2015 Awardees

The UT Institute for Research, Innovation, Synergy and Health Equity (iRISE) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has selected two winners of its 2015 Career Development Awards, also known as the KL2 Program: Kunal Singhal, PhD, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, and Gregory Vidal, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Oncology. Each will receive up to $130,000 annually over two to three years.

The iRISE Career Development Awards Program, also known as the KL2 Program, connects researchers, at an early point in their career, with mentoring and training, provides a foundation in biostatistics and biomedical informatics, and aims to instill an interprofessional and interdisciplinary career vision. This program is designed to further iRISE’s goal of understanding and eliminating disparities in health and health care, and is modeled after the National Institutes of Health awards program offered through designated Clinical Translational Science Award Hubs. All award recipients have already earned doctoral degrees, and junior faculty, especially those from underrepresented groups, are encouraged to apply.

“The KL2 awards are in important component of the overall iRISE program because they provide a framework for us to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers,” said, Christopher M. Waters, PhD, director of the Career Development Awards Program. “The rigorous training and mentored career development will help promote an interprofessional workforce that is able to advance science and help address the disparities in health outcomes that drive much of the chronic disease in Memphis,” he said. Dr. Waters also serves as professor and vice chair of Physiology, professor of Medicine-Pulmonary, and professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at UTHSC.

Assistant Professor Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions at UTHSC

Mentor

Anton Reiner, MD

Title of Project

Biomechanical & Neuro-motor Systems Approach to Analyze Fall Risk During Gait in Realistic Environment

Summary

Dr. Kunal Singhal holds a PhD in Kinesiology with a specialization in Biomechanics and is a licensed physical therapist conducting research on gait and biomechanics, focusing on geriatric and amputee populations. He has experience developing biomechanical models and practiced at Texas Sottish Rite Hospital for Children. With support from his iRISE Career Development Grant, Dr. Singhal will employ an innovative virtual reality system to study missed steps and stumbles in elderly & disabled populations. The falls associated with these gait defects are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal accidents in Americans over 65 years of age.

Assistant Professor Department of Hematology, College of Medicine

Mentors

Lee Schwartzberg, MD & Gustavo Miranda-Carboni, PhD

Title of Project

Treatment Effect on WNT10B Mediated Triple Degative Breast Cancer

Summary

With advanced degrees in structural and cellular biology, Dr. Vidal is a clinician scientist at the West Cancer Center and co-Director of their BioBank initiative. He did his Internal medicine, medical oncology and post-doctoral research training at Stanford University and is experienced in clinical trial design and execution. He has a particular interest in breast cancer. Dr. Vidal’s iRISE supported project will explore resistance to standard chemotherapy treatments of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumors with high expression of the WNT10B protein network. It is believed that the higher rate of WNT10B expression in tumors commonly found in young women and women of African descent may be a driver of their poor treatment outcomes.

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