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Mello Scholars Recognized for Molecular Research at UMass Medical School in Pursuit of the Advancement of Human Health

UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence scientist is among the 2020 recipients

Date Posted: Saturday, October 03, 2020
By: UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence
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Left to Right: Alysia Bryll, Kyounghee Min, Shawn Egri, Hakan Guney

Nobel Laureate Craig Mello presented the 2020 Mello Scholars awards at a socially distanced ceremony at UMass Medical School. The annual event recognizes graduate students in the Program in Molecular Medicine with outstanding track records and bright futures. The award comes with one year of funding.

Craig C. Mello, PhD, has been a member of the UMass Medical School faculty since 1995, and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator since 2000. Dr. Mello and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, of Stanford University, were awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2006, for their discoveries related to RNA interference.

kyounghee-min-mello-scholarOne of this year’s Mello Scholars is a member of the Czech Lab within the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence. Kyounghee Min is a PhD candidate who studies the underlying mechanisms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and she’s investigating therapeutic targets against them.

My ultimate goal as a scientist is to contribute to defeating destructive and chronic diseases that threaten the dignity of life,” said Min. “Curiosity about molecular mechanisms of disease and perseverance of my research goals are still driving my passions.”

The Czech Lab uses the latest methods of gene silencing and editing to better understand insulin signaling and energy expenditure pathways. Their goal is to develop therapeutic strategies for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Min completed pre-PharmD at the College of Nursing at Yonsei University at the top of her class. She then earned her Pharm.D. degree at Ewha Women’s University, where she was also at the top of the 131 students for her final two semesters.

“I was delighted to see Kyounghee awarded a Mello Scholar Award for her exciting work on type 2 diabetes," said Michael P. Czech, PhD, the Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research and professor of molecular medicine. "She's an outstanding graduate student and lab colleague. Congratulations to each of these well-deserving graduate students for the fine work they’re doing here on campus.”

Shawn Egri is working on his PhD as a member of the Shen Lab. They study nutrient sensing in cells, structural biology and biophysics at the molecular level. 

Alysia Bryll is a PhD candidate in the Peterson Lab. She’s interested in understanding the mechanisms that control gene expression to maintain steady state RNA pools.

Hakan Guney is a PhD candidate in Luban Lab. He studies how host innate immune systems sense viruses and responds to viral infection. The Luban Lab has recently been conducting coronavirus related research.

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