Michelle Tamplin, a Free Radical and Radiation Biology graduate student research assistant in the lab of Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD, earned a spot among 45 other graduate and undergraduate students in the Office of the Vice President of Research’s (OVPR) Dare to Discover banner campaign. Tamplin’s banner will be on display in downtown Iowa City on Washington Street.
Tamplin’s research investigates the harmful effects of radiation on small blood vessels and how these disrupted vessels cause overall damage like heart failure or cognitive dysfunction. “Michelle is using her background in engineering to study an important but poorly understood side effect of cancer therapies,” Grumbach said. Although Tamplin’s current project focuses on radiation damage in ocular melanoma patients, she says their findings should be easily translated to other areas.
“Our current understanding of how normal tissue injury develops is severely limited, mainly because we are unable to visualize the small blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to normal tissues,” Tamplin said. “The eye is unique, however, because its front is completely clear, making it accessible to what are essentially sophisticated photography methods. Using these methods, we can obtain a wealth of information about how small vessels are damaged after radiation exposure.”
As an undergraduate and master’s student at the University of Utah, Tamplin worked in nuclear engineering labs and gained skills that would later earn her a Graduate College Iowa Recruitment Fellowship and a position in Grumbach’s lab. Most recently, Tamplin’s other achievements include an NIH T32 Predoctoral Fellowship, a Scholar in Training Travel Award from the Radiation Research Society, a Vera D. Wenger Travel Award from the UI’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, and an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.
Aside from her work in Grumbach’s lab, Tamplin also serves as a research assistant in the VA’s Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Vision Loss.