January Monthly Virtual Meeting
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Technical Forum – 6:00 pm
Business Meeting – 6:45 pm
Technical Program – 7:15 pm
SSP Technology Forum
Andre Samuel, PHD, The Citizen Science Lab
“Teaching for the Future”
Through the participation in our programs, students learn the common research techniques used in biology, technology, robotics and computer science fields. These skills extend beyond the laboratory, and that knowledge is a requirement for a successful career in the sciences. One of the most vital components of our program is that our students, many of whom are disproportionately underrepresented in STEM fields, are able to envision themselves in a STEM career. Therefore, this work is vitally important to counter both formal and traditional STEM learning environments that often teach without context. By teaching for the future, we focus on the development of scientific practices and computational processes rather than the traditional focus on mastery of content without relevance.
Andre Samuel graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in Biology. Following graduate study at the George Washington University in Genomics and Bioinformatics, he received his PhD in Biology from Duquesne University. At Duquesne, his research focused on studying the structure and function of the cold shock related proteins in E. coli. As a Ph.D. candidate, Dr. Samuel founded the S.I.G.M.A Science Mentorship Initiative, a summer study program designed to introduce diverse ninth graders to the University’s lab with the long-term goal of encouraging the pursuit of careers in scientific research. Dr. Samuel’s research experience includes studying toxicology and carcinogenicity effects of novel drugs, hookworm vaccine development under the direction of Dr. Peter Hotez and tuberculosis reactivation in non-human primates in the laboratories of Dr. JoAnne Flynn. Dr. Samuel has a passion for STEM education and life science research. He believes that creating fun engaging and hands on lab experiences for people is the best pathway to an interest in STEM.
Over the past 5 years The Citizen Science Lab and his executive director have received a number of awards for its work throughout the community. In 2015 Dr. Samuel was awarded the BMe leadership award recognized for his excellence and positive impact Through The Citizen Science Lab on black males. In 2016 The Citizen Science Lab received four awards for their participation and Seaperch and The Citizen Science Lab was also selected to participate in the Navy embark program. This program selects highly recognized educators in stem to be flown out to and they will base in San Diego and spend 24 hours on a deployed aircraft carrier. Als, in 2016 Dr. Samuel received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the Obama Administration. In 2017 The Citizen Science Lab received the PSAYDEN after school champion award and the Iota Phi Foundation’s Excellence in Education Award. Dr. Samuel has also been selected as an inaugural member of the Lead Now Pittsburgh cohort created by Leadership Pittsburgh and just recently, in 2020, received the Carnegie Science Center’s Leadership in STEM education award.
SSP Technical Program
Andrea Gambotto, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
“Developing Vaccines for Emerging Infectious Diseases”
During the past decade several noteworthy viruses have emerged to become serious global health threats. SARS Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), are the causative agents of the SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 disease outbreaks, respectively. The impact of viral infections leading to a global pandemic can be devastating, both socially and financially. With each new threat comes the need for rapid vaccine development. Safe vaccines that rapidly induce potent and long-lasting virus-specific immune responses against these infectious agents are urgently needed. While classic approaches to vaccine development are still amenable to emerging viruses, the application of molecular techniques in virology has profoundly influenced our understanding of virus biology, and vaccination methods based on replicating, attenuated and non‐replicating virus vector approaches have become useful vaccine platforms. I will discuss the methods utilized in my laboratory for development of vaccines against these viral threats.
Andrea Gambotto, M.D is an Associate Professor of Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Gambotto received his M.D from Bari University School of Medicine, Italy. He completed his studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He carried out a post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh. He was awarded with the High Honor in Medicine Cum Laude by University of Bari School of Medicine (1994) and with the Telethon Fellowship, Gene Therapy of Hereditary Disease (1998).
He is author of more than 90 high indexed publications, reviews, invited papers and book chapters. He is involved in several research activities, acting as principal investigator on National Institutes of Health grants. His research interests include vaccine development to novel target viruses including SARS-CoV-2, Ebola, Zika, MERS and genetic engineering approaches for cancer immunotherapies. He was lecturer at many international conferences and seminars. He has served on numerous NIH-NIAID study sections and is Member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute as well as of the Institutional Biosafety Committee.