Salem, Pinson awarded National Institutes of Health fellowships

Grants will provide support through remainder of studies and postdoctoral training
October 28, 2019

Nihal Salem and Marisa Pinson, graduate students at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, were recently awarded fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Salem and Pinson are both students in the lab of Rajesh Miranda, PhD, professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics (NExT).

Salem was awarded the Individual Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for her proposal, “From FASD to AUDs: strategies for preventing alcohol addictions.” This award will support Salem through her final year of graduate studies and four years of postdoctoral research with a research mentor of her choice.

“Nihal is the first Texas A&M student to receive the F99/K00 award,” Miranda said.

The purpose of the F99/K00 award, according to the NIH website, is to encourage and retain outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated potential and interest in pursuing careers as independent researchers. The award facilitates the transition of talented graduate students into successful research postdoctoral appointments.

“I aspire to make a difference in the lives of individuals who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions,” Salem said. “This award will support my transition from pre-doctoral training in the developmental consequences of alcohol consumption to postdoctoral training in the biology of adult alcohol addiction. Ultimately, I hope to develop my own research program and develop new treatments for addictions.”

Pinson, who is working toward her medical degree as well as her PhD, received the Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Predoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) for MD/PhD and other Dual Degree Fellowships (F30) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for her proposal, “GAG-like proteins in exosome-mediated neural development and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.” The grant will support her through her graduate studies and the remainder of her MD training.

“I am really grateful for this award and everyone who supported me in the process and continues to do so,” Pinson said. “I wish to pay it forward by becoming the best pediatrician-scientist I can for my future patients and helping those children and families affected by developmental disorders.”

The purpose of the F30 award, according to the NIH website, is to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising predoctoral students who are matriculated in a combined MD/PhD or other dual-doctoral degree training program (DDS/PhD, AuD/PhD, DVM/PhD) and who intend careers as physician-scientist or other clinician-scientists.

“Nihal and Marisa are outstanding examples of the strength of our graduate students,” Miranda said. “These awards demonstrate that our students can compete successfully at a national level, that their training, career potential and research are judged to be at the highest level of excellence. I am so proud of what each has accomplished.”

— Tim Schnettler