Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate Students Receive 2022–2023 Fellowships

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The Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences again this year awarded fellowships to students who showed exceptional promise in their scientific endeavors.

Every year, the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK) awards fellowships to students who show promise in their scientific endeavors at GSK. These fellowships, which are based on academic excellence, are made possible by generous philanthropic gifts and institutional funding earmarked to support exceptional PhD candidates.

A number of students also compete for and receive independent funding from prestigious external agencies, such as the National Cancer Institute.

“Together, these awards speak to the high caliber of our program, which is designed to train the next generation of scientists, many of whom go on to make important contributions to discoveries in cancer and the biomedical sciences,” GSK Dean Michael Overholtzer says. “We could not be more proud of this group of outstanding students who have been recognized with fellowship support this academic year.”

  • Klavdija Bastl a second-year student in the laboratory of Tuomas Tammela, and Melissa Yao, a second-year student in the laboratory of Andrea Ventura, have been selected as this year’s Harold Varmus Scholars in Cancer Biology. The fellowship is awarded annually to two rising GSK students in their second year, based on their outstanding performance in the Core Course of the curriculum. Harold Varmus Scholars receive stipends from the fund for two years. They also enjoy opportunities to discuss their research and academic and personal goals with Dr. Varmus, who is a Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology and former Director of the National Institutes of Health. He was also instrumental in the creation of GSK during his tenure as President of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) from 2000 to 2010.
  • Isabella Del Priore, a second-year student in the laboratory of cancer biologist Scott Lowe, Chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program and the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at MSK; Jesus Romero Pichardo, a second-year student in the laboratory of immunologist Justin Perry; and Manisha Srinivas Raghavan, a second-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Karuna Ganesh, were each awarded a Geoffrey Beene Graduate Fellowship, which will support their student stipend for one year. Awarded based on academic excellence, the fellowships were established as part of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at MSK with a generous gift from the Estate of Geoffrey Beene. By providing support for outstanding GSK students, the Beene Fellowships are designed to expand the pool of investigators trained to pursue research in the highly complex and multidisciplinary field of cancer biology.
  • Juliana Delgado, a third-year student pursuing her dissertation research in the laboratory of molecular biologist Andrew Koff, and Jenna Snyder, a third-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Adrienne Boire, were each awarded a Grayer Fellowship. The award, which supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year, is given annually to recognize achieved excellence as demonstrated on a student’s thesis proposal examination. The fellowship was established by Jonathan Grayer, former member of MSK’s Boards of Overseers and Managers, and Chairman and CEO of Weld North, an investment company.
  • Peter Chhoy, a second-year student in the laboratory of molecular biologist Xuejun Jiang, was selected to receive the Robert B. Catell Fellowship, which supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year. Established by former Chairman and CEO of KeySpan Robert B. Catell, the fellowship grew out of his commitment to advancing cancer research. Mr. Catell currently chairs the Advisory Boards for the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University and the New York State Smart Grid Consortium.
  • Ashley Nichols, a second-year student in the laboratory of molecular biologist John Maciejowski, was awarded the GSK Palestin Fellowship. This fellowship was established by the family of Beatrice Palestin to support the stipend of a GSK student for one year. Mrs. Palestin was a New York philanthropist with a longtime interest in cancer research.
  • Yung Yu Wong, a second-year student in the laboratory of immunologist Morgan Huse, was awarded the GSK Olayan Fellowship. The fellowship, which supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year, was established by The Olayan Group, a multinational corporation of more than 50 companies and affiliated businesses. The company’s Vice Chair, Hutham Olayan, serves on MSK’s Boards of Overseers and Managers.

Meanwhile, the MSK Center for Experimental Immuno-Oncology (EIO) has selected two GSK students as the EIO Scholars: Minh Nguyen, a fourth-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Charles Rudin, and Yanyang Chen, a fifth-year student in the laboratory of molecular biologist John Maciejowski. MSK’s EIO Scholars program is a comprehensive career development program to support trainees engaged in laboratory training in the areas of immuno-oncology, tumor microenvironment, microbe-cancer interactions, and other areas related to the EIO Center.

Additionally, two GSK students received competitive awards from the National Institutes of Health:

  • Margaret Kennedy, a fourth-year student in the laboratory of cancer biologist Scott Lowe, Chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program and the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at MSK, received a fellowship from the National Cancer Institute: the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This competitive research training fellowship supports promising doctoral candidates who perform dissertation research and training in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers during the tenure of the award. The purpose of the Kirschstein-NRSA program is to enable promising predoctoral students to develop into productive, independent research scientists and to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.
  • Michael Waarts, a fifth-year student in the lab of physician-scientist Ross Levine, was awarded the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award from the National Cancer Institute. This grant celebrates outstanding graduate students who have shown exceptional potential and interest in pursuing careers as independent cancer researchers. Waarts joins the roster of GSK students who have received this nationally competitive award every year since 2016.

Two fourth-year GSK students conducting their thesis research in the laboratory of physician-scientist Ross Levine received competitive fellowships from these external sources:

  • Troy Robinson was awarded the 2022 American Society of Hematology Graduate Award to support his hematology-focused research.
  • Inés Fernández Maestre received the Momentum Fellowship from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research for 2022–2023. Fellows are nominated by members of The Mark Foundation’s Scientific Advisory committee. They become part of The Mark Foundation’s network of funded scientists and are included in relevant foundation events.