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Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Award

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Jill Wykosky, a graduate student at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The $125,000 award will financially support the final three years of her doctoral training in molecular medicine as she focuses on research involving a new treatment target for brain tumors. The award is based on academic record, previous research experience and training, the merit of the research training proposal, and the potential for a productive research career.

Under the direction of Waldemar Debinski, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Wake Forest Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, Wykosky will investigate a receptor protein called EphA2 that is present on the surface of the majority of glioblastoma multiforme cells and not on normal cells. Glioblastoma is the least curable of all human cancers.

The work will focus on the functional role of the EphA2 protein in the formation or progression of glioblastoma, as well as using the protein in the design of anti-cancer drugs to target cancer cells while minimizing harm to normal cells.

The Wake Forest graduate program in molecular medicine, which admits five to seven new students each year, is one of two molecular medicine programs in the country funded by the National Institutes of Health with a grant to train students. The program receives $168,999 each year to support the training of four students.

Wykosky, from Bethlehem, Pa., is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She is the daughter of Faye Kraft of Bethlehem, and Stephen Floyd of Allentown, Pa.

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Media Contacts: Karen Richardson, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, 336-716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 32nd in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.

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