April 2011

Angel Byrd

Graduate student
Brown University

Can you give some background on yourself and your research?
I graduated from Tougaloo College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Now, I am an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate in the pathobiology department at Brown. Currently, this is an exciting time for me in the laboratory of Jonathan Reichner. We are addressing a fundamental question regarding integrins and their modulation of neutrophil function and behavior. My thesis work details the phosphoproteomic analysis of primary human neutrophils and may have implications for a variety of immune and autoimmune disorders. Using mass spectrometry to study phosphoproteomics is innovative, powerful and indispensable, in that it provides critical information at the protein level. After completing my doctorate, I will transition back into medical school to finish the remaining two clinical years, finally attaining my M.D.-Ph.D. My ultimate goal is to become a pediatric endocrinologist, primarily focusing on childhood obesity which results in the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

What did you expect from your participation in our Congressional visits program?
I intended to use this Hill Day opportunity as a platform for addressing issues that are crucial to the viability of research. Although I had a number of expectations, my main goal was to provide a real life example of an aspiring physician-scientist who has been afforded the opportunity to engage in scientific biomedical research. Because of the training I am receiving, I am, and will, continue to contribute and advance the field of science and medicine. Funding that has been provided by the National Institutes of Health has accelerated and advanced the research that is ongoing in our laboratory and has allowed a multidisciplinary collaboration between immunology and proteomics. This has resulted in the use of innovative techniques to understand the molecular biology of a very important defense cell of our immune system. I hoped to convey this message very clearly to congress with the expectation that their belief in the power of research and the long-term investment in its goals and vision will be strengthened. At a time when all federal spending is being scrutinized I am pleased to be able to make a stand for increasing the budget for the NIH and thus supporting education, high tech job creation, translational research, patient care, drug development, increasing scientific literacy among our citizens and other breakthroughs that will help the entire population.



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