Brittany Gratreak

Graduate School
College of Medicine – Tucson
Year Entered Program: 
Degrees Received: 
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon (2016)
  • Associate of Science from Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon (2013)
Thesis Advisor: 
John Streicher, PhD
Thesis Research: 

My current research focuses on investigating therapeutics that reduce neuroinflammation caused by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) with the goal of preventing dementia and potentially reversing AD pathology by altering the function of evolutionarily conserved and systemically abundant chaperone proteins. Non-selective heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitors have long demonstrated robust improvement of AD pathology in numerous in vivo and in vitro models of AD, but have been clinically limited in their use by toxic side effects. I study isoform-selective Hsp90 inhibitors to improve AD pathology without dose-limiting side effects demonstrated by previous generations of non-selective Hsp90 inhibitors. Previously in my work as a graduate associate in the department of immunobiology, I investigated stroke and sickle cell disease and novel therapeutics to improve stroke recovery and post-stroke dementia.

About Me: 

When I’m not busy going pspspsp to befriend stray and feral cats, I’m training to be a physician-scientist. In 2019, I began pursuing my combined MD/PhD degrees here at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) to study medicine and neuroscience. Proudly, I identify as queer and disabled, and I strive to help destroy the old, obnoxious, deep-rooted hurdles that LGBTQIA+ and disabled students face in research and medical fields. I am an aspiring neurologist and my research interest is intertwined with my clinical passion for bettering the lives of patients with neurological conditions to help them through the challenges that arise from memory loss and cognitive changes. My current research focuses on investigating therapeutics that reduce neuroinflammation with the goal of finding a mechanism to help prevent dementia.

Since my first year of medical school, I have also researched LGBTQIA+ inclusion in medical education with a team of fellow medical students and faculty allies. Together, we study how to improve LGBTQIA+ healthcare through improving physician education in medical school and by advocating for local and national medical curriculum revision.

As a first-generation, low income student, I understand firsthand how difficult and mystifying the process of applying for graduate and medical school can be and how difficult it is moving forward through our training. I am passionate about mentorship, and I am always happy to make time to chat with pre-STEM and premedical students who dream of pursuing research and medicine. Please contact me or refer students my way if they would benefit from advice, a pep talk, or college survival tips from someone who has been on a similar path.

In my "spare time" (what's that?)-- in the time I protect to do fun things, I love playing video games, watching horror movies, and cycling. I also enjoy writing.

Honors & Awards: 
  • Society for Neuroscience Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) (2022)
  • Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Graduate Study Award (2022)
  • R25-NS107185 Undergraduate Readying for Burgeoning Research for American Indian Neuroscientists (URBrain) Mentor (2021)
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Life Members Mentorship Grant for Medical Students (2021)
  • Arizona Translational Research on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (AZ-TRADD) Fellow (2021)
  • University of Arizona Health Sciences LGBTQ+ Student Leadership Award (2020)
  • American Medical Women's Association Medical Education Scholarship (2020)
  • ScrubCaps for a Cause Scholarship (2020)
  • Jim Heller Annual Meeting Travel Grant Recipient (2020)
  • Best Student Poster Presentation Award, Society for Neuroscience Oregon Chapter (2016)
  • Biology Honors Research, Portland State University (2016)
  • Community Engagement Leadership Fellows Award, Portland State University (2016)
  • Consciousness of Self Leadership Fellows Award, Portland State University (2015)
National Organization Leadership: 
  • Region 8 Director of American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) (2022 - 2023) includes AMWA branches across AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, TX, UT, & WY
  • Region 8 Director of American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) (2021 - 2022) includes AMWA branches across AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, TX, UT, & W
College of Medicine Student Leadership: 
  • MD/PhD Program American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Committee, Vice President (2023 - present)
  • MD/PhD ProgramRecruitment Committee (2022 - 2023)
  • MD/PhD Program Wellness Committee (2021 - 2022)
  • Founder / Senior Mentorship Co-Chair of First-generation Low Income MedCats (FLI MedCats) (2020 - 2021)
  • MD/PhD Program Admissions Committee (2020 - 2021)
  • President of American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) UACOMT branch (2019 - 2020)
  • Co-Director of Medpride (2019 - 2020)
  • Vice President of Medical Ethics Reality Forum (MERF) (2019 - 2020)
Selected Publications: 

ORCID ORCID for Brittany Gratreak 


Papers & Articles

Sawyer, D.L. & Gratreak, B.D.K. (2022). Medical schools must do more to open the door to first generation and low income students. BMJ. 377:o1246 https://doi:10.1136/bmj.o1246

Gratreak, B.D.K.*, Swanson, E.A.*, Lazelle, R.A.*, Jelen, S.K., Hoenderop, J., Bindels, R.J., Yang, C.L., & Ellison, D.H. (2020). Tacrolimus‐induced hypomagnesemia and hypercalciuria requires FKBP12 suggesting a role for calcineurin. Physiological Reports, 8, e14316. *co-first authorship

Ferdaus, M.Z., Gratreak, B.D.K., Miller, L., Si, J., McCormick, J.A., Yang, C.L., Ellison, D.H., & Terker, A.S. (2019). WNK4 limits distal calcium losses following acute furosemide treatment. Physiological Reports, 7(17), e14195.

Cornelius, R.J., Si, J., Cuevas, C.A., Nelson, J.W., Gratreak, B.D.K., Pardi, R., Yang, C.L., & Ellison, D.H. (2018). Renal COP9 signalosome deficiency alters CUL3-KLHL3-WNK signaling pathway. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 29(11), 2627-2640. 


Conference Posters & Oral Presentations

(accepted, pending presentation) Gratreak, B.D.K., Serwetnyk, M.A., D’Amico, T.L., Blagg, S.J., & Streicher, J.M. (2023). Assessing an Isoform-Selective Heat Shock Protein 90-Beta Inhibitor for the Preventative Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease in 5xFAD Mice. Poster planned for presentation at Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2023 Conference on November 11-15, 2023.

Gratreak, B.D.K. & Streicher, J.M. (2022). Intrathecal Hsp90 inhibition requires phospholipase C activity to confer opioid pain relief-enhancing effects in female and male mice. Oral presentation at University of Arizona Research Day Conference on March 29, 2023.

Gratreak, B.D.K. & Streicher, J.M. (2022). Investigating the role of phospholipase C in enhancing opioid pain relief during Hsp90 inhibition. Poster presented at Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2022 Conference on November 12-16, 2022.

Gratreak, B.D.K.,  Mintz, G., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2022). LGBTQIA+ Healthcare: Comparing Competency, Comfortability, and Career Planning Among Incoming LGBTQIA+ and Non-LGBTQIA+ Medical Students. Presented at Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) 2022 LGBT Health Workforce Conference on April 21-23, 2022.

Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., Gordon, P., McIntosh, K.. Curriculum Enrichment: Bridging Gaps to Prepare Future Physicians to Address the Health Needs of LGBTQIA+ Patients. Presented at 2022 Western Group on Educational Affairs (WGEA) Regional Conference on March 31-April 3, 2022.

Tran, B., Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2022). Pushing for Progress: Student Organizers Advocate for LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in the Medical Curriculum. Presented at the University of Arizona 4th Annual UAHS LGBTQ+ National Symposium & Community Fair by Brian Tran on Februrary 11, 2022.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Chapman, E.D., Johnson, K.E., Maiyo, B.K., Loppi, S., Doyle, K.P. (2022). Comorbid Ischemic Stroke and Sickle Cell Disease: Assessment of Neuroinflammation and Neurological Impairment After Stroke. Accepted for presentation at the BRAIN & BRAIN PET conference in Glasgow, Scotland on May 29-June 1, 2022, but not delivered.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Becktel, D., Espejo, L., Johnson, K.E., Maiyo, B.K. Le, E.H., Sutphin, G.L., Doyle, K.P. (2022). Synergistic effects of 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid on inflammation and birefringent crystal formation in chronic ischemic stroke infarcts. Presented at the West Regional American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Conference hosted by Oregon Health and Science University on January 22, 2022.

Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2021). Curriculum Enrichment: Preparing Future Physicians to Address the Health Needs of LGBTQIA+ Patients. Presented at Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) 2021 LGBT Health Workforce Conference by Gabrielle Mintz on April 24, 2021.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Swanson, E.A., Lazelle, R.A., Jelen, S.K., Yang, C.L., Hoenderop, J., Bindels, R.J., & Ellison, D.H. (2019). Calcineurin in the distal convoluted tubule plays a key role in tacrolimus-induced hypomagnesemia and hypercalciuria. Presented at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Research Week on May 13, 2019. 

Gratreak, B.D.K., Stippich, K., Madison, T., Kunz, A., Alexander, R., Acott, J., Clark, A., Hill, R. , Parker, G., Whittaker, A., Schoen, J., Howard, A., Voigt, A., Hootan, K. (2016). Neuroscience Club at Portland State University: Creating a multidisciplinary neuroscience community for students, teachers, and local community members. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Oregon Chapter Meeting on May 13, 2016.