African American Research Training Scholars Present Neuroscience Research at First Symposium

By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 18, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center hosted a symposium last week featuring its first class of African American Research Training Scholars. The five scholars each gave a presentation on their research in neurotrauma.

“This scholarship program was established by support from the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust to provide vital research opportunities for Black undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky,” said Joe Springer, professor and interim director of the research center. “This is part of the SCoBIRC’s continued efforts to promote diversity in neuroscience, a field in which Black and African American students and faculty are underrepresented nationwide. The goal is to provide students the opportunity to participate in state-of-the-art research and develop professional skills that will prepare them for the next steps in their careers.”

The training program was developed by Springer along with Mark Prendergast, Warren Alilain and Zel Madison. The program supports five students each year studying neuroscience in the UK College of Arts and Sciences. The $5,000 award covers a summer stipend and travel expenses to present at a national meeting. Each scholar conducts research in the laboratory of a faculty member studying brain or spinal cord injuries.

The scholars, their project names and their faculty mentors are:

  • Nolan Abdelsayed  — “Meningeal lymphatic Deregulation Following Traumatic Brain Injury” (Mentor: Adam Bachstetter).
  • Jordon Burdette — “Cellular Regeneration in the Injured Spinal Cord” (Mentor: Warren Alilain).
  • Urim Geleta — “MicroRNA-223 Modulates Inflammatory Signaling and Autophagy in Bone Marrow-Derived Macrophages” (Mentor: Joe Springer).
  • Alexa Halliburton — “Considering Sex as a Biological Variable in Spinal Cord Injury Inflammation and Locomotor Recovery” (Mentor: John Gensel).
  • Bisimwa “Jack” Nzerhumana — “Mitochondrial Uncoupling Promotes Energy Metabolism Following TBI” (Mentor: Pat Sullivan).

Students who are interested in learning more about the program, or applying to next year’s cohort, may visit https://scobirc.med.uky.edu/scobirc-scobirc-african-american-research-scholars-program.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

 

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