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Recent Alumni

Anastasia AksyukAnastasia Aksyuk

Anastasia Aksyuk was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Alasdair Steven, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. She obtained her Ph.D. in structural biology/virology while working in the lab of Michael Rossmann at Purdue University. Aksyuk is interested in obtaining mechanistic insights in assembly and infection of viruses in 3-D. Currently, she is using X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and computational methods, integrated with biophysical and biochemical tools, to study herpes simplex virus-1.

Chad BrockerChad Brocker

Chad Brocker was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Frank Gonzalez, National Cancer Institute (NCI). He obtained his Ph.D. in molecular toxicology from the University of Colorado. Brocker's projects utilize multifaceted methodologies involving transgenic mouse models, metabolomics, and molecular and systems biology to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of human disease with an emphasis on hepatic metabolism and toxicity. More specifically, his research focuses on the functions of nuclear receptors and drug/carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes during carcinogenesis. Brocker plans to continue his work in biomedical research as a university professor following his fellowship. He received the 2014 NCI Director's Innovation Award to support a project examining the role of long non-coding RNAs during hepatocarcinogenesis.

Carrie HouseCarrie House

Carrie House was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Christina Annunziata, National Cancer Institute (NCI). She obtained her Ph.D. in molecular medicine from George Washington University, where she studied the role of voltage-activated sodium channels in colon cancer progression. House's broad research interest is to understand aberrant mechanisms of growth and metastasis in tumor cells. At NCI, she studied the role of the NF-kappaB signaling pathway in the initiation and maintenance of ovarian cancer stem cells. In addition to the PRAT fellowship, House was a recipient of the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists in Cancer Research and a former recipient of the predoctoral fellowship in pharmacology/toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation. Her long-term goal is to lead a team of scientists working to provide a deeper understanding of cancer biology and new avenues for clinical intervention.

Christine JaoChristine Jao

Christine Jao was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Susan Buchanan, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, studying membrane-protein interactions using site-directed spin labeling and electron paramagnetic resonance in the lab of Ralf Langen. When she joined NIH, she studied the initiation of autophagy using X-ray crystallography and cell biology. Jao works on how bacterial outer membrane proteins deliver metal ions to gram-negative bacteria using X-ray crystallography. Structural and biophysical characterization of these proteins will aid in the development of new antimicrobials and therapeutics. In the future, she would like to head up her own lab, as well as mentor young researchers.


1. Jao CC, Ragusa MJ, Stanley RE, Hurley JH. A HORMA domain in Atg13 mediates PI 3-kinase recruitment in autophagy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013;110:5486-91.

Evgeny KiselevEvgeny Kiselev

Evgeny Kiselev was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Kenneth Jacobson, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He obtained his Ph.D. in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry while working with Mark Cushman at Purdue University. Kiselev's primary interests lie in the area of developing and applying novel chemical biology tools to investigate complex cellular systems and identify potential drug targets. He works on the development of small-molecule probes for purinergic/pyriminergic GPCRs of the P2Y family. The main objective is to obtain reliable fluorescent affinity probes that will be useful for high-throughput screening and receptor tracking.

Amy KullasAmy Kullas

Amy Kullas was awarded a PRAT fellowship in 2015 and conducted research in the lab of Peter Williamson, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She obtained her Ph.D. in molecular genetics and microbiology from Stony Brook University. During her thesis work, she investigated how Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) inhibit the response of mammalian T cells. Kullas’ broad research interest remains at the interface of the host-pathogen interaction. She began gaining expertise in translational research. Her PRAT-funded research focus was understanding the underlying determinants of host susceptibility to Cryptococcus gattii in non-HIV related infections. She sought to determine how a dysfunction in autophagy alters host resistance to C. gattii utilizing mouse and cell culture model systems. Additionally, she employed a discovery study to analyze monocytes from previously healthy, non-HIV patients infected with C. gattii to identify genetic predispositions to the disease.

Carrie LucasCarrie Lucas

Carrie Lucas was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Michael Lenardo, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She obtained her Ph.D. in immunology from Harvard Medical School. Her broad research interest is to elucidate the mechanistic basis of human diseases of the immune system using integrative cell biological, biochemical and proteomic approaches. The PRAT fellowship supported Lucas' research on a cohort of patients suffering from a form of congenital immunodeficiency and lymphoproliferative disease in which activating mutations in PI3K p110δ lead to terminal differentiation and senescence of CD8 T cells. This project has now segued into her current research on the intersections of PI3K, TCR and caspase signaling in promoting cell death of activated human T cells after TCR re-stimulation. Upon completion of her postdoctoral training, Lucas will seek an assistant professor position to continue her research as an independent lab head.


1. Lucas CL, Kuehn HS, Zhao F, Niemela JE, Deenick EK, Palendira U, Avery DT, Moens L, Cannons JL, Biancalana M, Stoddard J, Ouyang W, Frucht DM, Rao VK, Atkinson TP, Agharahimi A, Hussey AA, Folio LR, Olivier KN, Fleisher TA, Pittaluga S, Holland SM, Cohen JI, Oliveira JB, Tangye SG, Schwartzberg PL, Lenardo MG, Uzel G. Dominant-activating germline mutations in the gene encoding the PI(3)K catalytic subunit p110δ result in T cell senescence and human immunodeficiency. Nat Immunol. 2013;15(1):88-97.

2. Lucas CL, Lenardo MJ. Molecular basis of cell death programs in mature T cell homeostasis. In: Hao Wu ed. Cell Death: Mechanism and Disease. New York: Springer Science. 2014;41-59.

3. Chaigne-Delalande B, Li F-Y, O'Connor GM, Lukacs M, Biancalana M, Zheng L, Shatzer A, Pittaluga S, Matthews HF, Jancel T, Hetherington M, Bleesing JJ, Kuijpers TW, Lucas CL, Nagpal S, Mehmet H, Su HC, Cohen JI, Uzel G, Lenardo MJ. Mg2+ regulates cytotoxic functions of NK and CD8 T cells in chronic EBV infection through NKG2D. Science. 2013;341(6142):186-91.

David MontgomeryDavid Montgomery

David Montgomery was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Jordan Meier, National Cancer Institute (NCI). He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology while working in the lab of Peter Dervan. His broad research interests lie in the development of chemical tools and therapeutics to illuminate aspects of basic biology and treat human disease. His research involves the application of chemical proteomics approaches to study lysine acetyltransferases, a class of enzymes involved in epigenetic regulation of gene expression. This platform allows the profiling of these complex enzymes in their native cellular contexts, facilitating the discovery of new enzymes and inhibitors with potential therapeutic relevance. He received the 2014 NCI Director's Innovation Award supporting the implementation of chemical proteomics for the discovery of uncharacterized lysine acyltransferases.
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Alicia PickrellAlicia Pickrell

Alicia Pickrell was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Richard J. Youle, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She obtained her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Miami. During her Ph.D. dissertation, she studied how mitochondrial function and dysfunction affected neurons differently depending on the neuron type and subpopulation it belonged to. Her PRAT-funded research focused on how mitophagy (the process of removing dysfunctional mitochondria) occurs during neurodegenerative processes. Pickrell aspires to head her own lab in an academic setting.


1. Pickrell AM, Pinto M, Hida A, Moraes CT. Striatal dysfunctions associated with mitochondrial DNA damage in dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. J Neurosci. 2011;31:17649-58.

2. Pickrell AM, Youle RJ. Mitochondrial disease: mtDNA and protein segregation mysteries in iPSCs. Curr Biol. 2013;CB 23:R1052-4.

3. Wang X*, Pickrell AM*, Rossi SG et al. Transient systemic mtDNA damage leads to muscle wasting by reducing the satellite cell pool. Hum Mol Gen. 2013;22:3976-86.

*Equal contribution

Nadine SamaraNadine Samara

Nadine Samara was awarded a PRAT fellowship in 2012. She obtained her Ph.D. in molecular biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2011 and received the school's Alicia Showalter Reynolds Young Investigators' Day award for her thesis work, which centered on a multi-protein complex that regulates gene transcription. She joined NIH in 2011, working in the lab of Wei Yang, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. There she used biophysical methods, primarily X-ray crystallography, to better understand the mechanism of nucleotide excision DNA repair and the catalytic mechanism of RNase H.


1. Samara NL, Ringel AE, Wolberger C. A role for inter-subunit interactions in maintaining SAGA deubiquitinating module structure and activity. Structure. 2012;20(8):1414-24.

2. Samara NL, Wolberger C. A new chapter in the transcription SAGA. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2011;21(6):767-74.

3. Samara NL, Datta AB, Berndsen CE, Zhang X, Yao T, Cohen RE, Wolberger C. Structural insights into the assembly and function of the SAGA deubiquitinating module. Science. 2010;328:1025-9

Ann Marie  StanleyAnn Marie Stanley

Ann Marie Stanley was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Susan Buchanan, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She obtained her Ph.D. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University, where she studied the thermodynamic basis of membrane protein folding with Karen Fleming. As a postdoctoral fellow with Tom Rapoport at Harvard Medical School, she studied protein quality control mechanisms and the retro-translocation of misfolded proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum. As a PRAT fellow, she investigated the biogenesis of fungal outer mitochondrial membrane proteins and the regulation of capsule biosynthesis in Klebsiella pneumoniae. Stanley's research interests include using combined structural and biophysical approaches to understand the function of membrane proteins important in infectious disease. Her past honors include a Howard Hughes MedicaI Institute predoctoral fellowship, the Johns Hopkins University Owens Scholars fellowship and an NIH Ruth L. Kirschtstein NRSA postdoctoral fellowship.


1. Carvalho P*, Stanley AM*, Rapoport T. Recognition of an ERAD-L substrate analyzed by site-specific in vivo photocrosslinking. FEBS Lett. 2011;585:1281-6.

2.Carvalho P, Stanley AM, Rapoport TA. Retrotranslocation of a misfolded luminal ER protein by the ubiquitin-ligase Hrd1p. Cell. 2010;143:579-91.

3. Stanley AM, Treubrodt AM, Chuawong P, Hendrickson TL, Fleming KG. Lipid chain selectivity by outer membrane phospholipase A. J Mol Biol. 2007;366:461-8.

*Equal contribution

Aubrey WeigelAubrey Weigel

Aubrey Weigel was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She obtained her Ph.D. in bioengineering from Colorado State University while working in the lab of Diego Krapf. Weigel is interested in the spatio-temporal organization of the Golgi membrane. She uses high-resolution microscopy and a novel cargo release system in live cells to investigate the nanoscopic and dynamic organization of proteins trafficking through the Golgi.

Alex ValmAlex Valm

Alex Valm was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Julie Segre, National Human Genome Research Institute. He obtained his Ph.D. in pathobiology from the Brown University-Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory joint graduate program. Valm's broad research interests are to understand the assembly of complex microbial communities associated with the human body and how the physical structure of these communities impacts human health and disease. As a PRAT fellow, Valm developed novel imaging technologies to elucidate the systems-level structure of microbial communities associated with human skin in healthy people before, during and after antibiotic therapy. His long-term professional goal is to contribute to our understanding of the human microbiome as an independent investigator at an academic or government institution.


1. Valm AM, Mark Welch JL, Borsiy GG. CLASI-FISH: principles of combinatorial labeling and spectral imaging. Syst Appl Microbiol. 2012;35:496-502.

2. Valm AM, Mark Welch JL, Rieken CW et al. Systems-level analysis of microbial community organization through combinatorial labeling and spectral imaging. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108:4152-7.

Megan WyethMegan Wyeth

Megan Wyeth was a PRAT fellow in the lab of Chris McBain, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She obtained her Ph.D. in neurobiology while working with Carolyn Houser at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying changes in hippocampal interneurons in a mouse model of epilepsy. As a PRAT fellow, she studied the regulation of glutamate receptors by auxiliary proteins in the hippocampal circuit. Her driving research interests center on understanding the network reorganization underlying acquired temporal lobe epilepsy.


1. Wyeth MS, Pelkey KA, Petralia R, Salter MW, McInnes RR, McBain CJ. Neto auxiliary protein interactions regulate kainate and NMDA receptor subunit localization at mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal cell synapses. J Neurosci. 2014;34:622-28.

2. Wyeth MS, Zhang N, Houser CR. Increased cholecystokinin labeling in the hippocampus of a mouse model of epilepsy maps to spines and glutamatergic terminals. Neuroscience. 2012;202:371-83.

3. Wyeth MS, Zhang N, Mody I, Houser CR. Selective reduction of cholecystokinin-positive basket cell innervation in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy. J Neurosci. 2010;30:8993-9006.

This page last reviewed on June 20, 2017