Mazen Kheirbek stands in front of a building

Credit: UCSF

Do your palms sweat when you walk down a poorly lit street at night? Newly minted Pew Scholar and UCSF assistant professor of psychiatry Mazen Kheirbek is working on understanding that feeling, which may be traced to “anxiety” cells deep inside your brain.

Five exceptional early-career faculty and two postdoctoral researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Francisco have been named 2019 Pew Scholars, a prestigious honor that comes with multiyear research funding aimed at advancing human health.

Seemay Chou with pipette
Seemay Chou
Photo by Harmit Malik, courtesy Seemay Chou

In all, the Pew Charitable Trusts named 22 promising young investigators to its 2019 Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences and seven investigators to its Pew-Stewart Scholars Program for Cancer Research. 10 young scientists from Latin America were named Pew Latin American Fellows in the Biomedical Sciences. All of the scholars are dedicated to issues of health and have shown exceptional promise and creativity in their respective fields.

“Pew is steadfastly committed to supporting talented researchers working to unveil the mechanisms of biology and disease,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, Pew’s president and CEO, in announcing the awards. “Investing in these scholars at the beginning stages of their careers, when financial resources may be limited, can help drive significant scientific discoveries.”

Aaron Streets UC Berkeley
Aaron Streets
Credit: UC Berkeley

UC's 2019 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences are:

Seemay Chou, Ph.D., UCSF

Dr. Chou will investigate why only certain tick species act as carriers of Lyme disease.

Mazen Kheirbek, Ph.D., UCSF

Dr. Kheirbek will explore how sensory stimuli are represented in the brain, and how they may trigger the recall of salient memories.

Aaron Streets, Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Dr. Streets will explore how obesity leads to unhealthy changes in the cellular, molecular and structural composition of adipose tissue.

Luke Gilbert UCSF
Luke Gilbert
Credit: UCSF

UC’s 2019 Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research are:

Michel DuPage, Ph.D, UC Berkeley

Dr. DuPage will investigate how the immune system is suppressed within the tumor microenvironment.

Luke Gilbert, Ph.D., UCSF

Dr. Gilbert will develop strategies to treat a form of acute myeloid leukemia that is associated with a mutation or deficiency in the TP53 protein.

UC’s 2019 Pew Latin American Fellows in the Biomedical Sciences are:

Daniel Almeida-Filho, Ph.D., UCLA

María Florencia Ercoli
María Florencia Ercoli
Credit: UC Davis

Dr. Almeida-Filho will explore how navigational information is encoded in brain regions associated with spatial memory as he continues his postdoctoral training with the lab of Alcino J. Silva, Ph.D., at UCLA.

María Florencia Ercoli, Ph.D., UC Davis

Dr. Ercoli will uncover the molecular strategies that infectious bacteria use to invade plants as she continues her postdoctoral training with Dr. Pamela Ronald at UC Davis.