Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate Students Receive 2023-2024 Fellowships

Three GSK students in a classroom

This year GSK students again received prestigious fellowships recognizing their achievements.

This past academic year, seven PhD students enrolled at the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK) were awarded nine competitive fellowships from prestigious external agencies such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Science Foundation (NSF). Several of our students also received internal fellowships made possible by generous benefactors of the graduate school.

For the first time in the school’s history, two students were also awarded Gilliam fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). This prestigious award is given to 48 students nationwide.

External Fellowships 

Abigail Xie 

Abigail Xie is a third-year MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Lydia Finley. Her project, entitled “Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Cancers with Impaired TCA Cycle Activity” was funded by the NCI through the Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Predoctoral NRSA for MD/PhD Fellowship program (F30).

Inés Fernández Maestre

Inés Fernández Maestre is a fifth-year PhD student in the laboratory of Ross Levine, MD. She recently received the Scholarship of Excellence from the Rafael del Pino Foundation and the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99) from the NCI for her project entitled “Identifying Inflammatory Mediators of Clonal Hematopoiesis.”

Isaac Wakiro

Isaac Wakiro is a fifth-year PhD student in the laboratory of Michael Kharas, PhD. He recently received an award from the HHMI’s Gilliam Fellows program,  which supports students from groups historically excluded from and underrepresented in science. His research explores the intersection between RNA methylation programs and transcription control, and how they link cellular fate to myeloid leukemia differentiation.

Jesus Romero-Pichardo

Jesus Romero-Pichardo is a third-year PhD student in the laboratory of Justin Perry, PhD. He also received the Gilliam Fellowship from HHMI. In addition, Romero-Pichardo was also awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. His research seeks to understand the role of taurine transport for apoptotic cell clearance and degradation.

Klavdija (Bastl) Krause

Klavdija Krause is a third-year PhD student in the laboratory of Tuomas Tammela, MD, PhD. Her project entitled “Elucidating Molecular and Cellular Determinants of Lung Cancer Initiation” was recently funded by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds.

Rebecca Gelfer

Rebecca Gelfer is a third-year MD/PhD student in the lab of Ross Levine, MD. She was recently  awarded the Graduate Hematology Award from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) for her project entitled “Characterizing Oncogenic Nras in IDH1 mutant AML Leukemogenesis and Therapeutic Responsiveness.”

Sarah Perlee

Sarah Perlee is a fifth-year PhD student in the laboratory of Richard White, MD/PhD, who continued mentoring her after he departed SKI in 2022. She was recently awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) Award from the NCI for her project entitled “Investigating the Role of Melanoma-Adipocyte Cell Junctions in Heterotypic Communication and Tumor Progression.”

Internal Fellowships

In addition to the competitive external fellowships, several students received internal fellowships made possible by generous benefactors to the school.

Grayer Fellowship 

The Grayer Fellowship supports part of the stipends of two GSK students who are entering their third year. This one-year award is given annually to recognize achieved excellence as demonstrated on a student’s thesis proposal examination. The fellowship was established by Jonathan Grayer, former member of MSK’s Board of Overseers and Managers, and Chairman and CEO of Weld North, an investment company. This year’s recipients are:

Geoffrey Beene Graduate Student Fellowship

The Geoffrey Beene Graduate Student Fellowship provides full stipends for one year for students who work in the lab of a Memorial Sloan Kettering faculty member and are conducting research with direct cancer relevance. These fellowships are supported by the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center, which is focused on achieving major advances in controlling cancer and producing better outcomes for cancer patients, with the goal of making cancer a more manageable, and perhaps one day more curable, disease. This year’s recipients are:

Harold Varmus Fellowship

The Harold Varmus Fellowship supports the stipend of two second-year students for two years. Funded scholars also enjoy opportunities to discuss their research and academic and personal goals with Dr. Varmus, who is a Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology and former Director of the National Institutes of Health. He was also instrumental in the creation of GSK during his tenure as President of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) from 2000 to 2010. This year’s recipients are:

Robert B. Catell Fellowship

The Robert B. Catell Fellowship supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year. Established by former Chairman and CEO of KeySpan, Robert B. Catell, the fellowship grew out of his commitment to advancing cancer research. Mr. Catell currently chairs the Advisory Board for the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University and the New York State Smart Grid Consortium. This year’s recipient is:

GSK Palestin Fellowship

The GSK Palestin Fellowship was established in 2006 by the family of Beatrice Palestin to support the stipend of a GSK student for one year. Mrs. Palestin was a New York philanthropist with a longtime interest in cancer research. This year’s recipient is:

GSK Olayan Fellowship

The GSK Olayan Fellowship supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year. It was established by The Olayan Group, a multinational corporation of more than 50 companies and affiliated businesses. The group’s Chair, Ms. Hutham Olayan, serves on MSK’s Boards of Overseers and Managers. This year’s recipient is: