Equity and Inclusion

Symposium – BME Symposium on Health Disparities

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Coulter-BME-5Ltext-4515-540Triple negative breast cancer is highly lethal, is resistant to therapy, and continues to disproportionately affect African-American women (X Du 2022). Some studies suggest that mortality is highest in Black women with obesity (LA Carey et al 2006). To investigate the molecular mechanism of obesity-induced aggressiveness in triple negative breast cancer, we have teamed up with the Henry lab (Dr. Curtis Henry, Emory Pediatrics), the first group to discover an obesity-associated drug target in patients with leukemia.  Results from our new collaboration, “Murine model to identify epigenetic mediators of obesity-associated drug resistance in triple negative breast cancer” will be presented by Dr. Haynes at the BME Symposium on Health Disparities on Monday, April 18, 2022 at the Historic Academy of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

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Funding – BME Animal Model Development Grant to Study Disease Disproportionately Affecting Black Americans

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Dr. Karmella Haynes has received a one-year seed grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering to develop an animal model to gain mechanistic insights into a disease that disproportionately affects African-American people. The project “Murine Model to Identify Epigenetic Mediators of Obesity-associated Drug Resistance in Triple Negative Breast Cancer” will be completed by a collaboration between the Haynes epigenetic engineering lab and Dr. Curtis Henry’s cancer research lab (Emory University, Pediatrics). Triple negative basal-like breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly metastatic subtype, comprises 10-20% of all breast cancers, disproportionately affects pre-menopausal Black women compared to White women, and is the most prevalent in obese Black women. Human samples and an obese mouse model will be used to deconvolute the relationship between obesity, triple negative breast cancer progression, epigenetics, and drug resistance. The results will be used to secure longer-term funding from major grant agencies so that the team can identify new drug targets for more effective treatments.


Coulter BME | Emory & Georgia Tech blog. 06.01.2021. “Seed Grants Fund Foundational Work on Diseases Disproportionately Affecting Black Americans.” https://www.bme.gatech.edu/bme/seed-grants-fund-foundational-work-diseases-disproportionately-affecting-black-americans

Dr. Haynes receives 2021 COLOR Magazine Innovator in STEM award

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color-magazine-logoDr. Haynes has received the 2021 Women of Color: Innovator in STEM award from COLOR Magazine. The Women of Color STEM Achievement Awards program recognizes and celebrates diverse women achieving new heights in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Honorees were nominated by scientists and health professionals across the U.S. The Innovator in STEM Award recognizes a leader who identifies, supports, and promotes innovative practices that address important challenges in expanding access to quality STEM education. The recorded awards ceremony is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2TkmLf-m0k

Invited Talk – SWE Women in Academia Committee Seminar

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SWEDr. Haynes presented an invited virtual talk, “Service and Strategy: The Value of Conference Committees and Public Engagement for Early Tenure-Track Faculty,” for the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Academia committee’s seminar series on Thursday, February 11, 2021. Special thanks to seminar organizer and moderator Dr. Ritu Raman (MIT) for the invitation.

Commentary – Cell – Fund Black scientists

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Fund Black scientists
Stevens KR, Masters KS, Imoukhuede PI, Haynes KA, Setton LA, Cosgriff-Hernandez E, Bell MAL, Rangamani P, Sakiyama-Elbert SE, Finley SD, Willits RK, Koppes AN, Chesler NC, Christman KL, Allen JB, Wong JY, El-Samad H, Desai TA, Eniola-Adefeso O. (2021) Cell. 184: 561-565.
PMID: 33503447

Many excellent papers have reported quantitative disparities in NIH funding awarded to Black scientists. Disparities persist even after controlling for an applicant’s education and training, country of origin, award track record, publication record, and institutional environment. The NIH would need to appropriate only ∼0.07% of its annual budget to achieve racial R01-equivalent level funding equity. In this commentary we, a nationwide group of women faculty in biomedical engineering, share actionable recommendations to dismantle funding barriers.

Invited Talk – UCSF Biochemistry & Biophysics Department Seminar Series

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UCSF_logoDr. Haynes presented an invited virtual talk, “Engineering Chromatin Proteins to Activate Dormant Tumor Suppressor Genes,” for the University of California San Francisco Biochemistry & Biophysics Department seminar series on Tuesday, January 5, 2020. The seminar was organized by Dr. Geeta Narlikar, Dr. Hiten D. Madhani, Gabriela Canales (PhD student), and the students of the Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate program. That week on Friday, January 8, 2021, Dr. Haynes was also the featured guest for the UCSF Biochemistry & Biophysics “Behind the Science” interview series. This event, organized by Evelyn Hernandez, Gabriela Canales, and Sean Ganther, was held to to learn about the people behind the science that was presented at the seminar, and to celebrate representation of historically marginalized backgrounds in science.

Dr. Haynes among “1,000 inspiring Black scientists in America”

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Dr. Haynes has received recognition by Cell Mentor (Cell press) as one of “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America.” Honorees were selected by The Community of Scholars, a group of Persons Excluded because of their Ethnicity or Race (PEER) composed of postdoctoral fellows, early-stage investigators, instructors, and consultants with a common passion to advance scientific discovery while innovating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

Invited Talk – Black in Nanotechnology

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BlackinNano2020Dr. Haynes presented an invited virtual talk, “Engineering Chromatin Proteins to Regulate Genes in Triple Negative Breast Cancer,” for Black in Nanotechnology on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. The event was part of #BlackinNano week, and was organized by Olivia Geneus (Co-Founder, Black in Nanotechnology).

2nd Annual AfroBiotech Conference – Virtual

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AfroBiotech, a new conference series founded by Dr. Karmella Haynes (Emory University) and co-chaired by Dr. Manu Platt (Georgia Tech), was launched by an inaugural meeting on October 27-29, 2019 in Atlanta, GA at the Hyatt Centric Midtown hotel. This year, the conference will be held as a virtual event October 26 – 28, 2020 to provide a safe and accessible event for the biotech community. The conference is organized by the Society for Biological Engineering (SBE), part of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Thanks to our generous sponsors, registration is free! Once you register, you can access the virtual conference through the AfroBiotech 2020 portal.


SynBioBeta Panel: Equality Among our Peers

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Dr. Haynes joined a panel of women leaders in biotechnology at SynBioBeta 2020 to discuss “Equality Among our Peers: Challenges and opportunities for women in synthetic biology.” Despite challenges of gender discrimination and a lack of recognition in the research community, countless inspiring women are today making historic contributions to synthetic biology and science broadly. This panel, which included Terri Shieh-Newton, Mintz (panel moderator), Christine Gould (Thought for Food), Janice Chen (Mammoth Biosciences), Karmella Haynes (Emory University), Lindy Fishburne (Breakout Ventures), explored how we can foster creativity, drive, and confidence in women from a young age.