Brestoff Lab graduate student and postdoc awarded American Heart Association fellowships

Rocky Giwa, a graduate student in the Brestoff Lab, and Wentong Jia, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Brestoff Lab, have been awarded fellowships from the American Heart Association (AHA). The fellowships recognize the outstanding work Rocky and Dr. Jia contribute to the Brestoff Lab and their potential to become leaders in scientific research.

“I’m very proud of Rocky and Wentong, not just for receiving these impressive awards from the American Heart Association but also for all their hard work and dedication. They are both exceptionally talented scientists who have bright futures ahead of them. I am grateful to the American Heart Association for also seeing this in them and investing in their career development,” said Jonathan R. Brestoff, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Immunology. 

Rocky is the recipient of the AHA Predoctoral Fellowship, which is awarded to students in pre-doctoral or clinical health professional degree training programs who intend to pursue careers as scientists, physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists, or related careers aimed at improving global cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health, AHA said on its website. Rocky’s research in the Brestoff Lab focuses on the role of Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in the regulation of immune responses to type 2 cytokines. Since joining the lab, Rocky has made tremendous progress and established new functions for UCP1 in regulating the metabolism of an important immune cell type known as macrophages.

“I am tremendously honored and grateful to be a recipient of the AHA Predoctoral Fellowship. I am excited to use both the academic and financial support from the award to develop my research project on understanding the role of UCP1 expression in the development of metabolic inflammation and pathologies. Therefore, receiving this award will help me achieve my academic and professional goals of conducting rigorous research that improves our understanding and treatment of human diseases on a global scale,” Rocky said.

Dr. Jia has received the AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship, which enhances postdoctoral training by providing an annual stipend and project support for selected applicants. Dr. Jia joined the Brestoff Lab in 2021 after completing his PhD training at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His thesis work focused on NK cells in the placenta. Findings from this work piqued Dr. Jia’s interest in exploring how the metabolism and function of immune cells such as natural killer cells and macrophages change in obesity and type 2 diabetes, metabolic diseases that can impact placental biology.

“It’s a tremendous honor for me to receive this prestigious postdoctoral fellowship. This recognition not only acknowledges my research efforts but also serves as a significant source of inspiration and motivation. I am sincerely grateful to AHA for their invaluable support, enabling me to delve further into the secrets of mitochondrial transfer in the heart and contribute to the future of cardiovascular health. Moreover, this fellowship will propel me to the next stage of my scientific career, guiding me towards becoming an independent investigator,” Dr. Jia said.