Student Researcher Earns Prestigious Mayo Clinic Fellowship

Written by Brian Kirschner
Published on July 3, 2013

corenaThere's no summer break for CORENA SHAFFER PH/TX'14. She was selected from among 1,159 applicants to receive a research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic during the summer of 2013 through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) program. SURF fellowships are competitive (top 10 percent) and selective (faculty-driven match process) and include a $5,000 stipend.

Shaffer is working with Dr. Larry Karnitz, professor of molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, studying DNA repair pathways that are activated in tumor cells when they are exposed to chemotherapy. These pathways enable the tumor cell to "survive" chemotherapy, so there is great interest in understanding how these pathways work, such that they can be blocked by coadministered drugs during chemotherapy.

"I will use this fellowship not just for the opportunity but also to help me reach my future career goals," said Shaffer. "Upon graduation from University of the Sciences, I plan on attending graduate school to attain my PhD. The SURF program will challenge me daily and foster my development as a scientist so that I may complete this program knowing that I have done all of the work possible to reach my goals."

quoteDuring her second and third years at USciences, Shaffer has been conducting research in the laboratory of CATHERINE C. MOORE, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and has made significant contributions toward identifying the biochemical mechanisms by which abnormal expression of G proteincoupled receptors (GPCRs) in breast cancer cells unmasks a motile and invasive metastatic phenotype. Her work demonstrates a significant alteration in signaling kinetics when GPCRs detect gradients of ligand. She has studied cortactin (invadopodia marker) as well as numerous “motility” kinases, as measured by ELISA, Immunoblot, and microarray analysis. In the spring 2013 semester, she continued her research and was generating siRNA-resistant cDNA constructs in order to "rescue" the motility defects observed following siRNA knockdown of the identified signaling components.

Shaffer works as part of a team of researchers in the Moore lab, which includes JACQUELINE FREED PhD'13, ANASTASIA JANCINA PhD'14, and BRYCE WINANT MS’14, all pharmacology/toxicology graduate students. Shaffer presented her work at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) national meeting in San Francisco in December 2012, where she was a coauthor on two abstracts. This work was also presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) annual meeting in Boston, April 2013, as part of a GPCR colloquium featuring the recent 2012 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Categories: The Bulletin, Faculty, Students, Proven Everywhere, Academics, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology and Toxicology

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