Three College of Pharmacy students named Pelotonia Fellowship recipients


June 15, 2018

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Three students from the College of Pharmacy were selected to receive 2018 Pelotonia Fellowships that will support their cancer research: Riley Mullins, fourth year Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) student in Dr. Chris Coss’ lab, Ezgi Karaesmen, graduate research associate in Dr. Lara Sucheston-Campbell’s lab, and Kevin Huang, graduate research associate in Dr. Alex Sparreboom’s lab.

Starting in 2010, the Pelotonia Fellowship Program trains promising and accomplished undergraduate, graduate, medical and postdoctoral students from any discipline at Ohio State who have the potential to become independent cancer researchers. The program has awarded 440 student fellowships to 205 undergraduates, 128 graduates, 101 postdoctoral fellows and six medical students. Fellowships are funded through an annual allocation of $2 million in Pelotonia revenue and span the course of two years.

To be considered for a fellowship, applicants must submit an application and research proposal. Mullins, Karaesmen and Huang’s submitted research proposals included:

Riley Mullins, “Androgen Receptor as a Potential Therapeutic Target in Hepatocellular Carcinoma”

Mullins’ proposal detailed the research he is conducting in Dr. Chris Coss’ lab related to male hormones and their receptor, the androgen receptor, in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. Through his research, Mullins’ hopes to identify a molecular mechanism that explains HCC’s male dominance, and by doing so, support the development and study of novel therapies that will improve the outcomes for HCC patients.

“I’m honored to be selected as one of the undergraduate Pelotonia Fellowship recipients,” Mullins said. “This fellowship will help me continue to investigate meaningful research questions and do my part in improving cancer treatment.”

Ezgi Karaesmen, “The Role of Pharmacogenomics in Survival Outcomes Following Blood or Marrow Transplant”

Karaesmen’s proposal described the research she is conducting in Dr. Lara Sucheston-Campbell’s lab, which involves finding genetic variants that may negatively impact a patient with blood malignancies that receive bone marrow transplants as curative therapy. Bone marrow transplantation usually involves high dose chemotherapy and radiation, with more than one third of patients dying within one year due to their disease or transplant-related complications. Karaesmen’s long-term goal is to help physicians tailor their treatment strategies based on the recipient or donor’s genetics to improve patient survival.

“I have been involved with Pelotonia ever since I arrived at Ohio State,” Karaesmen said. “Every year, hundreds of people do their best to help fund cancer research, and now I am one of those lucky people to be funded by it. I could not be more honored to be selected for this fellowship.”

Kevin Huang, “Mitigating Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiac Toxicity through OTC3 Inhibition”

The research Huang is conducting in Dr. Alex Sparreboom’s lab focuses on better understanding why the anthracycline doxorubicin, a chemotherapy drug, is selectively taken up and damaging the heart compared to other organs in the body. Doxorubicin was discovered more than 60 years ago and is used in various diseases, including breast cancer. However, patients may experience potentially life-threatening side effects related to cardiovascular damage. Huang’s goal is to improve patient quality of life without compromising doxorubicin’s antitumor efficacy by developing preventative strategies to ameliorate side effects associated with this chemotherapy drug.

“This is the first time I’ve received any type of scholarship or fellowship opportunity; I feel very honored and fortunate,” Huang said. “This fellowship will help me connect what I’m doing in the lab and during my graduate career to the mission of Pelotonia.”

Congratulations to our inspiring students on their accomplishments!