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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2023 Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program (GDEP) awards. This program aims to foster diversity and inclusion within the scientific community by supporting outstanding individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in pursuing their graduate studies in STEM.

Selected from a pool of exceptionally talented applicants, the recipients will receive financial support, mentorship opportunities, and access to invaluable resources throughout their academic journey. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is proud to invest in their enrichment and contribute to building a more diverse and inclusive scientific workforce.

Dr. Louis J. Muglia, President of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, expressed his enthusiasm for the program, stating, “We are delighted to recognize and support these exceptional individuals through the Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program. By investing in their education and providing them with the necessary resources, we aim to empower these talented students to make significant contributions to the scientific community. We firmly believe that diversity drives innovation and progress, and we are committed to fostering an inclusive environment within the biomedical sciences.”

Alfred Mays, Chief Diversity Officer at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, emphasized the importance of this program in promoting diversity and equity. He said, “The Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program not only provides financial assistance but also fosters a supportive network for these students. Through mentorship and other resources, we aim to ensure their success and provide them with the tools to become future leaders in their respective fields. We are proud to be a part of their journey and look forward to witnessing their accomplishments.”

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund extends its congratulations to the following recipients of the 2023 Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program awards:

Amy Aponte
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Regulation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (Rb) by the ubiquitin-proteasome system 

Ana Berglind
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Leveraging genetics and bioinformatics to identify novel therapeutic targets in epilepsy 

Kayla Fernando
Duke University School of Medicine
Testing the role of the integrated stress response in cerebellar synaptic plasticity and motor learning

Giovanna Hernandez
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Maximizing Scientific Research Training and Collegiality While Studying Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae in Graduate School

Benjamin Kornegay III
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Uncovering the Role of Zinc Finger Proteins in Cohesin Mediated Enhancer-Promoter Loop Formation

Davoneshia Lollis
Duke University
Investigating the Role of WNT Signaling Modulation in the Evolution of the Developing Human Cerebral Cortex

Choiselle Marius
Duke University School of Medicine
Yolk-sac Erythromyeloid Progenitors in Fracture Healing and Regeneration

Dasean Nardone
Duke University School of Medicine
Targeting Interferon Signaling in Macrophages for Cancer Immunotherapy

Charles Okechukwu
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
CF10/LV Overcomes 5-FU/LV-Resistance in Murine and Human CRC Cell lines

Jessica Portillo
Duke University Medical Center
The Role of Host Genetics in Modulating the Beneficial Effects of the Gut Commensal Akkermansia muciniphila

Pedro Rodriguez-Echemendia
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
c-Fos Immediate Early Gene Expression in the Neural Systems Underlying Learned Negative Affect

Danielle Williams
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Characterizing the Evolution of Macrophage-Tropic HIV-1 in the Central Nervous System

For more information about the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program, please visit


About Burroughs Wellcome Fund:

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing biomedical science through its support of research, education, and diversity initiatives. By fostering innovation and cultivating the next generation of exceptional scientists, the Fund aims to accelerate the pace of discovery and improve human health.

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