OHSU Grad Student, Astoria Native Takes Dutch Fellowship

02/28/11  Portland, Ore.

An Oregon Health & Science University graduate student and Astoria, Ore. native has accepted a one-year fellowship at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands to study the molecular mechanisms behind blood clotting.

Michelle A. Berny, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering since 2006, will work with Dr. Johan Heemskerk, leader of a world-renowned platelet research group at UM's Institute for Cardiovascular Research and head of the Vital Imaging division of the university's Biomedical Imaging Center. The fellowship begins in September.

"Dr. Heemskerk's laboratory will give me an opportunity to develop my expertise in biological techniques, and will allow me to collect the necessary data to develop a computational model of cytoskeletal-dependent platelet interactions under shear conditions," Berny wrote in her fellowship application.

Berny currently works in the laboratory of Owen McCarty, Ph.D., OHSU assistant professor of biomedical engineering who collaborates with Heemskerk's lab. McCarty's research team analyzes the role of blood platelets in the cardiovascular system and evaluates substrates that affect platelet function. One of its objectives is to uncover the mechanism of platelet activation, a key component in the process of thrombus formation and an important therapeutic target for heart attack and stroke.

Berny's fellowship is awarded by the Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars Program's as part of its Awards in Biomedical Engineering for Overseas Study/Research. The goal of the Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars Program is to assist in the development of professional leaders who are not only superb engineers and scientists, but who also will lead and serve the profession with an international outlook.

 Berny earned a bachelor's degree in bioengineering from Oregon State University in 2006. She graduated from Astoria High School in 2002.