May 16, 2017

Weill Cornell Medicine doctoral students present their work

Joanna Luo/Provided
Jonathan Khan, center, presents his poster April 18 at the 37th Annual Vincent du Vigneaud Memorial Symposium.

Wan-Ying Hsieh’s research on glioblastoma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat type of brain tumor, has yielded compelling results. A fifth-year student in the Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences in the lab of Dr. Ingo Mellinghoff at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hsieh has added another piece to the puzzle of how the oncogenic epidermal growth factor receptor is regulated in normal and cancerous cells, expanding the emerging picture of its activity and identifying a potential new candidate for drug discovery.

It’s an accomplishment that has garnered numerous awards, most recently a 2017 American Association for Cancer Research Scholar-in-Training Award and an oral presentation at the association’s annual meeting.

At the 37th Annual Vincent du Vigneaud Memorial Symposium April 18, Hsieh’s poster was on display along with those of students at every stage along the path to a doctorate, including first-year students displaying the results of their rotation projects. “Graduate school is a lot less structured than medical school, so this annual event provides an important opportunity for all the graduate students to interact in an academic way,” said Randi Silver, senior faculty adviser to the symposium and associate dean of the graduate school.

It is also student-run, giving about 30 students across six committees a chance to work together to plan and execute every detail of the event. With more than 100 students presenting posters and talks and more than 60 postdoctoral fellows and faculty serving as evaluators, there’s a lot to be done.

John Blenis, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Professor in Cancer Research and professor of pharmacology, marveled at the fruits of their labor during the packed poster session in Griffis Faculty Club: “The student participation is really impressive, and it’s great to see the whole community, including faculty, engaged in the symposium.”

“The symposium provides an exciting opportunity to get feedback on your work from faculty and postdocs,” said Shira Yomtoubian, a third-year student who was a lead organizer of the event along with classmate Lauren Tate Forbes. “It’s also great way to form new collaborations with other labs,” said Tate Forbes.

This year’s symposium was kicked off with a keynote address from Feng Zhang, the James and Patricia Poitras Associate Professor in Neuroscience at the Broad Institute and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and closed with an alumni/student mixer that offered students an opportunity to network with Weill Cornell Medicine graduates who have gone on to work in various industries, such as biopharma and science publishing.

The annual daylong symposium is named for Vincent du Vigneaud, a Nobel laureate and former chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medicine who was passionate about teaching and training the next generation of scientists.

The following awards were presented to doctoral students who participated:

Oral Presentation

  • ·First Place: Joana Nunes (Blenis lab)
  • ·Second Place: Yan Zhang (White lab), Yun-Han Huang (Massague lab), Mridula Balakrishnan (Baylies lab)

First-Year Poster Award

  • ·First Place: Priya Bhardwaj (Maxfield lab)
  • ·Second Place: Heather Jones (Scheinberg lab)

Second-Year and Above Poster Award

  • ·First place: Pradeep Ramalingam, M.D. (Butler lab)
  • ·Second place: Corrin Pimentel (Rudin lab)