Meet the first Michigan Life Sciences Fellows: Program offers mentorship, resources to help launch independent careers

July 18, 2018

The first Michigan Life Sciences Fellows have arrived at the University of Michigan, where they are investigating important biological questions related to multiple sclerosis, triple-negative breast cancer, and how complex living architectures form.

The multidisciplinary fellowship program — which is a partnership across the U-M Medical School, Life Sciences Institute, College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, and College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts — provides exceptional early-career researchers with the skills and knowledge to launch successful independent research careers. The fellows receive not only a generous compensation package and funding for research and travel, but also active mentoring to prepare them for independent faculty positions, as well access to university resources for skill-building in areas like lab management, scientific writing and oral presentations.

“This program benefits the fellows by allowing them to pursue independent research in a mentored environment, even as they add the new skills and research experience as typical for a postdoc,” says Robert Kennedy, chair of the Chemistry Department in the College of Literature, Arts, and the Sciences, and member of the Michigan Life Sciences Fellows Executive Committee. “They also gain access to a tremendous breadth of expertise here at Michigan. We are excited to have their talent and energy as part of our scientific community.”

The Michigan Life Sciences Fellows program is now accepting applications for its 2019-2020 cohort. Applications are due September 2018.

Meet the first cohort of fellows:

Farzan Beroz received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, where he developed theories to explain how disordered cellular assemblies can perform complex architectural functions. His research at U-M will build on his graduate work to establish a unified understanding of the principles that govern the form and structure of living architectures. To complete this research, he will work with David Lubensky, Ph.D., and Xiaoming Mao, Ph.D., in the Physics Department at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Before attending Princeton, Beroz received a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in Russian language and culture from Duke University.

Joshua MacCready, Ph.D., comes to U-M from the Microbiology & Molecular Genetics graduate program at Michigan State University. At U-M, he plans to use his background in protein self-organization to establish a new, multidisciplinary field of study in bacterial organelle trafficking. Bacterial organelles are of great ecological, evolutionary, biotechnological and medical interest; yet questions remain as to how their subcellular organization occurs. MacCready will work with Anthony Vecchiarelli, Ph.D., in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the LSA to address these questions. He completed his undergraduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a B.S. in biology.

Brittany Morgan received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University and a B.S. in biochemistry at Western Kentucky University. Her graduate research aimed to develop RNA-focused small molecule libraries that can be screened for their ability to therapeutically target RNA in diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. In the lab of Anna Mapp, Ph.D., at the Life Sciences Institute, Morgan will investigate specific signaling biology in triple negative breast cancer, with the goal of opening new therapeutic avenues for cancers that are resistant to first-line treatments.

Aaron Morris completed his graduate studies at Yale University, where he earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, after earning a B.S. in biomedical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a graduate student, Morris used genetic engineering approaches, as well as controlled drug delivery, to help overcome some of the limitations that currently hinder natural biomaterials’ medical utility. Morris’ postdoctoral research will investigate the systemic effects of immune-modifying particles in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, working with Lonnie Shea, Ph.D., in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department in the College of Engineering and the Medical School.

Jennifer Yeung received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the U-M Medical School. She also holds a master’s degree in cell and developmental biology from Thomas Jefferson University and a B.S. in biology from Drexel University. Through her graduate research, Yeung elucidated the role of the enzyme 12-lipoxygenase in the regulation of immune-mediated platelet activation. She will now join the lab of Greg Tall, Ph.D., in the Department of Pharmacology at the Medical School, where she will investigate novel mechanisms of activation of a class of protein receptors called adhesion G protein-coupled receptors.

For More Information

Applications for the next cohort of fellows are due in September. Learn more at the program website: http://lifescifellows.umich.edu/