MD-PhD Dual Degree Program

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Current MD-PhD Students


Ezekiel Gonzalez-Fernandez (M4)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: California State University - Long Beach

Field of Study/Interests: Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias

Honors/Awards: National Institute of Health (NIH) F30 Grant, American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Henderson Award; NIH RISE Fellowship

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: President, local chapter American Physician Scientists Association 

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Fan L., Wang S., He X., Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Lechene C., Fan F., Roman R.J. (2019, Apr). Visualization of Intrarenal Distribution of Capillary Blood Flow. Physiological Reports, 7(8), 14065. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 31008571. Pub Status: Published.

Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Fan L., Wang S., Liu Y., Gao W., Thomas K.N., Fan F., Roman R.J. (2021, Aug). Pleiotropic Genomic Targets for Precision Medicine in Human Hypertension, Vascular, Renal and Cognitive Diseases. Physiological Genomics. Pub Status: Published

Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Liu Y., Auchus A.P., Fan F., Roman R.J. (2021, Aug). Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia: the emerging role of 20-HETE. Clinical Science, 135(15), 1929-1944. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 34374423. Pub Status: Published.

Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Staursky D., Lucas K., Nguyen B.V., Li M., Liu Y., Washington C., Coolen L.M., Fan F., Roman R.J. (2020, Sep). 20-HETE Enzymes and Receptors in the Neurovascular Unit: Implications in Cerebrovascular Disease. Frontiers in Neurology, 1 1(11), 983. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 33013649. Pub Status: Published.

Lv W., Fan F., Wang Y., Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Wang C., Yang L., Booz G.W., Roman R.J . (2018, Jan). Therapeutic potential of microRNAs for the treatment of renal fibrosis and CKD. Physiological Genomics, 50(1), 20-34. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 29127220. Pub Status: Published.

Shekhar S., Wang S., Mims P.N., Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Zhang C., He X., Liu C.Y., Lv W., Wang Y., Huang J., Fan F. (2017, Jun). Impaired cerebral autoregulation- A common neuropathy in Diabetes may play a critical role in Diabetes-related Alzheimer’s disease. Current Research in Diabetes & Obesity Journal, 2(3), 555587. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 28825056. Pub Status: Published.

Wang S., Zhang H., Liu Y., Li L., Guo Y., Jiao F., Fang X., Jefferson J.R., Li M., Gao W., Gonzalez-Fernandez E., Maranon R.O., Pabbidi M.R., Liu R., Alexander B.T., Roman R.J., Fan F. (2020, May). Sex differences in the structure and function of rat middle cerebral arteries. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 318(5), 1219-1232. Cited in PubMed; PMID: 32216612. Pub Status: Published.

Interests/Hobbies: kayaking, fly-fishing, reading the Bible



Meredith Cobb (M4)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: BS in Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi

Field of Study/Interests: My research is in nephron deficiency and its potential role in the development of diabetic kidney disease. My medical specialty interest is Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (Med-Peds).

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Poster Award Winner, American Heart Association Hypertension Scientific Sessions 2019; American Society of Nephrology Kidney STARS 2018 and 2019; The Jackson Fund Scholarship for The 60th McKusick Short Course Associated Student Body President’s Award; University of Southern Mississippi Student Hall of Fame

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:

Inaugural Physician Scientist Interest Day for Underrepresented Students Event Co-Chair; American Physiological Society Science Policy Committee Trainee member; Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium 2019 External Event Committee; UMMC Associate Student Body Secretary; UMMC Admissions Ambassador; American Physician Scientist Association Institutional Representative; Carl G. Evers Society

Published Papers as MD/PhD Student:

Showmaker K, Cobb MB, Johnson AC, Garrett MR. Whole genome sequencing and novel candidate genes for CAKUT an altered nephrogenesis in the HSRA rat. Physiol Genomics. 52:56-70,2020.

Interests/Hobbies:  Cycling and watching funny TV shows with my husband; being a mom to my three year old daughter.



Jamarius Waller (M4)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: B.A Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Mississippi

Ph.D. Field of Study: Pharmacology and Toxicology

Medical Interest: Cardiovascular diseases and epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in African Americans

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Martin Frank Diversity Fellowship Recipient; Portland Press Predoctoral Research Award Finalist; Graduate Training Education Center (GTEC) Smith Scholar; Graduate Student Ambassador Award

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:

Mentor for Undergraduate Students; Local American Physician Scientist Association Chapter.
UMMC Admissions Ambassador; Organizer-President

UMMC Bi-annual African American Visit Day; Treasurer and Mentorship Chairman, Local American Physician Scientist Association Chapter; Treasurer,

UMMC Student National Medical Association; Graduate Student Ambassador, APS

Phi Beta Sigma- Eta Beta Chapter, President, Oxford, MS,

Funded Fellowship Application: NIH F31 Fellowship: “The use of a biopolymer-fused form of VEGF-B for the treatment of Preeclampsia.”

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Waller JP, Howell JA, Peterson H, George EM, Bidwell GL 3rd. Elastin-Like Polypeptide: VEGF-B Fusion Protein for Treatment of Preeclampsia. Hypertension. 2021 Dec;78(6):1888-1901. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.121.17713. Epub 2021 Nov 1. PubMed PMID: 34719237; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8585700.

Waller JP, Burke SP, Engel J, Chade AR, Bidwell GL 3rd. A dose-escalating toxicology study of the candidate biologic ELP-VEGF. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 18;11(1):6216. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-85693-6. PubMed PMID: 33737643; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7973730.

Kuna M, Waller JP, Logue OC, Bidwell GL 3rd. Polymer size affects biodistribution and placental accumulation of the drug delivery biopolymer elastin-like polypeptide in a rodent pregnancy model. Placenta. 2018 Dec;72-73:20-27. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2018.10.005. Epub 2018 Oct 20. PubMed PMID: 30501877; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6287274.

Bidwell GL 3rd, Mahdi F, Shao Q, Logue OC, Waller JP, Reese C, Chade AR. A kidney-selective biopolymer for targeted drug delivery. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2017 Jan 1;312(1):F54-F64. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00143.2016. Epub 2016 Oct 26. PubMed PMID: 27784692; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5283886.

Interests/Hobbies: Mentoring community youth; traveling with my wife; collecting vinyl records; playing competitive chess



Shelley Rae Edwards (G1)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Neuroscience & Cognitive Studies

Undergraduate Institution: Millsaps College

Field of Study/Interests: My research investigates the clinical efficacy, abuse liability, and respiratory effects of novel opioid compounds in search of improved treatments for pain.

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) Co-Chair of Partnerships Committee, Undergraduate student mentor, Discovery Curriculum Committee Member, Physician Scientist Interest Day for Underrepresented Students Event Planning Committee Member

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Dos Santos E Santos C, Welch BA, Edwards SR, et al. Immune and Metabolic Biomarkers in a Rodent Model of Spinal Cord Contusion. Global Spine J. 2022;12(1):110-120. doi:10.1177/2192568220950337

Interests/Hobbies: House Plant Enthusiast, Amateur carpentry/Home Improvement, Furniture Restoration, Balloon Animal Twisting



Jacob Pruett (G3)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: Chemistry with Biochemistry Emphasis

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Southern Mississippi

Current Field of Study/Interests: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Sodium-Glucose Cotransporters, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Endocrinology

Honors/Awards: A. Wallace Conerly Scholarship; Nathan Solomon & Irene Oransky-Solomon Medical Student Award First Place at the Southern Regional Meeting 2021 for the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation; Research Day Awardee at University of Mississippi Medical Center Research Day 2021; Virendra B Mahesh Award of Excellence in Endocrinology at Experimental Biology 2020; Endocrinology & Metabolism Section Research Recognition Award at Experimental Biology 2021; Best Oral Presentation: Southeast Medical Scientist Symposium 2019; Kidney STARS Travel Grant (2021 and 2019); Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA); Gold Humanism Honor Society

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: Subcommittee member of the Trainee Advisory Committee for the American Physiological Society – Endocrine and Metabolism (E&M) Section (2021-Present); Chair of AOA Research Award Committee (2019-2020); Co-Chair of GHHS Mini-Projects Committee (2019-2020).

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Pruett JE, Torres Fernandez ED, Everman SJ, Vinson RM, Davenport K, Logan MK, Ye SA, Romero DG, Yanes Cardozo LL. Impact of SGLT-2 Inhibition on Cardiometabolic Abnormalities in a Rat Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021;22(5):2576.

Yanes Cardozo LL, Huffman AM, Pruett JE, Romero DG. Androgens and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Sex Hormones. 2021 Mar 2. IntechOpen.

Yanes Cardozo LL, Rezq S, Pruett JE, Romero DG. Androgens, Kidney and COVID-19: An Opportunity for Translational Research. American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology 2021;320(2):F243-F248

Yanes Cardozo LL, Rezq S, Pruett JE, Garla VV, Romero DG. Androgen Excess in Women and the Respiratory System. Sex-Based Differences in Lung Physiology. 2021:405

Funded Fellowship Application: National Institutes of Health F30 Fellowship: “Impact of SGLT-2 Inhibition on the Cardiometabolic Profile of PCOS”

Interests/Hobbies: Traveling; learning about languages; Spanish; reading; video games


Katheryn Lett

Katheryn Lett (G2)

Undergraduate Degree/Field of Study: B.S. Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Alabama

Field of Study/Interests: My research focuses on exploring and identifying novel roles of coilin, the Cajal Body marker protein. My medical specialty interest is pediatric hematology/oncology.

National/Local Committee Membership/Leadership Positions: American Physician Scientist Associations Mentor for Undergraduate Students

Published Papers as MD-PhD Student:

Lett KE, Logan MK, McLaurin DM, Hebert MD. Coilin enhances phosphorylation and stability of DGCR8 and promotes miRNA biogenesis. Mol Biol Cell. 2021 Oct 1;32(20):br4.

Logan MK, Lett KE, Hebert MD. The Cajal body protein coilin is a regulator of the miR-210 hypoxamiR and influences MIR210HG alternative splicing. J Cell Sci. 2021 Jun 15;134(12).

Monroe JD, Moolani SA, Irihamye EN, Lett KE, Hebert MD, Gibert Y, Smith ME. Cisplatin and phenanthriplatin modulate long-noncoding RNA expression in A549 and IMR90 cells revealing regulation of microRNAs, Wnt/β-catenin and TGF-β signaling. Sci Rep. 2021 May 17;11(1):10408

McLaurin DM, Logan MK, Lett KE, Hebert MD. Molecular determinants that govern scaRNA processing by Drosha/DGCR8. Biol Open. 2020 Oct 26;9(10)

Interests/Hobbies: quilting, kayaking, playing volleyball