Postdoctoral Program

Success Stories

Jarrod Barnes, PhD

University where PhD was obtained: University of Georgia and focused on the role of glycans in human disease.

Duration of training and lab: I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Raed Dweik from 2012-2016.

Work at Lerner: My work focused on the role of dysregulated glucose metabolism on cell glycosylation and cell function.

Successes while at Lerner: The experience in the lab of Dr. Dweik at the Lerner Research Institute was very influential in my career. I was able to obtain a NIH F32 NRSA fellowship within the first year of my postdoc. The F32 was the foundation for my K99/R00 NIH Grant that was funded in 2016. I was able to publish 11 manuscripts and received invited platform talks to the International Society for Hyaluronan Sciences, American Thoracic Society, and the Society for Glycobiology.

New position title: I am currently an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

New role description: I am a research scientist with my own independent research laboratory. My lab currently has 5 members including a graduate student who I get to mentor and train in the fields of lung biology and glycobiology. Teaching and mentoring is my favorite part of the job. I am also really passionate about finding creative ways to address complex problems.

Preparations provided at Lerner: The level of guidance/mentorship I received at Lerner was what prepared me for my current position. Dr. Dweik was (and still is) a big part of my career success. In addition, the overall collaborative spirit and team science approach at Lerner has helped me achieve new avenues of research here at UAB that I would have otherwise overlooked.

Reflecting on time at Lerner: Yes, the people. I truly loved my time at Lerner and I am still very fond of the relationships I built while I was there.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Keep your focus and do not become complacent with the present-day (forward relentless momentum).

Arunachal Chatterjee, PhD

University where PhD was obtained: The University of Calcutta in March 2011.

Duration of training and lab: I worked at Lerner from December 3rd, 2012 to May11th, 2015. I worked in two labs (Dr. Karniks’s and Dr. Prasad’s) in the Department of Molecular Cardiology (now Cardiovascular & Metabolic Sciences) as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow.

Work at Lerner: While at Lerner, I studied the role of connective tissue growth factor as well as the GPCR Mas and angiotensin-II receptors in cardiac dysfunction. I also studied the role of β-adrenergic receptor in cardiac diseases.

Successes while at Lerner: I published four papers while at Lerner, including one first author publication. I also received the AHA Great Rivers Affiliate Winter 2015 Postdoctoral Fellowship for my project titled “Impaired beta-adrenergic receptor resensitization contributes to cardiac dysfunction.”

New position title: Currently, I am working as an Assistant Professor of Zoology in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. I also work as a Guest Lecturer in the Department of Zoology (post-graduate section), Asutosh College, Kolkata. In my free time, I volunteer as an Executive Council Member for one of the oldest Academic Societies in Asia:The Zoological Society, Kolkata, India.

New role description: My primary responsibility is teaching, which also happens to be my favorite part of the job. My position also entails administrative and research work.

Preparations provided at Lerner: I became a more organized person with the help of Russell Desnoyer, who is a research technologist in the Kranik Lab. My speaking and mentoring skills also improved under the guidance of Dr. Karnik. The most important thing that I received from the Karnik Lab was an increase in confidence. I’m very grateful to Dr. Karnik for helping me to develop my career. All of the skills that I developed at Lerner helped me immensely when I returned to India for my current position.

Reflecting on time at Lerner: Yes, I miss the people in the Karnik Lab a lot.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Stay connected with other labs and their people, listen to them, work methodically, and enjoy Lerner’s research facilities; all these things will definitely prepare you for the next level.

Judith Hobert, PhD, FACMG

University where PhD was obtained: I received my PhD from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Duration of training and lab: I began working in the Genomic Medicine Institute in the fall of 2006 and remained there until 2011. During most of this time, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Charis Eng.

Work at Lerner: My projects primarily involved hereditary cancer syndromes and autism spectrum disorders, with particular focus on individuals with PTEN mutations. Some of my work also extended into hereditary cancer syndromes resulting from mutations in genes encoding subunits of the mitochondrial enzyme, succinate dehydrogenase.

Successes while at Lerner: My work at Lerner resulted in four research papers and one review article.

New position title: Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and a Medical Director of Biochemical Genetics at ARUP Laboratories.

New role description: My current position entails interpreting laboratory results from clinical biochemical genetic tests, communicating results to physicians or other care providers, ensuring the quality of clinical laboratory data, teaching (residents, fellows, graduate students and laboratory staff), and occasional participation in international conferences. My favorite part of my job is when I am able to integrate biochemical test results with clinical information to help provide a diagnosis for a patient.

Preparations provided at Lerner: My time at Lerner allowed me the opportunity to become more familiar with the different specialty areas of clinical genetics. It also allowed me to become more independent as a researcher and exposed me to many different laboratory techniques I had not previously used.

Reflecting on time at Lerner: I miss the comradery of my co-workers in the Genomic Medicine Institute.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Take a moment to write down your long-term goals and start working towards them, one-step at a time.

David Kennedy, PhD

University where PhD was obtained: I obtained my Ph.D. from Joe Shapiro’s laboratory at the Medical College of Ohio in 2006.

Duration of training and lab: I joined Roy Silverstein’s lab in 2007 as part of the David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Endowed Fellowship. After my post-doc I joined Wilson Tang’s lab in 2011 as a Research Associate and then as a Project Scientist in 2015.

Work at Lerner: While I was a post-doc in Roy Silverstein’s lab I worked on investigating the role of adipocyte and macrophage scavenger receptor CD36 in the development of inflammation and insulin resistance associated with obesity. In Wilson Tang’s lab I worked on his funded clinical translational projects on nitrative stress in heart failure and with his support was also able to develop my own funded projects on Na+/K+ ATPase biology.

Successes while at Lerner: During my time at Lerner I was fortunate to publish 14 papers and be funded by a Post-doctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association (2009), a Scientist Development Grant (2014) as well as Cleveland Clinic Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) and Research Program Committee Awards which were instrumental in launching my career. Equally important were the William E. Lower Award for Basic Science Research and Elsa Albrecht Fellow Award of which I received second place for both awards. I keep those plaques prominently displayed in my office as it's a great reminder that there are lots of people who are much smarter than I am!

New position title: In 2015 I transitioned to a tenure track faculty position in the Department of Medicine at the University Of Toledo College Of Medicine and was recently promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.

New role description:In addition to teaching in the undergraduate, graduate and medical school I co-direct both the undergraduate and the medical school’s research curriculum on our Health Science Campus. I also run a research lab which studies how interrelated organ systems such as heart, kidney and liver regulate cellular damage (particularly inflammation and fibrosis) and repair during the course of chronic ailments such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Given our community’s ties to and dependence on the Great Lakes as a source of clean water for drinking, recreation, fishing and agriculture, our laboratory also places a special emphasis on discovering new diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic strategies targeting cellular damage caused by environmental stressors which impair our water systems. I would say, without a doubt, working with and training students is the highlight of my day. We have a wonderful mix of undergraduate, graduate and medical students in the lab, and it is a privilege to be a part of their personal and professional development. One of my outstanding students, Robin Su, came to me from my friend Dr. Chris Moravec’s lab. He just successfully defended his dissertation this Spring and is now starting the clinical portion of his MD/PhD. So my Lerner connections remain strong and I look forward to more in the future.

Preparations provided at Lerner: My mentors were excellent in encouraging my professional development and providing me with exceptional training opportunities. While I was a post-doc in Roy Silverstein’s lab, he encouraged me to pursue patenting and licensing a novel protein detection method which exposed me to important and relevant industry and commercialization practices. Wilson Tang taught me the importance of maintaining close ties between my research and clinically important problems and he also significantly broadened and deepened the translational aspects of my work. He also encouraged me to teach in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine which was invaluable experience for the teaching aspects of my current role.

Reflecting on time at Lerner: Of course I miss the people and good friends I made across the board at LRI– the scientists, core facilities staff, the maintenance crew and so many others. The camaraderie was exceptional and I still keep in touch with many of my friends who trained with me or worked there. One of my closest friends from Lerner, Dr. Bruce Levison, recently passed away and it was beautiful to see the outpouring of love and support from all of the good people in Lerner whom he touched. May his memory be a blessing.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs:Learn the names of all the people you work with – from custodians to colleagues – and take time to be genuine and friendly with them all, you will never regret it.

Monique Ogletree, PhD

University where PhD was obtained: I obtained my PhD at Cleveland State University through the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cleveland State University’s Joint Program.

Duration of training and lab: From 1995-2003, I worked in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Department of Anesthesiology Research. I was a graduate student (1995-2001) and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2001-2003) under Dr. Christine Moravec.

Work at Lerner: As a graduate student, I studied inotropic mechanisms in human atrial and ventricular muscles. Then, as a postdoc, I studied the effect of anesthetics on contractility in the failing and non-failing human heart as well as the recovery of beta adrenergic responsiveness and calcium cycling following mechanical unloading in the failing human heart.

Successes while at Lerner:

  1. Grants
    • NIH-NRSA Minority Individual Predoctoral Fellowship – 1998-2001
    • AHA (Ohio Valley Affiliate) Postdoctoral Fellowship – 2001-2003
  2. Publications
    1. McTiernan CF, Frye C, Lemster B, Kinder EA, Ogletree-Hughes M, Moravec CS, and Feldman AM. The phospholamban gene: structure and expression. J Mol Cell Cardiol 1999;31:679-692.
    2. Sprung J, Ogletree-Hughes ML, and Moravec CS. The effects of etomidate on the contractility of failing and non-failing human heart muscle. Anesth Analg 2000;91:68-75.
    3. Ogletree-Hughes ML, Stull LB, Sweet WE, Smedira NG, McCarthy PM, and Moravec CS. Mechanical unloading restores -adrenergic responsiveness and reverses receptor downregulation in the failing human heart. Circulation 2001;104:881-886.
    4. Sprung J, Ogletree-Hughes ML, McConnell BK, Zakhary DR, Smolsky SM and Moravec CS. The effects of propofol on the contractility of failing and non-failing human heart muscles. Anesth Analg 2001;93:550-559.
    5. Ogletree ML, Sprung J, and Moravec CS. Effects of Remifentanil on the contractility of failing human heart muscle. J Cardiothoracic Vasc Anesth 2005;19(6):763-7.
    6. Ogletree ML, Smedira NG, McCarthy PM, and Moravec CS. Long-term LVAD use fails to reverse abnormal Ca2+-cycling in the severely failing human heart. Intern J Heart & Lung Trans 2010;29(5):554-561.
  3. Awards
    • NIDDK Minority Travel Award (Experimental Biology) 1997
    • Lower Award for Clinical Research, Honorable Mention (Cleveland Clinic Foundation) 2001
  4. Invited Talks
    • Department of Anesthesiology Research, Weekly Seminar Series, CCF, 1998
    • International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation, San Francisco, CA, 1999
    • International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation, Vancouver, Canada, 2001
    • Heart Failure Research Seminar Series, CCF, 2001
    • American Heart Association Conference 2001
    • International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation, Washington DC, 2002
    • Department of Anesthesiology, Weekly Seminar Series, Houston, Texas, 2003

New position title: Currently, I work as an Instructional Associate Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston, Main Campus. I also hold the titles of Faculty Advisor, Faculty Director of Undergraduate Programs, and Joint Admissions Medical Program Faculty Director.

New role description: I teach several courses including Human Biology, Anatomy & Physiology 2 for undergraduate non-majors, Human Physiology for undergraduate majors, Integrated Anatomy & Physiology for graduate students, and Survey for Health Professions as an interest course. I also advise students and initiate programing to help at-risk students and those that want to go to pre-professional school. My favorite part is helping students reach their full potential.

Preparations provided at Lerner: I had a wonderful PI, Dr. Christine Moravec, and mentor that supported my career interest. She allowed me to get involved in innovative and competitive research, while also allowing me to experience teaching and partake in different community outreach initiatives. Everything I did in her lab prepared me for the future

Reflecting on time at Lerner: I miss the teamwork and camaraderie in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine between both the Clinical Departments and the Basic Science Research Labs. There was deliberate partnership which is unique to Cleveland Clinic.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Make sure you select a PI that still enjoys the science and genuinely cares about the success of his/her trainees. Work hard and do not accept less than your best each day you show up in the lab.

Aaron Petrey, PhD

University where PhD was obtained: University of Georgia

Duration of training and lab:2013-2019, lab of Carol de la Motte. Postdoc and Research Associate

Work at Lerner: My research focuses on platelets as effector cells capable of mediating inflammation through interactions with immune and non-immune cells. These studies focus on the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan, a ubiquitous component of the extracellular matrix, as a key molecule that mediates innate mechanisms which when dysregulated can lead to disease.

Successes while at Lerner: K99/R00 grant, 3 original manuscripts, 3 review articles, several conference presentations, chair of Proteoglycans Gordon Research Seminar, Special Topic Editor at Frontiers in Inflammation, Pathobiology Chairman’s award

New position title: Assistant Professor, Division of Microbiology & Immunology, Molecular Medicine, University of Utah

New role description: Day to day management of a laboratory, writing grants, training students

Preparations provided at Lerner: Working closely with my mentor, Carol de la Motte, and several friends and colleagues to refine my scientific thinking into a strategic focus rather than just a series of experiments.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: My advice to new and current LRI trainees is: Your success is ultimately in your own hands: decide what your own goals are early on, develop a long term strategic plan to reach them, protect and manage your time for writing grants/papers, and independently seek out the resources, skills, and guidance you will need to be successful.

Angel Reyes-Rodriguez, PhD

University where PhD was obtained:I earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Virology from Case Western Reserve University.

Duration of training and lab:I worked as a postdoc at Lerner between 2016 and mid-2019 in the laboratory of Cornelia Bergmann.

Work at Lerner: I studied the role of IL-10 signaling in macrophages and IFN𝛾 signaling in astrocytes during coronavirus infection in the central nervous system.

Successes while at Lerner: My biggest success at Lerner has been related to the development of soft skills that prepared me for careers in and out of science. I was impactful in my lab and contributed to the enhancement of the postdoctoral experience at the LRI.

New position title: I am the Director of the McNair Scholars Program at Cleveland State University. My job is to help undergraduate students become successful graduate school applicants and give them tools to succeed once there.

New role description: My job is to help undergraduate students become successful graduate school applicants and give them tools to succeed once there.

Preparations provided at Lerner: There are many skills I developed at Lerner that prepared me for my current role. The most important one has been establishing collaborations. At Lerner, there is a lot of collaboration and comradery between labs; in my current role, I collaborate with people from different parts of the university to gather the resources my students need.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs:My advice for Lerner Postdocs is to look for joy in whatever they do. A lot of times life in a lab can be hard, but you can always find joy in different aspects of your work. Not only will you feel more fulfillment, but it could lead you to clues as to what your next career step might be.

Dana Schneeberger, PhD

University where PhD was obtained:I obtained my PhD from Cleveland State University in May of 2012.

When did you work in Lerner and in which lab? What positions did you hold?I completed my doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Christine Moravec (2006-2012). I continued my work in the Moravec Lab as a Visiting Researcher for almost a year. In 2013 I joined the laboratory of Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte as a Postdoctoral Fellow, where I stayed until 2015.

Work at Lerner: As a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Christine Moravec, I studied autonomic dysregulation in end-stage heart failure patients waiting for transplantation. I explored whether these patients could be trained to bring non-voluntary physiologic functions under conscious control using biofeedback-assisted stress management and whether this noninvasive method of autonomic regulation would also improve clinical status and reverse key hallmarks of the heart failure phenotype.
As a postdoc in Dr. Piedimonte’s lab, I studied the interactions between genetic and environmental factors taking place during fetal development and shortly after birth that determine a child’s risk for developing chronic airway diseases like asthma. As part of this work I explored the potential for neurotrophins as a biomarker to help identify premature babies who are likely to have poor long-term respiratory outcomes and therefore require earlier and more intense intervention.

Successes while at Lerner:I was given many opportunities to succeed during my time in Lerner. I presented countless posters, published over 20 abstracts and manuscripts and gave 4 invited talks. I received multiple graduate student travel awards and a best student paper award. I was a finalist for the Young Investigator Award at the Bakken Heart-Brain Summit in 2009, and I received a Doctoral Dissertation Research Expense Award from Cleveland State University in 2010.

New position title: I am currently a Research Program Manager in the Center for Clinical Research.

New role description and favorite part:In my current role, I am managing two tremendous projects – the roll-out of LabArchives, an electronic laboratory notebook service and the Cleveland Clinic BioRepository, an enterprise-wide collection of human biospecimens and clinical data for research.
My favorite part of my role is making processes more efficient. LabArchives uniquely empowers investigators to streamline their workflows, and the biorepository has the same global goal of process efficiency. With this project, I am fortunate to work with a team of teams, each with unique expertise that I can learn from and leverage in order to help build the required infrastructure for such a large-scale project. Many clinical discoveries are made through research with human biospecimens, and helping to facilitate the process by thinking through how to align our research goals with the world-class clinical care provided at Cleveland Clinic is incredibly engaging and rewarding.

Preparations provided at Lerner:In a word – people. While in Lerner I was able to build a network of friends, colleagues and extraordinary mentors that went out of their way to help develop me as a scientist and put me in places where I could succeed. The strong diversity and inclusive culture of Lerner allowed me to work with many different people and personalities which is both an important life and work skill. And the generosity of our Cleveland Clinic patients who gifted biospecimens for research provided me with the opportunity to participate in translational research both as a graduate student and as a postdoc. The Lerner Research Institute is a safe and collaborative environment where you can thrive and create a career path that is best suited to your interests and skill set, and to this day I am still realizing the benefits of my time in Lerner.

What do you miss from your time at Lerner?The pot luck lunches for sure! With researchers and students from all over the world, these were always a unique opportunity to share other cultures and heritages through food.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: Work hard, network, and never forget the power of serendipity.

Alice Valentin-Torres, PhD

University where PhD was obtained:Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University.

Duration of training and lab:I was a postdoc with Dr. Stephen Stohlman and Dr. Conni Bergmann from 2013-2017.

Work at Lerner: : I worked on understanding the role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in a mouse model of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). I published two first author papers on his project, which definitively helped me get my current position. In the first paper, we assessed the therapeutic effects of TNF neutralization in this model; specifically, how blocking TNF reduced Central Nervous System (CNS) inflammation, restored the blood brain barrier integrity, and promoted tissue repair. In the second manuscript, we studied the mechanisms by which TNF neutralization promoted re-myelination and tissue repair by looking at oligodendrocyte apoptosis, oligo precursor cell differentiation, and the involvement of endothelin-1.

Successes while at Lerner: 2016- Postdoctoral Research Neurosciences Award. Neurological Institute Research Day. Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland, OH, 2017-NINDS Diversity Supplement Fellowship Recipient. National Institute of Health. Bethesda, MD, 2017- Oral Presentation Award. Neurological Institute Research Day. Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland, OH

New position title:: My current position is Sr. Immunologist at Athersys, Inc. Athersys is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel and proprietary therapies to extend and improve the quality of human lives. The main focus of our company is to develop therapies in the regenerative medicine area. Athersys developed MultiStem®, a patented off-the-shelf stem cell product intended to be used in diseases such as neurological, cardiovascular, and inflammatory immune diseases. Our company recently initiated a phase 3 clinical trial for ischemic stroke. Additionally, MultiStem is the only treatment for ARDS that has received a Fast-Track designation by the FDA. Recently, the FDA authorized Athersys to initiate a pivotal clinical trial evaluating MultiStem cell therapy in patients suffering of COVID-19 induced ARDS.

New role description:My current role is to study the immunomodulatory mechanisms of MultiStem®. Based on our pre-clinical and clinical data, we have found that MultiStem modulate acute inflammatory responses by primarily reshaping inflammation and helping to restore immune homeostasis.

Preparations provided at Lerner: My training at the LRI was essential in obtaining this position. It provided me with experience in CNS inflammation, mouse models and other technical skills that have been very useful for this position. Also, Drs. Stohlman and Bergmann promoted my critical thinking and helped me improve my scientific writing and presenting skills.

Advice for current Lerner postdocs: NETWORK! Networking is the key to getting the position you want; having the experience required for your dream job helps, but knowing someone that can introduce you to people that work there is powerful. Once you got the interview, make sure you know enough about the job, company, and science to ask questions. If as part of your interview, you need to present your research work, feel free to ask who your audience is going to be so that you can prepare accordingly. In other words, you need to look prepared, engaged and enthusiastic during your interview. Chances are that you are going to be competing against other great talented scientists, therefore, you need to do whatever it takes to stand out.