MD/PhD student awarded F30 fellowship

Crissie Vandehoef, who studies the gut microbiome, wants to help children with autism
April 1, 2019

Crissie Vandehoef, an MD/PhD student at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, received a Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Predoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA), also known as an  F30 fellowship, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Kirschstein-NRSA program is designed to enhance the research and clinical training of promising future physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists who are currently in a combined MD/PhD or other dual-doctoral degree training program. It funds a stipend and pays some portion of tuition.

Vandehoef is also the College of Medicine’s representative to the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) and one of the organizers of the 2019 South Regional APSA meeting at Texas A&M in the fall.

Vandehoef is in her fifth year of the program. She has finished the first two years of medical school, and now she is working in Jason Karpac’s lab to complete her PhD research. It focuses on gut microbiome and diet.

“I look at the gut microbiome of flies on two different diets, one standard and one high in sugar,” she said. “Flies have simpler microbiomes than humans or other mammals do, which makes them great to study.”

Eventually Vandehoef hopes to work with people with autism and see if changes in diet or the microbiome can help some of their symptoms. “I want to treat patients while also doing research to try to improve their quality of life,” she said. “One day I’ll get there.”

— Christina Sumners

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