescent Psychology
  • Project Title: Investigating Paradoxical Response to Benzodiazepine Administration in Children
  • Project Description: Benzodiazepines are routinely given in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). While often used for their anxiolytic and sedative effects, there are instances where the opposite occurs. Though relatively rare, children who experience a paradoxical response to benzodiazepines are at increased risk for injury and delayed healing. While multiple elements may be associated with the development of a benzodiazepine paradoxical response, genetic factors and predisposition may have a significant role. In order to fully investigate this phenomenon, a biobehavioral approach is proposed, with emphasis on a genome wide association study (GWAS). Prior to GWAS investigation, a benzodiazepine reaction phenotype will be strictly defined and covariates established. The overall aims of this project are to (1) define a phenotype of benzodiazepine paradoxical response in children; and (2) explore genetic variants, which may have a role in children with a difficult to sedate or benzodiazepine paradoxical response phenotypes.

Annabel Torres, PhD | Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: Thomas Jefferson University • Philadelphia, PA | Cell & Molecular Biology
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Andrew Wells, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Project Title: Comparison of the Open Chromatin Landscapes and Gene Expressions of Effector and Anergic T Helper Cells
  • Project Description: Costimulation through the T cell receptor (TCR) and CD28 receptor drives T cell activation and differentiation. TCR engagement without CD28 results in anergy, a dominant state refractory to further stimulation. Through analysis of genome-wide patterns of open chromatin in TCR or TCR/CD28-costimulated CD4+ T cells using ATAC-seq and examining how this open chromatin correlates with gene expression, we aim to understand how signals from CD28 and/or TCR imprint anergic and effector cell fates.

Past Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows

Brian Estevez, PhD

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Illinois • Chicago, Illinois | Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Mortimer Poncz, MD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Hematology

Phylicia Fitzpatrick Fleming, PhD | Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of North Carolina • Chapel Hill, NC | School Psychology
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Thomas Power, PhD and Jenelle Nissley-Tsiopinis, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Hematology

Michael Gonzalez, PhD | Center for Applied Genomics

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: Washington State University • Pullman, WA | Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD and David Sherry, MD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Center for Applied Genomics and Rheumatology

Amy Lavery, PhD

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: Temple University • Philadelphia, PA | Public Health
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Amy Waldman, MD
  • CHOP Department/Division: Neurology

Ozell Sanders, PhD | Rehabilitation Medicine

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of Maryland, Baltimore County • Baltimore, Maryland | Physical Rehabilitation Science
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Laura Prosser, PhD and Michelle Johnson, PhD (Penn Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)
  • CHOP Department/Division:Center for Rehabilitation

Carolyn Yrigollen, PhD

  • Graduate Institution | Degree: University of California, Davis • Davis, CA | Genetics
  • CHOP Research Mentor: Beverly Davidson, PhD
  • CHOP Department/Division:Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics

Link: Penn's Fellows