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Breakthroughs, the newsletter of the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office


The newsletter of the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office

Uncovering The Culprits of Neurodegenerative Disorders

The World Health Organization estimates that 50 million people worldwide are affected by neurodegenerative disorders – primarily characterized by motor neuron dysfunction and loss – and that number is expected to rise as our population ages.  

Recent studies from Feinberg scientists have uncovered new insights into these disorders, elucidating the mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. 

Read this feature story

SQE Inspire Program Hosts Shadow Day

High school juniors from Our Lady of Tepeyac High School in Little Village had the chance to shadow and learn from Feinberg scientists as part of an event hosted by the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics Inspire program on March 5.

Read more about SQE Inspire

Mustanski Named Associate Vice President of Research

The Office for Research at Northwestern University announced the appointment of two distinguished faculty members, Brian Mustanski, PhD, and Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano, PhD, to associate vice president for research. These appointments come after a rigorous search to strengthen Northwestern's research enterprise.

The leadership roles report to vice president for Research Eric Perreault, PhD, and are tasked with advancing innovation in the social and behavioral sciences and enhancing scientific collaborations with national laboratories.  

Read the announcement

Faculty Profile

Developing Clinical Trials and Novel Immunotherapies for the Treatment of Melanoma

Sunandana Chandra, MD, MS, is an associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology. Her clinical and research interests include the development of robust clinical trials and studying novel biomarkers that may be used as prognostic and predictive tools for managing melanoma and other advanced skin cancers, as well as cancer of unknown primary. 

Read more about her work


Staff Profile

Expanding Administrative Capabilities to Support Research

Jen Zhou, MBA, is associate administrator in the Division of Cardiology at Feinberg. As the associate division administrator for the Division of Cardiology, she supports the expansion of the administrative team and fast division growth as well as optimizes operations to enhance overall efficiency.

Read more about her work


Student Profile

Furthering the Understanding of Addictive and Compulsive Behavior

Nkatha Mwenda is a PhD student in the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neurosciences (NUIN) Program. After falling in love with science in the sixth grade, Mwenda went on to earn her BA in biology from Kalamazoo College. Now in the lab of Talia Lerner, PhD, assistant professor of Neuroscience, she investigates the neuronal circuitry underlying compulsive-like behavior. 

Read more about her research


Campus Events

Apr 12

Dr. Kyle Amber - Rush (Chicago) - Friday Noon Research Conference - Allergy and Immunology

Chicago - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Apr 12

Neuroscience Seminar Series: "Synaptic Signaling in Memory and Chronic Pain-Related Disorders"

Chicago - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Apr 12

Joint Lurie Cancer Center Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Seminar Series

Chicago - 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Apr 15

Dr. Madeline Schutt - Monday Noon Research Conference - Allergy and Immunology

Chicago - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Research in the News

TIME, April 5
Why Heart Disease Research Still Favors Men
Robert Kushner, MD, was featured. 

ABC News, April 2
Girls' Mental Health Suffered the Most During the Pandemic, Data Shows
Jennifer Hoffman, MD, MS, was featured.  

US News & World Report, March 24
Doctors Get First US Lung-Liver Transplant for Advanced Lung Cancer
Ankit Bharat, MD, was featured.

Check out More Media Coverage


Postdoctoral Scientists Can Apply for T32 Funding

The NUCATS Institute has extended the deadline to apply for Equitable TRanslational science to Accelerate Impact of New innovations (E-TRAIN) funding. This T32 (formerly TL1) program is contingent on funding by NIH/NCATS of the NUCATS UM1 and T32 applications. Applications are now due June 30. The earliest appointment date is September 1. The T32 program aims to catalyze the careers of postdoctoral scientists, who will expand their domain expertise through mentored research with increasing independence while developing foundational skills in boundary-crossing, interdisciplinary team science.

Learn more about the program


Sponsored Research

Title: Nuclear Rotation and Cellular Reorganization During Cytomegalovirus Infection

  • PI: Derek Walsh, PhD, professor of Microbiology-Immunology 
  • Sponsor: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Read more about this project


Sponsored Research

Title: A Novel Role for EZH2 in A-to-I RNA Editing in Prostate Cancer

  • PI: Qi Cao, PhD, associate professor of Urology
  • Sponsor: National Cancer Institute

Read more about this project


Breakthroughs Podcast

Discovering New ALS Therapeutic Avenues with Evangelos Kiskinis, PhD

Northwestern investigators have uncovered novel cellular mechanisms involved in two types of genetic ALS that might lead to future targeted therapies. Evangelos Kiskinis, PhD, shares insights on these findings recently published in Science Advances and Cell Reports. 

Listen to the podcast episode


New Faculty

David Winlaw, MBBS, MD, FRACS, joined Feinberg on November 1, 2023 as professor of Surgery and Pediatrics. He was also appointed Division Head of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery and Surgical Co-Executive Director of the Heart Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He holds the Willis J. Potts, MD Founders’ Board Professorship in Surgery. Winlaw was previously at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati where he was associate director in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Heart Institute and professor of Surgery. Prior to his Cincinnati appointment, Winlaw served as the head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at Children’s Hospital of Westmead in Sydney, Australia from 2008 to 2020, where he specialized in neonatal and infant cardiac surgery, including surgery for hypoplastic left heart syndrome, corrected transposition and the Ross-Konno procedure as well as pioneered approaches to several other complex neonatal heart conditions.


Galter Library

Investigation of Ethics Dumping Cases

Galter Library, led by Mohammad Hosseini, PhD, is pursuing an international and multidisciplinary effort to create more awareness about ethics dumping, which happens when investigators seek out lenient Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and ethics committees to conduct ethically problematic research.

Read More About Ethics Dumping

High Impact Research

Dulai PS, Singh S, Jairath V, Wong E, Narula N. Integrating Evidence to Guide Use of Biologics and Small Molecules for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Gastroenterology. 2024; 166(3):396-408.e2.

Gharzai LA, Morris E, Suresh K, Nguyen-Tân PF, Rosenthal DI, Gillison ML, Harari PM, Garden AS, Koyfman S, Caudell JJ, Jones CU, Mitchell DL, Krempl G, Ridge JA, Gensheimer MF, Bonner JA, Filion E, Dunlap NE, Stokes WA, Le QT, Torres-Saavedra P, Mierzwa M, Schipper MJ. Surrogate endpoints in clinical trials of p16-positive squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx: an individual patient data meta-analysis. The Lancet. Oncology. 2024; 25(3):366-375.

Halabi S, Roy A, Rydzewska L, Guo S, Godolphin P, Hussain M, Tangen C, Thompson I, Xie W, Carducci MA, Smith MR, Morris MJ, Gravis G, Dearnaley DP, Verhagen P, Goto T, James N, Buyse ME, Tierney JF, Sweeney C. Radiographic Progression-Free Survival and Clinical Progression-Free Survival as Potential Surrogates for Overall Survival in Men With Metastatic Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2024; 42(9):1044-1054.

Hernández-Díaz S, Straub L, Bateman BT, Zhu Y, Mogun H, Wisner KL, Gray KJ, Lester B, McDougle CJ, DiCesare E, Pennell PB, Huybrechts KF. Risk of Autism after Prenatal Topiramate, Valproate, or Lamotrigine Exposure. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2024; 390(12):1069-1079.

Review More Publications

Featured Core

Pathology Core Facility

The Pathology Core Facility (PCF) is a centralized, comprehensive, core laboratory providing histology, immunohistochemistry, molecular analysis, and microscopic evaluation services for human tissue-based studies.

Services Offered

  • Histology 
  • ImmunoHistoChemistry
  • Bio Repository
  • Molecular Pathology
  • Microscopy
  • Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
  • Equipment use and training

Learn more about using PCF

NIH News

Preparing for Funding Opportunities Using the Simplified Review Framework

Last fall, NIH announced the implementation of a simplified review framework for most research project grants. The goals of this new framework include enabling peer reviewers to better focus on answering the key questions necessary to assess the scientific and technical merit of proposed research projects, mitigate the effect of reputational bias and reduce reviewer burden. NIH just released a Guide Notice that provides guidance to applicants on navigating new and updated funding opportunities expected to be published between now and January 2025. NIH encourages applications to review the Guide Notice for more details on the implementation plans. Applicants and reviewers can expect to receive further guidance and support as the implementation date of January 2025 draws near. 

Changes Coming to Applications and Peer Review in January 2025

NIH is implementing multiple changes that will impact the preparation and peer review of most grant applications submitted to NIH for due dates on or after January 25, 2025. A video is available to provide overview for several changes including: simplified review criteria for most research project grants, revisions to the fellowship application and review process, updates to reference letter guidance, updates to NRSA training grant applications, updated application forms (FORMS-I), and common forms for biographical sketch and current support. NIH has developed a centralized webpage on Changes Coming in January 2025 that NIH will continue to update as details of each change and resources are developed and released. It is encouraged for all connected to NIH to learn more about these changes, and take advantage of the many resources NIH is developing. 

Read the Latest from NIH

Funding Opportunities

Research Initiative for Vaccine and Antibiotic Allergy (UG3/UH3 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

  • Sponsor: NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
  • Deadline: May 21
  • Upper amount: Up to $250,000 per year

Addressing HIV in highest risk sexual and gender minorities (R34 Clinical Trial Required)

  • Sponsor: NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Deadline: July 14
  • Upper amount: Up to $450,000 over a 3-year project period

Implementing and Sustaining Evidence-Based Mental Health Practices in Low-Resource Settings to Achieve Equity in Outcomes

  • Sponsor: NIH, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Deadline: September 7
  • Upper amount: Up to $450,000 over a 3-year project period

More Resources

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Breakthroughs, the newsletter of the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office