Current PRIME Scholars
Elizabeth Pitts (2017-present)Elizabeth completed her B.S. in psychology at Davidson College. She earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Emory University, where her dissertation research was on impaired goal-directed decision making following adolescent cocaine exposure and the potential of neurotrophin-based therapeutics. Additionally, she taught introductory biology and neuroscience and has been involved in K-12 outreach programs to teach students about science and neuroscience.
As a PRIME-IRACDA scholar, she works in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine studying adolescent self-administration and nicotinic receptor modulation of striatal dopamine release."
|Manuel Ramirez (2017-present)
Manuel received his Bachelor of Science in Cellular Molecular Biology from Humboldt State University in 2010. He received his PhD in Cancer Biology from University of California, Irvine in 2017. His interest in biology played a key role in his choice to attend Humboldt State University (HSU). HSU has been recognized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), NSF, Dryfus, Keck and Welch foundations for its excellence in biological sciences education. Seeing that there was still much we do not know about biology instilled in him a desire to work in a research lab. As a stipulation of the HHMI funding, he took part in bi-monthly meetings with fellow minority researchers where they presented and discussed their research.
To continue his development as both an instructor and researcher, Manuel joined the PRIME program at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in October of 2017. Manuel currently works in Dr. Katherine Cook’s and Dr. David Soto-Pantoja’s laboratories. His research focuses on how the unfolded protein response impacts cancer progression and immune response to cancer cells.
|Tristan Lee (2017-present)
Tristan completed his B.S. in Biology and Classical Humanities in 2010 at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. He then began his graduate education in the Neuroscience Training Program at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. There, Tristan researched neural development in the lab of Dr. Mary Halloran. His Ph.D. thesis analyzed the effects of microtubule polarity and microtubule regulators on axon development in sensory neurons. In 2017 Tristan was accepted into Wake Forest School of Medicine as a PRIME IRACDA research scholar.
He is researching in the lab of Dr. Kim Raab-Graham in the Physiology and Pharmacology department. His current research focus is on the effects of the mTOR pathway in addiction. Tristan's teaching interests are in neuroscience, developmental biology, and cell biology. Tristan has taught various biology courses throughout his undergraduate and graduate education and plans to pursue a career in both teaching and research.
Spencer Bell 2017-2019
Spencer Bell completed his B.S. in Neuroscience at Brigham Young University in 2013. He then completed his PhD in Neuroscience in 2017 at the Medical University of South Carolina where his dissertation research involved using functional MRI to study the effects of nicotine withdrawal on brain activity during inhibitory control in cigarette smokers. While a PhD student, Spencer taught biology classes at The Citadel and participated in various science education outreach programs at local elementary and secondary schools in Charleston, SC. Spencer worked as a PRIME scholar from 2017-2019 with Drs Ken Kishida, and Linda Porrino researching brain function in human disease. He currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Dixie State University in St. George, UT.
William T. Booth II 2016-2019
William earned his bachelor’s degree in medical technology and master’s degree in chemistry (with a concentration in biochemistry) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He received his PhD in chemistry, with a concentration in structural biology, from the University of South Carolina. His dissertation was entitled “Structural and Functional Studies of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide and Streptolysin S Biosynthesis Proteins from Streptococcus pyogenes,” and he determined the first structures of two nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide biosynthesis proteins involved in the quinolinate-salvage pathway. His advisor was Dr. Maksymilian Chruszcz. William also worked as a medical technologist and a US Army paratrooper. He believes that the lessons he learned in the clinical lab and as a soldier will serve him as a teacher and mentor by affording him the ability to use real-world experiences to teach the next generation of young scientists.
While a PRIME scholar, he worked under the guidance of Drs. Tom Hollis and Todd Lowther, studying structural biology to determine the structure of proteins involved in the progression Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome and calcium oxalate kidney stone formation. Using these protein structures, he helped drug molecules to fight against these disorders. William’s teaching interests are in biochemistry, protein crystallography and introductory biology and chemistry. Currently he is a Structural Biologist and visiting Assistant Professor at Johnson C Smith University in Charlotte, NC
Jose Franck Diaz Vasquez 2017-2019
Jose completed his BS in Mechanical engineering at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC, Dominican Republic) and went on to complete an engineering specialty (or Diplome d’Ingenieur - BS + MS ) in Biomedical Engineering at Polytech’Marseille in France. After an overwhelmingly positive academic and research experience at Texas A&M University, he decided to pursue a PhD in Health Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Franck has worked on biomechanics research in France and the US, was part of National Center for Cognitive Informatics & Decision Making in Healthcare, researching the improvement of electronic health record systems interfaces, he was a predoctoral innovation fellow for the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas and has been part of WakeHealth’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s informatics team. He joined the PRIME program at Wake Forest University in May of 2017. His thesis research focused on developing a framework to validate repurposed clinical datasets to increase reliability of secondary analysis results and support the building of learning healthcare systems. His current research aims to develop methods and tools to efficiently assess. Currently Franck is Assistant Professor of Health Informatics and Analytics Department of Public Health University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC and continues as an Adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University Health Sciences.
Bita Nickkholgh 2016-2019
Bita is a MD, PhD who worked as an emergency care physician after graduating from SBMU medical school in Tehran, Iran. After couple of years providing direct clinical services, she decided to continue her career in biomedical research. Therefore she joined a PhD program in genetics and stem cell technology in Amsterdam, the Netherlands under mentoring of Prof. Sjoerd Repping, a worldwide pioneer on Y chromosome genome project. The results of five years research during her PhD study, was published in a book entitled “Genetic causes and treatment of spermatogenic failure” (ISBN: 978-1-4951-5840-7). She was a post-doctoral research/teaching scholar in Wake Forest School of Medicine in the field of cancer biology focusing on prostate cancer. Her main interest of research is investigated the role and regulation of protein kinase D1 signaling in advanced prostate cancer. Along with her research, she is passionate about teaching and science public outreach. She has been involved in teaching undergraduate and graduate students throughout her career and now in Wake Forest School of Medicine and Winston-Salem State University. She is part of “The Inspiring Meaningful Programs and Communication Through Science (IMPACTS)” program, a new public science outreach program in North Carolina, with the aim of training scientists in public communication. Currently she is a Process Development Research scientist at Wake Forest Institute or Regenerative Medicine Clinical Center (RMCC), an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy Winston-Salem State University and an Adjuct faculty at University of North Carolina school of the Arts Winston-Salem, NC
Nildris Cruz-Diaz 2014-2017
Nildris completed her BS in biology in 2001 at Universidad Metropolitana in Puerto Rico. In 2002, she started her graduate studies on the Physiology Department at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus, where she completed her MS and PhD. Her research focus was on the development and progression of heart failure (HF) and the role of the angiotensin converting enzyme and the nitric oxide synthase isoforms in an animal model of HF. For the past seven years, she has been involved with the American Physiological Society in their outreach programs educating elementary, middle and high school students about science and the possible careers in the field. In 2014, she was accepted at Wake Forest University-School of Medicine as a PRIME-IRACDA scholar, where she did research in the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center. Her research focused on the role of Angiotensin 1-7 in kidney cells. Nildris is now Core Director and Instructor in the Center for Cardiovascular Research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
A’ja V. Duncan 2014-2017
A’ja received a BS degree in chemistry from North Carolina Central University. She was awarded her MS in chemistry at North Carolina Central University. She was then awarded the United States Department of Agriculture National Needs Fellowship and initiated her doctoral studies. For her doctoral research, A’ja studied the effects of nitrate and fumarate as feed additives on rumen fermentation and enteric methane production in dairy cows while also investigating these dietary effects on the bacteria Methanobrevibacter ruminantium and Methanosphaera stadtmanae. Upon completion of her studies she was awarded her PhD from the Energy and Environmental Systems program at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. In addition to her research work, A’ja taught K-12 science and chemistry as well as being an adjunct lecturer at Shaw University and North Carolina A&T State University to further her teaching skills. As a PRIME-IRACDA scholar at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, she worked with Dr. Debra Diz with a research focus on improving or delaying the progression of age-related cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction. A’ja is working now as a Fate and Transport Scientist in the Environmental Fate Division of the U.S. EPA in Arlington, VA
Victor Taylor III 2014-2017
Victor majored in biology and chemistry at Prairie View A&M University. After college, he earned a PhD in Biomedical Science from University of North Texas Health Science Center. His dissertation research was on gluteus maximus's contribution to greater trochanteric pain syndrome. While he was in the PRIME program, his research project involved determining the effects of meniscal regeneration using Bone Morphogenic Protein-7 (BMP-7), and osteoarthritic effects on the meniscus. In addition, Victor taught students from Winston Salem State University in gross anatomy, physiology and embryology. Currently Victor is an Assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at George Washington University, Washington, DC
Peter Corridon 2016
Peter received a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Tuskegee University in Alabama, and a Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He received his PhD (2013)in Medical Biophysics & Biomolecular Imaging (Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program) from Indiana University School of Medicine Indiana in Indianapolis. Peter joined PRIME in 2016 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) studying In vitro models for kidney regeneration with Dr. James Woo. He currently is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Craniofacial Biology at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO as well as on the Board of Directors for the Aurora Public Schools Foundation
Ekue Adamah- Biassi 2014
Ekue Adamah-Biassi received his PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology (2014) from State University of New York at Buffalo. He joined the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in 2014 as a PRIME scholar and studied catecholamine regulation in alcohol abuse models with Dr. Jeff Weiner and Dr. Evgeny Budygin. Currently Dr. Adamah-Biassi works at Arkema in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania as a Senior Toxicologist who was just promoted to Lead Toxicologist in October 2019.
Doris joined the PRIME program in 2013 and worked with Dr. Dwayne Godwin on Animal models of alcohol withdrawal-induced seizures. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC
While a PRIME scholar, Elsa worked with Dr. Christina Furdui studying Redox-regulation of Akt2 in Aging and Radiation-induce Diabetes Currently she is an Instructor in the Department of Chemistry at Washington State University Tri-Cities Richland, WA
Khalil Eldeeb obtained his MD and Master's degree from AlAzhar University Medical School, Egypt and his PhD from Nottingham University, UK. His PhD thesis focused on the role of endocannabinoid signaling system on microglia function. While he was a PRIME scholar working with Dr. Allyn Howlett in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology his work focused on the role of cannabinoid receptor in neuronal signaling pathways. Khalil is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Campbell University Osteopathic Medical School, Buies Creek, NC. He continues to collaborate with Dr. Howlett as an adjunct faculty at Wake Forest School of Medicine