UH Mānoa and UH Med Journalism Student WINS LabTV Award for Profile of JABSOM Scientist

Amanda Shell followed Dr. Angel Yanagihara into the pitch-black waters off Waikīkī at three in the morning, and her effort paid off. She has been named one of 12 semi-finalists in the Second LabTV Tribeca National Video Awards Contest, winning a $500 cash award.

Shell’s achievement is akin to a rookie baseball player knocking the ball out of the park on her first time at bat. Shell, a senior majoring in Journalism at the University of Hawai`i Mānoa, works through the Student Employment and Cooperative Education (SECE) service in the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Communications Department. There, she helps Communications Director Tina Shelton produce news stories and video reports for both the medical school’s website and for occasional distribution to local television news programs. But this was Shell’s first entry into the scientific journalism competition, which — unlike the first contest that included only student filmmakers — this time also included entries from professional videographers. LabTV requested short videos about researchers and what motivates them, and received entries from colleges throughout the country.

Amanda at work in JABSOM's SimTiki Simulation Center

Amanda at work in JABSOM’s SimTiki Simulation Center

Shell chose to profile Dr. Angel Yanagihara, whose expertise in box jellyfish has become famous through several network television documentaries, and whose work already has created one product, a “sting stopper” ointment to combat the painful stings from box jellies. In 2013, while serving on an escort boat, Dr. Yanagihara used her “sting stopper” to help 64 year-old swimmer Diana Nyad make history. Nyad was able to swim solo across the channel from Cuba to Florida, partly due to Yanagihara’s help. The gel allowed Nyad to escape much of the pain which had crippled her previous effort to cross the channel. Like Hawai‘i, that part of the ocean is filled with stinging box jellies. Yanagihara’s science also helps warn Hawai`i swimmers every month of impending jelly “invasions”.

Shell’s award winning video is embedded above, or can be seen by clicking UH MED VIMEO.

LabTV is an innovative, web-based video platform that showcases short, engaging videos of young medical scientists in labs across America. The mission of LabTV is to inspire today’s high school and college students to become “tomorrow’s heroes of medical science.”

In announcing the awards, LabTV’s founder Jay Walker noted: “It is an honor to share the work and passion of young scientists who have dedicated their lives to searching for the breakthroughs that will give all of us a better future. And we are equally excited to recognize the amazing work being done by young filmmakers on university campuses around the country who are on their way to celebrating hidden stories that the world needs to hear.”

LabTV’s Executive Producer David Hoffman was also overjoyed by the quality of submissions in this contest, saying, “We were very excited that this time around, talented student filmmakers were joined by both professional videographers and forward-thinking university media departments in creating videos that will inspire tomorrow’s heroes of medical research.”

Mr. Hoffman added: “The growing popularity of LabTV videos being made by hundreds of student filmmakers on dozens of campuses around the country is a testament to the excitement people have for the hope created by medical research. The level of work many of the students submitted was at a professional level, and we are excited to reward them for their talents and time as they create work that is worthy of the medical scientists and labs they profile.”

Over $18,000 of prizes and awards has been awarded to the winning filmmakers, courtesy of LabTV.

More About Dr. Yanagihara’s Research Potential

The Upside Fund, a venture capital fund managed by the UH Foundation in conjunction with the Hawai’i Strategic Development Corporation and the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i (RCUH) invested $100,000 to help launch Protekai, Inc. Formed by Omar S. Sultan, Protekai Inc. commercializes intellectual property developed in Dr. Angel Yanagihara’s research laboratory. The economic benefits of this spinoff could be significant for the University and Hawai‘i.

AngelY-research-3picsDr. Yanagihara is a researcher in the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology at JABSOM. During the course of more than a decade of work, Dr. Yanagihara has discovered and patented Physalia Fluorescent Proteins. These proteins have the potential to create powerful new biomedical research and diagnostic tools. The market for these proteins is approximately $2.5 billion dollars annually and growing at a double-digit rate.

The Upside Fund’s $100,000 will be used to fund the additional work to isolate and sequence these proteins. Dr. Yanagihara said, “I applaud the vision and initiative of this powerful collaborative effort between Hawai‘i’s entrepreneurial leaders in technology-development, and the UH administration. Intellectual property developed by UH faculty is an inadequately tapped resource with enormous potential for economic benefit.”

The list of Student Winners from LabTV:


Erik Leimkuhler, University of Virginia was honored for a role model video of Lindsey Brinton in the Kimberly Kelly Lab.

Baraa Ktiri, New York University was honored for a role model video of Bianca Jones in the Lab of Robert Froemke.

Hyacinth Empinado, University of Georgia was honored for a role model video of Jena Chojnowski in the Lauderdale Lab.


Lindsey Gloor, University of Missouri was honored for a role model video of Lori Eggert in the Eggert Lab.

Sam Li Shen Koay, University of Miami was honored for a role model video of Karen Nuytemans in the John Hussman Institute for Human Genomics.

Kevin Parks, New York University was honored for a role model video of Craig Ramirez in the Dafna Bar-Sagi Lab.

April Bailey, University of Georgia was honored for a role model video of Farah Samli in the Donald Harn Lab.

FoSheng Hsu, Cornell University was honored for a role model video created by and featuring FoSheng Hsu, from the Mao Lab.

Fernando Romero, University of Miami was honored for a role model video of Joseph Foster in the Hussman Institute.


Chris Yamada, Georgetown University was honored for a role model video of Clara Scholl in the Maximillien Riesenhuber Lab.

Premarah Williams, University of Arkansas was honored for a role model video of Serra Ucer in the Charles O’Brien Lab.

Max Minkowitz, University of Miami was honored for a role model video of Hassan Al-Ali, Salomi Mehta, and Sam Beckerman in the labs of Dr. Dalton Dietrich and Dr. Vance Lemmon. All are working in the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Yoonji Kim, University of Chicago was honored for a role model video of Yu Cheng in the Lab of Dr. Lesniak.

Ansley Stewart, University of Georgia was honored for a role model video of Robin Webb in the Lab of Steve Stice.

Alyssa Stafford, University of Georgia was honored for a Role Model Video of Doug Terry in the Lab of Stephen Miller.

Amanda Shell, University of Hawai`i, Mānoa was honored for a role model video of Angel Yangihara in the Lab of Angel Yangihara at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Don Gloetzer, University of Arizona was honored for a role model video of Anity Koshy in the Koshy Lab.

Andrew Lowndes, University of Georgia was honored for a role model video of Babak Basiri in the Lab of Dr. Michael Bartlett.

Lee Addock, University of Georgia was honored for a role model video of Melissa Young in the Lab of Dr. Philip Holmes.

Corrine McAndrews, Drexel University was honored for a role model video of Youhan Sunny in the Bossone Research Lab.

Kristina Biddle, University of Delaware was honored for a role model video of Kelly Seymour in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab-Star Lab.

LabTV would like to thank all entrants into the contest. These winning videos, and all other LabTV videos, can be viewed at www.LabTV.com.
LabTV and the University of Hawai`i Foundation contributed to this report.

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