Every year, the Gerstner Sloan Kettering (GSK) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences awards fellowships to students who show promise in their scientific endeavors at GSK. These fellowships, which are based on academic excellence, are made possible by generous philanthropic gifts and institutional funding earmarked to support these exceptional PhD candidates.
A number of students also compete for and receive independent funding from prestigious external agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
“We could not be more proud of this deserving group of the outstanding GSK students who have been recognized with fellowship support this academic year,” says GSK Dean Michael Overholtzer. “This acknowledgement speaks to the high caliber of our program, which is designed to train the next generation of scientists, many of whom go on to make important contributions to discoveries in cancer and the biomedical sciences.”
Ten students received fellowships from GSK to support their doctoral studies this year:
Zaza Gelashvili, a second-year student in the laboratory of cell biologist Philipp Niethammer, and Yan-Ting (Kevin) Chen, a second-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Santosha Vardhana, have been selected as this year’s Harold Varmus Scholars in Cancer Biology. The fellowship is awarded annually to two rising GSK students in their second year based on their outstanding performance in the Core Course of the curriculum. Harold Varmus Scholars receive stipends from the fund for two years. They 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 NIH. He was also instrumental in the creation of GSK during his tenure as President of Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) from 2000-2010.
Hyunu (Ray) Kim, a third-year student in the laboratory of immunologist Joseph Sun, was awarded a fellowship from the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) at MSK. The PICI Student Fellowship is awarded annually to a third-year GSK student performing research in the lab of a faculty member associated with the institute. This competitive award, which is based on the merits of a student’s thesis proposal, supports their stipend for two years.
Isaac Wakiro, a third-year student in the laboratory of cancer biologist Michael Kharas; Juliana Delgado, a second-year student in the laboratory of molecular biologist Andrew Koff; and Jenna Snyder, a second-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Adrienne Boire, were each awarded a Geoffrey Beene Graduate Fellowship, which will support their student stipend for one year. Awarded based on academic excellence, the fellowships were established as part of the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at MSK with a generous gift from the Estate of Geoffrey Beene. By providing support for outstanding GSK students, the Beene Fellowships are designed to expand the pool of investigators trained to pursue research in the highly complex and multidisciplinary field of cancer biology.
Benjamin Jackson, a third-year student in the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program pursuing his dissertation research in the laboratory of cell biologist Lydia Finley, was awarded the Grayer Fellowship. The award, which supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year, 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 Trustees and Governing Trustees and Chairman and CEO of Weld North, an investment company.
Anran (Angel) Tang, a second-year student in the laboratory of systems biologist Thomas Norman, was selected to receive the Robert B. Catell Fellowship, which 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 boards for the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University and the New York State Smart Grid Consortium.
Ziqi Jiao, a second-year student in the laboratory of cancer biologist Andrea Ventura, was awarded the GSK Palestin Fellowship. This fellowship was established 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.
Ilinca Aricescu, a second-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Christopher A. Klebanoff, was awarded the GSK Olayan Fellowship. The fellowship, which supports the stipend of a GSK student for one year, was established by The Olayan Group, a multinational corporation of more than 50 companies and affiliated businesses. The company’s Vice Chair, Hutham Olayan, serves on MSK’s Board of Trustees and Governing Trustees.
Three GSK students were awarded a competitive fellowship from the NSF. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The fellowship provides three years of financial support.
Four GSK students received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the NIH. These competitive research training fellowships support promising doctoral candidates who perform dissertation research and training in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers during the tenure of the award. The purpose of the Kirschstein-NRSA program is to enable promising predoctoral students to develop into productive, independent research scientists and to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.
- Mariano Aufiero, a fifth-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Tobias Hohl, received a fellowship from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- Michael Waarts, a fourth-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Ross Levine, and Katelyn Mullen, a fourth-year student in the laboratory of Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue, received a fellowship from the NCI.
- Eleanor Johns, a fourth-year student in the laboratory of physician-scientist Richard White, received a fellowship from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.