Wednesday October 23, 2019. The Marble Center is pleased to announce the new class of Convergence Scholars for the academic year 2019-2020. The Convergence Scholars Program (CSP) provides postdoctoral trainees with opportunities to further their experiences and skills beyond the research laboratory. Scholars will learn more about science project development, policy, technology transfer, education and outreach, business and finances, industry, and the clinic. 


At the core of CSP are activities to advance the scholars' communication and management skills, as well as to focus on the translational impact of their work. Participant activities and benefits include workshops on management and leadership, deeper engagement with industry, and professional development activities. Supplementing the primary benefit of leadership training and an enhanced perspective in science communication and management, postdoctoral trainees participating in the program will receive a stipend to support additional professional development activities. 


2019-2020 Marble Center Scholars: Coralie Backlund, Joelle Straehla, Ahmet Bekdemir, Khalil Ramadi, Derfogail Delcassian, and Jeremy Li.


The Marble Center Convergence Scholars for this academic year are:

  • Coralie Backlund, Irvine Lab: Coralie is developing methods to deliver tumor specific peptides in combination with immune checkpoint blockade. As a secondary outcome of peptide vaccines, she is interested in how generating a primary immune response toward one peptide leads to the formation of T cell responses against other neoantigens presented by the tumor.
  • Ahmet Bekdemir, Bhatia Lab: Ahmet is researching how to enhance the efficiency of nanoparticles in cancer diagnostics by modulating their interaction with physiological molecules.
  • Derfogail Delcassian, Anderson Lab: Derfogail is engineering material platforms and artificial 3D lymph nodes for mechanical, biochemical and genetic manipulation of T cells. She uses these systems to probe the requirements for T cell activation, and develop technologies for controlled activation, differentiation and expansion of T cells for cancer immunotherapy applications.
  • Jeremy Li, Belcher Lab: Jeremy is developing a label-free noninvasive imaging tool that is able to visualize the lymphatic system and other biological tissues in order to track immune responses to tumors within just a few hours after injection. The approach integrates state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to track subtle biological changes accurately in the context of cancer. 
  • Khalil Ramadi, Langer Lab: Khalil’s research focuses on the gut-brain axis and enteric nervous system, which exerts an effect on virtually every bodily function including metabolism and immune modulation. It is also directly implicated in certain malignancies, including gastric and colorectal cancers.
  • Joelle Straehla, Hammond Lab: Joelle’s research centers on developing new technologies to improve drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier. Specifically, she is applying chemical engineering principles to design drug carriers for the treatment of brain tumors, combining targeted therapies into brain-penetrant nanocarriers.