Congratulations to this year’s awardees and mentors. We thank the NIH for making these collaborative efforts possible.

Dr Angela Frederick

Dr. Angela Frederick is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has broad expertise in gender and disability issues in medical sociology, with an increasing focus on how disability outcomes are shaped by racial and ethnic identities in the El Paso region. In particular, she has studied various intersecting forms of inequality, including motherhood and disability, racial and ethnic inequality among college students, and the role of gender and race in running for political office.

Dr Tracie Harrison

Mentor Dr. Tracie Harrison is the Director of the Center for Excellence in Aging Services and Long Term Care at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. She has expertise in qualitative and mixed method research, which she utilizes to study how to enhance the lives of people aging with disabilities. Specifically, she has studied the impact of nursing home environments on resident development, and how aging with impairment affects social and health outcomes.

Together, they plan to investigate how Hispanic and non-Hispanic women with disabilities residing in Texas differentially experience their disability. Specifically, they will conduct a qualitative analysis of various domains including work and family contexts, access to resources, and socioculture experiences.

Dr Mario Izaguirre

Dr. Mario Izaguirre is an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Enviromental Science at Northern New Mexico College. His research focuses on the nuclear structure of cells and on plant development, utilizing genetic approaches to investigate the mechanisms that maintain the nuclear architecture of eukaryotic cells. Specifically, he studies how Cajal bodies, nuclear structures involved in the maturation of RNA, are formed and maintained in Arabidopsis.

Dr Richard CrippsMentor Dr. Richard Cripps is a Professor of Biology in the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico. He uses genetics and molecular biology to study muscle development in Drosophila to uncover the genetic mechanisms underlying heart and muscle development, with the aim of understanding the causes of heart and skeletal muscle disease.

In their collaboration, they will utilize Drosophila as a model system to study the molecular mechanisms that control SUMO maturation and deSUMOylation during the cell cycle and development. This will lead to a better understanding of cellular growth regulation, development, and stress responses

Dr Binata JoddarDr. Binata Joddar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Metallurgy, Materials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. Trained as a bioengineer, she has extensive experience culturing stem cells on artificial biomaterial scaffolds. In her research, she utilizes these scaffolds to grow stem cells for mimicking healthy tissues such as heart walls or diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Dr Laura Suggs

Dr. Laura Suggs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. She heads the Biomaterials and Therapeutics Laboratory which aims to develop methods for growing cardiac and vascular tissue to restore function after injuries.

They previously worked together under the BUILD Supermentor program, resulting in successful NIH funding and publication of two manuscripts. This summer, they aim to explore and understand the morphology and function of stem cell derived Cardiomyocytes, cells which are primarily responsible for the electrical coupling and contractile function of the heart wall.

Dr Wen Yee Lee

Dr. Wen-Yee Lee is an Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is an Environmental and Analytic Chemist by training, who is pursuing a new research direction in cancer research. In her recent research, she applied analytic chemistry to demonstrate that volatile organic compounds present in urine can be used as sensitive markers for prostrate and renal cancer diagnosis.

Dr Ganesh RajMentor Dr. Ganesh Raj is a Professor of Urology in the Departments of Urology and Pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, he is the principle investigator of a cancer research laboratory that focuses on developing translational programs for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate and breast cancer.

Together, they aim to develop a urine-based screening tool for prostate cancer that could potentially affect the over 13 million men screened each year. They will examine how the pathological processes of prostate cancer can alter the production of specific volatile organic compounds to be different from what is typically produced, thus serving as a reliable biomarker for diagnosis.

Dr Yok Fong Paat

Dr. Yok-Fong Paat is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Work at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is a licensed clinical social worker whose research focuses on how family ecology and process shape well-being, health behaviors, and social integration in immigrant and non-immigrant communities. In her research, she examines the ecological contexts of health, familial and personal outcomes, over the life course, with the ultimate aim of providing evidence based program and policy recommendations.

Christine Markham

Mentor Dr. Christine Markham is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and the Associate Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Her research spans a variety of public health issues including adolescent and child health, HIV, STD and pregnancy prevention, substance use prevention, chronic disease management, influence of parental factors, and outcome and process evaluation.

They worked together previously in 2015 under the BUILD Summer Sabbatical program. This summer, they plan to improve upon previous public health studies on interpersonal violence. Specifically, they will examine how technology and health behaviors, respectively, impact teen relationship and intimate partner violence, as well as the influence of social capital on teen interpersonal violence.