They say dreams do come true, and postdoctoral fellow Amy Rumora, Ph.D., is that much closer to hers after receiving the Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, a grant of up to $927,000.
One look under the microscope in her grandfather’s (Bill Jourdian, Ph.D.) University of Michigan biochemistry lab, and she was hooked. To this day the power of an eight-year-old’s dream to have her own lab has yet to diminish. Now, with the two-part K99/R00 program, she has a clear pathway to do just that, as it is “designed to facilitate a timely transition from a mentored postdoctoral research position to a stable independent research positon with independent NIH or other research support at an earlier state than is the norm.” In short, Dr. Rumora is a science rockstar.
The American Neurological Association (ANA) noticed. Next week her work with Program for Neurology Research & Discovery Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., will be featured at 144th ANA Annual Meeting. “Saturated and Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Differentially Regulate Nerve Function in Murine Models of Obesity,” was chosen as one of the “6 Highlights of the Meeting.” In this study, obese, prediabetic mice were fed a diet high in saturated fatty acids. Later some animals were switched to a diet high in unsaturated fatty acids with the same calorie count as before. The animals on the unsaturated fatty acid diet had a reversal of neuropathy. This research has been covered by Michigan Medicine’s Health Blog.
Dr. Rumora will remain under the mentorship of Dr. Feldman for up to two years during the K99 portion of the program, studying “Sphingolipid Lipid and Fatty Acid Biology in Prediabetes and Neuropathy,” for which she received the grant.
“I want to understand the molecular changes that improve nerve function when mice are switched to a monounsaturated fat diet.” she explained. “By doing so we hope to identify therapeutic targets to develop treatments to improve nerve function in prediabetic and diabetic patients with neuropathy.”
Dr. Rumora then advances to the R00 phase, where she moves onto another institution, opens her own lab, and, in addition to her research, begins to train the next generation of scientific dreamers. The R00 segment can last up to three years.
“Dr. Rumora is an exceptional young scientist—brilliant, creative, innovative and inspired,” Dr. Feldman said. “Few scientists work harder than she does. It’s not unusual for Dr. Rumora to clock 14 to 16 hour days. She is going to make a real difference in the field of neuropathy and I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of mentoring her. She is a true scientific rock star!” says Dr. Feldman. Feldman also adds with a smile, “Her grandfather taught me here at Michigan when I was a student. He would be so proud of her, so very proud.”
Other research from Amy Rumora, Ph.D.:
Amy E. Rumora, Giovanni LoGrasso, John M. Hayes, Faye E. Mendelson, Maegan A. Tabbey, Julia A. Haidar, Stephen I. Lentz, Eva L. Feldman. The divergent roles of dietary saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids on nerve function in murine models of obesity. Journal of Neuroscience. 2019 May 8; 39(19):3770-3781. PMID: 30886017
Amy E. Rumora, Giovanni LoGrasso, Julia A. Haidar, Justin J. Dolkowski, Stephen I. Lentz, Eva L. Feldman. Chain length of saturated fatty acids regulates mitochondrial trafficking and function in sensory neurons. Journal of Lipid Research. 2019 Jan;60(1):58-70. PMID: 30442656
Amy E. Rumora*, Stephen I. Lentz*, Lucy M. Hinder, Samuel W. Jackson, Andrew Valesano, Gideon E. Levinson, Eva L. Feldman. Dyslipidemia impairs mitochondrial trafficking and function in sensory neurons. FASEB. 2018 Jan;32(1):195-207. PMID: 28904018