ATLANTA–Two Georgia State University nutrition Ph.D. candidates have received a prestigious predoctoral fellowship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA)
Maureen Meister and Rami Najjar, Ph.D. candidates in chemistry with a concentration in nutritional sciences in the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions, received the USDA-NIFA $120,000 two-year predoctoral fellowship for their research training and dissertation work that will examine the therapeutic effects of berries.
The fellowship is part of the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development program, producing future research leaders in food and agricultural sciences.
Meister’s research examines blackberry consumption as a therapeutic strategy in chronic lung disease induced by electronic (e)-cigarettes in hypertensive animals. Meister hypothesizes blackberries will prevent lung damage caused by the additive effect of e-cigarette use in hypertension. Meister is mentored by Dr. Rafaela Feresin, assistant professor of nutrition, and will also receive training from collaborator Dr. Christa Wright, assistant professor of environmental health in the Georgia State School of Public Health.
Najjar’s research studies raspberry consumption as a potential therapeutic strategy in treating congestive heart failure. Najjar hypothesizes that raspberries may target the cellular mechanisms driving oxidative stress and inflammation in the heart, leading to improved heart function. He is mentored by Dr. Feresin and co-mentored by Dr. Hongyu Qiu, professor in the Georgia State Center for Molecular & Translational Medicine and Institute for Biomedical Sciences. Najjar will also receive training from collaborator Dr. Siming Wang, senior research scientist and director of the mass spectrometry facility in the Department of Chemistry.
The proposed studies and training in these fellowships integrate nutrition science with advanced biomedical techniques, including analytical chemistry, complex animal surgeries, cell culture and proteomic analysis.