In 2019, the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center Summer Scholar program was initiated to fund mentorship for UCLA Medical Students working in research with collaborators of the Center.
Yadira Bribiesca is a first year medical student in the UCLA PRIME-LA (MD/Masters) Program. Yadira’s commitment to medicine stems from her family’s and her personal struggle to access equitable health care in South Los Angeles. As part of the PRIME-LA program, she along with her peers, have partnered up with the Department of Public Health to understand the barriers to exercise for women in SPA 6, and use this information to help implement the Parks Rx Program in LA County. Mentorship has been pivotal in her journey to medical school and thus Yadira hopes to pay it forward. She is part of the mentorship team with the Latino Medical Student Association. As a DACA recipient and first-generation college student, Yadira aspires to use her dual degree to engage in policy change and conduct research in underserved communities to fervently fight against health inequities. She is looking forward to gaining skills in statistically analyzing and manipulating big data sets in hopes of finding correlates that can potentially affect positive change in underserved women’s health.
In 2018, the TEM Fund allowed the Iris Cantor- UCLA Women's Health Center to send two scholars to the Gordon Research Seminar on Mammalian Reproduction. This seminar took place from July 28 through July 29 at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Lucca (Barga), Italy. It served as a space for collaboration and discussion among graduate students, post-docs, and others in the scientific community. During the seminar, advancements in mammalian reproduction were discussed, including new techniques, animal models, stem cell resources, and the growth and innovation within this field.
Dr. Kelleher is interested in the biological roles of uterine glands during the attainment of endometrial receptivity and blastocyst implantation. Under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Spencer, his doctoral studies uncovered seminal results that have changed our understanding of the functional role of uterine glands in early pregnancy success. Some of his key findings used a blended approach of transgenic mouse models, next generation sequencing and proteomics, and detailed histological analysis. Results from those studies provided original evidence that uterine glands synchronize embryo-endometrial interactions, coordinate on-time embryo implantation, and impact stromal cell decidualization, thereby ensuring embryo viability, placental growth, and pregnancy success. The relevance of his research has been acknowledged throughout his doctoral studies by his being awarded the SSR Trainee Research award, the Anita Payne Scholarship, and a Lalor Foundation Merit award. Dr. Kelleher will begin his postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern in the fall of 2018.
Charlotte embarked on her career in biological sciences in 2011 when she began her undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences at the University of Bath, UK. During her degree, she opted to spend one year in a professional research laboratory. Charlotte undertook a year-long project during this time at the National Institute for Medical Research (London, UK) in Professor Victor Tybulewicz’ lab where she contributed to a project investigating congenital heart defects in mouse models of Down Syndrome. After finishing her placement year, Charlotte returned to the University of Bath to complete her degree. After graduating in 2015, Charlotte began her PhD project in Dr. James Turner’s lab at the Francis Crick Institute (London, UK) where she is interested in sex chromosome genetics in development and disease, using mouse models. Notably, Charlotte’s project has a major focus on genome editing of the sex chromosomes, using the popular CRISPR-Cas9 technology, where she makes use of in vitro and in vivo techniques. Charlotte takes an active role in science communication and strongly believes in the importance of scientific engagement. She also holds a chair position for the Young Embryologist Network conference which aims to bring together junior PhD students and post-docs to discuss developmental biology.