Catalfamo receives NIDCR study grant

Dana Catalfamo, a pre-doctoral fellow in the Department of Oral Biology, received a F31 Individual Pre-Doctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Caltafamo’s research project, “Osteoclast Differentiation and Activation in the Context of Diabetes,” looks at the role of osteoclasts, the main bone-destroying cells, in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bone destruction in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. The grant covers most of her stipend through 2013 in support of her research.

“The focus of my research is to determine the mechanisms for the increased bone resorption and aberrant phenotype observed in these osteoclasts and to develop an in vivo model for the adoptive transfer of osteoclasts derived from type 1 diabetic mouse models to evaluate their ability to exacerbate osteoclast-mediated diseases such as arthritis in mice,” she said.

The ultimate goal is to use these models to evaluate the efficacy of current and novel treatments in the context of type 1 diabetes aimed at controlling osteoclast-mediated diseases.

The NIH-supported Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards programs help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists are available in adequate numbers and in appropriate research areas to address the nations biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. Applicants must show evidence of both high academic performance in the sciences and substantial interest in areas of high priority to participating institutes.

The predoctoral fellowship award provides up to five years of support for research training that leads to the Ph.D. or equivalent research degree, the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree, or another formally combined professional degree and research doctoral degree in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

Catalfamo earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2007, and then joined the University of Florida to further her studies with a concentration in immunology and microbiology.

Catalfamo’s career goal is to earn her Ph.D., and then become a physician assistant with a specialty in rheumatic diseases, “I hope the combined degrees will allow me to pursue a career designing and running clinical trials on novel treatments for autoimmune diseases.”