Milton B. Wallack Trainee Award

James FinkJames Fink, 4th year Ph.D. student in the Levine lab, was selected as the recipient of the Milton B. Wallack Trainee Award at the StemConn 2017 meeting. This award honors excellence in research conducted by a graduate student trainee through a merit-based award that recognizes highly innovative and important stem cell and regenerative medicine research. The award is presented in honor of Dr. Milton Wallack, the founder of the CT Stem Cell Coalition, a longtime member of the CT Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee (SCRAC), and an ardent champion for stem cell research in Connecticut. As the awardee, James gave a podium talk describing his research using a human stem cell model of Angelman syndrome.

A Better View of How Tumors Form in the Eye

Mohan LabThe formation of tumors in the eye can cause blindness. But, for some reason our corneas, the transparent layer that forms the front of our eyes, have a natural ability to prevent it.

Researchers in the laboratory of UConn Health associate professor of neuroscience Royce Mohan believe they are closing in on an explanation for that. They detail their findings in what will be the cover article of September’s Journal of Neuroscience Research.

It has to do with a pair of catalytic enzymes called extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in the peripheral nervous system. When the ERK1/2 are over-activated in a specific type of cell known as Schwann cells, the “anti-cancer privilege of the cornea’s supportive tissue can be overcome,” says Mohan, who holds the John A. and Florence Mattern Solomon Endowed Chair in Vision Sciences and Eye Diseases at UConn Health.

Mohan’s research group, led by Paola Bargagna-Mohan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has now established a link between overactive ERK1/2 and corneal fibrosis, the thickening and scarring of connective tissue….(more)

Outstanding Research Award

Alexandra (Ola) Pietraszkiewicz

The Department of Neuroscience is proud to announce the Outstanding Research Award that recognizes a third year medical student for making significant contributions to the field of clinical research and/or laboratory research beyond their Phase 1 year summer experience goes to Alexandra Pietraszkiewicz. She obtained her research training in the Mohan laboratory and helped make pivotal findings on the roles of type III intermediate filament proteins in corneal fibrosis. Alexandra​ is currently completing an additional year of research at the National Eye Institute investigating human transciptome changes and global molecular processes that contribute to retinal diseases. This research experience is sponsored by the Medical Student Research Program at the National Institutes of Health.