Ava Vargason

Ava Vargason, a Ph.D. candidate at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Vargason is a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, advised by Aaron Anselmo, Ph.D.

Her research project focuses on modifying the surface of therapeutic bacteria to enhance their ability to adhere to mucosal and cell surfaces.

“By enabling therapeutic bacteria to adhere with high affinity and specificity to locations in the GI tract, we can target areas of injury, such as inflammation or cancer,” Vargason said. “This project holds promise to enhance the efficacy of therapeutic bacteria and our ability to modulate the microbiome.”

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program supports outstanding graduate students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research. The GRFP is awarded through the National Science Foundation, which receives over 12,000 applications and makes 2,000 award offers for this program.

Fellows receive funding for three years that provides a $34,000 annual stipend along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance.

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