Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine student Jennae Shelby received an F30 scholarship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Shelby, who is in her fifth year of MD / Ph.D. double degree program in Biomedical Sciences, is the first student from Wright State to obtain this scholarship.
The F30 scholarship supports very promising undergraduate students who are in a combined MD / Ph.D program. program. It prepares students for careers that will have a significant impact on the health-related research needs of the country.
In 2002, the F30 fellowship was renamed the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, in honor of Ruth Kirschstein, MD, a physician-scientist who worked on the polio vaccine and was the first woman to lead an institute from the NIH. Kirschstein was an advocate for research education and the growing under-representation of biomedical and physician-scientists, especially in emerging areas of research.
Shelby’s clinical focus is neurology, specifically cognitive impairment. His research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, often characterized by cognitive impairment and dementia.
Research at Wright State found that changes in the structure of brain cells were essential in these conditions. Shelby hopes to uncover more details about these brain cell changes, which will lead to the development of new treatment options.
The research is also personal for Shelby. “Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are more prevalent in the black community, and my family has been affected by both,” she said.
Shelby is conducting research in the lab of Keiichiro Susuki, MD, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Physiology (NCBP).
“Jennae receiving such a great honor is the ultimate recognition of the efforts that students and staff in our lab put in every day to foster collaborative research and learning,” said Susuki. “Jennae’s project supported by this award is based not only on her hard work, but also on the scientific achievements of her fellow lab members and on the support of the NCBP faculty. “
Shelby attributes much of her success to the opportunity to work and learn from amazing educators at Wright State.
“Dr. Susuki is fiercely committed to his students and the collaborative environment of his lab,” Shelby said. “I think this grant demonstrates his success as a mentor and teacher.”
She also recognized Mark Rich, MD, Ph.D., professor of neurology and neurosciences, cell biology and physiology, as a role model for her successful balance between laboratory and clinical research, and Debra Mayes, Ph.D. ., formerly with Wright State, which provided Shelby with his first basic science research experience.
Shelby was inspired to help people through medicine and science by community-oriented physicians Gary LeRoy ’88, MD, associate dean of student and admissions affairs and associate professor at the Boonshoft School of Medicine; Quinn Capers, MD, cardiologist and former dean of the Ohio State University School of Medicine, who attended Shelby’s Church in his hometown of Columbus; and Nanette Lacuesta, MD, a physician from Columbus who is director of OhioHealth Physician Diversity Scholars.
Shelby participates in the OhioHealth Physician Diversity Scholars program, which pairs medical students from under-represented backgrounds with physician mentors.
“I believe representation is important and I have been inspired by the black women in my life who excel in academia and medicine,” Shelby said.
These women include Clintoria Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosciences, cell biology, and physiology at the Boonshoft School of Medicine and the College of Science and Mathematics; Kimberly Austin, MD, Shelby mentor with OhioHealth Physician Diversity Scholars; and Lucretia Long, nurse practitioner at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. Shelby worked with Long after graduating from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.
Shelby also acknowledged the support of her family and friends: “It’s as much a victory for my family and friends as it is for me. This is something that we have accomplished together, ”she said.
“It is a wonderful honor not only for Jennae and Dr Susuki’s lab, but also for the entire NCBP family and the combined PhD in Biomedical Sciences and Biomedical Sciences from CoSM and BSOM. program. Such nationally competitive awards validate not only the excellence, hard work, creativity and determination of our students, but also of the faculty and staff who educate, mentor and train them, ”said Eric Bennett, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurosciences, Cell Biology and Physiology.
Shelby’s future goals include not only being a neurological physician-scientist specializing in cognitive impairment, but also a principal investigator in his own laboratory, advancing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
“I am honored that the NIH has chosen to fund my grant and to emphasize the importance of increasing diversity in neurodegenerative research,” Shelby said. “I am also delighted to represent Wright State and BSOM by being awarded our first NIH Undergraduate Fellowship.”