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Asia Matthew-Onabanjo and Ashley Matthew top poster awardees at N.E. Science Symposium

MD/PhD students receive Ruth and William Silen, MD Awards from Harvard University Diversity and Inclusion Program

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

junio 19, 2018
  Asia Matthew-Onabanjo (in left photo) and Ashley Matthew (in right photo) accept their Ruth and William Silen, MD awards from Joan Reed, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, professor of medicine and dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School.
 

Asia Matthew-Onabanjo (in left photo) and Ashley Matthew (in right photo) accept their Ruth and William Silen, MD awards from Joan Reed, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, professor of medicine and dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School.

Photos: Jeff Thiebauth Photography 

MD/PhD students Asia Matthew-Onabanjo and Ashley Matthew each received a Ruth and William Silen, MD Award for their poster presentations at the 2018 New England Science Symposium held earlier this spring. The twin sisters and physician-scientists in training at UMass Medical School won first and second place respectively in the Poster Presentation Awards in the Cellular Biology, Neuroscience, Biochemistry or Physiology Category. The awards are sponsored by the Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership.

Matthew-Onabanjo is conducting her dissertation research to understand the role of the Beclin 1/VPS34 complex, an essential autophagy regulator in breast cancer progression, in the lab of Leslie Shaw, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology. Matthew-Onabanjo’s long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutic approaches that target this complex for the treatment of breast cancer.

“Winning this award really showed me that other people are interested in my science and that I have a story worth telling,” she said. “I know that my work has a lot of therapeutic benefits for the treatment of breast cancer. It was great for that to be acknowledged by other scientists, not only from my field, but also from other disciplines.”

Matthew is studying ways to overcome hepatitis C virus drug resistance in the lab of Celia Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, and director of the UMMS Institute for Drug Resistance. Matthew was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Predoctoral Fellows from the National Institute of General Medicine to support her doctoral research, which was highlighted by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.

“Winning this award was a positive confirmation and affirmation that I was truly ready to face this milestone in graduate school,” said Matthew, who presented at the symposium two days before her successful dissertation defense. “I’m glad that I participated in this amazing opportunity to network with great scientists.”

The Ruth and William Silen, MD Awards recognize participants who deliver outstanding oral presentations and who create exceptional scientific posters. Established in 2002, the New England Science Symposium provides a forum for African-American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native postdoctoral fellows, medical, dental and graduate students; post-baccalaureates; and college students to share their biomedical and health-related research activities through oral or poster presentations, to engage in discussions related to career development in the sciences, to exchange ideas and to expand their professional networks.

Matthew and Matthew-Onabanjo will complete the final two years of medical school before receiving their MD/PhD degrees.

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