2020 WFIRM Awards Roundup

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine proudly presents this awards round up for recognitions received in 2020.

Martin Rodriguez, a Molecular Medicine & Translational Science PhD program student at Wake Forest University who works at the Institute had a big year in 2020.

Martin was awarded a prestigious Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

Martin – the first Wake student to receive this fellowship – has been training at WFIRM since 2016 when he was selected to participate as an undergraduate summer research scholar in the annual Summer Scholars Program in Regenerative Medicine. At that time, he was an undergraduate student attending Marquette University. With his interest spurred in advanced education and the field of regenerative medicine, Martin applied and was accepted into the PhD program in Molecular Medicine and Translational Science at the Wake Forest Graduate School. The goal of the Gilliam Fellowships program 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 adviser-student pairs who are selected for their scientific leadership and commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the sciences. Faculty member Graca Almeida-Porada mentors Martin.

Martin also received a prestigious American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award for his abstract titled, “Administration of Cells Engineered to Secrete Fviii-mcoET3 in Prenatal Sheep Recipients Results in Sustained Curative Fviii Plasma Levels for 3 Years after Birth, without Immune or Toxicity-Related Adverse Events (#1408).” The ASH Abstract Achievement Award is a merit-based award for trainees who are the first author and presenter on a high-scoring annual meeting abstract. 

At the Surgical Sciences Residents’ and Fellows’ Research Day, several WFIRM researchers received awards:

  • Tyler Overholt, MD, 2nd Year Resident in Urology and faculty member Steve Walker’s mentee, was selected for the Resident Basic Science Silver award. Tyler’s project, titled Urothelial cell culture methods utilizing a single bladder biopsy to study interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, was selected out of over 50 submissions in total this year. The project was selected based on mastery of the research and the excellence of the project.

  • Aaron Bradshaw was recognized with the Resident Basic Science Gold award for a project titled, Potential Fertility Preservation in 46, XX Male Individual, was selected out of over 50 submissions in total this year. The project was selected based on mastery of the research and the excellence of the project. 

  • Shiny Rajan, PhD, MBA, was awarded the Fellow Clinical Science Silver award out of over 50 submissions in total this year. Her project, Rapidly Prototyped Human Lung-On-A-Chip for Disease and Toxicity Modelling and Countermeasure Development, was selected based on mastery of the research and the excellence of the project. Shiny is mentored by faculty member Sean Murphy.

    Additionally, Shiny was named to the Winston Under 40 list, which recognizes 20 outstanding young professionals for Leadership Awards.

  • Adam Jorgensen has received the Medical School Residents Day Reidencys Excellence Award for “A Randomized and Controlled Pre-clinical Assessment of Autologous and Allogeneic Bioprinted Skin in Full-thickness Porcine Wounds.”

  • Lauren West-Livingston has been awarded a Herbert W Nickens Medical Student Scholarship award. These awards are given to outstanding students entering their third year of med school who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care.

In WFIRM lab news, congratulations were in order for lab technician Kristina Stumpf. For the third year in a row she has had a cell image selected in Vector Labs annual photo contest. Kristina works in Frank Marini’s lab. This year she received an Honorable mention for an image – “Mouse bladder showing mesenchyme markers in remodeling.” Images are selected based on artistic presentation, but also by the scientific merit and diversity of study they represent. 

In faculty news, Hooman Sadri, MD, PhD, has been named the Director-Elect of the MD Council for the American Society for Andrology. He will serve a three-year term beginning April 2021. Sadri, an assistant professor of urology with a cross appointment to the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is a clinically trained andrologist and reproductive biologist with expertise in male infertility.

Young Min Ju, PhD, and Ji Hyun Kim, PhD, were among 12 researchers from across the nation who received extramural research grants from MTF Biologics, a global nonprofit organization that saves and heals lives by advancing tissue and organ donation, transplantation, and research. MTF awarded more than $1.8 million in funding through its grants program.
Young Min’s project is: “Development Decellularized ECM-based 3D Bioprinted Muscle Constructs with Dual Growth Factors Delivery for Repairing Volumetric Muscle Loss injury”; Ji Hyun’s project is:  “Bioengineered Skeletal Muscle Construct Using an Allogeneic Scaffolding System for Pelvic Muscle Reconstruction.”

The Old Hickory Council of the Boy Scouts presented its annual Distinguished Citizen of the Year award to WFIRM director Anthony Atala, MD, who also serves as chair of Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Dr. Atala has had a significant influence through a lifetime of service and leadership to his community. His passion and leadership are best described by the Boy Scout slogan, "Do A Good Turn Daily." He has been actively involved with local Scouting with his two sons who are both Eagle Scouts.