McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Promising investigators win major research fellowship

Published: December 22, 2009
Carlos Morillo
From left: Kelly O'Brien (2008 recipient), Michael G. DeGroote, Erin Westman and Jonathan Schertzer Slideshow  [View Slideshow]

The generosity of Michael G. DeGroote is opening research doors for two young investigators working at the molecular level to improve human health.

Jonathan Schertzer and Erin Westman are the recipients of the 2009 Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards. The awards support postdoctoral fellows pursuing health sciences research at McMaster University.

Jonathan Schertzer

Jonathan Schertzer earned his PhD in physiology from the University of Melbourne in 2006. His research focuses on investigating the link between obesity, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes. Drawing on his background in kinesiology, physiology and cellular biology, he is working to understand how specific proteins within the immune system influence the development of insulin resistance.

As the winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Academic Fellowship Award, Schertzer will receive $75,000 a year for two years to help him develop a competitive research program in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The award is designed for candidates who have completed a postdoctoral fellowship and are interested in seeking a junior faculty position at McMaster.

"Making the jump from postdoctoral fellow to assistant professor is an enormous one," Schertzer said. "This fellowship makes that transition a lot easier."

Erin Westman

Erin Westman is the 2009 recipient of Michael G. DeGroote Postdoctoral Fellowship Award. The award provides annual support of up to $45,000 per year, for up to three years, for a postdoctoral fellow with an exemplary academic record and an interest in pursuing leading-edge research within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Westman recently earned her PhD in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Guelph. As part of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, she is working to identify and characterize soil bacteria that are resistant to linezolid (Zyvox), a synthetic antibiotic used to treat serious infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).

"If we can learn novel strategies for inactivation of antibiotics then we can think ahead and create something to defeat the system," she said. "Clearly, we are coming to a point where we need to develop more antibiotic compounds. We also need to keep ahead of the bacteria in terms of resistance."

The Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards are financed through the Michael G. DeGroote Faculty of Health Sciences Development fund.

For more information, please visit the Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards website.

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