School of Biological Sciences student wins prestigious research award

Jouliana Sadek, a Ph.D. student working in the lab of Prof. Sullivan Read at the UMKC School of Biological Sciences, was honored with the Priscilla Schaffer Award for the Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation at the 36th Annual International Herpesvirus Workshop in Gdansk, Poland. This workshop brings together investigators from all over the world studying all of the human herpesviruses (including Herpes Simplex Viruses 1 and 2, Epstein Barr virus, Varicella Zoster Virus, Cytomegalovirus, and the Kaposi Sarcoma Herpesvirus), and is the major international conference on herpesviruses every year.

Sadek was recognized for her poster and presentation to the conference, which focused on her research on the control of mRNA stability in mammalian cells and in cells infected with herpes simplex virus as a post-transcriptional mechanism to regulate gene expression.

“I felt very pleased and honored to receive such an award and to realize that my work was highly appreciated by pioneers in the herpesvirology field,” Sadek said. “Attending this conference was certainly one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It gave me the opportunity to discuss my research with the leading researchers in the field and to learn about a variety of topics in HSV research.”

The award is named in honor of Dr. Priscilla Schaffer, who was internationally recognized for her scientific contributions about herpes simplex virus biology including neuronal infection and latency. She made important contributions to viral gene expression, DNA replication, drug resistance, glycoprotein synthesis, establishment of latency, and pathogenesis. She also was an outstanding mentor to many graduate students and postdocs. She held prominent positions at Harvard Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, and the University of Arizona. Dr. Schaffer died in 2009 and the award was established to commemorate her contributions to herpesvirology and to the mentoring of many virologists. Sadek is only the second recipient of this prestigious award. She is also a Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund award winner and traveled to the conference on her GAF scholarship award.

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