BRF’s Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) program 2022-2023 class begins yearlong research studies | Health


SHREVEPORT, La. — Eleven students from Caddo Parish schools are part of this year’s Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) program. The students will work alongside investigators at LSU Health Shreveport on various research studies.

BRF launched the SMART program in 1997 to provide a yearlong research experience for 10 to 12 academically advanced high school seniors from Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes. SMART students must have a career interest in medicine, biomedical research or biomedical engineering. Students in this year’s class are:

  • Nhi Dao from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Caroline Hannigan from CE Byrd High School
  • Elizabeth Klotzbach from CE Byrd High School
  • Raj Letchuman from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Katherine Michael from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Chloe Miller from CE Byrd High School
  • Gabrielle Miller from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Ben Muslow from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Sonya Patel from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
  • Jaylen Pruitt from Captain Shreve High School
  • Eshika Tandon from Caddo Parish Magnet High School

This year’s LSU Health Shreveport mentors are:

  • J. Steven Alexander, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
  • Diana Cruz-Topete, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
  • Elizabeth Disbrow, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director, Center for Brain Health, Department of Neurology
  • Lynn Harrison, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy
  • Monica Cartelle Gestal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Jason Bodily, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Christopher B. Pattillo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
  • Giovanni Solitro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery
  • Sumitra Miriyala, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Cellular Biology and Anatomy
  • Andrew D. Yurochko, Ph.D.; Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Carroll Feist Chair of Viral Oncology; Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats; and PI of the NIH COPPER Center for Applied Immunology and Pathological Processes

Funding for the program comes from the generosity of donors, including the late Bobbie Cates Hicks, The Bruce J. Heim Foundation, The Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s Give for Good donors, The Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s William C. Woolf Fund, and The Magale Foundation.

The education of a future science and technology workforce is an important component of BRF’s mission to diversify and grow the region’s economy. SMART has served 249 students in the region.

SMART is a partnership among BRF; LSU Health Shreveport; and the Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto Parish School Boards.

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