T32 training program in Molecular and Systems Toxicology (NIEHS T32 ES029074) is a multi-disciplinary research mentorship program centered on training in systems toxicology including genomics/epigenetics, proteomics, and metabolomics as well as molecular approaches to investigate underlying mechanisms of toxicity. This MST training program will be supported by 16 faculty members, from the University of Colorado’s Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine and Public Health and also includes faculty from the nearby National Jewish Health, all of whom conduct systems toxicology research and will serve as mentors. Systems toxicology approaches commonly utilized by our training faculty include genomics/epigenetics, proteomics, redox proteomics, microbiome, metabolomics, biostatistical genetics, and bioinformatics.
This multi-disciplinary research T32 program will support four predoctoral trainees per year and emphasizes systems toxicology research. Graduate students in the program obtain degrees through the mentioned disciplines. Research opportunities for predoctoral trainees will involve systems-based approaches to investigate a broad range of toxicological outcomes, including environmental lung disease, carcinogenesis, neurodegenerative disease, nanotoxicology, and immune responses to environmental xenobiotics, drugs and therapies. Students will be recruited from the Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Programs, and accepted each year, into the MST-T32 program. T32 trainees are supported for 2 years, post-comps. This University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus MST T32 training program will develop predoctoral trainees into independent and successful toxicologists with expertise in systems toxicology.
Applications will be solicited in May of each year. Applicants must have successfully passed their comprehensive exam and currently working on research related to molecular and systems toxicology. Students from the Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD programs are eligible.
Colin joined Dr. James Roede’s lab in 2017 and began his thesis research on the fungicide maneb and its use in a toxicant model of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In 2018, Colin published his first manuscript in Toxicological Sciences involving a systems evaluation of acute and prolonged effects of MB on the bioenergetics of neuroblastoma cells. Over the last two years, Colin has gathered data for two more manuscripts describing the molecular mechanism of MB as it acts on cellular protein thiols, indirectly influencing mitochondrial function, energy metabolism, and cellular health. His research will help researchers better understand how the MB model of PD differs from other toxicant models through direct inhibition of dehydrogenase enzymes and critical sulfur groups within the cell. Colin has presented his research as posters and oral presentations at multiple local, regional, and national scientific conferences. He has collaborated with other researchers both local and abroad, resulting in five additional manuscripts. Colin was recently awarded 1st place for the Carl Smith Award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology.
"The T32 program allowed me to go to several national conferences that not only advanced my training and education, but allowed me to network and discuss my research with scientists from around the world. These interactions have led to awards, election as the graduate student representative of a Society of Toxicology specialty section, and potential post-doctoral opportunities."
Dustin G. Brown joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2016 and completed his fall research rotation in Dr. James Roede's lab working on a project to characterize compartmental redox status in down syndrome fibroblasts compared to normal human cells. He hopes to continue extensive research in oxidative stress in several disease models to elucidate mechanisms of carcinogenesis.
T32: Investigating the Role of Oxylipins in Cystic Fibrosis – Dustin Brown
By understanding the underlying mechanisms and dynamic interactions between hosts and microbes, we can further understand both the cause and treatment of disease on a molecular level. In this project, we aim to elucidate the role of mutated CFTR on oxylipin metabolism, inflammation, and chronic bacterial infections in the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF).
“The T32 program provided me the funds necessary to attend national conferences and present my research to colleagues in my particular field. Networking from these conferences has directly led to collaboration and fostered a bridge between my research and the larger community.”
Angela Cruz-Hernandez joined the Toxicology PhD program in Fall 2017, she joined the Toxicology program at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Colorado. She currently works for Dr. Jared Brown investigating the effects of vesicating agents such as mustard gas and how the molecular mechanism of mast cells contributes to Gulf War Illness.
“As a recent awardee of the T32, this fellowship has already opened many opportunities for me at Skaggs School of Pharmacy. In addition to funding my training, it has allowed me to further my education in immunotoxicology by taking advantage of the prestigious course offered by American Association of Immunology. With this course, I was able to advance my education in immunology and network with world renown scientists that took part in teaching the course. I look forward to the new opportunities to come and further advancing my research from being a T-32 fellow.”
Brandon Sonn’s professional interest is in the field of precision medicine in an acute care setting. Specifically, he develops predictive models using pharmacogenomic and pharmacometabolomic input to characterize personalized responses to medications administered in the emergency department. He comes from a background educating in academic veterinary medicine with a specialty in the field of emergency and critical care.
The focus of his dissertation work is the operationalization and implementation of ‘omics-based research in the emergency department. He and his team have created and continue to run the first biobank which recruits exclusively from emergency department patients. As of August 2020, the Emergency Medicine Specimen Bank has recruited >20,000 subjects, accounting for approximately 66,000 emergency department visits.
Brandon’s dissertation project exemplifies his passion for improving precision medicine research and implementation, specifically in the emergency department. He has had his work accepted for presentation at The Society of Academic Emergency Medicine, Mountain West Society of Toxicology, Association for Clinical and Translational Science, American Society of Human Genetics, and the Pharmacogenomics Research Network.