WSU graduate student selected for national science mentoring program

Ana VergaraWashington State University graduate student Ana Vergara has been selected by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) as one of 16 graduate students nationally for its 2017-18 cohort of the ASPET Mentoring Network, which is a program that provides career development and coaching for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees.

Each trainee is part of a six-person coaching group and will participate in both group and individual meetings throughout the year. The program focuses on professional development beyond the research bench including interview skills, communication and networking. Vergara will receive a $1,000 travel award to attend the program’s kickoff luncheon at the Experimental Biology 2017 conference in Chicago this April where she will meet her faculty coaches and also share her research in a poster presentation.

Vergara graduated with honors from Columbia Basin College and cum laude from WSU Tri-Cities with a Bachelor of Science in biology and minor in chemistry. She is completing her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences and working in the lab of Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor Philip Lazarus at the WSU College of Pharmacy.

This year, Lazarus and Vergara received a $104,000 research supplement over two years from the National Institutes of Health. The award is designed to specifically promote diversity in health-related research. She also won first place for the Best Poster presentation competition at the International Symposium on Microsomes and Drug Oxidations (MDO) in Davis, California, in October.

Vergara is currently studying UGT3A enzymes to determine their expression in aerodigestive tract tissues and activity against tobacco carcinogens. According to her research, UGT3A enzymes may play an important role in the local detoxification of tobacco carcinogens, and variations in their expression or activity can be a potential marker for susceptibility to tobacco-related cancers.

Research at the WSU College of Pharmacy supports the university’s land-grant mission to address some of society’s most complex issues, specifically WSU’s efforts surrounding developing practical solutions to challenging problems in health care delivery, health care access and disease prevention.

[Lori J. Maricle] 1/25/16