Research excellence rewarded with three prestigious fellowships

From left to right:
Sachiko Haga-Yamanaka, Ram Kannan, Jamie Dyer

Excellence in research does not happen in isolation. It is clear that cooperation and collaboration of researchers worldwide now drives the search for answers to scientific questions, which in turn drives the competition for highly prestigious external fellowship funding. Three young Stowers researchers were the 2011 recipients of just such awards.

Jamie Dyer, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Stowers Investigator Jerry Workman, PhD, received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. The three-year fellowship supports Dyer’s research into the function of myeloid leukemia factor (MLF), which is mutated in myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. As little is known about how mutated MLF proteins drive the formation of cancer, Dyer’s research aims to determine the role of MLF in normal and cancerous cells.

Predoctoral researcher Ram Kannan, a member of the Baumann Lab, was awarded a two-year American Heart Association fellowship to identify factors that promote the processing of the RNA component of telomerase using the fission yeast S. pombe as a model system. Telomerase helps maintain the ends of chromosomes, which shorten with every cell division. Understanding telomerase biogenesis and why shorter telomeres are strongly correlated with various cardiovascular disorders (CVD) may improve CVD diagnosis and treatment.

A senior research associate in the Ron Yu lab, Sachiko Haga-Yamanaka, PhD, received a two-year fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, which is awarded to Japanese postdoctoral scientists conducting research at foreign institutions. The award supports Yamanaka’s research into the neural mechanism underlying innate and learned social behaviors guided by the mouse vomeronasal system, a small sensory organ found in the noses of all terrestrial vertebrates except higher primates. Although, as a species, human beings no longer rely on pheromones in social communications, dissecting the neural circuitry behind these important functions of the brain may lead to a better understanding of how the brain works and to possible treatments for neurological diseases.