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Postdoc Appreciation Week Recognizes Dedication to Science

Cedars-Sinai's postdoctoral investigators were recognized for their relentless pursuit of scientific answers during National Postdoc Appreciation Week, which was celebrated with events that took place Sept. 19-23.  

“Most postdocs move here from a new city, state or country, so these events are a great way to build a community,” said Sarah McCallum, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist in the Burda Lab at Cedars-Sinai. “Scientifically, it allows us to form new collaborations, get technical help, provide grant writing support and have mentorship experience with people at a similar career stage.”

The week is celebrated at academic institutions across the U.S. At Cedars-Sinai, events are hosted by the Cedars-Sinai Postdoc Society, an organization founded in 2009. The group is led by a committee of postdoctoral scientists and fellows who organize monthly gatherings as well as programs related to research, awards and recognitions for postdocs at Cedars-Sinai. 

This year’s week of events included a coffee-and-snacks get together held at the Taperson rooftop, an elevator pitch contest, an art-in-research contest, a career development panel that discussed work-life balance and scientific careers, and a social and networking event held at the Phoenix restaurant in Los Angeles. 

McCallum, a member of the Cedars-Sinai Postdoc Society leadership committee, said the competitions are judged by a panel of Cedars-Sinai staff and faculty.

The winning art image by Jessica Carriere, PhD, shows the activation of inflammation in immune cells.The winner of this year’s art-in-research contest was project scientist Jessica Carriere, PhD. Carriere’s image showed the activation of inflammation in immune cells. Carriere said the image is a good representation of the work she does as part of the Stehlik and Dorfleutner Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai. 

Carriere studies inflammatory platforms called inflammasomes, which form in immune cells and are responsible for the release of inflammatory molecules that aid the body’s immune response.

“Postdoc Appreciation Week is always a nice opportunity to network and also have fun with other postdocs and other laboratories, in general,” Carriere said. “It is important as postdocs to open our minds and expand our knowledge, as well, by being exposed to other research fields.”

Second place went to Savita Devi, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Cedars-Sinai who also conducts research with the Stehlik and Dorfleutner Laboratory. Devi submitted an image showing how human white blood cells release proteins that aid the immune response to an invasion by a foreign substance. 

Third place went to Alberto Ayala Sarmiento, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist with the Breunig Lab at Cedars-Sinai, who submitted an image of a mouse brain with an early-stage brain tumor called a glioma.

The winner of the elevator pitch contest was Esha Gauba, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist in the laboratory of principal investigator Ritchie Ho, PhD. Gauba explained in only one minute how she is using stem cells to investigate new drug targets for neurodegenerative disorders. 

Second place was a tie between Snigdha Bhowmick, PhD, and Elham Kazemian, PhD. 

In addition to McCallum, Cedars-Sinai Postdoc Society Committee members include Blandine Chazarin Orgel, PhD, Saeed Seyedmohammad, PhD, Esha Gauba, PhD, Chus Villanueva Millan, PhD, Kate Lagree, PhD, Elisabeth Jaeger, PhD, and Heather Lynn, PhD. 

More than 200 postdocs conduct research and receive training at Cedars-Sinai. Learn more about the Postdoctoral Scientist Program.