Congratulations to PhD candidate, Enrico Barrozo, on being awarded a National Institute of Health (NIH)-F31 predoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). This is also known as a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA). It is a 2 year fellowship covering the costs of his stipend, tuition, and fees totaling an award of over $39,000/year.
Barrozo expressed immense gratitude in receiving this award and is excited about his future research endeavors.
"Writing grants and securing funding from the NIH as a UFGI Genetics & Genomics graduate student has provided insight and invaluable experience for me as I continue towards my long-term goal, which is to run a productive and distinguished independent research lab at a top research university," Barrozo said.
Barrozo works in Dr. David Bloom's Lab, and his long-term research interests include gene therapy, noncoding-RNAs, and viruses that cause cancer.
“I’ve always been fascinated by viruses,” Barrozo said. “The Herpes virus, from a genetic standpoint, is able to maintain a lifelong infection while maintaining the ability to reactivate. It needs to have very complex, fine-tuned gene regulation to be able to do that.”
To be considered for the predoctoral fellowship, Barrozo submitted a project proposal & summary which are described below:
Project Proposal: This proposal will phenotypically analyze three HSV-1 miRNAs in cell culture and in vivo to determine their biological significance for HSV-1 pathogenesis. For the first time, the viral and host targets of HSV-1 miRNAs will be determined in human neuronal cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. Elucidating viral miRNA interactions may be key to understanding the dynamic nature of viral latency and lead to new strategies for treating herpes infections.
Project Summary: The majority of the human population is latently infected by herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), yet there are no effective therapies for clearing latent virus. During latency, the virus curbs lytic gene expression and only express a select few noncoding RNAs, including the latency associated transcript (LAT) and viral miRNAs. The biological functions of most HSV-1 miRNAs, in the context of viral infection, are largely unknown. Putative targets for HSV-1 miRNAs H1, H6, and H8 include viral and host transcripts. However, evidence for these mechanisms rely primarily on transient expression assays. Rigorous phenotypic analyses of recombinant viruses lacking individual miRNAs in cells relevant to HSV-1 biology and in vivo, in the context of viral infection, will elucidate the biological significance of these viral miRNA interactions in HSV-1 pathogenesis.
Barrozo has recently won several other awards as well. He was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Poster Award for his poster entitled "AAV-mediated Ribozyme Gene Therapy for Ocular Herpes" at the 22nd Annual American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy in Washington D.C. Additionally, Barrozo was inducted into Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Yale University this spring. This honor society was named after Dr. Bouchet, the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. in America in 1876 and "recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate."
Though 2019 was filled with many significant accomplishments for Barrozo, perhaps the greatest was that he and his wife Mara welcomed a new Genetics & Genomics baby into the world! Reyna Skye Barrozo was born June 14, 2019, weighing 7 lbs and 2 oz.
Photo by: Amie-Cierra Photography