Skip to main content


Aspen Gutgsell graduate student of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Aspen Gutgsell graduate student of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Aspen Gutgsell has been awarded a Predoctoral Fellowship by the American Heart Association (AHA) for her work in the lab of Dr. Saskia Neher, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and in collaboration with Dr. Albert Bowers, Associate Professor of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry. Her fellowship will fund her efforts to develop a novel peptide therapeutic for the prevention of heart disease.

The major research goal of the Neher lab is to understand how the protein lipoprotein lipase removes triglycerides from the blood. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat within the body and nearly one third of Americans have higher than normal triglyceride levels. This is problematic because factors like high triglycerides dramatically increase your risk for heart disease. Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is a protein responsible for lowering triglyceride levels in the blood and, thus, a good target for novel triglyceride-lowering drugs.

The AHA Predoctoral Fellowship Program is designed to help students initiate careers aimed at improving global cardiovascular health by providing research assistance and training. Her fellowship will fund her research until her graduation in 2020. After her graduation, she hopes to continue research as a postdoctoral fellow.

Aspen was also granted a poster award at the Southeast Lipid Research Conference in Nashville, TN on November 2, 2018.The poster describes her work characterizing the biochemical interaction between LPL and its inhibitor, angiopoietin-like protein 4.

This is considered her lucky poster, as Aspen also received an award for best poster at our departmental research retreat in October 2018! Please stop by Neher lab to congratulate Aspen!