Gohkale awarded Helen Hay Whitney Award. Congratulations to Nandan Gohkale, former student in Stacy Horner’s lab, now postdoctoral  Fellow in Ram Savan’s lab at the University of Washington, on being awarded the Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship Award. The Helen Hay Whitney Foundation was established and endowed by Mrs. Charles S. Payson, the former Joan Whitney, in 1947, and named in honor of her mother, Helen Hay Whitney. Originally established to stimulate and support research in the area of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, the Foundation later expanded its interests to include diseases of connective tissue and, ultimately, all basic biomedical sciences. The Helen Hay Whitney Foundation supports early postdoctoral research training in all basic biomedical sciences. The most critical and long-lasting investment in the research enterprise is the development of career scientists who contribute through both their own research and, eventually, their training of future generations of scientists. Whitney Fellows have gone on to become some of the most highly regarded medical and scientific professionals in their respective fields, and have served as mentors to succeeding generations of scientists.

Gibbs recipient of the 2020 Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence. Kyle Gibbs, Denis Ko Lab, has been selected as a recipient of the 2020 Chancellor’s Award, for Research Excellence(CARE). This award acknowledges dedication and exceptional contributions as a graduate student, including scientific discoveries and publications, as well as the positive impact you have had on lab, departmental, and institutional culture.

In the Ko Lab, Kyle studies how multiple host and pathogen factors regulate Salmonella replication inside human cells. To date, his main discovery is that a Salmonella protein, SarA, is translocated into host cells where it mimicks the cytokine co-receptor gp130 to activate STAT3 signaling. This effector-induced reprogramming of host transcription promotes Salmonella replication in cells, as well as virulence in mice. Concurrently, he has discovered intracellular replication of Salmonella is also regulated by human genetic variation affecting expression levels of a divalent cation channel. Thus, his work demonstrates novel mechanisms by which pathogen and host diversity generate divergent outcomes during Salmonella infection.


Transcription factors may inadvertently lock in DNA mistakes. Raluca Gordan, MGM Secondary Faculty Member, led a team of Duke Researchers to find that transcription factors have a tendency to bind strongly to “mismatched” sections of DNA, sections of the code that were not copied correctly. The strong binding of transcription factors to mismatched sections of regulatory DNA might be a way in which random mutations become a problem that leads to disease, including cancer. To read more, click here.

DCI Virologist Pursues EBV Pathways To Cancer. Micah Luftig was elected for his work on the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and the temporal regulation of gene expression in viral-induced cancers.  Luftig is interested in viral pathogenesis and immune response and how that differs between patients that do and do not go on to develop cancer. To read more, click here.


Heaton, Scent-Sensing Cells Have a Better Way to Fight Flu. A collaboration between Heaton’s team and the laboratory of Ashley Moseman in Duke immunology reports on the remarkably robust immune response of olfactory sensory neurons, the smell receptors that line the nose, where a virus might first be encountered. Their finding reveals not only a successful strategy against infection, it points out the diversity of immune responses from one kind of cell to another, Heaton said. To read more, click here.

Fowler to give lecture on IDWeek. Vance Fowler MGM Secondary Faculty Member will be featured on IDWeek October 23, 2020. IDWeek will feature Vance G. Fowler, Jr., MD, MHS in the Maxwell Finland Lecture on Friday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m. ET. “Staphylococcus aureus: Lessons Learned from 20 Years with the Persistent Pathogen.” Listen to an expert on Staphylococcus aureus describe the impact that a project can have on improved patient outcomes as well as summarize the importance of clinical, bacterial, and host genetic factors in influencing the initiation and severity of infections caused by S. aureus.

Matt Scaglione headshotCongratulations to Matt Scaglione on being awarded the 2020 Dictyostelium Junior Faculty Award. Research in the Scaglione laboratory focuses on understanding how these pathways play a protective role in neurodegenerative diseases.  Our lab is particularly interested in how protein homeostasis (proteostasis) is maintained in the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum.  Our interest in Dictyostelium discoideum comes from its peculiar genome that encodes for nearly 10,000 proteins that contain homopolymeric amino acid tracts.  Among the most common repeats are polyglutamine tracts.  This is particularly surprising because expanded polyglutamine repeats cause a class of nine neurodegenerative diseases in humans.  We and others have found that unlike other organisms Dictyostelium discoideum is naturally resistant to polyglutamine aggregation.  Further work from our group has identified a novel type of molecular chaperone that suppresses polyglutamine aggregation in Dictyostelium discoideum and in human cells. Future work in the Scaglione lab is to both identify other novel factors that prevent protein aggregation in Dictyostelium discoideum and to determine if these factors can be utilized to treat neurodegenerative diseases in humans.

Briana DavisJohn RawlsTwo pairs of Duke SOM PhD trainees and their PIs which includes from MGM, Briana Davis and John Rawls, have been awarded the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced study this year. The official new release came out a few hours ago from HHMI. This is a very prestigious award as there is an internal competitive process to be nominated and only 45 fellowships were awarded across the country.

Brief description of award:
The goal of the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study is to increase the diversity among scientists who are prepared to assume leadership roles in science, particularly as college and university faculty. The program provides awards to pairs of students and their dissertation advisers who are selected for their scientific leadership and commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the sciences.

The link to the official announcement can be found here:

The full list of awardees can be found here-

From Duke (name, department/program, PI):
– Briana Davis, MGM, John Rawls lab
– Nina Marie Garcia, Pharmacology, James Alvarez

Permar awarded Gale and Ira Drukier prize in Children’s Health Research. Congratulations Sallie Permar, Professor of Pediatrics, on being awarded the fifth annual Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children’s Health Research. The Drukier Prize honors early-career pediatricians whose research has made important contributions toward improving the health of children and adolescents. Dr. Permar, associate dean of physician scientist development, professor of pediatrics, immunology, molecular genetics and microbiology, and founding director of the Children’s Health and Discovery Institute at Duke University School of Medicine, is being honored for her research into the development of vaccines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of neonatal viral pathogens.

To read more click here.

For past news articles please click here.