November 2013

Two more Tabor young investigator award winners

Logo for the JBC/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award

Stem cells to treat corneal disease

Vivien Jane Coulson-Thomas was named the winner of The Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award in late August at the 8th International Proteoglycan Conference in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, for her work on the use of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in treating corneal disease.

Vivien Coulson-Thomas
Vivien Jane Coulson-Thomas was named winner of a Tabor award at the 8th International Proteoglycan Conference held Aug. 25 – 29 in Frankfurt, Germany, and attended by Vincent Hascall, a Journal of Biological Chemistry associate editor.

Coulson-Thomas, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cincinnati, was recognized for her work that sheds light on how transplanted umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells, or UMSCs, participate in extracellular glycosaminoglycans turnover and enable host keratocytes to catabolize accumulated GAGs products.
Her research suggests that UMSC could be a novel alternative for treating corneal defects associated with mucopolysaccharidosis and other congenital metabolic disorders in lieu of corneal transplantation. She currently is studying the role of proteoglycans in corneal epithelial wound healing and corneal development.
Coulson-Thomas completed undergraduate and doctoral studies in Brazil at the Federal University of São Paulo, where she worked under the guidance of Helena Nader. Her doctoral work focused on the role of proteoglycans in cancer cell invasion and the design of different co-culture models to study tumor and fibroblast crosstalk.

Mithu MajumderMithu Majumder ( is a research scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Adaptable metabolic pathways

Ursula Loizides-Mangold
Ursula Loizides-Mangold was issued the Tabor award by George Carman, an associate editor for the JBC, at the 54th International on Bioscience of Lipids in Bari, Italy.

Ursula Loizides-Mangold received The Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award at the 54th International Conference on Bioscience of Lipids in Italy in September for her work on lipid metabolism.
Loizides, a senior scientist in Howard Riezman’s laboratory at the University of Geneva, uses mass-spectrometry-based lipidomics to dissect the role of lipids in cell function and the effects of nutrition on whole body metabolism.
Working with Bernard Thorens’ group at the University of Lausanne, Loizides studied the L-peroxisomal bifunctional enzyme, or L-PBE, which has been associated with steatohepatitis, insulin resistance and diabetes.
They found that L-PBE is required to prevent dietary toxicity of medium-chain fatty acids, such as the ones found in coconut oil. These fatty acids induce production of dicarboxylic fatty acids, which accumulate due to L-PBE deficiency resulting in liver failure, inflammation and fibrosis.
These results highlight DCAs’ potential toxicity and suggest that specific metabolic pathways can be activated by different nutrients to adapt the organism to the available resources.
During Loizides’ postdoctoral studies, she worked on the regulation of polyamine biosynthesis. She said she was inspired by Herbert and Celia Tabor’s work on polyamine metabolism and that it is a very special honor for her to receive the Tabor award.

Mariana Figuera-LosadaMariana Figuera-Losada ( is a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University.

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