Written by Emily Kagey
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 among the Medical School, Life Sciences Institute, College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, and LSA — provides exceptional early-career researchers with the skills and knowledge to launch successful independent research careers.
The fellows receive a generous compensation package and funding for research and travel, as well as active mentoring to prepare them for independent faculty positions, and 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 Department of Chemistry in LSA, and a 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 first MLSF fellows are:
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, associate professor of physics and of biophysics, LSA; and Xiaoming Mao, assistant professor of physics, LSA. Before attending Princeton, Beroz received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a Bachelor of Arts degree 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, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, LSA, to address these questions. He completed his undergraduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in biology.
Brittany Morgan received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University and a Bachelor of Science degree 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. Morgan will work in the lab of Anna Mapp, Edwin Vedejs Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, professor of chemistry and in the Honors Program, LSA; and director of the Chemical Biology Program and research professor, Life Sciences Institute. She 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 Bachelor of Science 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, Steven A. Goldstein Collegiate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, William and Valerie Hall Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, Medical School and College of Engineering; and professor of chemical engineering, CoE.
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 Bachelor of Science degree 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 join the lab of Greg Tall, associate professor of pharmacology, Medical School, where she will investigate novel mechanisms of activation of a class of protein receptors called adhesion G protein-coupled receptors.