Friday, August 19, 2011

Reactions from Travel Grant Awardees: Research Day 2011

Reactions from Travel Grant Awardees: MGHfC Research Day 2011

Mauro Longoni, MD; Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

Diaphragmatic hernia: genetic dissection of a complex birth defect”. Research Fellow in the laboratory of Patricia K. Donahoe, MD, Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, MGHfC

At the 2011 MGHfC Research Day, I was awarded a travel grant for my poster presentation on Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) “Genetic dissection of a complex birth defect.” CDH is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous birth defect, characterized by a diaphragm abnormality often associated with severe lung hypoplasia. It is relatively common (1/2500 live births in the United States) and has high morbidity and mortality. The CDH study at the Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, directed by Patricia K. Donahoe, M.D., aims at identifying genes that can, when altered, be responsible for diaphragmatic defects. Our novel approach takes advantage of mouse embryonic expression arrays, obtained by laser capture, to interpret genetic and genomic data. 

Thanks to the MGHfC travel grant, I will be presenting some of our results at the 32nd Annual David W. Smith Workshop on Malformations and Morphogenesis (UCLA, September 10-14, 2011), a small invitation-only gathering of geneticists, pediatricians, and researchers in the field of birth defects. This workshop honors the legacy of Dr. David Smith, who established the discipline of ‘dysmorphology’, combining genetics, embryology, and the study of environmental agents to explain both normal and abnormal human development. Having the opportunity to attend this meeting is valuable for my career development. I look forward to hearing new ideas and potentially developing new collaborations.

Jay R. Thiagarajah, MD, PhD, Pediatric Resident, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

‘Airway surfactant liquid depth imaged by surface laser reflectance microscopy.’ Resident, MGHfC. Laboratory of A.S. Verkman, MD, PhD.

I am hoping to use the MGHfC Research Day travel award to go to at least one of several conferences that I am interested in coming up later this year. In September I will go to a meeting at the NIDDK in Bethesda focusing on the progress of new therapies for secretory diarrhea. Other meetings that I am interested in getting to this year include the
CF conference and NASPGHAN.

Orane Visvikis, PhD; Research Fellow in Pediatrics, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

‘Involvement of HLH-30/MiT transcription factors in intestinal epithelial immunity.’ Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Javier E. Irazoqui, PhD, Program of Immunology, MGHfC.

It was a great honor to receive a research award at the annual MGHfC Research Symposium where I presented my research from the laboratory of Dr. Javier E. Irazoqui in the Program of Developmental Immunology. I am interested in innate immunity, and I have used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a tool to identify a novel conserved transcription factor involved in the immune response to pathogen infection. It was my great pleasure to have my work recognized by the MGHfC group and this award will allow me to support most of the expenses to attend the eighth Cold Spring Harbor meeting on Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Response that will occur in September 2011. Participating at this prestigious meeting is a means to stay current with the recent progress in the field of host-pathogen interaction, to meet and to present my work to leaders in this field, and to potentially develop new collaborations. I am very thankful to the MGHfC research symposium committee for giving me this great opportunity.

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