Student Spotlight

We are pleased to announce that Jessica Scarborough and Elizabeth Zunica have been named recipients of the 2022 Doctoral Excellence Award.  The Doctoral Excellence Award is given to up  to one PhD student per program in the School of Medicine who exhibit exceptional qualities in research, scholarship, service, and collaboration.  Recipients have made significant contributions to their fields of study, as well as to the scientific community through involvement in activities that support laboratory, department, school, institution, or national science organizations.

Jessica Scarborough

MSTP Student in Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

portrait of Jessica Scarborough standing in front of the Biomedical Research Building at CWRU

Jessica Scarborough is a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program who recently completed her PhD work in Systems Biology & Bioinformatics under the direction of Dr. Jacob Scott in the Theory Division Laboratory at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.  Jessica successfully defended her dissertation "Exploiting Convergent Evolution to Design and Validate Biomarker Extraction Tools for the Prediction of Chemo- and Radiotherapeutic Response in Cancer" in March 2022 and will now complete the remainder of her MD program.

Jessica's research interests include the extraction of biomarkers to predict therapeutic response in cancer and the evolutionary mechanisms underlying collateral sensitivity and resistance in cancer treatment.  During her time at CWRU, she has received several prestigious awards, including an NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service F30 Award, a CWRU Translational Fellowship, and a Rising Star Award from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Elizabeth Zunica

PhD Student in Nutrition

portrait of Elizabeth Zunica

Elizabeth Zunica, PhD is a recent graduate of the Nutrition PhD program.  Elizabeth completed her dissertation research under the direction of Dr. John P. Kirwan at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.  She successfully defended her dissertation "Metabolic Therapeutics for the Treatment of Breast Cancer" in November 2021.

Elizabeth is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the IPMM laboratory and continues to be mentored by Dr. Kirwan. Her current work is focused on pre-clinical therapeutics in mouse models of aggressive breast cancer. Elizabeth has a broad interest in cellular metabolism and nutritional biochemistry with a focus on changes in mitochondrial function associated with disease and in response to therapeutic interventions.