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8.24.2018

Miller School Student Wins First-Ever Wound Healing Society Summer Research Fellowship

Vivian Chen, a member of the Miller School Class of 2021, won the first Summer Research Fellowship Award ever given by the Wound Healing Society.

Chen, a student in the University of Miami’s Medical Scholars Program — a 7-year accelerated B.S./M.D. program — who received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology this spring, received the fellowship for her project “Modulation of human antimicrobial molecule Perforin-2 by pathogenic and commensal bacteria.” The award, in addition to a stipend and funds for supplies, includes funding for travel expenses to present her research at the Wound Healing Society’s 2019 Annual Meeting next May in San Antonio.

“The Wound Healing Society has a tradition of supporting young investigators,” said Chen’s mentor, Marjana Tomic-Canic, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery and director of the department’s Wound Healing and Regenerative Medicine Research Program. “The Summer Research Fellowship Award was created to attract undergraduate and professional school students to do research projects in the field of wound healing, and to encourage them to further engage and network by presenting their work at the annual meeting. It is competitive in nature and Vivien was selected by the awards committee as the first recipient.”

Chen began her research this summer, and it will continue into the fall semester.

“I’m am excited and honored to be the first awardee,” she said. “Under Dr. Tomic-Canic’s wonderful mentorship, I have been evaluating how pathogenic (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus aka MRSA) and commensal bacteria (S. epidermidis) modulate the skin’s innate immunity through the antimicrobial molecule Perforin-2, using an ex-vivo wound model of human skin. It stems from an ongoing collaborative work between the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology — a legacy of the late Dr. Eckhard Podack. Through this work, we hope to further elucidate potential mechanisms of infection during the acute wound healing process.”

Dr. Tomic-Canic praises Chen’s dedication to research.

“Vivien was one of the star undergraduate students at UM,” she said. “She came highly recommended by the Office of Undergraduate Research and joined my laboratory during her freshman year. Vivien worked very hard and spent any spare time between her classes in the lab. I was thrilled when she was accepted to the Miller School and was able to continue doing research with my team.”

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