Two JABSOM PhD candidates win ARCS research awards

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The Honolulu Chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, Inc., announced that two of its 19 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) 2021 ARCS Scholars are PhD candidates at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). 

ARCS co-President Cheryl Ernst announced the $5,000 awards to doctoral students and Alexandru Sasuclark. The unrestricted grants are made possible through endowed funds and chapter fundraising.  

Driesse Keegan, a student in JABSOM’s Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pathology, was awarded the Ellen M. Koenig ARCS Award. Her research focuses on the antibody response to dengue and Zika viruses in pregnant women to understand the antibody profiles associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Her advisor is Dr. Sandra Chang. Watch Driesse’s video to learn more about her research.

Sasuclark studies in the Cell and Molecular Biology department at JABSOM under the mentorship of his advisor, Dr. Matthew W. Pitts. He was recognized with the Dr. George and Virginia Starbuck ARCS Award in Medicine. Sasuclark’s research focuses on the impact of selenium on the development of GABAergic inhibitory neurons and the net-like extracellular matrix structures that surround them. These neurons are negatively affected in many neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia. His work seeks to clarify how nutritional status influences the development and functionality of this class of neurons. Watch Sasuclark’s video to learn about his research.

The non-profit volunteer ARCS Foundation Inc. mission is to advance science in America  by supporting outstanding graduate students in STEM and health fields. The Honolulu Chapter has provided more than $2 million to UH Mānoa graduate students since their founding in 1974.