Lauren Frazer, Dominique Higgins, Kara Klein, Jose Martinez and Justin Sperlazza will receive support from the UNC School of Medicine Physician Scientists Training Program to cultivate their careers as translational clinical scientists.
As part of the Forward Together Strategic Plan, the UNC School of Medicine Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP) supports a small number of clinicians committed to translating research findings to advance the practice of medicine in addition to providing clinical care and teaching. PSTP is a pipeline to recruit, train, and retain promising individuals and provide them with support and mentorship to cultivate their research programs.
The PSTP supports physician scientists at both the resident or fellowship level and the early stage faculty level.
In this round, two awards were given at the resident / fellowship level to Jose Martinez, MD, PhD, in the Department of Medicine and Justin Sperlazza, MD, PhD from the Department of Pediatrics.
Lauren Frazer, MD, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics, Dominique Higgins, MD, PhD, from the Department of Neurosurgery, and Klara Klein, MD, PhD from the Department of Medicine will each receive support at the early-stage faculty level.
“Our advisory committee made up of physician scientists from clinical departments of the School of Medicine was tasked with another difficult task of evaluating a number of very competitive nominations from clinical departments in the School of Medicine. We hope the success of the trainees continues to encourage our clinical department leadership to recruit and nominate physician scientists and help build the community here at UNC,” says Joseph (Alex) Duncan, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and director of the UNC School of Medicine Physician Scientists Training Program. “We look forward to seeing how the cohorts of trainees in our program progress and advance their translational careers.”
Jose Martinez is a hematologist whose work combines RNA biology and bioinformatics to identify how different roles of spliceosome protein U2AF1 affect acute myelogenous leukemia progression.
Justin Sperlazza is a pediatric oncologist working on the understanding how chromatin directed therapeutics can influence tumor susceptibility to immunotherapy, particularly CAR-T therapy, in Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Frazer is an assistant professor in the pediatric division of neonatal perinatal medicine with a research program focused on understanding the immune signaling pathway dysregulation that leads to necrotizing enterocolitis in infants.
Dominique Higgins is an assistant professor who specializes in neurosurgical oncology. His research interests are centered on understanding the impact of the NFkappaB signaling pathway on chemotherapy and immunotherapy based treatments of malignant brain tumors such as glioblastoma.
Klara Klein is an assistant professor and endocrinologist, as well as a previous recipient of support from the program at the fellowship level. Her project is focused on studying whether GLP1 receptor antagonists, which are have been shown to have a multitude of beneficial effects in the treatment of diabetes, have safety and efficacy in treating Diabetes Mellitus individuals with kidney disease who are on hemodialysis.