UW Bioengineering Ph.D. student Jia Jun Chia has received a HHMI/Molecular Medicine Scholar Award. This award recognizes Jia Jun’s commitment to research at the interface of basic science and medicine. The award provides tuition and stipend support for a quarter, and the opportunity to participate in program activities at the UW and with HHMI/Molecular Medicine Scholars at other academic institutions.

Jia Jun’s research in the Giachelli lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying vascular calcification, a form of ectopic calcification in the vasculature that can lead to various cardiovascular complications in patients with diseases such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease. There is currently no treatment available and hence, there is an urgent need to address the molecular mechanisms for useful therapeutics to be developed in the future.

Jia Jun is interested in a sodium-dependent phosphate transporter, PiT-2, in vascular smooth muscle cells; its function is currently unknown. She has developed an in vitro PiT-2 deficient model and is working on an in vivo model to study how the loss of PiT-2 affects the development of vascular calcification.

In addition to her research, Jia Jun is also completing the Molecular Medicine Certificate Program and tutoring local high school students weekly with Seattle MESA.