Get to know CAGPM's newest Postdoc Fellows!

Monday, November 15, 2021
By Brittany Vekstein

The Duke Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine welcomes our two new Post-Doctoral Training in Genomic Medicine Research trainees, Nathan Hawkey, MD, and Katherine Collins, PhD. CAGPM postdoc's are supported through T32 grant funding. 

Nathan Hawkey, MD

HometownNathan Hawkey headshot
Denver, CO

Previous Education/Training

  • University of Colorado at Boulder, Bachelor Chemistry
  • Tulane University School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine
  • Tulane University Freeman School of Business, Masters of Business Administration
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Internal Medicine

"I am motivated by the possibility that I may one day help contribute to a discovery that helps multiple patients live longer and have higher quality of lives with cancer." - Nathan Hawkey, MD

Current Research
We work on in silico and in vitro models (systems biology approach) to uncover therapeutic vulnerabilities in castrate resistant prostate cancer.

How did you become interested in your field of study?
I became interested in genomic medicine during my time treating cancer patients. There are few that we can now personalize therapy for based on genomic findings. However, we have a long way to go to fully understand how these tools can help patients.

What excites you about your work?
First and foremost, I am motivated by the possibility that I may one day help contribute to a discovery that helps multiple patients live longer and have higher quality of lives with cancer. I also enjoy using in silico tools for very complex data.

Picture of Dogs

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?I would like to do exactly what I am doing now: Collaborating with others to develop in vivo and in silico models to discover therapeutic vulnerabilities to overcome therapy resistance in cancer. I will also continue to see and treat patients in clinic.

What do you like to do outside of your work/research?
Playing and watching sports (I'm always looking for golf partners), graphic design and [learning] programming, my hound dogs (all dogs, really!), building things (furniture etc), cooking (limited by lack of motivation to clean my mess.)
 

 


Katherine Collins, PhD

HometownKatherine Collins headshot
Charlotte, NC

Previous Education/Training

  • Pfeiffer University, BS - Biology

  • University of Pittsburgh, MS – Exercise Physiology

  • University of Pittsburgh, PhD – Exercise Physiology
     

"If we can identify individuals who are at-risk for poor adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors utilizing a polygenic risk score, and then target these individuals with precision medicine techniques, it could result in a huge public health impact." - Katherine Collins, PhD

Current Research 
I am currently a post-doc fellow in Dr. Bill Kraus’ lab at Duke. My research interests include: 1) examining molecular, environmental, and personal determinants associated with lifestyle intervention adherence and non-completion; 2) identifying at-risk individuals for lifestyle intervention non-completion or poor adherence; and 3) utilizing personalized medicine approaches for targeting at-risk individuals using identified molecular, environmental, and personal factors associated with poor lifestyle intervention adherence and non-completion. I am currently working on validating previously identified genetic variants associated with exercise intervention non-completion in the STRRIDE trials, in a separate cohort among adults with overweight or obesity who participated in a behavioral weight loss intervention.  

How did you become interested in your field of study?
During my PhD training I became aware of a major gap within the exercise and weight loss literature: We know exercise good for us and losing weight is beneficial among individuals with overweight and obesity, yet people don’t do it or struggle to maintain these healthy behaviors long-term. Although many factors play into the reason for why individuals struggle to maintain these behaviors long-term, very few have investigated the genetic and molecular underpinnings that mediate this relationship. This noticeable gap, along with my mentor Dr. Bill Kraus, led me to become interested in this specific research niche.

What excites you about your work?
Exercise can truly be “medicine” for all individuals, as well as weight loss for those who are overweight or obese. If we can identify individuals who are at-risk for poor adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors utilizing a polygenic risk score, and then target these individuals with precision medicine techniques, it could result in a huge public health impact.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My long-term career goal is to be an independent researcher with expertise in both genetic/machine learning statistical analyses, as well as precision medicine interventions for promoting exercise and weight loss maintenance long-term.

What do you like to do outside of your work/research?
Outside of my work I like to exercise, explore different coffee shops and restaurants across the city, spend time with my friends, family, and pets, and binge Netflix shows.

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Read more about all our current postdoc fellows