Programs recipients

Ayelet S. Sivan 2011 - 2012 Bernice Goldblatt Fellow

2011 - 2012 Bernice Goldblatt Fellow

I am a first year graduate student in the Committee on Cancer Biology PhD Program. I am a medical student at Tel Aviv University, magna cum laude, combining my clinical degree with basic scientific research at the University of Chicago. I am still formulating my research interests, but I am mainly interested in how niches of the bone marrow regulate hematopoietic stem cell behavior, as well as in the development and function of regulatory T cells and their role in tumor progression. I have pursued the former through a rotation with UC faculty Dorothy Sipkins, MD, PhD, over the summer, and I am in the midst of pursuing the latter through a rotation with Peter Savage, PhD.

In the Sipkins lab, I studied functional niches of the bone marrow, specifically the mesenchymal-hematopoietic stem cell niche and its response to stress induction. We had interesting results over the summer, which I believe will provide valuable insight into the mechanisms of blood cell development, as well as of hematopoietic deregulation observed in hematopoietic disorders. To date, the MSC-HSC niche response to stress has not been characterized, which constitutes an interesting prism through which one may study new aspects of microenvironmental regulation of hematopoiesis. In particular, these findings may substantially contribute to the long-standing debate regarding the role of MSCs in normal hematopoiesis and hematopoietic disorders. This research was chosen to take part in the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program application process.

Prior to my research experience at the University of Chicago, I took part in research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Professor Yoram Groner’s molecular genetics lab. At Weizmann, my research focused on the role of RUNX-1 in megakaryocytic differentiation as well as on the contribution of the t 8,21 translocation product AML1-ETO to the development of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. My work there will be included in two upcoming publications pending submission by Pencovich, Niv et al and Ben Ami, Oren et al respectively.
Biomedical research is the ultimate arena where I can bring together my two fundamental passions— understanding the world around me and making it a better place, i.e., science and medicine. From a very young age, I was subjected to a broad scientific education, which also included meta-scientific disciplines such as history and philosophy of science, encouraged by my father—a true renaissance man—and balanced by my mother’s profound understanding of the human psyche and her equally deep care for human beings and their welfare.

It is not by chance that my parents’ characterizations have been presented as dichotomous, for they constitute a microcosmic reflection of a broader distinction maintained in the biomedical world. On the one end stand the clinicians, unconcerned for the most part with basic scientific research, and on the other biologists, unfamiliar with the clinical aspects of health and disease. I believe it is essential that these two, mutually dependent perspectives, cooperate.

At the University of Chicago I feel part of an important academic community of researchers as well as physicians, which infuses me with the ambition to really pursue my ideas and contribute substantially to scientific and translational research. As part of the Goldblatt Fellowship Program, I am grateful for the opportunity to realize this ambition, with the guidance of Chicago’s outstanding faculty and an uncompromising academic standard. Since my arrival in Chicago I have already learned so much and have been introduced to so many new ideas, I have no doubt that my experience here will be unique as well as fruitful and enable me to achieve my goals.to scientific and translational research. As part of the Goldblatt Fellowship Program, I am grateful for the opportunity to realize this ambition, with the guidance of Chicago’s outstanding faculty and an uncompromising academic standard. Since my arrival in Chicago I have already learned so much and have been introduced to so many new ideas, I have no doubt that my experience here will be unique as well as fruitful and enable me to achieve my goals.