2022 Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Awardees


By David Wassarman, CMB Chair

We are pleased to announce that Mitch Ledwith and Dan
Tremmel are the recipients of the 2022 Raymond L. Erikson
Exceptional Thesis Award. This annual award honors CMB students
who have written and defended an exceptional thesis. A fund supporting
the award was created by family and friends in honor of Dr. Erikson who
was the second student to graduate from CMB. During his career he
made many important discoveries, including identification of the first
oncogene v-Src.

Mitch Ledwith carried out his thesis research with Dr. Andrew Mehle in
the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. His thesis is
titled “RNA-binding proteins regulate influenza virus infection.” The
prize is awarded to Mitch for the discovery of new mechanisms of
influenza virus interactions with host cells. He identified novel points of
intervention for viral life cycle. His thesis describes at least two ways
that viral infection changes host cell biology and intercepts anti-immune
defenses. Mitch combined wet lab skills with exceptional expertise in
bioinformatics to make breakthrough discoveries. The CMB Awards
Committee commended his thesis as “outstandingly creative and clearly
written, and notably, he set out a road map for further examination for
his discoveries.”

Dan Tremmel carried out his thesis research with Dr. Jon Odorico in the
Department of Surgery. His thesis is titled “Reconstructing the islet Dan Tremmel
extracellular niche.” The prize is awarded to Dan for the major steps he made towards
optimizing the transplant of functional insulin-producing pancreatic islets. Together with
expert collaborators, he characterized the extracellular matrix (ECM) that supports the
differentiation and activity of islets during the course of human development. Dan developed a
subcutaneous transplant strategy using human pancreatic ECM and additional factors to
enhance vascularization and combined that with genetically modified stem cells able to evade
immune rejection. Together, these achievements represent a highly impactful contribution to
the field of stem cell-derived therapies for diabetes. The CMB Awards Committee
commended Dan for his “versatility, productivity, and communication skills.”