Columbia University Medical Center



Dear SPURS former, current and future supporters!

Despite the pandemic, the 18th year of the Columbia University’s biomedical research Summer Program for Underrepresented Students (SPURS),had another extremely successful program in 2020 - albeit virtual!
This year’s SPURS included 19 fellows: nine women and 10 men of whom twelve identified as African–American, three Latinx, three Native American and one Asian-American. The SPURS students are all undergraduate biology majors.
zoom group
See below for a list of the students, their home institutions, the projects they worked on this past summer and their Columbia University faculty mentors. The SPURS students were once again highly motivated, incredibly impressive and passionate about learning science. Each was assigned to a faculty mentor at Columbia who guided their research. In addition there was a series of lectures and discussions about science and career options in biomedical research with a diverse array of role models (from Columbia and other universities) as well as the Columbia Virtual COVID-19 Symposia - a weekly Zoom event designed to connect research scientists at Columbia with researchers from all over the world to keep up with the ever-changing science and human impact of the novel coronavirus.
Most of the SPURS alumni go on to careers in biomedical research and medicine. For example, more than a dozen have matriculated to the MD or combined MD/PhD programs at Columbia. Others have gone to Harvard, Yale, UCSF, Stanford, Einstein and other top universities.
SPURS desperately needs your support to continue to offer underrepresented students the chance to further their careers in biomedical research.
The SPURS program is partially supported by an NIH grant but does not cover its costs completely. That’s where you come in. Your donation will support a summer of original biomedical research and invaluable career mentoring for a SPURS student. A donation of $4,000 supports a student’s summer stipend. A donation of $1,000 supports housing for a student on the Columbia campus. At the very least, if you could possibly give $100, it will support a student’s access to computing needs required for their research.
Click here for the giving online link:
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For more information about giving, please contact Castalia Sanchez, Columbia University Medical Center, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue, Box 65, New York, NY 10032; phone 212 851-5340 or email
Andy Marks, Jeanine D'Armiento and Monica Goldklang
Contributions to the SPURS Program at Columbia University are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Our Federal I.D. number is 13-5598093.
2020 SPURS students, home institutions, projects and mentors
Abraham Eafa
Williams College
“The Coronavirus Envelope Protein”
Mentor: Dr. Oliver Clark
Alexa Michel
CUNY Hunter College
“Development and Applications of DNA Methylation Editing Tools in Diseases”
Mentor: Dr. Shawn Liu
Alexis Fisher
Columbia University
“Role of the Hippocampal CA2 Region in the Social Behavior and Aggression of Mice”
Mentor: Dr. Steven Siegelbaum
Aminah Williams
Smith College
“Reviewing the Structure of ABC Transporters in the Context of Multidrug Resistance and Human Disease”
Mentor: Dr. Filippo Mancia
Brooke Boisvert
Texas Christian University
“Level Dependent Transcription Factor Control of NO-signaling in Dendritic Arborization Neurons”
Mentor: Dr. Wes Grueber
Bryan Cabezas
Rutgers University
“Identification of HMGA2 Independent Genes in TSC2 Tumorigenesis”
Mentor: Dr. Jeanine D'Armiento
Darien Herndon
Duke University
Mentor: Dr. Manu Ben Johny
David Stevenson
Vassar College
“Inhibition of Coronavirus Entry in vitro and ex vivo by a Lipid-Conjugated Peptide Derived from the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein HRC domain”
Mentor: Dr. Anne Moscona
Domenick Raphael
Brandeis University
“The Role of the Mitochondria in the Progression of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)”
Mentor: Dr. Stavroula Kousteni
Eden Teferi
Columbia University
“Identifying Novel Regulators of Complex 1 Assembly with MitoCarta”
Mentor: Dr. Edward Owusu-Ansah
Elias Tzoc-Pacheco
Columbia University
“RNA-Seq Analysis of Alopecia Areata”
Mentor: Dr. Angela Christiano
Eric Ohakam
University of Pennsylvania
“The Role of Adipocyte Tribbles-1 in Coronary Artery Disease”
Mentor: Dr. Robert Bauer
Justin Rodriguez
Rutgers University
“Natural Killer Cells in GATA2 Deficiency”
Mentor: Dr. Emily Mace
Kateland Keene
Johns Hopkins University
“Mapping Asthma and Pollution in Schools”
Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir
Khristina Cassanova
Howard University
“Role of Ryanodine Receptors/Intracellular Calcium Release Channels in Glucose Metabolism in Type I Diabetes”
Mentor: Dr. Andrew Marks
Matthew Neil
CUNY Hunter College
“The Role of Purinergic Signaling in Sepsis”
Mentor: Dr. George Hasko
Mustapha Tahiru
Emory University
“Discoveries in Aromaticity and Antiaromaticity”
Mentor: Dr. Virginia Cornish (Qianna Wilson)
Samira Iqbal
Bowdoin College
“Age-dependent Muscle Loss in c.elegans Due to Calcium Channel Leak”
Mentor: Dr. Andrew Marks
Thompson Uwanomen
Yale University
“The Impact of Iron Deficiency on Early Life Immune Development”
Mentor: Dr. Tom Connors