Current Students

Scott Minchenberg

Scott Minchenberg

PhD (3rd year)

Department: Microbiology & Immunology
Advisor: Paul Massa, Phd

Research Interests

Year matriculated: 2011

Why MD/PhD?
During my undergraduate training, I began to take an interest in basic science research. I enjoyed the scientific process and the idea that in some extremely small way, I was contributing to the advancement of a field. The more involved I became in my projects, the more I realized that I was committed to a career in research. At the same time, I was also volunteered as an EMT, where I experienced firsthand the doctor-patient interaction in dire situations requiring fast judgment calls and treatments under grueling conditions. Over time, I realized that I enjoyed both interacting with patients and continuing my pursuit of research.
The MD/PhD program affords me the opportunity to pursue my career goal of becoming a physician who is committed to both research and clinical medicine. By combining both degrees, I will gain the tools to pursue research questions with higher clinical emphasis and approach patients with the knowledge of cutting edge research.

Why Upstate?
The MD/PhD program at Upstate is very rigorous, and in addition to providing excellent clinical training, it places strong emphasis on developing solid research skills. I aspire to a position in academic medicine, where I envision simultaneously running a research lab and a clinical practice, and Upstate seemed an ideal place for me to begin that journey. The research faculty at upstate are extremely approachable, and are always there for the students. This gives students the opportunity to establish collaborations between labs, thereby allowing them to pursue a project in multiple disciplines.

Research Interests
My current research interests focus primarily on investigating the role of mitochondria in the pathogenesis of neurologic disorders. Specifically, I am interested in how alterations in mitochondrial function can lead to human neurological diseases. In particular, I would like to investigate how the interplay between the immune system and mitochondria affects mitochondrial health, and how immunological- or mitochondrial-targeted therapies could be developed and used to correct defects in mitochondrial function that ultimately result in clinical disease, with a particular focus on multiple sclerosis and leukoencephalopathy.

Research Project
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating neurological disease characterized by sclerotic inflammatory demyelination of the white matter tracts in the central nervous system (CNS). Despite decades of research, the underlying mechanisms that trigger uncontrolled inflammatory attacks on oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells in the CNS, is still poorly understood; this lack of knowledge impedes the development of therapeutic treatment strategies. One potential mechanism involves mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with MS. Mitochondrial dysfunction has the potential to cause demyelination via increases in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, a reduction in the ATP supply, and an increase in the susceptibility to apoptotic stimuli. In our lab, we are using a mouse model that has the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 knocked out in all tissues. Since SHP-1 is a major negative regulator of the immune system, these mice are prone to severe systemic inflammation. SHP-1 deficient mice also have dysmyelination, and higher ROS production in the CNS constitutively. My project is focused on determining how SHP-1 controls mitochondrial function, and the effects of altered mitochondrial bioenergetics on oligodendrocyte health and function.

Extracurricular hobbies
➢ Running
➢ Baking
➢ Cooking
➢ Alpine/cross-country skiing
➢ Hiking/backpacking

What you love about Syracuse?
➢ There is something fun to do for each season (i.e. hiking/camping, apple picking, skiing, kayaking)
➢ The people
➢ The restaurants and the farmers market that is 5 minutes from downtown
➢ The city as well as the wilderness are right at your fingertips