2022 APSA Northeast Regional Conference 

January 15-16, 2022 University of Pittsburgh

Keynote Speakers

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Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

University of Pittsburgh
Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Sowa is the Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, and the faculty sponsor for the Pitt Chapter of APSA. Using her background in biochemistry, Dr. Sowa currently performs molecular laboratory based, translational, and clinical research, investigating the effect of motion on inflammatory pathways and the beneficial effects of exercise. Additionally, Dr. Sowa investigates the role of serum biomarkers in guiding individualized treatment in intervertebral disc degeneration and back pain. She has received national recognition for her research.

Esa Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP

University of Pittsburgh
Division of General Internal Medicine

Dr. Davis is the Director of the UPMC Tobacco Treatment Service, and the Director of the Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) Program. Dr. Davis's NIH-funded clinical research focuses on obesity-related maternal and child health outcomes and in comparative effectiveness research in obesity and tobacco. Specifically, Dr. Davis investigates the perinatal, cultural, and behavioral factors associated with the racial and socioeconomic disparities in obesity among women that have persisted for decades. She published a novel conceptual framework that has been highly cited to help guide the testing of hypotheses associated weight change during pregnancy and the long-term development of obesity and related disparities.

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Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Program Welcome

1:00 - 1:15 PM

1:15 - 1:45 PM

APSA Representative
Briana Christophers

Keynote Speaker:
Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

1:45 - 2:40 PM


2:40 - 2:50 PM

Breakout Panel Sessions

2:50 - 3:50 PM


3:50 - 4:00PM

Oral Presentations

4:00 - 5:00 PM

The Networking Event has been postponed due to rising COVID cases. We aim to reschedule this for sometime in February! 

Keynote Speaker:
Esa Davis, MD

1:00 - 2:00 PM

Breakout Panel Sessions

2:00 - 3:00 PM


3:00 - 3:15 PM

Oral Presentations

3:15 - 4:15 PM

10-minute talks


4:15 - 4:30 PM

Closing Remarks and Awards

4:30 - 5:00PM

*Poster presentations will be asynchronous 

Oral Presentations

SAT JAN 15 4:00-5:00PM

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Moderator: Maria Chroneos | Breakout Room 1

4:00 - 4:10

4:15 - 4:25

4:30 - 4:40

4:45 - 4:55

The Role of Metabolism in Neurofibromatosis 1

Folasade Sofela | G4 MD/PhD Trainee | University of Pennsylvania

High-affinity, Neutralizing Antibodies to SARC-CoV-2 Can Be Made in the Absence of T Follicular Helper Cells

Jennifer Chen | G5 MD/PhD Trainee | Yale School of Medicine

Identification of ATF4 as Key Upstream Regulator of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cell Metabolism

Jacklyn Huhn | G2 MD/PhD Trainee | Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University


Immune Mediators of Inflammation and Lung Cancer Risk in Nested Case-Control Study

Umayal Sivagnanalingam | M4 | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Moderator: Ruby A. Holland | Breakout Room 2

4:00 - 4:10

4:15 - 4:25

4:30 - 4:40

4:45 - 4:55

Association between Exposome and Subsequent Multiple Sclerosis Outcomes

Shruthi Venkatesh | M2 | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Single Cell Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Dynamic Cell Populations and Differential Gene Expression Patterns in a Mouse Cerebral Aneurysm Model

Isabella McCormack | M2 | Tulane University School of Medicine

Sexual Dimorphic Behavior in the Ts65Dn Model of Down Syndrome during a Time of DYRK1A Overexpression

Faith Prochaska | Senior Undergraduate | IUPUI

Functional Connectivity Measurements in APP/PS-1 Mice Revealed Hypo-Connectivity with Transient Hyper-Connectivity

Christopher Cover | G2 MD/PhD Trainee | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

SUN JAN 16 3:15-4:15PM

Clinical and Translational Medicine

Moderator: Maria Chroneos | Breakout Room 1

3:15 - 3:25

3:30 - 3:40

3:45 - 3:55

4:00 - 4:10

Graft Subsidence in Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: a Propensity Match Analysis of Polyetheretherketone versus 3D Porous Titanium

Lena Vodovotz | M2 Medical Student | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Endorepellin Induced Autophagy as a Mechanism of Age-Related Musculoskeletal Atrophy

Tessa Lavorgna | M2 | Tulane University School of Medicine

Hierarchical Clustering by Patient-Reported Pain Distribution Utility in Diagnosis and Treatment

Mark Moses | M2 | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Is Lactobacillus Phage Involved in the Pathogenesis of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Jacob Elnaggar | G2 MD/PhD Trainee | Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans

Cancer Immunology

Moderator: Hannah Bumgarner | Breakout Room 2

3:15 - 3:25

3:30 - 3:40

3:45 - 3:55

4:00 - 4:10

Toward Therapeutic Modulation of p53 Isoform Δ133p53α in the Tumor-Immune Microenvironment

Neha Wali | G2 MD/PhD Trainee | South Texas MSTP, UT Health San Antonio; National Cancer Institute; University of Oxford

PRRX1 Regulates Acinar Cell Plasticity in Pancreatic Acinar-to-Ductal Metaplasia

Alina Li | G2 MD/PhD Trainee | Columbia University 

Identifying Potential Causative Cell Morphological Features of Cancer Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs)

Alexander Chang | M1 MD/PhD Trainee | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Transcriptomic Profiling Identifies Drivers of Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Metastasis in Mouse Xenograft Model

Nandini Doshi | M2 Med Student | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine​​


Breakout Sessions


 Research-Track Residency Admissions Panel


Hear about residency admissions in general and about specific specialties. 

  • Andrew Norwalk, MD, PhD - Pediatrics, UPMC

  • Taku Kambayashi, MD, PhD - Pathology, University of Pennsylvania

  • Caroline Sokol, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Mercedes Peres-Rodriguez MD PhD - Psychiatry, Mount Sinai

MODERATOR: Vanshee Navani

​MODERATOR: Tolani Olonisakin

MD/PhD and DVM/PhD Admissions Q&A


Learn what you need to apply to MD/PhD and DVM/PhD programs from program directors in the area. 

  • Richard Steinman, MD, PhD - University of Pittsburgh MSTP

  • Skipp Brass, MD, PhD - University of Pennsylvania MSTP

  • Bethany Cummings, DVM, PhD - UC Davis

  • Talia Swartz, MD, PhD - Mount Sinai

MODERATOR: Brandon Smith

SAT JAN 15 3:20-3:50PM - A DAY IN THE LIFE


Physician-Scientist Trainees

A Day in the Life

  • Noah Freedman - M1, Pitt

  • Hector Nieves-Rosado - G2, Pitt

  • Ananya Mukundan - G4, Pitt

  • Tolani Olonisakin - M4, Pitt

Meet students on diverse physician-scientist career paths.  

​MODERATOR: Brandon Smith



A Day in the Life

  • Berthony Deslouches, MD, PhD - Microbiology & Immunology, University of Pittsburgh

  • Cynthia Dunbar, MD - Hematology, NHLBI

  • Mark Zeidel, MD - Nephrology, Harvard

  • Lisa Satlin, MD - Pediatrics, Mount Sinai

Discover the diverse careers and opportunities available to you as a physician-scientist. 

​MODERATOR: Pearl Sutter



A Day in the Life

  • Matthew Neal, MD - General Surgery, University of Pittsburgh

  • Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, MD, PhD - Neurosurgery, UT Austin

  • Umamaheswar Duvvuri, MD, PhD - Head & Neck Surgery, University of Pittsburgh

  • Genevieve Boland MD PhD - Surgical Oncologist, Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Pamela Moalli MD, PhD - OB/GYN University of Pittsburgh

Learn about balancing the uniquely rewarding fields of surgery and science. 

​MODERATOR: Jasmine Hect

SUN JAN 16 2:00-2:30PM


Barriers to Physician-Scientist Training

  • Lisa Meeks, PhD - University of Colorado Anschutz

  • Sean Sweat - M2, Pitt

  • David Cornfield, MD - Stanford

  • Fernando Gonzalez, MD - UCSF

  • Briana Christophers - Chair; Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee for APSA

Learn about unique challenges trainees face, and discover ways to enhance equity and promote justice in academia.

MODERATOR: Jasmine Hect



Funding Pipelines

  • Lan Coffman, MD, PhD - University of Pittsburgh

  • Anne Etgen, PhD - Albert Einstein University

  • Jatin Vyas, MD, PhD - Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Fabrisia Ambrosio, PT, PhD - University of Pittsburgh

  • Nancy Brown, MD - Yale University

Discover the ins and outs of acquiring funding as a physician-scientist. 

​MODERATOR: Pearl Sutter


Physician-Scientist Well-Being

  • Kristin S. Raj, MD - Stanford

  • Karuna Ganesh, MD, PhD - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

  • Tim Keyes - G3, Stanford

  • Corrine Kliment, MD, PhD - University of Pittsburgh

Realize the importance of self-care and work-life balance in a successful physician-scientist career.

​MODERATOR: Jessica Tan

Important Dates

Abstracts for poster presentations will be considered until December 1st.
Consideration for an oral presentation is closed. 

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About the Pitt APSA Chapter and the 2022 APSA NERC

The mission of the Local Chapter of the American Physician Scientists Association at the University of Pittsburgh is to bring together the various physician-scientist training routes at our university, create a networking platform across different levels of training and institutions, and increase the presence of Pitt physician-scientists within the local, regional, and national community. Therefore, our 2022 conference elevates the diverse career paths within physician scientist training. We hope you realize the endless possibilities available to you with physician scientist training and develop mentorships that you will nurture for the rest of your life. Welcome!


2022 APSA NERC Organizing Committee

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Raphael Crum

Symposium Committee Co-Chair

University of Pittsburgh

MD/PhD 5th Year

Talia Adi

Talia Adi

Symposium Committee Co-Chair

Leader of Abstracts and Presentations

University of Pittsburgh

MD/PhD 3rd Year

Gabby Gilmer

Gabby Gilmer

Pitt APSA President

NERC Schedule Coordinator

University of Pittsburgh

MD/PhD 3rd Year

Francisco J. Bonilla-Escobar, MD, MSc, PhD(c)

Francisco J. Bonilla-Escobar, MD, MSc, PhD(c)

Editor-in-Chief, IJMS

University of Pittsburgh

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Bethany Hileman

Social Event Coordinator

University of Pittsburgh

Undergraduate Student

Ruby Holland

Ruby Holland


University of Pittsburgh

MD/PhD 5th Year

Our Sponsors

Thank you!

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Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch!

Please email us at pittapsa@pitt.edu