Rossella Labella, PhD, Named Inaugural Walkers Scholar to Advance Myelodysplastic Syndrome Research

March 8, 2023
Rossella Labella, PhD

Rossella Labella, PhD

Rossella Labella, PhD, has been awarded the inaugural Walkers Scholar Fellowship at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S). As a Walker Scholar, Dr. Labella joins a group of exceptional researchers at the Edward P. Evans Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) Fellowship Program working under the mentorship and direction of Stavroula Kousteni, PhD, who co-leads the Edward P. Evans Center for MDS at Columbia.

Dr. Labella is a postdoctoral research scientist at the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics. Her previous research identified the role that the mitochondrial functions of cells that exist in the bone marrow microenvironment play in transforming MDS into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The altered mitochondrial metabolism of MDS mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the bone marrow improves the energetic function of AML cells, promoting them over MDS cells. Dr. Labella aims to perform additional experiments to fully elucidate the role of this mitochondrial function in causing MDS to transform into AML, as well as to identify the molecular mediators in this process, which could serve as new therapeutic targets for treatment.

The new fellowship has been made possible by a generous gift from Nancy and Joe Walker. Joe Walker received a B.A. in political science from Columbia College and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Joe is a member of the VP&S Board of Advisors and has been a member, since 2016, of the HICCC Cancer Advisory Council.