Catching up with Deborah Springer. Deb Springer, former fellow in the Heitman Lab, has been spending her lab time on the fight against COVID19. Now with a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, immunology, and infectious diseases from the University at Albany, she works as a lead science in assay development, translational genomics, for Q2 Solutions in North Carolina. Her hours in the lab these days ultimately help advance COVID-19 research. To read more on Springer’s journey please click here.

Kristin Thole earns certification from the national board for health and wellness coaching (NBHWC). OBGE congratulates Kristin Thole, OBGE Health & Wellness Coach, on earning national certification from the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). Kristin, who provides Health & Wellness Coaching to PhD students in the School of Medicine, received her training with the Duke Integrative Health Coach Professional Training Program.

Health & Wellness Coaching is not just about one’s physical well-being, it is about the whole person: their values, goals, work, balance, fulfillment, and life purpose. Any concern that gets in the way of achieving optimal health and well-being is the perfect subject for beginning coaching (for example: stress, exercise, rest, communication, relationships, physical space, professional development). Health and wellness coaching effectively motivates and supports behavior change through a structured partnership between the client and coach. The coach helps the individual develop and realize their optimal health vision through inquiry, personal discovery, and accountability. Health & Wellness Coaching is not professional counseling or psychotherapy.

Expected outcomes of a coaching session include:

  • Clear understanding of your goals and values
  • Motivation to support behavior change
  • Strategies for moving toward your goals

Heaton and Matsunami among a team of researchers studying the mysterious symptom of abrupt loss of smell and taste associated with COVID-19. The researchers are located in the Departments of Neurobiology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Immunology, and Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences. I’ve also attached the original image and an image that can be used with social media. Thanks in advance for sharing this story on your blogs, websites, and social media.

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.


For past news articles please click here.