Samantha Furman awarded NIH NCI F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral National Research Service Award to support her PhD work titled “Quantifying heterocellular communication and spatial intratumoral heterogeneity from high dimensional spatial proteomics data”
Tumors are dynamic ecosystems comprising spatially heterogeneous microdomains. Microdomain-specific signaling networks reciprocally support a phenotypic continuum with complex intermediary cell types and cell states shaping the tumor microenvironment. The recent explosion of next-generation, high-content, high-throughput spatial imaging technologies for intact tissues measuring protein expressions, DNA and RNA probes has provided an opportunity to harness spatial data for inferring tumor biology. The overarching goal of this proposed computational and systems pathology project is to identify the emergent pathogenic cellular and molecular network transitions within an evolving tumor microenvironment from hyperplexed spatial image datasets associated with disease progression through cellular phenotyping, microdomain extraction, and spatial network biology inference algorithms. In combination, these methods have the potential to provide insights into pathophysiological mechanisms, identify novel drug targets and inform therapeutic strategies for individual patients.
Samantha Furman is a 4th year PhD student in Dr. S. Chakra Chennubhotla’s lab in the Computational and Systems Biology Department. With this fellowship support, Samantha will continue her training towards a PhD in Computational Biology from the University of Pittsburgh.
The TECBio REU@ Pitt program, which has been hosted in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology at the Pitt School of Medicine since 2010, has secured its third renewal from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 4 more years of programming through Summer 2024. Over the past 11 years, TECBio has continuously evolved to meet the needs of our students and prepare them to drive advancements and take on leadership roles in computational biology. The program has done this by providing an immersive, 10-week, student-focused, graduate-level, research and training experience to 10 NSF-funded and 2 host institution-funded students each summer. TECBio exposes students to the current state-of-the-art in biological advances and computational capabilities by immersing them in mentored, independent research projects in our scientific focus areas.
Over the first 11 years of the program, TECBio has reached 142 students. Of the 115 students that hailed from outside institutions, 43% hailed from underrepresented minority (URM) groups and over half of our participants were women. Almost 90% of TECBio alumni have gone onto graduate school (62%) or jobs working or teaching in STEM (24%). Students from the TECBio program have received fellowship awards including 9 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships with 3 Honorable Mentions, presented at national, regional, and/or local conferences, and published 25 papers and conference proceedings and 5 published abstracts (11 as first author) with their TECBio mentors.
TECBio REU @ Pitt has established a successful framework for identifying, educating, training, and promoting students from diverse backgrounds in the emerging field of computational biology, and remains an important and impactful part of our department.
Congratulations to Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis on being selected as a 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow for her work in Computational & Evolutionary Molecular Biology! This fellowship is awarded to early-career researchers whose “achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders.”
For more information, please click here to see the official announcement.