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Fund for the Future Awards Announced: Advancing Research Careers of Junior Faculty

The Weill Department of Medicine announces five winners who will receive Fund for the Future awards. The winners are Matthew Bendall, Ph.D., Puja Chebrolu, M.D., Jesus Maria Gomez Salinero, Ph.D., David Price, M.D., and Alexandra Racanelli, M.D., Ph.D.

Due to the generosity of donors to the Department of Medicine and Iris Cantor Center for Women’s Health, the Fund for the Future award supports selected junior faculty during the crucial period of career development spanning completion of research training through the early years of their first faculty position held at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The Fund for the Future program provides an initial year of funding to the recipient with a total funding maximum of $300,000. This funding is based upon academic progress and a competitive training award (such as an NIH K) application timeline within 18 months of initiation of the Fund for the Future support. Those winners who are currently fellows will be joining the faculty of the WDOM in July of 2021, which is a prerequisite of the Fund For the Future award.

Matthew Bendall, Ph.D.

Dr. Matthew Bendall is an Assistant Professor of Computational Biology Research in Medicine actively pursuing research in genomics and biological data science. His background includes experience across several disciplines, including bioinformatics, statistics, computer science, and biomedical science. Dr. Bendall earned a Ph.D. in Genomics and Bioinformatics from the George Washington University in Washington D.C. He then joined the faculty of the Division of Infectious Diseases, WDOM, in 2019. He has published his work on detecting transposable element expression in first and senior author publications in PLOS Computational Biology and PNAS. His primary research interest is investigating the roles of human endogenous retroviruses – HERVs – in human diseases and including cancer. HERVs are fossil viruses that were integrated into the human genome after ancient retroviral epidemics and are awakened as the result of various normal and pathogenic biological processes. The Fund for the Future award will support Dr. Bendall’s project, entitled “Elucidating the role of endogenous retrovirus expression in primary melanoma and metastasis,” which will test the hypothesis that dysregulation of locus-specific HERVs is a predictor of metastatic risk in primary uveal melanoma and also the utility of HERV targeting for immune-based therapies.

Puja Chebrolu, M.D.

Dr. Puja Chebrolu, an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, is a global health researcher focused on understanding the phenomenon of lean diabetes in South Asia, as well as the early onset and greater severity of non-communicable diseases seen in the developing world. Dr. Chebrolu’s current projects include studying the prevalence and risk factors of gestational diabetes in Pune, India, as well as risk factors for hypertension. Specifically, the Fund for the Future Grant will support Dr. Chebrolu’s study on how quickly postpartum diabetes develops in South Asian women with a history of gestational diabetes. This will inform future intervention trials to prevent diabetes in these women.

Jesus Maria Gomez Salinero, Ph.D.

Dr. Jesus Maria Gomez Salinero is an Instructor of Biomedicine in Medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine. His overarching goal is to develop innovative applications for the treatment of vascular associated disorders. During his Ph.D. training in Biomedicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research, he specialized in cardiovascular biomedicine and the role of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease. Alterations in the blood vessel are associated with the development of multiple disorders, among others, liver fibrosis, for which there are no current therapeutics. Dr. Gomez Salinero has focused his attention on understanding the signature that maintains keeping blood vessels healthy. His last studies have identified the program that regulates liver blood vessels and how this is altered during liver fibrosis. The Fund for the Future award will fund Dr. Gomez Salinero’s main objectives: to understand the molecules maintaining liver blood vessel identity, and to develop therapeutic applications to enhance liver fibrosis outcome.

David R. Price, M.D.

David R. Price, M.D., M.S., an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, studies acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) pathogenesis. He completed his residency training at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Dr. Price is a graduate of the WDOM’s Fellowship Program in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and served as a Chief Fellow. His Fund for the Future project will focus on the functional role of vascular cell death in acute lung injury.

Alexandra Racanelli, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Alexandra Racanelli is an Instructor in Clinical Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She completed her residency training in Internal Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine and is a graduate of the WDOM’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program. She devotes most of her time to basic science research with a focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms driving the endothelial dysfunction observed in pulmonary vascular disease and COPD/emphysema. She also cares for patients in the medical ICUs of the Upper East Campus and Lower Manhattan Hospital. The Fund for the Future award will support Dr. Racanelli as she investigates the role of endothelial-derived leucine-rich-alpha-2-glycoprotein-1 (LRG1) in the pathogenesis of COPD/emphysema using murine models and human COPD samples.