Samar Antar recently was selected to receive an inaugural postdoctoral excellence award at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

The award will support Antar’s research into idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that affects tissue surrounding air sacs in the lungs, causing permanent damage and making breathing difficult. Antar is investigating different proteins that play important regulatory roles in the development and progression of the disease. 

“I am on the cusp of developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies,” said Antar, whose long-term goal is to identify new directions in cardiovascular therapy research.

Antar received a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences from Sinai University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Zagazig University and Suez Canal University, all in Egypt. 

Her research focuses on the mechanisms that lead to fibrosis and inflammation. After completing her master’s degree, she studied development of fibrosis during cancer treatment and was inspired to dig deeper to identify mechanisms that lead to scarring of lung tissue.

In December 2022, Antar joined the lab of Yassine Sassi, assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute whose work centers around new therapies for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

“She dedicated an impressive amount of time in generating an impressive amount of data since joining my laboratory,” Sassi said. “The studies that Antar is conducting in my laboratory are very new.” 

During her short tenure at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Antar developed findings that point to the important pulmonary role of the proteins she is studying.

This is the inaugural year of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Postdoctoral Excellence Awards, which were established through the generosity of Mary Denton Roberts and David Lyerly. The awards recognize the potential for impactful individual scientific contributions. Recipients are selected based on the likelihood that their research proposal will lead to novel contributions as well as their mentors' ability to enhance their professional development.

Current or prospective postdoctoral scholars are eligible for the awards. Scholars must identify a timeline to apply for an external fellowship to support their work at the institute as part of the application.

Roberts taught microbiology and immunology at Radford University from 1980 to 2006.

Lyerly is a co-founder and chief science officer of the Blacksburg-based medical diagnostics company TechLab Inc. He and colleague Tracy Wilkins founded the company in 1989, based on discoveries from their research on Clostridium difficile, the major cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea and colitis.

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