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Speakers

Sadie Bergeron, Ph.D. 

Sadie Bergeron

Dr. Sadie Bergeron received her B.S. in biology cum laude in 2003 from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, USA. It was there that she was first introduced to the zebrafish and its power as a vertebrate model for studying aspects of genetic disorders in humans by Dr. Kerri Warren, associate professor in biology. In 2010 Dr. Bergeron earned her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for her thesis work performed in Dr. Rolf Karlstrom’s laboratory. There she genetically and phenotypically characterized a zebrafish mutant with early neural patterning deficits and contributed to a microarray study to uncover new molecular cues that regulate neurogenesis with a focus on the Hedgehog signaling pathway. Dr. Bergeron joined Dr. Harold Burgess’ lab at the NICHD in November, 2010 to extend her research focus in zebrafish from the genetic control of neurodevelopment to studying neural circuit function and behavior. There she won the fellows award for research excellence (FARE) in 2013 for research performed and later published that defines the molecular identity of neurons for prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response. She has been a tenure-track assistant professor in developmental neuroscience and biology at West Virginia University since December 1, 2015. Currently her research focus is to elucidate complex molecular genetic pathways that are conserved from fish to mammals to direct the proper development of select brain interneurons that process and integrate sensory information from the environment.   

Gerald Downes, Ph.D. 

Gerald Downes

Originally, from Kingston Massachusetts, Gerald Downes obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis and performed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005. His research employs in integrated behavioral, molecular-genetic, and microscopic imaging approach to study nervous system development and function using zebrafish as a model system. Dr. Downes has received several awards for his work, including postdoctoral fellowships from the United Negro College Fund-Merck and the National Science Foundation, and National Research Service and career development awards from the National Institutes of Health. 

Benjamin Feldman, Ph.D. 

 Benjamin Feldman

Benjamin Feldman received his BA from UC Berkeley and his PhD in 1995 from Columbia University in Mitchell Goldfarb’s lab, where he showed that FGF4 is essential for embryonic implantation and survival in mice. As a postdoc with William Talbot at NYU and then with Derek Stemple at the NIMR in London, Dr. Feldman showed that zebrafish Nodal ligands and their Lefty antagonists have reciprocal essential roles in mesoderm and endoderm development. Dr. Feldman made further contributions to this field as a tenure-track investigator at NHGRI, beginning in 2003, where he also partnered with clinical researchers to create a disease model and zebrafish-based assays to quantify the activity of variant human alleles. Dr. Feldman joined NICHD in 2012 as founding director of the NICHD Zebrafish Core, where he has been developing genetic resources and helping clinical researchers from NICHD and elsewhere to interrogate aspects of human disease using the zebrafish model.

Lisa Holland, Ph.D. 

 Lisa Holland

Lisa Holland is a Professor of Chemistry at West Virginia University, specializing in microscale separations of biomolecules relevant to human health.   She received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Maryland at College Park, while working in the Electroanalytical Research Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Professor James Jorgenson.  Through a National Research Service Award she held a postdoctoral fellowship under the direction of Professor Susan Lunte in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kansas.  Dr. Holland is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award and has served as the Chair of the American Chemical Society Subdivision of Chromatography and Separation Chemistry.  She has also served on the scientific committees of national and international conferences, the advisory board of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry as well as Analytical Methods.  She enjoys teaching instrumental analysis to undergraduate and graduate students and mentoring the many outstanding researchers who have engaged in separation science at WVU.  

Tamara Tal

Tal

Tamara Tal is a principal investigator in the Integrated Systems Toxicology Division, located in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Tal lab uses colonized and microbe-free zebrafish to study how host-associated microbes modify the toxicity of environmental chemicals. The lab also investigates the developmental toxicity, developmental neurotoxicity, and chemical uptake and biotransformation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in larval zebrafish. Tamara earned a PhD in toxicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed postdoctoral research fellowships at Oregon State University and the U.S. EPA where she used the zebrafish model to explore microRNAs as mediators of developmental toxicants and generated a transgenic zebrafish assay to evaluate a predictive model of developmental vascular toxicity. 

James Walters, Ph.D. 

James Walters

My long-term goal is to model, in real time and in living animals the mechanisms behind enterocyte regulation of lipid homeostasis, processes that have important implications for dyslipidemias; including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Such dynamic events are difficult to model by traditional cell culture and histological approaches. My work has focused on understanding lipid absorption and lipid droplet formation via novel tools that exploit the optical clarity of the Zebrafish embryo, a feature that enables visualization of lipid absorption in live animals. I have developed new imaging strategies, diet and drug delivery methods, and genetic tools advantageous for the proposed study. These studies are the first to directly observe fluorescent lipids, fusion proteins, and reporter gene constructs in defined dietary conditions with single cell resolution. I now plan to use this system to achieve a comprehensive understanding of dietary lipid processing and identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of dyslipidemia. As faculty at an undergraduate institution that fosters my research, I have the great fortune to pay my experiences forward to teach, to train, and to inspire young minds.

Joshua Waxman, Ph.D. 

Joshua Waxman

Dr. Waxman grew up in Philadelphia. He developed a love for developmental biology while attending New College of Florida. Dr. Waxman performed his graduate training in Dr. Randall Moon’s lab at the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Deborah Yelon at the Skirball Institute of the NYU Medical Center. Dr. Waxman established his lab within the Molecular Cardiovascular Biology Division of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical center in the fall of 2009. Congenital heart defects are the most common congenital malformations and cause of neonatal mortality in humans, emphasizing the precise nature by which the vertebrate hearts need to be constructed during development. The Waxman lab uses zebrafish as a model organism to investigate molecular signals and mechanisms that underlie normal and improper vertebrate heart development. A major focus of the Waxman lab is developing an understanding of the mechanisms that determine and maintain the sizes of the individual cardiac chambers. Ultimately, Dr. Waxman hopes the understanding of proper vertebrate heart development that his research generates will lead to novel strategies that can prevent and repair hearts in children and adults.

Richard White, M.D., Ph.D. 

Richard White

Richard White, M.D., Ph.D, is a physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is interested in basic mechanisms underlying cancer evolution and metastasis.  He trained in Internal Medicine at Yale, followed by Medical Oncology training at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. His postdoctoral work in Leonard Zon’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School helped establish the zebrafish as a new model system in cancer. In his laboratory at Sloan Kettering, he is using the zebrafish to understand basic mechanisms of metastasis, the major cause of all cancer mortality. The zebrafish is a novel platform for addressing these questions because it allows for high-throughput, high-resolution in vivo imaging of cellular behavior, and is highly amenable to unbiased screening approaches.

The lab is interested in the dynamic cross-talk between tumor cells and the microenvironment, and how this interplay influences metastatic success.  His work has revealed novel interactions between melanoma cells and adipocytes in the microenvironment, and new mechanisms of genetic heterogeneity in melanoma. Because fundamental mechanisms uncovered in zebrafish melanoma have direct applicability to the human disease, the goal of the lab is to use that model to ultimately improve the management of patients with disseminated disease.