2020 EMGS Young Scientist Award

2020 EMGS Young Scientist Award- Congratulations to Dr. Laurie Sanders.

Congratulations to Dr. Laurie Sanders on becoming the 2020 EMGS Young Scientist Award Winner! 

Dr. Laurie Sanders is an assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in the department of Neurology. Her current research pursues the novel hypothesis that defective maintenance of genome integrity is an upstream mechanism contributing to the progressive neurodegeneration that occurs in PD.

Dr. Sanders will be giving a plenary lecture presentation at the EMGS Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 4:00 - 5:00 PM CDT. Don't miss it!

We want to thank Drs. Jackie Goodrich, Jennifer Kay and Jennifer Mason for participating in the contest, we had four outstanding candidates this year. You can view each of their videos below by clicking on their names.

  • Jaclyn Goodrich: is a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in the department of Environmental Health Sciences. The overarching goal of Dr. Goodrich’s research is to identify environmental factors that modify the epigenome and increase risk for disease throughout the lifecourse. Her research addresses prominent public health issues by investigating associations between pervasive toxicants and risk for chronic diseases via epigenetic mechanisms. A substantial focus of her research program is on children’s health and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD). She is especially interested in prenatal and early childhood exposures that modify epigenetic programming and their subsequent impacts on fetal and child growth, risk for obesity, and metabolic complications later in life. The other major arm of her research program focuses on the health effects of occupational exposures with epigenetic perturbation as a biomarker of or mechanism underlying these effects. Her ongoing and future research is aimed at evaluating the effects of emerging environmental exposures (e.g., PFAS) on the most vulnerable populations – children, pregnant women, and workers. 
  • Jennifer Kay: is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Bevin Engelward’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biological Engineering.  Her current research is in evaluating how genetic factors impact susceptibility to mutations and cancer following exposure to N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a chemical that contaminates the groundwater of Wilmington, MA due to irresponsible waste disposal at the Olin Chemical Superfund site. While work has been done to remediate the site and to replace contaminated well water with municipal water, NDMA contamination persists, and residents living near the Olin Chemical Superfund Site remain highly concerned. Following completion of her postdoctoral training, she will be transitioning to an independent investigator role with the non-profit Silent Spring Institute in Newton, MA. She hopes to contribute to community-based participatory environmental health research, development of Adverse Outcome Pathways, and engagement with government scientists and regulators responsible for environmental and public health policies. 
  • Laurie Sanders: is an assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in the department of Neurology. Her current research pursues  the  novel  hypothesis  that defective  maintenance  of  genome  integrity  is  an  upstream  mechanism contributing to the progressive neurodegeneration that occurs in PD. To summarize her lab’s recent findings, they observed that in addition to mtDNA damage,mutant LRRK2 induces nuclear DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and the ATM-mediated DNA damage response. PD-linked LRRK2mutations confer a vulnerability in response to DSB damaging agents by further exacerbating genome  instability,  resulting in cell  death.  They  found  mutant  LRRK2 kinase  activity  modulates  ATM  substrates, suggesting  that  mutant  LRRK2  is upstream  of  ATM signaling. Their results  support  the  notion  of  an unanticipated  role  for LRRK2 in genome maintenance and the DNA damage response. She is also interested in novel clinical trial design and how best to integrate biomarkers into PD clinical trials and provides thought leadership relevant to PD and age-related neurodegenerative diseases clinical trials. She serves as a key opinion leader in the PD space for protocol and clinical trial design and hopes to have a broader impact on PD research and therapeutics through this capacity.

  • Jennifer Mason: is an assistant professor at Clemson University, Department of Genetics and Biochemistry. Her research efforts focus on (1) understanding the non-enzymatic roles of the central HR recombinase, RAD51 at stalled replication forks and (2)understanding how proteins that regulate RAD51 activity function at replication forks. One current project focuses on the RAD54 translocases, RAD54L and RAD54B. Her lab studies the molecular mechanisms that maintain replication fork integrity during times of stress. They use human cancer cell models to study the biological consequences of targeted mutations in DNA repair genes on the replication stress response and to better understand the function of DNA repair proteins at stalled replication forks. Currently, they use a combination of biochemical, cell, and molecular biology approaches to study the role of proteins that function within the homologous recombination pathway (HR). Her work will lead to a better understanding of the replication stress response in human cells and determine how loss of this pathway results in genome instability and cancer predisposition.

The 51st Virtual Annual Meeting of the EMGS

The 51st Virtual Annual Meeting, “Environmental Genomics: Mechanisms & Approaches for Genomic Integrity,” will provide a virtual venue for stimulating cross-disciplinary research and discovery. We will learn how environmental toxins and toxicants impact human physiology and biochemistry by altering or modifying DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites. Across the spectrum of scientific inquiry, we are challenged with understanding the mechanisms which respond to or modulate these genotoxic effects. Furthermore, the development of tools for analysis, as well as, for evaluation of these biological endpoints, are critical for the promotion and protection of human health.

EMGS is committed to helping young scientists - our future - make critical career transitions. At our Annual Meeting, we feature the EMGS Young Scientist Award, a chance for a new investigator embarking on an independent scientific career to give a plenary talk.   

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