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Upstate doctoral student wins Best Poster award at national meeting

Stephen Shinsky, a second-year Upstate Medical University doctoral student, won a Best Poster award (out of 90 entries) at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting last month in Boston.

Shinsky’s poster outlining his research into a rare genetic disorder known as Kabuki Syndrome earned him a $500 prize in the Mechanisms of Gene Transcription and Regulation category.

Shinsky’s principal investigator, Michael Cosgrove PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, advised him to submit his poster to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for its meeting.

Not only was his poster accepted, Shinsky received a $1,000 travel award from the organization, which allowed him to attend the annual meeting.

Shinsky’s work is part of the Cosgrove lab’s research into the characterization of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) family of enzymes. Mutations of these enzymes are associated with leukemias, solid tumors and developmental abnormalities, including Kabuki Syndrome.

Shinsky said there are two novel aspects to his research: It’s the first biochemical characterization of these Kabuki syndrome mutations, and it furthered the understanding of the protein-protein interactions this enzyme requires for function —  important because these proteins are involved in several forms of cancer.

“As a lab, we do a lot of different projects, but we work with a family of proteins that are so important to organismal development and are relevant to diseases,” Shinsky said. “There’s a lot of interest in how these proteins work. They’re ‘developmental regulators’ that are critical. If a mutation affects development, it likely has clinical implications.”

The study of gene regulation and epigenetics is a very popular topic among researchers, Shinsky said, including faculty, post-docs and PhD students in Upstate’s Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department.

“Biomedical research at Upstate is top-notch,” said Shinsky. “The approach in our lab is more reductionist. We study purified proteins in the most controlled environments we can make. It allows us to ask important questions and complements other research.”

“The Cosgrove lab and others at Upstate use lab core facilities at nearby SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and at Cornell University in Ithaca,” said Shinsky. Because of the different techniques and facilities at each institution, he said, “You can always find new techniques to work with.”

Caption: Upstate PhD student Stephen Shinsky, winner of the best poster at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting.

-Taken from With Distinction

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