More than one year after applying and several rounds of additional information exchange later, Amanda Soler, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pharmacology, was thrilled when she opened the official email notification from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and learned she was the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. The competitive F31 award will provide $30,534 each year for two years to support her research on “20-HETE Increases Large Artery Stiffness and Systolic Blood Pressure in the Metabolic Syndrome.” Her research project focuses on understanding the contribution of the eicosanoid 20-HETE and 20-HETE-dependent vascular remodeling on the regulation of large artery stiffness and systolic hypertension. Ms. Soler is examining isolated systolic hypertension in metabolic syndrome and how large vessels stiffen and react to pharmacological treatments.
Straight out of undergrad, Ms. Soler came to NYMC in August 2014. She was a Gateway to Graduate School in Biology (GGSB) National Science Foundation (NSF) Funded Scholar at the College of New Jersey where she performed plant-based research on plant biochemical defense mechanisms and plant growth mechanisms for four years and graduated cum laude with a B.S. degree in biology. After rotating through the labs in the Department of Pharmacology as part of NYMC’s Integrated Ph.D. Program, she was confident she found her niche and joined the lab of Petra Rocic, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology.
This coup is not the first for Ms. Soler. In 2015, she won an Onsite Trainee Poster Award at the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C., for her work, “20-HETE Antagonist, 20-SOLA, Restores Coronary Collateral Growth in the Metabolic Syndrome.” She also presented oral abstracts at the American Heart Association Council of Hypertension meetings in 2016 and 2017. Ms. Soler is the first author of a manuscript currently in revision in Hypertension, and recently successfully completed the Department of Pharmacology qualifying exam.
“Amanda is an exceptional graduate student whose strong work ethic, intelligence and aptitude for biomedical research are reflected in her achievements,” said Dr. Rocic.
Ms. Soler’s enthusiasm for her work is palpable. She is quite proud of her most recent accomplishment but acknowledges she could not have done it alone. “The support of the NYMC community is extraordinary,” she said. “No matter what I am up against, I know there is a faculty or staff member or fellow student, I can turn to.”