A Partnership that Produces Results: Howell Scholars to Research New Approaches on Women’s Health.

  • Foundation continues to touch lives and create impact in the community through education. Announces its 2014 UCSD Scholarship Awards. 
  • Scholarships totaling $16,800 to fund undergraduate research for students at UCSD

Dr. Howell with Howell-UCSD Scholars 
left to right Angela Zuo, 
Erica Birkholz,  Orysya Stus 
 Stephanie Myers 
San Diego, CA. – April 4th. The Howell Foundation and UCSD awarded over $16,000 dollars towards their undergraduate research. Antibiotic resistance, cardiomyopathy, pre-eclampsia and papillary thyroid carcinoma are the areas of study that the Howell Scholars will research. The recipients of the Howell-UCSD scholarship awards will be announced in the Foundation’s event on April 4th “Nutrition: A Novel Approach to Pain Management”.

The Howell Foundation recognizes that undergraduate research plays a pivotal role in a student’s success; however, having access to financial resources can often play a limiting factor in the achievement of his or her career goals.

A strict protocol is followed in the choice of the students, including review of the students' scholarship applications, and quality of supervision during their research work. The research subjects range from the most basic of life sciences such as cell biology, to creating vaccines and testing altered immune reactions. Often the results of the student's research are presented at professional conferences or published in peer-reviewed journals –helping the Foundation achieve its core belief: to promote awareness on the relevance of women’s health.

The relevance the Doris A. Howell foundation strides in its partnerships with institutions like UCSD. Uniting with leaders and nationally recognized educational organizations not only allows the Foundation to have access to vital information and latest findings on women’s health, but additionally helps fund scholarships to ensure its candidates with successful education. Previous Howell scholars are now promoting the latest findings in women’s health research today.

The Doris A. Howell Foundation congratulates and wishes them all success in their fields of research, and thanks their mentors for making continuing education possible.

  • Erica Birkholz will be looking for New Antibiotics to Treat Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are common throughout the U.S., and often have devastating effects. It is essential that new antibiotics are found to combat bacteria that have become resistant to the antibiotics that are currently available. Erica will use a new approach called bacterial cytological profiling, which is more sensitive than traditional approaches, to screen for novel antibiotics. If her screening finds interesting bioactivities, the molecules will be purified and examined by mass spectrometry to characterize them.
  • Stephanie Myers will be researching the Role of Obscurin Proteins for Cardiac Calcium Handling. Although mainly thought of as a “man’s disease”, cardiomyopathies are the leading cause of death for women. Among the different cardiomyopathy types, arrhythmias caused by problems in calcium imbalances can be particularly devastating, as these types of cardiomyopathies are often undiagnosed and have a high prevalence of sudden death. A protein called obscurin plays an important role the way in which the heart cells handle calcium, and decreases in the levels of this protein may increase arrhythmias. Stephanie will investigate obscurin’s role in regulating calcium in cardiomyocytes, and characterize it’s function on a cellular and molecular level.
  • Orysya Stus will be working on creating an in vitro model for the characterization of primary cytotrophoblastic cells. Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy. It is caused by abnormal activity of the placenta and is characterized by high blood pressure, proteinuria, seizures, and edema. Preeclampsia is often associated with defects in cytotrophoblast cells which are the basic functional units of the placenta. Orysya will use cytotrophoblast cells from human donors to create an in vitro system that can be used to study the factors that lead to abnormal activity of these cells in pre-eclampsia. 
  • Angela Zuo will be working on characterizing the lncRNA transcriptome in papillary thyroid carcinoma with RNA-sequence. Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) accounts for approximately 85% of thyroid cancer cases in the U.S. and affects females over males by a ratio of about 3:1. Age-adjusted incidence rates for PTC have markedly increased over the past few decades, particularly among women in their forties. Thus far, a few genetic alterations have been implicated in papillary thyroid cancer progression, but much of the human genome have been relatively unexplored. Angela’s objective is to utilize next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to identify a panel of mutations in a particular type of RNA and whose aberrant expression contributes to the pathogenesis of papillary thyroid carcinoma.
For more information about the Doris A. Howell Foundation, its Health Lecture Series and scholarship donor opportunities, please contact Tanya Fortuna at 858-454-7797, or on the web at www.howellfoundation.org.


The mission of the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is to fund undergraduate scientists in their relevant research and to educate women to be catalysts for better family health. A core belief of The Howell Foundation is that women are usually the nucleus for their families' health and by "Keeping the Women We Love Healthy" we can make a measurable difference in so many lives. The Foundation sponsors educational events on key topics affecting women and all members of the family and extends its mission through the Speaker Services and Community Engagement initiatives. 

For more information about the Foundation and ways to give please visit: www.howellfoundation.org



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