Pew Funds 10 Latin American Scientists Conducting Biomedical Research

The Pew Charitable Trusts today announced the 2024 class of the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

The 10 postdoctoral fellows from six Latin American countries—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru—will receive two years of funding to conduct research in laboratories across the United States. They will work under the mentorship of prominent biomedical scientists, including alumni from the Latin American fellows program and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

“The grave threats to human health over the past few years—from COVID-19 to growing rates of cancer in younger adults—underscore how important it is to invest in promising biomedical scientists throughout the world,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Pew’s senior vice president for Philadelphia and scientific advancement. “These outstanding Latin American researchers are poised to become leaders in the global scientific community, and Pew is proud to support them.”

Fellows who choose to return to Latin America to launch their own research labs will receive additional funding from Pew. Approximately 68% of program participants have pursued this path, which has helped to build a more robust biomedical research community in Latin America.

Research interests in the 2024 class include exploring how mosquitoes detect human targets and transmit disease, engineering specialized RNA molecules to help ward off neurodegeneration, and investigating methods to activate a powerful anti-cancer protein that can prevent tumor growth.

“Biomedical research is a global effort, and collaborations that bring together different personal perspectives across scientific disciplines are key to making meaningful change,” said Eva Nogales, Ph.D., distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and chair of the program’s national advisory committee. “I’m thrilled to welcome this year’s class, a group of exceptional Latin American scientists with immense talent. Their research in top labs will help pave the way for scientific discovery that can benefit human health across the globe.”

The 2024 Pew Latin American fellows and their U.S. mentors are:

Nagif Alata Jimenez, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Marcos Simoes-Costa, Ph.D., 2008 Pew Latin American fellow

Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Nagif Alata Jimenez, Ph.D., will investigate the molecular programs that guide the formation of specialized cells during embryonic development.

Krist Antunes Fernandes, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Ai Ing Lim, Ph.D.

Princeton University

Krist Antunes Fernandes, Ph.D., will study how eradication of parasitic infections has shaped the immune system, especially during pregnancy, and fostered the development of asthma and respiratory infections.

Carolina Cabalín, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Niroshana Anandasabapathy, M.D., Ph.D.

Weill Cornell Medicine

Carolina Cabalín, Ph.D., will explore how cancer-targeted drugs that stimulate immunity can trigger autoimmune disorders such as the skin condition vitiligo.

Florencia Fernandez-Chiappe, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Meg Younger, Ph.D., 2024 Pew biomedical scholar

Boston University

Florencia Fernandez-Chiappe, Ph.D., will assess how the unusual structure of a mosquito’s olfactory system allows it to detect a human’s signature scent.

Jovanka Gencel-Augusto, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Jennifer R. Grandis, M.D.

University of California, San Francisco

Jovanka Gencel-Augusto, Ph.D., will determine alternative strategies to activate p53, a protective protein that can be harnessed to defend against cancer.

Gladys Gutiérrez-Bugallo, Ph.D.

Laboratory of George Dimopoulos, Ph.D., MBA

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Gladys Gutiérrez-Bugallo, Ph.D., will explore the factors that allow female mosquitoes to pass viruses to their progeny.

Mateo Alejandro Martínez-Roque, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Samie R. Jaffrey, M.D., Ph.D.

Weill Cornell Medicine

Mateo Alejandro Martínez-Roque, Ph.D., will pursue the development of “glue RNAs” that can be used to guide the degradation of abnormal proteins, which can lead to diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Felipe Méndez-Salcido, Ph.D.

Laboratory of A. Kimberley McAllister, Ph.D., 2001 Pew biomedical scholar

University of California, Davis

Felipe Méndez-Salcido, Ph.D., will explore how dysregulation in dopamine signaling can drive the altered cognitive behaviors characteristic of schizophrenia.

Brenda Nakagaki, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Evanna Mills, Ph.D., 2024 Pew biomedical scholar

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School

Brenda Nakagaki, Ph.D., will investigate how the metabolic dysfunction that accompanies diet-induced obesity triggers inflammation in different cells and tissues.

Guido Petrovich, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Josefina del Mármol, Ph.D., 2023 Pew biomedical scholar

Harvard Medical School

Guido Petrovich, Ph.D., will dissect the molecular mechanisms by which the insects that transmit Chagas disease locate their human hosts.


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