Five Women Scientists Named Rita Allen Foundation Scholars

RAFThe Rita Allen Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, has announced the 2016 class of seven Rita Allen Foundation Scholars. The honor is awarded to young scholars in biomedical science “who have shown great promise in revealing new pathways to advance human health.” Each scholar will receive up to $110,000 annually for a maximum of five years to support their research.

The program was established 40 years ago and has funded the research of more than 150 scholars. Of the seven Rita Allen Foundation Scholars this year, five are women.

Rita Allen Foundation Scholars

(L to R) Camila dos Santos, Monica Dus, Katherine Hanlon, Bo Li, and Katharina Schlacher

Camila dos Santos is an assistant professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Her laboratory is focused on breast cancer research, specifically on determining why women who have a full-term pregnancy before the age of 25 are less at risk for breast cancer. A graduate of the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas in Brazil, dos Santos hold master’s and doctoral degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Campinas.

Monica Dus is an assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Dus is conducting research on how sugar in the diet influences feeding behavior. The research is focused on stemming overeating and obesity. Dr. Dus is a graduate of the University of Redlands in California, where she majored in biology. She holds a Ph.D. in biology from the Watson School of Biological Sciences at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Katherine Hanlon is an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the University of New England in Biddleford, Maine. As a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, she will be conducting research on how the interactions between neurons and immune cells at the roots of spinal nerves impact sensitivity to pain.. Dr. Hanlon holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Arizona.

Bo Li is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She will be investigating how gut bacteria modulate the human nervous system. Dr. Li is a graduate of Beijing University in China, where she majored in biological sciences. She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois and conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School.

Katharina Schlacher is an assistant professor of cancer biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Her laboratory is focused on breast cancer research. She will be using her grant money to study how defects in the protection of stalled mitochondrial DNA replication forks impact the development of cancer and other diseases. Dr. Schlacher holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Karl Franzens University in Graz, Austria, and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

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