UNCF Announces the Inaugural Cohort of the E. E. Just Life Sciences Postgraduate Fellowship

Friday, December 21, 2018 General News
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Two African American bioscientists have been chosen for the inaugural cohort of the fellowship program

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Today UNCF announces the selection of two outstanding African American

biomedical scientists for the inaugural cohort of the E. E. Just Postgraduate Fellowship in the Life Sciences– Bianca Jones Marlin, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Ransey, Ph.D.

Dr. Marlin is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from New York University School of Medicine and dual bachelor's degrees in biology and adolescent education from St. John's University. During her graduate studies with Dr. Robert Froemke, Dr. Marlin examined how the brain adapts to care for a newborn. Her findings uncovered a fundamental role of the neuromodulator oxytocin during the transition to motherhood. As postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Richard Axel, she investigates transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, or how trauma in parents affect the brain structure and sensory experience of their future offspring. Dr. Marlin aims to utilize neurobiology and the science of learning to better inform both the scientific and educational community on how positive experiences dictate brain health, academic performance and social well-being.

Dr. Ransey is a postdoctoral scientist in the Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroengineering (LPNE) at Duke University, under the direction of Dr. Kafui Dzirasa. Dr. Ransey earned her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY) and her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) where she aimed to understand the structures and mechanisms of proteins involved in RNA processing and regulation. During her graduate studies, Dr. Ransey advanced established methodologies critical for the identification and prediction of the myriad targets of RNA binding proteins – notably, for the major oncoprotein (cancer causing protein), Lin28. As a postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Ransey is interested in understanding the basis of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders – a range of conditions characterized by social and behavioral deficits with increasing prevalence in the U.S. (afflicting nearly 1 in 45 children). In the LPNE, she applies her cross-disciplinary expertise towards the development of innovative, protein-engineering based strategies for the study and treatment of this and related disorders.

Named in honor of pioneering African American biologist, academic and science writer Dr. Ernest Everett Just – one of the most prominent African American scientists of the twentieth century – the goal of the fellowship program is to transform the postgraduate training experience by accelerating the career development of African American scientists pursuing research careers in academic or biopharmaceutical industry R&D. The three-year fellowship award will provide a highly competitive stipend, a research budget, travel award for research conferences and access to mentors and professional networks. Over the next five years, three groups of African American scientists will be selected to participate in this highly competitive fellowship program and will also have a chance to engage Bristol-Myers Squibb scientists in the company's discovery and translational medicine divisions to learn about the biopharmaceutical company's research and development program.

"We congratulate Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin and Dr. Elizabeth Ransey for their outstanding research contributions in neuroscience," said Chad Womack, Ph.D. Senior Director for STEM Initiatives at UNCF. "We welcome the opportunity to support these outstanding scientists as they continue their postgraduate research and pursue careers as independent scientists. We are also proud to work with Bristol-Myers Squibb to nurture the professional development of the next generation of leaders in biomedical research and expand the number of African Americans working to advance the nation's health. This investment also further extends UNCF's impact as a major stakeholder that supports African Americans pursuing careers in STEM fields."

"Bristol-Myers Squibb is proud to support the E. E. Just Postgraduate Fellowship program and we extend our sincere congratulations to Dr. Marlin and Dr. Ransey for having achieved this significant milestone," said Tom Lynch, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. "At Bristol-Myers Squibb, we have seen firsthand how inclusive dialogue and diverse perspectives are fueling the scientific innovation behind an industry-leading pipeline and helping to deliver transformational medicines for the patients we serve. We are proud to partner with UNCF to invest in the next generation of African American scientific leaders."

"Bristol-Myers Squibb is proud to support this program with UNCF as a partner in its efforts to invest in and broaden opportunities for promising African American scientists pursuing careers in the biopharmaceutical industry," added Mr. David L. Gonzales, Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Bristol-Myers Squibb. "We are excited about this partnership as a visible commitment toward building not only this critical talent pipeline of African American scientists, but also investing in the leadership development of these postgraduate fellows. In so doing, BMS advances our mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases."

About UNCF: UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF


SOURCE United Negro College Fund, Inc.

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