Meet Our Students

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program: A student perspective

Rebecca Schmidt, Leah Colvin Wanshura, and Susan Wurster, BMB Track Representatives

As a world-class medical institution, Mayo strives to contribute to the field of medicine through its "three shields" of patient care, research, and education. As graduate students, we participate in two of those interdependent sectors. Many of the classes in the graduate program are team-taught, giving students the benefit of learning course topics from experts in each respective field. We learn from our professors outside of class as well. Faculty colloquia teach us about the research being done in other labs at Mayo, and faculty-invited seminar speakers inform us about the advances being made in other institutions around the country.

Read more

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology labs

Meet the students in Dr. Maher's Lab (nucleic acid structure and recognition)

Tiffany Hoage

Tiffany Hoage

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout's Applied Science program, Tiffany Hoage became a Mayo Graduate School student in 2006. Currently, Tiffany is conducting her thesis work in Dr. Xiaolei Xu's lab, where she and other lab members are establishing zebrafish models of cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart) to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in cardiac hypertrophy, as well as screen for potential therapeutics. One model under investigation initially exhibits hypertrophy and later hyperplasia (increased number) of cardiac myocytes (heart cells). Tiffany is focusing on the mechanisms that result in the transition to hyperplasia, including how the Wnt pathway and cardiac stem cells are involved. In addition to research, Tiffany has been actively involved in the Graduate Student Association as First-Year Representative and BMB Representative and enjoys volunteering, traveling, spending time outdoors, surfing the internet, reading, and watching game shows.

Read more

Jessica Monique Silva

Jessica Monique Silva

Jessica is a Mexican American Texan born and raised in San Antonio (Go Spurs Go). Jessica Silva was the first in her family to graduate from college and continue her graduate studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Jessica graduated from St. Mary's University in 2005 and worked her way through college in a medical oncology research lab studying breast cancer at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. While she was conducting research her mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer and this motivated Jessica to continue her studies in cancer research and do all she can to continue the fight for a cure. During the summer of 2004, Jessica participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and is currently in the Cancer Biology subtrack in Mayo Clinic Graduate School. Jessica is currently the Cancer Biology Representative for the Graduate Student Association, participates in the Mayo Clinic Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) and is also the student representative for the "Mayo Clinic Education and Diversity Blog, Three Shields, Many Perspectives" committee.

Read more

Leah Colvin Wanshura

Delineating the roles and molecular mechanisms of the regulated proteolysis in RAS-mediated tumorigenesis and cancer metastatsis in drosophila and in human cancer cells

Leah Colvin Wanshura

Leah attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota in 2003. Leah worked as an undergraduate laboratory assistant to support herself through 4-years of college. After college, Leah worked as junior scientist and medical technician for two years at the University of Minnesota. Leah entered Mayo Graduate School in 2005 with a strong interest in developmental biology and cancer biology.

Read more

Ishara Azmi

Cell Biology and Genetics track David Katzmann lab

Ishara Azmi

“Down-regulation” of activated receptors is crucial to prevent aberrant signaling, which can contribute to uncontrolled cellular proliferation. Internalized activated receptors enter the intra-lumenal vesicles within multivesicular bodies (MVB) en route to degradation in the lysosome. Hence the MVB pathway plays an essential role in regulating cell surface protein composition as well as in other cellular functions. Characterization of the class E Vps or Endosomal Sorting Complex Required for Transport (ESCRT) proteins has provided insights into the intricate mechanisms governing this process. Our laboratory is interested in further understating this complicated process through elucidating factors that regulate flux through the MVB pathway.

Read more

Diping Wang

Regulation of TRADD by androgens in prostate cancer

Diping Wang

Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. Currently, androgen ablation is the primary treatment for advance prostate cancer. However, inevitably, these tumors will progress to an androgen-depletion independent (ADI) state. Prostate cancers at this stage are unresponsive to androgen ablation treatment. Our lab is focusing on exploring the molecular mechanisms by which prostate cancer cells progress to the ADI state.

Read more