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.
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.”
Kendra Prutton joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2018 and is studying environmental involvement in Down syndrome cognition using an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) model under the mentorship of Dr. James Roede. Specifically, she aims to determine the mechanistic impact of Down syndrome and pesticide exposure on neurodevelopment through neuronal differentiation of iPSCs. Kendra has presented her research as posters and oral presentations at multiple local, regional, national, and international scientific conferences, including the International Society of Stem Cell Research, Society of Toxicology, and Society of Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
“The T32 program has allowed me to present at several different conferences that help me not only improve my communication and presentation of scientific results, but allow me to foster collaborations and networks within and across disciplines. I look forward to continue to expand my expertise and network under this award.”
Keegan Rogers joined the Toxicology Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in the Fall of 2018 and following research rotations, joined Dr. Jared Brown’s lab in Fall 2019. Keegan’s work encompasses a wide variety of disciplines within the toxicology field. Currently his thesis research project involves determining the role of agricultural exposures as a potential driver in the pathogenesis of chronic kidney disease of an unknown etiology (CKDu). In particular, I am investigating the role that nanosized silica which is formed during sugarcane burning has CKDu. I developed a single-particle ICP-MS method to detect nanosilica in biopsies of CKDu patients and am investigating the role of reactive oxygen species-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition from healthy proximal convoluted tubule cells to a profibrotic myofibroblast phenotype as mechanism of toxicity.
“The T32 program has allowed me the ability to transition my research to more interdisciplinary fields that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise. This helped me gain skills in basic science all the way to translational applications. The data that has arisen from these skills has won several awards and will ease the transition into the next step of my scientific career.”
Lauren Thompson joined the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program in 2018 and chose the lab of Dr. Melanie Joy, PharmD, PhD to complete her doctoral dissertation. Lauren’s research interests revolve around increasing the effectiveness and precision of drug therapies at the level of individual patients by applying pharmacokinetic modeling and pharmacogenomic strategies.
Lauren’s dissertation work focuses on cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. Since joining the Joy lab, she has developed a cancer mouse model of cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury (AKI) to test potential nephroprotective compounds. She is additionally leading a clinical trial with the goals of elucidating pharmacokinetic and pharmacogenetic determinants that govern renal exposure to cisplatin, as well as the impact of 5-hydroxytryptamine antagonists (5-HT3As), a class of anti-emetic drugs. A better understanding of the key processes and pathways involved in renal cisplatin exposure will lead to therapy adjustments to decrease renal toxicity, while maintaining efficacy.
“As a student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program, I am grateful to the T32 program for providing me with countless opportunities to enhance both my training and ongoing research. The T32 program has allowed me to present my research at meetings I wouldn’t normally attend, build my network within the field of toxicology, and find new collaborations.”
Colin Anderson – currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Brandon Sonn – currently a Medical Science Liaison and Precision Medicine Researcher at Strata Oncology