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Meet the 2014 ASPET Washington Fellows!

Alex J. Brewer, III
Baylor College of Medicine
 

Alex BrewerAlex was born in Arkansas, but raised in Houston, TX. He earned a B.S. in chemical and bio-molecular engineering from Rice University and is currently a graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine. His laboratory seeks to identify new medications for the treatment of substance use disorders by investigating medications already approved by the FDA for other indications in studies similar to phase 1 clinical trials. His particular dissertation project focuses on studying a potential drug combination and its effects on the subjective and reinforcing effects produced by cocaine use in cocaine dependent individuals. Alex’s research interests lie within science and technology policy, pharmaceutical development, and clinical trials. Alex has observed firsthand the types of scientific breakthroughs and their subsequent benefits to public health that can be achieved with cooperation between policymakers, the public, and the scientific community, and he wants to help ensure that scientific progress will continue to be made for the benefit of society.

 

Debra Cooper, Ph.D.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
 

Debra CooperDebra was born and raised in Houston, TX. She went to Duke University in North Carolina to pursue her B.S. in psychology. Following that, she went on to graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where she studied the effects of the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase on cocaine mediated behaviors and neurochemistry. While pursuing her doctorate, she also obtained an HHMI funded Certificate in Translational Research. In the spring of 2013, she defended her thesis and received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Emory University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. Her research focuses on how the serotonin system shapes behavioral responses to reinforcers. Debra believes that effective advocacy backed by sound scientific research is necessary for maintaining a strong federal research program.

 

Melissa Geyer
University of Illinois College of Medicine
 

Melissa GeyerMelissa was born and raised in Woodbridge, VA, a suburb of Washington D.C. She is a graduate student in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dissertation research focuses on the role end-binding protein play in regulation of endothelial barrier function in lung. Between earning her B.S. in genetic engineering from Cedar Crest College and graduate work at UIC, she worked extensively with preclinical research projects as a Project Manager in San Diego, CA. She also worked as a Technician at the University of Michigan investigating the role of tissue plasminogen activator in acute ischemic stroke using mouse models. Through the ASPET Washington Fellows program, she hopes to gain greater exposure to the scientific community to facilitate networking. She also hopes the program provides her with opportunity to develop her interest in science policy and to learn more about governmental public policy.

 

Colin Higgins
University of Iowa
 

Colin HigginsColin was born in Omaha, NE, and raised across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, IA. He discovered molecular pharmacology while an undergraduate, studying allosteric modulators of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors at Grinnell College, where he earned a B.A. in biological chemistry with a concentration in neuroscience. He is currently a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in medicinal chemistry at the University of Iowa. Colin's dissertation project focuses on structural models of allosteric inhibition of regulators of G protein signaling with an eye toward generating novel therapeutic agents for neurological disorders. His research interests include neuropharmacologic enhancement and the structural underpinnings of allostery. Colin is concerned with the public's perception of the value of scientific inquiry and how scientists can improve awareness for the importance and impact of their work.

 

Prasad Krishnan, Ph.D.
Penn State University
 

Prasad KrishnanPrasad is a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State University at University Park. His research is focused on the role of Ppar beta/delta in prevention of cancers like skin and prostate. His work also involves understanding the mechanism of liver toxicity of environmental toxicant like PFOS. Prasad was born and raised in India where he received his B.S. in pharmacy and M.B.A. in marketing. He later moved on to the LSU Health Sciences Center, in Shreveport, LA, for a Ph.D. program in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience. His Ph.D. thesis was on breast cancer prevention with a natural product, citrus auraptene. As a graduate student, he served as the department student representative of the South Central Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, and was part of SOT's Career Resources and Development committee and Mentoring Subcommittee. Prasad currently serves as the Chair of Penn State Postdoctoral Society. He believes ASPET's Washington Fellows Program is the need of the time to effectively advocate for increasing funding for advancing biomedical research.

 

Stephanie A.  Mathews, Ph.D.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH)
 

Stephanie MathewsStephanie was born in Wisconsin and raised in Louisville, KY. She received her B.S. in agricultural biotechnology from the University of Kentucky and her M.S. and Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Louisville. Her dissertation research was aimed at studying the impact of impaired S-adenosylmethionine metabolism and its effects on interferon-alpha antiviral signaling, with relevance to the hepatitis C virus. Stephanie was actively involved in promoting science education and recruiting underrepresented minorities to STEM fields throughout her college career. In 2011, she became a Federal Government Non-FTE Fellow at NIH, and her current research is aimed at investigating the immune mechanisms contributing to alcohol-induced liver injury. Stephanie plans to use her diverse scientific background to advocate for biomedical research funding and communicate with policymakers about the need for improving science education for K-12 schoolchildren and implementing programs aimed at encouraging and supporting underrepresented minorities pursuing higher education in STEM fields. She believes the ASPET Washington Fellows Program will provide her with a unique and valuable opportunity to learn more about policymaking and put into practice her passion for advocating for increased science funding and promoting the necessity of biomedical research.

 

Christopher L. Moore
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
 

Christopher MooreBorn in Virginia and raised in Nebraska and Iowa, Christopher received a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona and an M.S. in pharmaceutical QA/RA from the Temple University School of Pharmacy. Christopher is a Ph.D. candidate in pharmacology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR. His research focus is scaffolding protein mediated control of blood pressure in cerebral arteries and its relation to hypertension and stroke. Prior to starting doctoral studies, he worked in drug discovery at Parke-Davis and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, where his work focused on pre-clinical behavioral pharmacology of psychotherapeutics. Christopher believes participation in the ASPET Washington Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity to learn science advocacy and public policy skills necessary to ensure public support and funding for research.

 

Andrew R. Stothert
University of South Florida
 

Andrew StothertAndrew, a native of Galveston, TX, grew up in Omaha, NE. He graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Next, he received a Master of Science degree in medical science from the University of South Florida. Currently, he is working towards his Ph.D. in molecular medicine and neuroscience from the University of South Florida. Andrew works in the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, studying neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. His current projects focus mainly on the role of molecular chaperones and how they interact with proteins leading to pathological conditions associated with disease. His chaperones of interest are Grp94, an ER chaperone responsible for the sequestration of mutant forms of myocilin during glaucoma, and Hsc70, a co-chaperone playing a significant role in Tau regulation during Alzheimer’s disease. Andrew believes that the ASPET Washington Fellows Program will provide an invaluable opportunity to gain the skills necessary to advocate for increased funding for scientific research.

 

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