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School of Medicine student researchers awarded distinguished ARCS fellowships

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David Young Wolff Photography
Medical School Associate Dean Al Golden, MD, PhD (far left) with the School of Medicine's 2012-14 ARCS Scholars William Gordon, Janice Chang and Timothy Minh (l-r)

IRVINE - On March 22nd, the Orange County Chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, Inc.  hosted the 12th annual Scholar Awards Dinner.  At this gala event held at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering,  the 2012 ARCS Student Scholars were recognized for their academic achievements and awarded their medals in recognition of their promise and hope as the future of American scientific research.

The evening featured podium talks by second year ARCS Scholars as well as research poster presentations by first year ARCS Scholars.  UC Irvine's Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Gottfredson provided opening remarks before the presentation ceremony of the new ARCS Scholars by Professor Emeritus Barbara Hamkalo, President of the Orange County Chapter of the ARCS Foundation.  Sue Alexopoulos and Diana Casey, co-chairs of the event, shared some closing thoughts on the importance of the ARCS program at UC Irvine.  The Dinner followed.  

The ARCS Foundation, Inc. advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research. ARCS Scholars are awarded two years of fellowship support to aid them in conducting their research.  Since funding its first five scholars during the inaugural 2000-2001, the Orange County Chapter of the ARCS Foundation has provided 175 scholar awards totaling over $1.7 million to benefit doctoral students at the University of California, Irvine. 

ARCS Foundation Orange County supports and nurtures young American women and men in graduate programs at UC Irvine to take on the science challenges of today and tomorrow. According to the National Science Board, science and engineering are essential components of our economy’s stability and growth, yet the number of degrees awarded in these fields to American citizens is not keeping pace with the nation’s needs.  More about each of the current ARCS scholars may be found below.

William Gordon, a Ph.D. student in Biological Chemistry, graduated from Washington University, St. Louis in 2003, majoring in biology. As a doctoral scholar in UCI’s School of Medicine, he studies how transcription factors influence development of the mammalian epidermis and their role during wound healing. One factor he is focusing on is known as Grainyhead and is essential for both the differentiation of epidermal cells as well as their migration. Currently, William is studying the role of this factor in the acute wound response using a mouse model and in addition, through collaboration with the UCI medical center he is now looking at the expression of this factor in human skin after surgery.

Janice E. Chang, is an M.D./Ph.D. student in the School of Medicine, is the Dr. Ada E. Yonath Scholar, funded by ARCS, named by Nira Roston. She received her B.S. in bioengineering from UC Berkeley (2006) before entering the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at UCI. She discovered her passion for research while studying cochlear implant processes and visual activation areas in the brain. She received the Whitaker Fellowship as an undergraduate and has published three papers as of January 2010, along with several poster and podium presentations. She is interested in understanding neural mechanisms in the disturbed auditory system - specifically in hopes of finding a cure tinnitus, a common, prolonged "ringing of the ears" that affects more than 50 million Americans and is the No. 1 service-related disability of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Timothy Do Chau Minh, an M.D./Ph.D. student in the School of Medicine, graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in chemistry (2006) before entering UCI's Medical Scientist Training Program, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmacology & toxicology under the mentorship of Dr. Pietro Galassetti. Timothy recently received an NIH Predoctoral M.D./Ph.D. individual fellowship ward to support his dissertation project to investigate exhaled breath biomarkers of energy substrate metabolism. Timothy hopes that the downstream evolution of his study will be the development of portable, non-invasive breath analyzers to monitor blood glucose and lipid concentrations, replacing current blood-based bioassay technology used by patients suffering from diabetes. He was a member of the National Coordinating Committee of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a nonprofit group advocating for increased access to university-derived biotechnology in the developing world, and was the founder of our local UCI chapter.

Dennis Wang(not pictured) an M.D./Ph.D. in the School of Medicine, graduated from UC Berkeley with double-majors in Computer Science and Molecular and Cell Biology (2003).  Currently, Dennis is conducting research  in Dr. Wen Hwa Lee's Lab to elucidate the connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and cancer, as many recent studies suggest that oncogenesis is closely associated with and regulated by the energy state of the tissue. Specifically, he is interested in understanding RNA degradation in the mammalian mitochondria.