The American Heart Association (AHA) has awarded two predoctoral students, Kevin Urak and Dan Matasic, fellowships allowing them to continue their mentored cardiovascular research. Each of these students are pursuing PhDs while working in labs directed by members of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Dr. Paloma Giangrande and Division Director Dr. Barry London.
Kevin Urak joined the University of Iowa PhD program in Molecular & Cellular Biology after finishing his Master’s conducting research in HIV gene therapy in a joint program between City of Hope and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, where he also received his Bachelor’s in Microbiology. Under the guidance of Dr. Giangrande, Mr. Urak is currently developing RNA apatamers that target extracellular histones for the treatment of sepsis.
Dan Matasic is in his fourth year of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and will finish his PhD this year in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. He is working with both Dr. London and Dr. Charles Brenner, Professor of Biochemistry. Mr. Matasic’s project is centered around investigating how the main sodium channel (Nav1.5) in the heart is modified and regulated by NaD+. When there is a deficiency in Nav1.5, the system is dysregulated and fatal arrhythmias can occur.
Congratulations to both Mr. Urak and Mr. Matasic on their AHA fellowships, and to their mentors as they guide them through the coming year.