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Current Postdoctoral Research Associate (PRAT) Fellows

Miriam BocarslyMiriam Bocarsly

Miriam Bocarsly is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Veronica Alvarez, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She obtained her Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University, where she worked first with Bart Hoebel on the shared neurobiological underpinnings of food intake and drug addiction, and then with Elizabeth Gould exploring alterations in brain morphology associated with cognitive deficits in an obese animal model. In her postdoctoral studies, Bocarsly is broadly interested in identifying the neural circuitry driving aberrant consummatory and appetitive behaviors, such as psychostimulant-induced anorexia and polydipsia. In doing so, her research aims to identify potential neurological targets that may provide therapeutic benefit in disorders such as obesity. Bocarsly aspires to be an independent investigator with a research program focused on further resolving the neural circuitry modulating food and water consumption in healthy and diseased states.
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William (Drew) ComrieWilliam (Drew) Comrie

Drew Comrie is a PRAT fellow in the laboratories of Helen Su and Michael Lenardo, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He obtained his Ph.D. in immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied the role of the actin cytoskeleton in the mechano-activation of cell adhesion molecules within the immunological synapse in the lab of Janis K. Burkhardt. His PRAT research investigates rare human mutations that lead to the development of primary immunodeficiencies or autoimmunity. These studies help identify mechanisms by which the human immune system functions and provide critical information related to the clinical treatment of patients with primary immune disorders. He is interested in the study of the activation and control of adaptive immune responses and would ultimately like to run a research program that helps translate basic understanding of these mechanisms to new discoveries and clinical intervention.
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Amanda ConwayAmanda Conway

Amanda Conway is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Raja Jothi, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). She obtained her Ph.D. in molecular cancer biology from Duke University, where she studied mechanisms of CALM-AF10-mediated leukemogenesis in the lab of Dan Wechsler. Stemming from her graduate studies, Conway’s postdoctoral research is focused on elucidating a non-canonical role for the nuclear export receptor CRM1 in the regulation of developmental gene expression programs. She is broadly interested in studying the relationship between nuclear transport and gene expression and how these pathways are controlled during development and become perturbed in human diseases. Conway aspires to be an independent investigator at a major research institution.
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Seth Dickey Seth Dickey

Seth Dickey is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Michael Otto, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with Sinisa Urban, where he developed techniques to assay the activity of intramembrane rhomboid proteases in their natural membrane environment. As a PRAT fellow, he is combining bacterial genetics and biochemical assays to characterize and identify inhibitors of a Staphylococcus aureus ABC transporter that secretes virulent peptides. His long-term goal is to continue his work on membrane proteins in antibiotic-resistant bacteria as an independent investigator.
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Amicia ElliottAmicia Elliott

Amicia Elliott is a PRAT fellow in the laboratories of Benjamin White, National Institute of Mental Health, and Hari Shroff, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Elliott completed her Ph.D. in molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University with David Piston, where her primary focus was studying the role of paracrine factors in the glucose-dependent inhibition of glucagon secretion from pancreatic alpha cells. She also developed methodologies for studying, simultaneously, calcium and cAMP signaling in live cells using real-time hyperspectral imaging. Elliott’s current work also combines technique development and research. She is designing a light-sheet microscope which she will use to study behaviorally-associated neural activity in the fruit fly. Her project exploits the advanced genetics of the Drosophila model system with novel microscopy and computational biology methods to analyze brain-wide activity at cellular resolution. Her broad interests lie in systems neuroscience and technology development for the life sciences.
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Jill FritzJill Fritz

Jill Fritz is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Michael Lenardo, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She received her Ph.D. in immunobiology at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital under the mentorship of Timothy Weaver, where her research helped to identify the physiological role of molecular chaperones regulated by the unfolded protein response. At NIH, Fritz’s PRAT-funded research aims to discover novel pathogenic variants in humans with primary immunodeficiency. Upon completing her postdoctoral training, Fritz would like to be an independent investigator with research focused on developing immunotherapies for the treatment of disease.
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Sam A. GoldenSam A. Golden

Sam A. Golden is a PRAT fellow in the laboratories of Yavin Shaham, Antonello Bonci and Da-Ting Lin, National Institute on Drug Abuse. Golden obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Under the supervision of Scott Russo, he worked on elucidating the epigenetic and circuit-based mechanisms governing stress-induced structural plasticity within the mesolimbic reward system. At NIH, he is investigating the neuronal mechanisms that regulate the motivational component of aggressive behavior, through the use of circuit-specific in vivo awake-behaving genetically encoded calcium sensor microendoscopy. Golden plans to transition to a role as an independent principle investigator within the academic environment.
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Emily HolzingerEmily Holzinger

Emily Holzinger is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Joan Bailey-Wilson, National Human Genome Research Institute. She obtained her M.S. in applied statistics and her Ph.D. in human genetics from Vanderbilt University while working in the lab of Marylyn Ritchie, where she developed computational methods for integrating different types of high-throughput genomic data to identify genes associated with cholesterol level response to statins. Her current work also involves computational method development, specifically using machine learning methods to identify genetic interactions that underlie various complex human phenotypes, such as metabolite measurements. Additionally, she is analyzing whole-exome and whole-genome sequence data to identify variants associated with oral cleft phenotypes in family data. Holzinger plans to continue her research by running her own computational human genetics lab at either an academic or government institution.
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Kari JohnsonKari Johnson

Kari Johnson is a PRAT fellow in the lab of David M. Lovinger, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She obtained her Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University, where she studied modulation of neurotransmission in the basal ganglia in the lab of P. Jeffrey Conn. Following graduate school, she completed a brief postdoctoral fellowship in the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Her past honors include a predoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. As a PRAT fellow, Johnson studies signaling mechanisms underlying modulation of striatal neurotransmission by G protein-coupled receptors. Her long-term research plans are to combine pharmacological, physiological, genetic and behavioral techniques to identify neurological circuit manipulations that provide therapeutic benefit in disorders associated with basal ganglia dysfunction.
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Joo Yun JunJoo Yun Jun

Joo Yun Jun is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Jack A. Yanovski, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She obtained her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Florida while working in the lab of Mohan K. Raizada, where she studied neurogenic hypertension using spontaneous hypertensive rat models. Jun joined Dr. Yanovski’s lab in 2014 and her current research involves identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms of melanocortin 3 receptor in childhood obesity using humanized knock-in mouse models. Jun is a recipient of the Fellows Award for Research Excellence Program at NIH. Her long-term goal is to become an established scientist in the field of metabolic disorder and to provide beneficial therapeutic strategies to help improve human health.
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Samuel KotlerSamuel Kotler

Samuel Kotler is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Marius Clore, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He obtained is Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor while working in the lab of Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy. As a Ph.D. student, he worked on characterizing the structural and dynamic self-assembly processes of the Alzheimer’s amyloid-beta peptide. His PRAT-funded research focuses on disease-associated protein domains containing expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts. More specifically, Kotler studies the ability of these expanded polyQ domains to aggregate and form fibrous structures known as amyloid. His long-term goal is to someday head his own lab in an academic setting.
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Lee LangerLee Langer

Lee Langer is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Trevor Archer at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he studied the role of SOX2 in the development of the eye and hypothalamus. In his position as a PRAT fellow, he studies how epigenetic regulators control human embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Specifically, Langer uses next-generation sequencing techniques to analyze how chromatin-remodeling complexes maintain or modify chromatin architecture in the steady state or in response to differentiating signals. His long-term goal is to lead a group that explores the roles of chromatin modifiers in the contexts of both health and disease.
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Julia LiuJulia Liu

Julia Liu is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Toren Finkel, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She obtained her Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University while working in the lab of Galit Lahav, where she studied apoptosis in response to DNA damage in human embryonic stem cells. Her current research focuses on genetic perturbations affecting the uptake of calcium into mitochondria, and their effects on mitochondrial and cellular function as well as tissue and organismal physiology. Her long term interests include the intersection between mitochondrial homeostasis and the regulation of cell death and aging.
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Jonathan G. MurphyJonathan G. Murphy

Jonathan Murphy is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Dax A. Hoffman, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Murphy obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Under the supervision of Mark L. Dell’Acqua, he worked to understand how dynamic phosphorylation of neuronal L-type calcium channels regulates excitation-driven transcriptional activity in hippocampal neurons. As a PRAT fellow, Murphy studies ion channel translation in a mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome. Using microscopy and electrophysiology, Murphy aims to visualize ion channel translation in hippocampal pyramidal neurons to understand how this process is regulated during synaptic plasticity and may contribute to neuronal dysfunction during disease.
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Dylan MurrayDylan Murray

Dylan Murray is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Robert Tycko, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from Florida State University. Under the supervision of Timothy Cross, he worked at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory to develop solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) methods for the study of membrane protein structure in native-like lipid environments. At NIH, he has worked to elucidate the structure and intermolecular interactions of low sequence complexity proteins using ssNMR. Aggregation of these proteins is linked to neurodegenerative disease and cancer. The aggregation also has a functional role in mRNA synthesis, transport and expression, which is not fully understood. Murray plans to lead a team of researchers working on the structure and function of insoluble protein complexes that cannot be studied by traditional structural biology techniques.
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Jacob NordmanJacob Nordman

Jacob Nordman is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Zheng Li at the National Institute of Mental Health. He obtained his Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience from the Krasnow Institute at George Mason University. Under the mentorship of Nadine Kabbani, Nordman characterized a novel signaling pathway involving ionotropic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and a variety of secondary messenger proteins known as G proteins, which typically interact primarily with metabotropic receptors. These interactions were shown to regulate neurodevelopment pathways. He also developed methodologies for protein interaction network detection and simultaneous measurement of calcium and cytoskeletal dynamics in developing neural cells. Nordman’s current work at NIH involves an investigation into the role of synaptic plasticity in chronic violent aggression, through the use of optogenetics and in vivo electrophysiology. His broad neuroscience interests are aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms of psychiatric illness as a principle investigator at an academic institution.
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Shireen SarrafShireen Sarraf

Shireen Sarraf is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Richard J. Youle, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She obtained her Ph.D. in cell biology from Harvard Medical School. Her broad research interests include understanding the role of autophagy in disease, including the signaling roles of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-binding autophagy interactors, as well as interconnected E3 ligases and kinases. Her PRAT-funded research aims to determine the requirements for ubiquitin-binding proteins in the autophagic clearance of intracellular pathogens (termed xenophagy), such as Salmonella Typhimurium, using integrated cell biological, biochemical and proteomic approaches. Upon completion of her postdoctoral training, Sarraf will seek an assistant professor position to continue her research as an independent investigator.
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Natalie ShanksNatalie Shanks

Natalie Shanks is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Katherine Roche, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She obtained her Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the structure and function of glutamate receptors in the lab of Terunaga Nakagawa. Her PRAT research investigates the basic mechanisms mediating inhibitory versus excitatory synapse specification by neuroligin molecules. She is interested in synaptic function as it relates to neurological disorders and disease, and she would ultimately like to run a research program that helps translate basic science discoveries into clinical interventions.
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Ashley SwansonAshley Swanson

Ashley Swanson is a PRAT fellow in the lab of Roger Woodgate, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She obtained her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology at the University of California, Riverside, examining how environmentally induced DNA lesions affect the fidelity and efficiency of DNA replication in the lab of Yinsheng Wang. As a PRAT fellow, Swanson is studying the molecular mechanisms of DNA damage-induced tumor progression, and specifically how translesion synthesis DNA polymerases may afford protection against tumorigenesis using in vitro, cellular and mouse models. Her long-term professional goal is to continue exploring mechanisms of carcinogenesis as an independent investigator in an academic or government institution.
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This page last reviewed on June 20, 2017