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Lewis Scholarship Program

The PSI internship was developed and is offered by the program directors on a voluntary basis. Research faculty volunteer their time and resources to mentor PSI students. From 1999-2015, the class existed with no additional outside funding. In the recent past, with the addition of funding to the program, we have had the opportunity to fund the summer research of some of our students via summer stipends. This has created an environment where students from different backgrounds can equitably experience the same internship without creating financial hardship for students in lower income situations. 

The Lewis Scholarship Program supports training and teaching of high school students. Fifteen underserved students receive a $2,000 stipend for their summer internship. Students must complete 120 hours of internship to qualify for the stipend. The application period will be announced during the course.  

Past Scholars

Laszlo Szidonya, M.D., Ph.D.

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

I dream of a position where I can directly contribute to patient care and apply the results of my research for the well-being of people.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I feel most proud every time I can diagnose a patient and help to cure them.

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

The Foundation's support means that I can perform research in one of the world's leading workgroups regarding ferumoxytol and be part of an awesome group of people.

Is there anything else about you that you'd like the foundation to know?

In my free time I enjoy reading, playing board games and RPGs, hiking, eating good food and building model rockets.

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

"Being a Lewis Scholar means that I can practice medicine and conduct research in one of the most beautiful places in the world"

Cymon Kersch, Ph.D.

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

I dream to work in a collaborative group of scientists and clinicians to develop methods to cure brain cancers. As malignant brain tumors vary person-to-person, a “one size fits all” type of approach to treating them is unlikely to be successful. Therefore, I dream of developing a set of diagnostic and treatment methods that will help identify unique properties of each person’s tumor so that we can tailor therapies specifically to each individual. This type of approach to treating cancers is termed “precision medicine”, and while it is becoming forefront in treating other types of cancers, is more challenging for cancers in the brain. It is my dream to help make precision medicine applicable to brain tumors so that we can improve the lives of people diagnosed with these terrible tumors.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I am most proud of the work that I have done developing methods that improve our ability to stratify patients with glioblastoma tumors (an very aggressive brain tumor) based on different biological properties and  therapeutic sensitivity. This was a large portion of the research that I did in completing my PhD degree in Dr. Neuwelt’s laboratory and under his mentorship. I am also very proud/excited about current work that I am doing to map types of immune responses across brain tumors using specific patterns in MRI pictures. In the future, combing these two areas will help develop methods to use MRI to non-invasively evaluate how the cancerous cells in tumors interact with resident brain cells (healthy cells that are supposed to be in the brain) and invading immune cells (different types of white blood cells), and how these vary between patients. This information will be critical to create methods that tailor therapies specifically to unique characteristics in each tumor in every person.

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

Being a Johnathan D. Lew Scholar gave me opportunities beyond traditional graduate school training to learn and develop skills to become a future leader in the field of Oncology. Newer, more exploratory and high risk/high reward type laboratory research projects are challenging to fund through traditional scientific funding routes. Thus, these projects are often not pursued, and much of my work would not have been possible without flexible funding. Being a Johnathan D. Lew Scholar helped cover my student stipend this year, allowing me to spend time on these specific projects. Additionally, this funding gave me extra time in my PhD training (rather than graduating earlier), during which time I was able learn critical skills that I will need in my future career including computer programing and coding, bioinformatics, understanding brain MRI, and becoming well versed in the field of ‘imaging genomics’.

Is there anything else about you that you'd like the foundation to know?

During this quarter, I defended my PhD dissertation, which was helped significantly by support from the Johnathan D. Lewis Foundation. Typically in graduate school, students are constrained to the specific topics of funded grants on more strictly defined projects, and there is limited flexibility to shift projects in new directions. During feedback sessions from my Dissertation Committee Members that are outside of the Neuwelt research group, I was told that my dissertation projects evolved in a way that I was able to learn topics and methods that have set me up to be at the forefront of this field of medicine/research and that the topics I was able to learn about are the future of this field of medicine. This was possible because of the funding from the Johnathan D. Lewis Foundation and Dr. Neuwelt’s mentorship style. For the flexibility to pursue this type of research during my graduate training, I cannot thank the Johnathan D. Lewis Foundation enough for their generous support that made this possible. 

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

"I will be forever grateful to the Johnathan D. Lewis Foundation for the opportunity to learn about, explore, and participate in cutting edge research on brain tumors during my graduate school training. This helped me learn skills and gain knowledge to be at the forefront of brain tumor research in my career. I will work to pay this generosity forward in the form of improved care and treatment for patients with brain tumors. Thank you x a billion!!!"

Peyton Cowan, Undergraduate student from PSU

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

I dream of becoming a Dermatologist in order to help prevent and diagnose skin cancer before it can metastasize to the brain.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I am the most proud of myself for qualifying for the Four Years Free Program at Portland State University. My family did not have a lot of money and we moved frequently during my high school years. This resulted in me attending four different high schools. Despite that, I maintained the required high GPA and a motivation to pursue my degree. 

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

It is giving me an amazing start on my career path with exposure in the medical and scientific fields. This has opened up a new world of possibilities for me. The opportunity to have a paid internship in an oncology lab facilitates a jumpstart to my dream career and undergraduate pursuits. 

Is there anything else about you that you'd like the foundation to know?

I am also very talented in many art forms such as painting, sculpting, and drawing. I am a very creative thinker. 

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

"I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of this unique opportunity, and I very much appreciate your help in getting my career in medicine started."

Csanad Varallyay, M.D., Ph.D.

Where are you now in your career? 

I am very excited to be in my final year of my residency with the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the Oregon Health and Science University. During this year I have been continuing research activities to improve imaging techniques for brain tumor patients. This includes the following translational research training opportunities in addition to the hands-on experience of my residency:

  • I attended a meeting with the FDA in July 2019 to discuss the possibility of market approval of ferumoxytol, an iron oxide nanoparticle, as an MR imaging agent to better visualize brain tumors.

  • In early November I gave a talk about intra-arterial chemotherapy and blood brain barrier disruption at the Congress of the Hungarian Neuroradiological Society in Hungary.

  • I prepared a scientific poster discussing technical details of high resolution cerebral blood volume mapping with ferumoxytol that was presented at the congress of Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago, IL.

  • Mid December we are going to visit our collaborators at UCLA, to learn more about cardiovascular ferumoxytol enhanced MRI.

My career goal is academic radiology with subspecialty of neuroradiology, to improve neuro-oncological imaging, thus improving survival of brain tumor patients.

I am thankful to the Jonathan D. Lewis Foundation for supporting these efforts. 

PSI Stipend Recipient – Mentor – Research Field:

Akash Bindal – Wassana Yantasee, Ph.D. – Biomedical Engineering

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

I hope to develop deep and intuitive understandings of the subjects I will work in, using the desire to help others as a touchstone for all the work I do. I aspire to become a master of my study and, accordingly, become a reliable support for others. I want to achieve this through a strong work ethic and ability to make use of strong relationships with other individuals, realizing their capabilities as well.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I feel very honored to have gained the trust of Dr. Yantasee to allow me to work with her and her researchers in the biomedical engineering lab after having demonstrated my scientific aptitude and willingness to learn. I am glad that I have gotten the opportunity to show my reliability and thoroughness through my work, thus being entrusted with developing and researching my own questions. I am also happy that she and her researchers can rely on me with tasks like conducting and presenting literature review to help them make more informed decisions on prospective developments in their research.

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

Being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar has provided me with an environment that challenges and encourages me to grow intellectually. Specifically, being around so many highly qualified scientists and having resources to pursue my scientific inquiries has drastically expanded what I thought I could accomplish. I am gaining invaluable thinking and lab techniques that will improve my ability as a scientist during my career.

Is there anything else about you that you’d like the foundation to know?

I spend much of time working with my younger sister, as a brother-sister team, to improve the lives of underprivileged students. We set out to do so by improving their access to clean and safe sanitation facilities at school, realizing how the lack of this can impose a major barrier for students pursuing a basic education. We raise money and fund sanitation and healthcare improvement projects in rural, underserved schools in India.

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

I feel greatly honored to have been chosen as one of the very first Lewis Scholars in recognition for my capacity in scientific research. I feel so grateful for the researchers and program directors checking in on my work and offering guidance. It has reassured me of my commitment to uphold great scientific scholarship for the betterment of others.

Anneka Prigodich – Leslie Muldoon, Ph.D. – Blood Brain Barrier Program

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

I’m still not entirely sure what exactly I will end up doing in terms of a career, other than that I know I want to do lab work and research. More specifically, I am fascinated by research in human diseases. Currently, I’m thinking of majoring in either neuroscience or immunology. If I have any more concrete dreams, they would involve being able to design and conduct my own research as the head of a research team or lab.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I’m very proud to have been accepted into this PSI program that is allowing me to do actual lab work this summer. Most students from my school, in Sherwood, aren’t nearly as ambitious as I am and so it’s hard to hear about these kinds of opportunities since no one from my area takes advantage of them. I’m proud to be one of the first from my school to do research at such a young age.

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

Because I’m doing research this summer, I don’t have time to keep working at a normal job, so this stipend is allowing me to be able to stop working this summer without having to worry about money. If I didn’t have the financial means that this stipend gives me, I might not be able to do this research that will give me so much experience that I can rely on in the future.

Is there anything else about you that you’d like the foundation to know?

I’m a very ambitious person and I hope to one day attend my dream school: Brown University. I’m also the first chair flute player in my school’s wind ensemble.

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity that being a Lewis Scholar has given me. Without this opportunity, I would not be able to conduct this amazing research this summer.

Caela Hung – Daniel Schwartz – Advanced Imaging Research Center

 What do you dream of achieving in your career someday? 

I dream of working in the medical field and positively impacting the lives of my patients whether that is in a research lab or a clinical setting.

 

 What are you most proud of achieving so far?

I am most proud of the knowledge I’ve gained through the PSI Program. Outside of the field, I am most proud of qualifying for the US Kungfu Team and representing my country by medaling at the World Kungfu Championships.

 

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

Being a Jonathan D. Lewis is helping me pursue my career goals by supporting my internship opportunity at OHSU. Through this opportunity, I can gain experience working in the medical field, and attain skills that can be applicable in my future careers.

 Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor

I’m honored to be a Lewis Scholar and grateful for the opportunity to be supported as I pursue my career goals in the biomedical research field.

 

Description of my work over the summer:

Over the summer, I worked with my mentor Daniel Schwartz in the Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center. During that time, I was able to conduct data analysis project on longitudinal MRI Images in an elderly cohort. This was a great opportunity for me to gain knowledge in neuroscience, excel, and research. It was also amazing to experience what it is like to work in a biomedical research setting.

Geoffrey Gu – Christina L. Lancioni, M.D. – Infectious Diseases

 What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

In the future, I hope to pursue a career as a biomedical researcher. The heart of my interests lies in microbiology and I am, more specifically, curious about antibiotic resistant bacteria and their growing prominence and danger. Accordingly, I aspire to develop a new method for the treatment of these superbugs, as our current medicine is only escalating this issue.

  

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

Over the summer of 2018, I was lucky to work in a lab investigating a specific secretion of a bacteria called staphylococcus aureus. During my time there, I was able to take advantage of the laboratory equipment and develop a novel method for detecting aerosol s. aureus with a primary focus of helping to reduce hospital acquired infections.

 

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

As a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar, I have more freedom to explore career-related opportunities with limited monetary concern. For example, during summer 2019, I have the opportunity to work as an intern at Oregon Health and Science University with focus on HIV and drug abuse. With the Jonathan D. Lewis Scholarship, I am able to take part in such a unique experience without worry of the financial burden it may cause.

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor

I am extremely thankful for the generous grant the Jonathan D. Lewis Foundation has provided, giving people like me the opportunity explore our present career interests before becoming part of the future where we may make a true impact in our field.

 

Project Description:

Partnership for Scientific Inquiry (PSI) at OHSU has provided me with the invaluable opportunity to work alongside respected doctors and scientists, performing research on the important issues of today. Personally, PSI has connected me with Dr. Christina Lancioni, with whom I got to investigate the impact of opioid use in HIV patients. Our studies, in general, will conclude if doctors are subjecting their patients to greater risk of infection by prescribing them opioids. I have also been able to extend my internship beyond the summer and into my school year, where I am investigating the impact of a 4-week alcohol use intervention on HIV patient immune function and gut permeability. I have co-authored in an abstract of this research, which has been submitted to the CPDD research conference-- the oldest and largest organization in the US dedicated to advancing a scientific approach to substance use and addictive disorders-- and the research will likely also be turned into a paper for journal submission. Overall, it is the Lewis Foundation that has made this possible, as its scholarship has given me the freedom and flexibility to do such amazing research.

Erin Marble – Larry David, Ph.D. – Biochemistry

What do you dream of achieving in your career someday?

In my career, I dream of discovering something that can change lives and being able to travel sharing the discoveries I’ve made. In doing this, I’d like to help teach those who want to learn more about research, while also continuing to learn myself. I hope that I can making a lasting difference in more than one way on more than one person.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

So far, I’m proud that I have set myself up to be able to achieve my dreams in my careers. I’ve worked hard to put myself in a position that will be helpful to me later on in life in many aspects. Through consistent hard work, I’ve shown my dedication to my studies and passions, and I hope that I can continue to prove my dedication in my life in everything that I do.

 

How is being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar helping you pursue your career goals?

Being a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar will help me pursue my career goals by allowing me to focus on my research this summer instead of worrying about how I’m going to be able to pay for the Courts for Kids or other service trips that I’d like to do. I can confidently put myself in a lab setting without the distraction of a job, and I can spend more hours in and out of the lab focusing on the research that I will be doing.

 

Is there anything else about you that you’d like the foundation to know?

I am very excited for this summer and the research that I will be doing in the lab. I hope that I can continue to pursue my passion for the sciences through other research in coming years as well.

 

Provide a quote sharing your gratitude for the opportunity to be a Lewis Scholar and what it has meant to be selected for this honor.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a Jonathan D. Lewis Scholar. It means a lot to me that there is a group in the community that supports high-school research and provides opportunities for high-school students to pursue their passions and get a taste of what we will be doing in a research-based career.