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On March 21, the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences held the 20th annual Julius Marmur Symposium, honoring excellence in graduate student research. It also honors the memory of its namesake, Julius Marmur, Ph.D., who was an Einstein faculty member for 33 years until his death in 1996. Dr. Marmur is remembered today as one of the founding fathers of molecular biology. Victoria H. Freedman, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate programs in biomedical sciences, reminisced about her days working in his laboratory as a rotation student during her first year of graduate training at Einstein. “He was an excellent teacher who brought a 20th-century understanding of molecular biology to students, and he was very supportive, always encouraging us to aim for higher scientific goals,” said Dr. Freedman.
Marmur award winners are decided by an independent committee of faculty members who haven’t personally worked with the students. This year, four outstanding graduate students received recognition for their research contributions.
Dachuan Zhang, Ph.D., was recognized for his work on neutrophil aging, conducted in the laboratory of Paul S. Frenette, M.D. “Winning this award has made me confident to pursue biomedical research further,” he noted. “And it will help me demonstrate my research capabilities when I apply for jobs and funding opportunities.”
Veronika Miskolci, Ph.D., used biosensors to study the roles of signaling molecules known as Rho GTPases in immune cells. She worked under the guidance of Dianne Cox, Ph.D., and Louis Hodgson, Ph.D. “I’ve loved being a Ph.D. student at Einstein,” she said. “Being selected for this award has made me a part of my school and Dr. Marmur’s legacy.”
Philip Campbell, Ph.D., a graduate student and Medical Scientist Training Program candidate in the laboratory of Florence L. Marlow, Ph.D., studied zebrafish development. “This award has provided me a platform for sharing my research with a wider audience,” he said. “Julius Marmur made noteworthy contributions to his field, and I’m inspired to do so in my area of research.”
Fanny Cazettes, Ph.D., worked in the laboratory of José Luis Peña, M.D., Ph.D., on how the brain handles sensory uncertainty. She defended her thesis recently and described winning the award as “the best way to end a Ph.D. It’s recognition of my years of hard work. Women are highly underrepresented in computational neuroscience, so it’s particularly validating for me.”
“What makes the Marmur symposium extra-special is that, in addition to the awardees, other graduate students also present their thesis research at a poster session held later in the day,” said Dr. Freedman. “Students from all years participate, even the first-years. It’s a great opportunity for them to showcase their accomplishments.”
Mildred Marmur, Dr. Marmur’s widow, commented, “If Julius were around, he’d be thrilled to know that the Einstein community is keeping his legacy alive in such a wonderful way.”