Sara Payne

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student in Cell Biology, Duke University, 2015- Present

My scientific goal is to understand the interactions between stem cells and their surrounding microenvironment, the niche,  in both normal development, and misregulation in diseases including cancer and infertility. I am particularly interested in exploring the structural and signaling roles of an integral component of the niche--the basement membrane--in maintaining stem cells. Basement membranes are secreted, cell-associated, thin sheets of extracellular matrix that structurally support niches and can regulate stemness and cell proliferation. Using live-cell imaging with genetic, transgenic, and molecular perturbations in the nematode C. elegans , I can advance our understanding of niche-stem cell dynamics which will further our understanding of how their misregulation promotes disease. 

My diverse research background in the environment and organismal microenvironment drive my current interests and provide me with a unique and interdisciplinary perspective on niche regulation and stem cell interactions.

Prior to joining Duke, I conducted undergraduate research at Barnard College in the microbial ecology lab of Dr.Krista McGuire, evaluating diversity and dynamics of soil fungi in urban ecosystems. Expanding upon this ecology research, I sought to understand the transduction of environmental stimuli to internal signaling. For a semester, I studied gustation and chemosensation in the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta  with Dr. Jennifer Mansfield. This research experience was a critical turning point in my scientific curiosity, as I became intrigued by internal signaling cues, and how they regulate organismal niches.

Upon graduation, I worked as a research technician at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Dr. Teresa Bowman’s blood stem cell lab as a research technician, and delved into organismal niche/stem cell biology. I studied zebrafish HSC development and function to gain insight into myelodysplastic syndromes, aiming to inform new therapies.

Educational  Background and Employment
2009-2013 Bachelor of Arts, major: Biological Sciences; minor: Spanish and Latin American Cultures
Barnard College

2009-2014 Office Manager and Clinical Assistant, OB/GYN Private Practice
Private Practice of Dr. Lorraine Chrisomalis- Valasiadis

2013-2015 Research Technician
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

2016-2018 Teaching Assistant
Duke University

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

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