Undergraduate and Graduate Research Opportunities

The HMRI Student Program will be undergoing changes in 2015 and will no longer be a summer program. The program will emphasize students at local colleges and universities who can extend their time past the summer into a more extensive research experience. The size of the renovated program is not yet known, as we are now beginning to talk with students who will start their research this academic year, and will have priority for the summer slots. Our goal is to give students more than an exposure to science. It is to develop students who can contribute meaningfully and autonomously to the programs at HMRI through a rich scientific training.

For 55 years HMRI has provided a student research program for science students who are interested in careers in biomedical research. Several HMRI alumni have gone on to be chairmen of medical school departments and directors of research institutes, including the prestigious Salk Institute in San Diego, crediting their HMRI experience as a springboard to their future professions. The summer program has strived to identify and encourage the intellectual development of new scientists.


From 140 applicants, fifteen students were selected for participation in the program. They are undergraduate, graduate, and high school students from USC, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, Stanford, Pomona College, Princeton, and other universities and colleges. Their HMRI mentors are Alfred Fonteh, Xianghong Arakaki, Myron Tong, Marie Csete, Ashraf Imam, Thao Tran, Faye Eggerding, Larry Jones, Howard Kaufman, and Douglas McCreery. Nine stipends were provided for participation by the Rose Hills Foundation and Altadena Guild on the basis of financial need and racial/ethnical minority status.

Back row, left to right: Ariel Vaisbort, Taylor Litchfield, Jose Comi, Alexander Rosinski, Aichen Irene Chen, Carina Lee, Cristin Malekyan
Front row, left to right: Deepika Sarode, Susana Martinez, Ester Bhebhe, Alex Kim, Alexander Huang, Mathi Rajendran, Michelle Hoang
Not pictured: Aaron Lew


From 150 applicants, twenty students were selected for participation in the program. They are undergraduate and graduate students from USC, Cal Poly SLO, Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona College, UC Irvine, CSU Dominguez Hills, Occidental College, Johns Hopkins University, and other universities and colleges. Their HMRI mentors are Mike Harrington, Alfred Fonteh, Xianghong Arakaki, Myron Tong, Marylou Ingram, Ashraf Imam, Faye Eggerding, Brian Ross, Howard Kaufman, Martin Han, and Victor Pikov. Ten stipends were provided for participation in the program on the basis of financial need and racial/ethnical minority status.

Back row, left to right: Siri Chirumamilla, Rubi Diaz, Jocelyn Argueta, June Liu, Lok Lei, Syena Sarrafpour, Kimberly Herrara, Natalie Chen, Aliah Fonteh, Jennifer Cai, Tiffany Gu.

Front row, left to right: Kuan-Ting Chen, Yoon Lee, Evans Moc, Olufemi Osikoya, Jonathan Lowrey, Anthony Porchia.

View participants of prior years.

List of Recent Student Research Projects

Cancer Genetics (Dr. Eggerding):

  • MicroRNA Expression Profiling in Colorectal Cancer
  • Sebaceous Adenoma: DNA Sequencing Case Study
  • Analysis of a rare APC gene variant at the mRNA level

Liver Research (Dr. Tong, Dr. Mena):

  • Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Hepatitis B Virus and Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Hepatitis B treatment algorithm including screening for viral mutants
  • Demographics of Asian Americans with Hepatitis B
  • Clinical course of hepatocellular carcinoma in Hepatitis C patients treated with interferon
  • Analysis of clinical progression in patients with normal ALT chronic Hepatitis C

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (Dr. Ross, Dr. Sailasuta, Dr. Chan, Thao Tran):

  • MRS in Glucose Transporter Deficiency Syndrome
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging Intelligence: A Preliminary Study
  • The effect of aging on hippocampal volume and cortical MRS signals
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging in hydrocephalus patients
  • Development of polarizer for hyperpolarization of MR agents
  • Imaging of strain in carotid arteries using DENSE MRI
  • Measurement of atherosclerotic plaque using hyperpolarization technique
  • Right ventricular function in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiac MRI analysis of ejection fraction
  • Hyperpolarization in vivo
  • Identifying mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease using MRS and quantitative MRI
  • Metabolic evidence of glial abnormalities during primary HIV infection

Molecular Neurology (Dr. Harrington, Dr. Fonteh, Dr. Arakaki, Sherri Lee):

  • Endocannabinoids in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Sphingomyelin and Sphingolipid in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • CSF glycerophospholipids and phospholipase A2 in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Noninvasive Measurement of Oxidative Stress in Alzheimer’s Patients
  • Apolipoprotein A-1 in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Carnonsine pathway in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • CSF biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bioinformatic analysis of lipids in CSF from healthy people and Alzheimer’s patients
  • Comparison of daily nutrient estimates among men and women in an Alzheimer’s study disease
  • Membrane-bound particles in the cerebrospinal fluid in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Detection of myeloperoxidase and cholesterol in cerebrospinal fluid in neurological diseases
  • Clinical features of migraine, stress and endocannabinoid biochemistry
  • Capillary sodium regulation in the ciliary body and retina in a rat migraine model
  • Auditory neurophysiology of migraine
  • The dura mater of a rat migraine model at the capillary endothelial cell level
  • Brain capillary endothelial cell Na+ pumps in the rat migraine model
  • Endocannabinoids in migraine
  • Endogenous steroid glycosides in Na+/K+-ATPase activity in migraine
  • Detection of phospholipases in cerebrospinal fluid during migraine
  • Alpha and beta CGRP in CSF of migrainers
  • CSF and body fluids of migraineurs in Ojai Headache clinic
  • Circadian rhythms of cation concentrations in human saliva and urine
  • Compositional Glycerophospholipid Changes in a Ketogenic SN1A KO Epilepsy Model
  • Needles in the migraine haystack: Cerebrospinal Fluid biomarkers
  • Composition of nanostructures in the cerebrospinal fluid of hydrocephalus patients
  • Primary cultures of rats’ hippocampal astrocytes as part of construction for an artificial blood brain barrier for migraine studies
  • Effect of NKAT regulators on sodium concentration of the brain
  • c-Fos and Western Blot detection of Sodium-Potassium ATPase in α-2 Heterozygous Mice
  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome: A Migraine Comorbidity

Molecular Pathology (Dr. Imam):

  • Expression of Bcl2 and HIF-1α in breast cancer
  • Jagged1, a potential marker for prostate and cervical cancers
  • GST Pi and prostate cancer
  • Cytoplasmic and nuclear PTEN as a prognostic marker for prostate cancer
  • Expression of Hepatocyte Growth Factor in human breast cancer
  • Expression of chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand in breast cancer
  • Expression of fibroblast immunomarkers in breast cancer

Neural Engineering (Dr. McCreery, Dr. Pikov, Dr. Han):

  • Non-invasive Measurement of Glucose Concentration using Millimeter Waves
  • Tracking motion of rat whiskers from HD video
  • Use of modulated laser pulses for activation of light-sensitive proteins in cortex
  • Device for detection and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
  • Image analysis of electrode locations and analysis of neuronal activity in the spinal cord
  • 3D image quantification of tissue response to intracortical neural implants
  • Comparing Tissue Response to Bimorphic, Silicon, and PLGA Probes within the Brain
  • Characterization of degradation of PLGA probes in phosphate buffered saline
  • Filament tracing for quantifying glial cells in inflamed cortical tissue
  • Electrophoretic Approach to Immunostaining Neural Tissue Sections
  • Finite element modeling of the insertion stress of polymer probes
  • High-throughput synchronous Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy for neural interfaces
  • The cochlear nucleus auditory prosthesis: PST histogram analysis
  • Quantification of tissue response to a novel bimorphic neural probe
  • High-throughput testing of corrosion in implantable electrodes

Tissue Engineering (Dr. Csete):

  • Hydrogels from human placenta and umbilical cord

Colorectal Research (Dr. Kaufman):

  • MR defecography and 3-D anorectal manometry  in obstructive defecation

Business Office (Frank Davis):

  • Role of administration in advancing medical research

For more information on the HMRI Student Program, please contact:
Dr. Noah Gross, Co-Chairman, HMRI Student Program
(626) 795-4343 or ngross@hmri.org; or
Dr. Alfred Fonteh, Co-Chairman, HMRI Student Program
(626) 795-4343 or afonteh@hmri.org
Huntington Medical Research Institutes
99 N. El Molino Ave.
Pasadena, California 91101