Invited Speakers

Wendy Loughlin
Director, UMD Health Professions Advising Office

Ms. Loughlin currently serves as the Pre-Professional Health Advisor at the University of Maryland. She has been with the University of Maryland since 1996. Before coming to the HPAO, she worked in the Orientation Office where she served as Assistant Director. Prior to joining the orientation staff, Ms. Loughlin served for four years as the Assistant to the Dean for Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment in the College of Chemical and Life Sciences, and an additional five years as an advisor in the college where she held the title of Director of New Programs. She has been the Director since 2006 and is a member of the National Association of Advisors in the Health Professions (NAAHP) and the Northeast Association of Advisors in the Health Professions (NEAAHP), is a NEAAHP Executive Committee member and will be co-Chairing the NEAAHP annual meeting in spring 2011. She is also the Local Area Network (LAN) Coordinator for health professions advisors in the Chesapeake region.
Before arriving at College Park, Ms. Loughlin worked as the undergraduate admissions coordinator for the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She received her B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, NY and an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College in New York, NY.

Dr. Jonathan D. Dinman
Chair, UMD Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics Department

Dr. Jonathan D. Dinman earned his A.B in Philosophy from Oberlin College in 1980, and Ph.D. degree in Immunology and Infectious Diseases in 1988 from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  He was a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Reed B. Wickner, NIH/NIDDK, where he studied programmed ribosomal frameshifting in viruses of yeast.  In 1995, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001, and moved his laboratory to the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland In 2002.  He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2008.  He served as the Interim Chair of his department in 2008, served as the Director of the Graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Maryland, and was appointed as Departmental Chair in 2014. Dr. Dinman is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and is a Member of the Program in Oncology, University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. He regularly serves on NIH and NSF study sections, is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Virus adaptation and Treatment and is a member of the Editorial Boards for Nucleic Acids Research, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Translation.

Dr. Dinman's studies have impacted three fields.  In the field of virology, he found that viruses require precise rates of programmed ribosomal frameshifting to ensure that the proper stoichiometric ratio of viral structural to enzymatic proteins are available for viral particle assembly. Changing frameshifting efficiencies alters this ratio, preventing proper viral particle assembly and interfering with virus propagation. Thus, programmed ribosomal frameshifting presents a promising new target for anti-viral pharmacological intervention. This has led to characterizing how ribosomes normally maintain translational reading frame, which in turn has led to detailed molecular genetics, biochemical, and structural studies of the ribosome, revealing how dynamic changes in ribosome structure ensures the proper function and directionality of the ribosome during protein synthesis.  The third area of his research Is based on the hypothesis that programmed ribosomal frameshifting is used to control the expression of cellular genes, leading to the finding that frameshift signals can function as mRNA "suicide elements",  to post-transcriptionally regulate the abundance and half-lives of specific mRNAs and their encoded protein products.

Dr. Rena Lapidus, Ph.D.
Director, UMD Greenebaum Cancer Center Translation Core Laboratory

Dr. Lapidus received her B.A. in Chemistry from Boston University in 1986 and her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 1993. She completed a 4 year post doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center (PI: Nancy Davidson M.D), and then was hired as a Scientist I by Guilford Pharmaceutical in 1997. After 13 years in the pharmaceutical industry and two corporate acquisitions, Dr. Lapidus returned to academics as the Director of the Translational Core Laboratory (TCL) at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center.

As part of her role as the Director of the TCL, Dr. Lapidus interacts with both basic researchers and clinical investigators to test novel anti-cancer agents. The primary goal of the TCL is to promote drug development with a focus on cancer. The lab achieves this goal by establishing relationships with both academic chemists and corporate partners. After testing or screening compounds in either protein-based assays or cell kill assays in vitro, the novel or re-purposed compounds are evaluatd in various in vivo or mouse models. In vivo tolerability, pharmacokinetics and cancer-efficacy studies are common experiments conducted in the lab. We also support early clinical trials to determine if these novel agents are actually hitting the intended protein targets in humans. Dr. Lapidus is responsible for establishing the relationships with both academic and corporate laboratories and for experimental design. She has over 30 publications and 5 patents. She also lectures in graduate level courses at University of Maryland Baltimore.

Dr. Yarimar Carrasquillo
Principal Investigator, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at NIH

Dr. Carrasquillo received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Baylor College of Medicine. She started her scientific career by studying the molecular basis of learning and memory as a Minority Biomedical Research Support Program (MBRS) Undergraduate Trainee in the lab of Dr. Sandra Peña de Ortiz. She continued studying the neural mechanisms underlying behavior during her graduate training in the lab of Dr. Robert W. Gereau at Baylor College of Medicine. Her graduate work revealed critical roles for the amygdala in the modulation of persistent pain and also demonstrated that the extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) plays a role in this process. Her postdoctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Jeanne Nerbonne at Washington University School of Medicine revealed previously unappreciated molecular and functional diversity of repolarizing voltage-gated K+ currents in central neurons.

Dr. Carrasquillo joined the PAIN Branch of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as an Investigator in 2014 where she directs a multifaceted, multidisciplinary research program focused on delineating the anatomical, molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie pain perception and modulation. 

Student Seminar Speakers

Boyan Xia - Designing Polymer Vaccines to Promote Immune Tolerance in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Boyan Xia is a senior neurobiology and physiology major, and she is also pursuing a minor in statistics.  She has been an undergraduate assistant in Dr. Christopher Jewell's bioengineering lab since her first year at Maryland.  Boyan's research focuses on the design of novel drug delivery platforms to promote immune tolerance in patients afflicted with autoimmune disorders, particularly multiple sclerosis.  She is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute undergraduate fellow and Philip Merrill Scholar.


Aaron Solomon - Bioinformatic Analysis of Murine Models of Obesity in Breast Cancer

Aaron Solomon is a senior who is majoring in biological sciences with a specialization in cell biology and genetics, and minoring in computer science.  Aaron's research focuses on breast cancer, the most prevalent cancer in females worldwide, specifically in obese women.  He explores the genetic validation of a mouse model of obesity in breast cancer, which can be used to understand physiological processes, screen candidate drugs, and explore de novo mutations found in primary and recurrent breast tumors.  Aaron is a Marshall Scholar, and plans to use the scholarship toward a Master of Science degree in genomic medicine at Imperial College London followed by a Master of Philosophy degree in bioscience enterprise at the University of Cambridge. His long-term plans include earning his Ph.D. and pursuing a career in computational genomics. 

Emily DeBoy:  Novel alternatively spliced isoforms of lamin A in Progeria

Emily DeBoy is a senior earning dual degrees in Cell Biology & Genetics, and Statistics. She has worked in the lab of Tom Misteli at the National Cancer Institute (NCI/NIH) for the past two years and previously worked in the lab of Dr. Kan Cao at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is generally interested in how defects in nuclear architecture and genomic organization lead to diseases such as cancer and aging, and her work involves the investigation of novel alternatively spliced RNA transcripts of lamin A in Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS). Next year, Emily plans to matriculate at the MD-PhD program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.