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Cardiovascular Center appoints postdoctoral fellows to T32 training program

Milwaukee, January 19, 2018 – After a nationwide search and review of more than two dozen applications, the Medical College of Wisconsin's (MCW) Cardiovascular Center has appointed Jennifer Stancill, PhD and Christine Klemens, PhD as the inaugural postdoctoral trainees on the Cardiovascular Center's National Institutes of Health T32 postdoctoral training program.

Jennifer Stancill, PhDDr. Jennifer S. Stancill received her Bachelor of Science in biology at the University of North Carolina in 2011, and a PhD in cell and developmental biology at Vanderbilt University in 2017. Her primary mentor is John Corbett, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry at MCW and member of the Cardiovascular Center's Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Signature Program. With a strong background in gene expression and β-cell physiology, Dr. Stancill plans to expand her knowledge of type 1 diabetes by focusing on the biochemistry of β-cells and to assist the laboratory in the application of genomics to the study of β-cell function and viability. Because of the association of diabetes with increased risk for developing heart disease, an increased understanding of how β-cells respond to specific types of stress and how these responses relate to diabetes development may lead to a more effective treatment of diabetes, reducing the number of individuals at increased risk for heart disease.

Christine Klemens, PhDDr. Christine A. Klemens studied molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving her Bachelor of Science in 2005 followed by a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in cell biology and molecular physiology in 2017. Her primary mentor, Alexander Staruschenko, PhD, is a professor of physiology at MCW and member of the Cardiovascular Center’s Signature Program in Hypertension. Her doctoral work focused on the mechanisms by which the cytoskeleton protein, ankyrin G, modulates the activity of the epithelial sodium channel in renal tubule cells. During her postdoctoral training, she plans to determine the role of the voltage-gated chloride channel 6 in cardiovascular and renal blood pressure control. These studies will further the understanding of blood pressure homeostasis, shed light on the physiological role of an understudied transmembrane protein, and most importantly, advance knowledge in the treatment and prevention of hypertension.

Building on excellence in cardiovascular research, the Cardiovascular Center’s T32 postdoctoral training program, "Training in Signature Transdisciplinary Cardiovascular Sciences," is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that provides support for two new postdoctoral training slots each year for the next five years. The grant provides up to three years of training for appointed postdoctoral fellows in the Cardiovascular Center with an MD, PhD, PharmD, or DO degree. The ultimate goal of this training program is to train the next generation of cardiovascular scientists, including underrepresented minorities, by incorporating broad-based, personalized, supportive, and rigorous training opportunities.

"I am incredibly appreciative of the efforts of the Cardiovascular Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in securing this T32 training grant from the National Institutes of Health, and in seeing it come to fruition with the appointment of the first two post-doctoral fellows," said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, dean of the medical school, provost and executive vice president at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "Research training is the backbone of future biomedical discoveries, and I could not be more pleased with the efforts of the Cardiovascular Center to execute on this future and MCW's promise of 'knowledge changing life.'"

Ivor Benjamin, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Cardiovascular Center at MCW and David Gutterman, MD, Northwestern Mutual Professor of Cardiology and senior associate director of the Cardiovascular Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, are co-directors. Complementary support for trainees is provided by a grant given to the Cardiovascular Center by the A. O. Smith Foundation for the A. O. Smith Fellowship Scholars Program, a program designed to support talented cardiovascular researchers and physicians overcome the barriers that exist in launching and sustaining a successful research career.

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