Ernest E. Just Biomedical Society

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Dr. Kellie Ann Jurado is a Presidential Assistant Professor in the Microbiology Department at University of Pennsylvania. Her research team uses emerging viral pathogens to describe early life immunity. She completed her postdoctoral training in Immunobiology with Akiko Iwasaki at Yale and earned her PhD in Virology from Harvard University with Alan Engelman. She is the recipient of multiple prestigious grants and fellowships, including the L’Oreal for Women in Science Award and is a Pew Biomedical Research Scholar and David and Lucille Packard Fellow. Dr. Jurado avidly invests in inclusive efforts with intention and heart.

The over-arching goal of the Herbert research program is to use parasitic organisms as a guide to investigate basic mechanisms of host immunity, inflammation and wound healing. Dr. Herbert has been continuously NIH-R01 funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2007 and have authored 61 manuscripts published in journals that include: Science, Science Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Communications, Immunity, JEM, PNAS, PLoS Pathogens, and the Journal of Immunology. Most of this work has focused on the immune response to parasitic helminths, organisms that are the likely evolutionary driving force for Type 2 immunity. Helminths are a major cause of disease in impoverished populations (~2-3 billion people) and biomedical research focused on parasitic helminths has been a fertile ground for scientific discovery.

Helminths such as hookworms pose a formidable challenge to the host immune system regarding their large size, morphological complexity and the host tissue niches they occupy. While infectious larval stages can cause tremendous damage to host tissues as they invade and migrate, the hematophagous nature of adult stages can cause persistent injury during feeding. Surprisingly, most helminth species can survive for years, even decades in their hosts due to a variety of mechanisms including those that suppress and evade host immunity. Given this complex biology, research projects based in my lab (and most collaborative work) focus on the mechanisms that initiate Type 2 responses, those that drive tissue repair, and requirements for host protective immunity at the sites where worms invade and reside (e.g., skin, respiratory tract, and intestine). Given the widely held notion that allergic inflammation is due to maladaptive Type 2 responses that initially evolved to deal with helminths, our work has broad relevance to both infectious and non-infectious disease.

Avery D. Posey, Jr., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, a member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and a Research Health Scientist at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center. Dr. Posey holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Chicago, a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and a second B.S. in Bioinformatics from UMBC. Dr. Posey completed postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Carl June, where he generated glycosylation-specific chimeric antigen receptors to precisely target tumor-glycoforms of MUC1. His laboratory focuses on the generation of novel CAR T cell therapies and understanding the contribution of tumor-associated glycosylation on the composition of the tumor microenvironment and response to immunotherapy. Dr. Posey is also the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies (CCI) within the Perelman School of Medicine and directs the SUIP-CCI and PICI RISE undergraduate research training programs.

Dr. Taabazuing is currently a Presidential Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UPenn. The focus of his lab is to understand molecular mechanisms of cell death. Prior to joining the faculty at UPenn, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Biology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where his research was focused on understanding the molecular regulation of inflammatory cell death. He earned his bachelor’s and his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Taabazuing has won numerous awards, including the Tri-Institutional Breakout Prize for Young Investigators, the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, and the Vanderbilt University Juneteenth New Investigator Award for 2022. He is currently an Ernest E. Just Early Career investigator. Dr. Taabazuing is passionate about increasing diversity in the life sciences and has been a champion for institutional policy changes that improve DEI in STEM.

Donita C. Brady came to Penn in 2015 to begin her independent research career as the Presidential Termed Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, appointed by President Amy Gutmann. Dr. Brady is now the Harrison McCrea Dickson, MD and Clifford C. Baker, MD Presidential Associate Professor. She received her BS in Chemistry from Radford University and her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her postdoctoral work with Dr. Christopher Counter at Duke University focusing on pharmacologically accessible signaling pathways downstream of oncogenes, like RAS. Her independent laboratory at Penn is founded in a new paradigm in nutrient sensing and protein regulation, termed metalloallostery, where redox-active metals control kinase activity, and is advancing our knowledge in basic science and disease-focused areas. Their focus lies at the intersection of kinase signaling and copper (Cu) homeostasis with the goal of defining the mechanistic features of Cu-dependent kinases to target them in cancer via drug repurposing or development. Beyond articulating and providing support for this novel hypothesis, Dr. Brady’s mechanistic studies have substantively contributed to our understanding of the unexpected roles of metals in nutrient signaling, cellular energy homeostasis, and metabolic vulnerabilities in cancer. Her findings have important implications not only for cancer biology and therapy, but also for numerous aspects of cell biology in which metals contribute. Her laboratory has been responsible for major conceptual advances in an entirely new field of oncogenic signaling that she helped to found. Dr. Brady has received many honors, including being named a Pew Charitable Trust Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a William Guy Forbeck Research Foundation Scholar, and a Minority Faculty Scholar of Penn’s Center of Excellence in Health and Education. In recognition of her scientific accomplishments in 2020, Dr. Brady was the recipient of the prestigious Michael S. Brown New Investigator Research Award. Since arriving at Penn, Dr. Brady has served as an active member of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Cell & Molecular Biology (CAMB), and Pharmacology Graduate Groups. As an advocate for underrepresented trainees, she co-directed the Penn Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) for two years, has mentored several PREP and Summer Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP) scholars, and co-chaired the Combatting Racial Inequities Committee for our graduate student and postdoctoral programs. With departmental and Abramson Cancer Center support, Dr. Brady also partners with eCLOSE Institute to develop cancer research summer camps for School District of Philadelphia’s high school students. In 2021, Dr. Brady was appointed as the inaugural Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE) in Research Training at the Perelman School of Medicine and serves as the faculty lead of the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Learner) Research office.

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