By Wendy Sarubbi | April 6, 2016 5:23 pm

Faculty members Annette Khaled and Mollie Jewett and Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences senior Getasha Doobay were honored for their academic and research excellence at UCF’s annual Founders’ Day celebration April 6.

Dr. Khaled, was one of six stellar professors recognized with a Reach for the Stars Award for having a national impact with her research. The award goes to early-career faculty members and includes a $10,000 annual research grant for three years which can be renewed based on their promising work. Dr. Jewett was the College of Medicine honoree for the UCF Excellence in Research Award. Doobay was the medical school’s student honoree for academics, leadership and community service.

Dr. Khaled heads the Division of Cancer Research and her focus is on finding ways to attack and destroy metastatic cancer cells that leave the original tumor and travel to the brain, bones and lungs. Such spreading cells are the leading cause of death for cancer patients. Dr. Khaled has participated in research that’s drawn $4.8 million in grant funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Florida Department of Health and others. She has been granted one patent and has five others in the application process, as well as a pending licensing agreement to allow her technology to be used in the treatment of breast cancer. She is a founding faculty member of the College of Medicine and helped develop its curriculum. Her research has appeared in 90 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts – more than 50 of those since she came to UCF in 2006.

Dr. Jewett’s research focus is Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. As a microbiologist, she has focused her scientific efforts on identifying new diagnostic tools and treatments for the disease that is spread through the bite of a blacklegged tick. Because the insect is so tiny, many sufferers never notice they have been bitten. Untreated or late treated, Lyme disease can cause long-term joint inflammation, heart and brain/nervous system problems. The disease is on the rise nationally and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. Yet current diagnostic tests are subjective and often inconclusive, which can further delay treatment. Dr. Jewett is developing an assay that she hopes will improve early, accurate diagnosis of the disease by “fishing” for proof of the infection. The “bait” she is developing are tiny magnetic beads coated with Borrelia burgdorferi proteins that catch antibodies the body puts out to attack the disease.

Doobay is in the pre-professional track at the Burnett School with a minor in chemistry. She is expected to graduate in May and has already been accepted into multiple medical schools. She conducts research into using stem cells to heal ailing hearts in the lab of Dr. Dinender Singla. She is a LEAD Scholar and a member of the Pre-Professional Medical Society and the American Medical Student Association. She also is a longtime volunteer at Shepherd’s Hope, a free clinic where she has taken on a managerial role after volunteering for hundreds of hours. She tutors fellow students for free in subjects ranging from chemistry to literature. Doobay was also recently inducted into the Order of Pegasus, the highest academic honor for UCF students. In nominating her, Dr. Robert Borgon, assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology, praised Doobay’s analytical ability, leadership and work ethic. “She will definitely go on to be a phenomenal, high-achieving doctor and make UCF proud.”

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