Bioinformatics Doctoral Student Wins Research Award

Posted: May 16, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

With her research on calcium dynamics in cardiac cells, bioinformatics doctoral candidate Hena Ramay received a prestigious Student Research Achievement Award (SRAA) from the Biophysical Society at its 50th Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City earlier this year.

Ramay was one of only 13 students out of 78 nominees to receive an SRAA after several rounds of review sessions by a panel of judges, who questioned nominees on their research, procedures and results.

Ramay’s presentation, “A Computational Study of Activation of Adjacent Ca2+ Release Sites: Contribution of Ca2+ Overload and RyR Sensitivity to Ca2,” won in the permeation transport subcategory. It was based on the findings of her research on how calcium, which triggers contraction in the heart, is able to spread from the site of release to induce contraction. The research will contribute to an increased understanding of the processes involved in heart disease and heart failure.

The project was overseen by Ramay’s research advisor, Saleet Jafri, associate professor of bioinformatics, in collaboration with W. Jonathan Lederer, professor of physiology and director of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and Eric Sobie, assistant professor of pediatrics from New York University Medical Center.

Ramay is modest about her success. “Although the SRAA is a student research award, this research plan is a combined effort of professors Jafri, Sobie and Lederer,” she says. “I’m just a graduate student glad to have been chosen to work on their ideas with their advice and guidance.”

“Hena is an outstanding student and a leader in our research group,” says Jafri. “I anticipate that she will continue to make significant contributions in the future and become a leader in the field.”

After completing her doctorate, Ramay plans to continue her education for about two years with a postdoctoral fellowship. “Then, I’ll probably return to Pakistan in order to teach and conduct further research.”

The bioinformatics program is housed in the School of Computational Sciences.

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