Highlights from the 2018 Faculty Retreat

| Written by Susan Gammon
Faculty Retreat

SBP’s annual Faculty Retreat was held May 30–31 in beautiful Carlsbad, California.

This year’s theme was “Fundamental Cellular Processes in Health and Disease,” and featured 20 speakers from SBP areas of expertise:

·         Development and Aging — Malene Hansen, Ph.D., Lorenzo Puri, M.D., Ph.D., Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D., and Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D.

·         Immunity and Inflammation Rob Weschler-Reya, Ph.D., Linda Bradley, Ph.D., Scott Peterson, Ph.D., and Jeff Smith, Ph.D.

·         Technology Platforms — Dorit Hanein, Ph.D., Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., and Niels Volkmann, Ph.D.

·         Drug and Disease Targets — Michael Jackson, Ph.D., Garth Powis, Ph.D., Wanda Reynolds, Ph.D., Elena Pasquale, Ph.D., and Matt Peroski, Ph.D.

·         Share Resources Update — Craig Hauser, Ph.D.

Special congratulations to Duc Dong, Ph.D., and Crystal Zhao, Ph.D., both of whom were officially promoted to associate professors.

Faculty promotion
Pictured (left to right): Duc Dong, Ph.D., Elena Pasquale, Ph.D. and Crystal Zhao Ph.D.

Dong, in the Human Genetics Program, is advancing research in cell/organ replacement therapy that may ultimately benefit patients with diabetes and Alagille syndrome—a genetic disorder that can affect the liver, heart and other parts of the body.

Zhao, in the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program, is studying the regulation of neural stem cells—research that may lead to therapies for neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and mental health disorders that affect cognitive abilities.

A highlight of the annual retreat is the presentation of the “WOW” award, which stands for Wonderful Original Work. This year, the WOW was given to Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., who won for his presentation titled “Overcoming Immune Evasion in Pediatric Brain Tumors.”

Wechsler-Reya’s research goal is to advance immunotherapy for medulloblastoma tumors—the most common malignant brain tumor in children. By increasing certain cell surface molecules called MHC on these cancer cells, he believes he can improve the ability of T cells to recognize the tumors and kill them.

Wechsler-Reya is a professor in the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program at SBP and is also the program director for the Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine.

Cosimo Commisso, Ph.D., and Crystal Zhao, Ph.D., served as faculty organizers.

And many thanks to Wendy Lyon and Nelson, the research administrative specialists who organized the event.

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