Faculty Database:
[ Phd Program: Toxicology ]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Archer, Trevor email , , , publications

Molecular carcinogenesis: cancer, chromatin, transcription, and epigenetics

Brouwer, Kim email , , , publications

Research in the Brouwer laboratory is focused on: (1) hepatic transport of xenobiotics, including mechanisms of uptake, translocation, and biliary excretion; (2) development/refinement of in vitro model systems to predict in vivo hepatobiliary disposition, drug interactions, and hepatotoxicity; (3) influence of disease (e.g., NASH, kidney disease) on hepatobiliary drug disposition; and (4) pharmacokinetics.

Church, Frank C. email , , , , , , publications

Our research is concerned with proteases and their inhibitors in various disease processes (thrombosis and cancer); our science tools are structure-activity, cell biology and signaling, pathobiology, immunohistochemistry, and in vivo models.

Coleman, William B. email , , , , , publications

The research in our laboratory involves several major projects related to the molecular pathogenesis of human cancer and investigations related to the biology of liver stem-like progenitor cells, including (i) characterization of human liver tumor suppressor genes, (ii) analysis of genetic determinants of breast cancer, (iii) investigation of mechanisms governing aberrant DNA methylation in breast cancer, (iv) liver progenitor cell responses after toxic liver injury, and (v) transplantation of liver stem-like progenitor cells for correction of genetic liver disease.

Costa, Daniel email , publications

Dr Costa’s primary research interests focus on the potential for air pollutants to adversely affect human health. By using animal models representing healthy and susceptible human populations (chronic heart and lung diseases), he has made major in-roads into understanding how contaminants in the air can cause illness and even death. He uses methods in cardiopulmonary and neuro-physiology coupled with modern cell-molecular biology to develop these models and to ascertain how health impairments influence responsiveness to pollutant stresses.

Crofton, Kevin email , , publications

Our laboratory has research interests that include developmental neurotoxicity, with an emphasis on the use of mode-of-action models to study the impact of endocrine disruptors and the cumulative risk of thyroid disruptors and pesticides.

Der, Channing email , , , , , , , publications

Our research centers on understanding the molecular basis of human carcinogenesis. In particular, a major focus of our studies is the Ras oncogene and Ras-mediated signal transduction.  The goals of our studies include the delineation of the complex components of Ras signaling and the development of anti-Ras inhibitors for cancer treatment.  Another major focus of our studies involves our validation of the involvement of Ras-related small GTPases (e.g., Ral, Rho) in cancer.  We utilize a broad spectrum of technical approaches that include cell culture and mouse models, C. elegans, protein crystallography, microarray gene expression or proteomics analyses, and clinical trial analyses.

Deshmukh, Mohanish email , , , , , , publications

We study how mammalian cells regulate their survival and death (apoptosis).  We have focused our work on identifying unique mechanisms by which these pathways are regulated in neurons, stem cells, and cancer cells.  We utilize various techniques to examine this in primary cells as well as in transgenic and knock out mouse models in vivo.  Our ultimate goal is to discover novel cell survival and death mediators that can be targeted for therapy in neurodegeneration and cancer.

Diaz-Sanchez, David email , , , , publications

The work focuses on how air pollutants affect human health, the role of genetics and epigenetic factors in determining susceptibility and clinical/dietary strategies to mitigate these effects. There is a strong emphasis on translational research projects using a multi-disciplinary approach. Thus, by using human in vivo models (such as clinical studies) we validate in vitro, epidemiology, and animal findings.

Farraj, Aimen K email , , , , publications

Air pollution exposure is associated with increased hospital visits and mortality, and is a major area of research for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The primary research interest of my laboratory is the examination of the effects and mechanisms of air pollutants in the environment on normal cardiopulmonary function (cardiac toxicology), particularly in models of cardiovascular disease, using state-of-the-art targeted and high throughput methods. Research findings are often used to inform environmental public health and contribute to the refinement of the US EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for specific air pollutants set to limit their health impact.

Fenton, Suzanne E. email , , , publications

The Reproductive Endocrinology Group in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Labs, led by Dr. Fenton, focuses on the role of environmental chemicals in breast developmental timing as it relates to puberty, increased susceptibility to form breast tumors, altered lactational ability, and the effects of chemicals on independent breast cancer risk factors such as obesity, breast density and pubertal timing. The projects within the lab often take a systems biology approach to the problem and instead of delving into exact mechanisms of an insult, which is in line with the missions of the NTP. The group also provides expertise in the use of whole mount mammary gland preparations in evaluating early life development of both male and female rat offspring and lifelong effects in female mice.

Fessler, Michael B. email , , , publications

Fessler laboratory investigates mechanisms of the innate immune response, in particular Toll like Receptor (TLR) pathways and how they regulate inflammatory and host defense responses in the lung.  To this end, we use both in vitro (macrophage cultures) and in vivo (mouse models of acute lung injury and pneumonia) model systems, and also use translational approaches (e.g., studies using human peripheral blood leukocytes and alveolar macrophages).  An area of particular interest within the laboratory is defining how cholesterol trafficking and dyslipidemia innate immunity.

Fry, Rebecca email , , publications

The lab focuses on understanding how environmental exposures are associated with human disease with a particular focus on genomic and epigenomic perturbations. Using environmental toxicogenomics and systems biology approaches, we aim to identify key molecular pathways that associate environmental exposure with diseases. A current focus in the lab is to study prenatal exposure to various types of metals including arsenic, cadmium, and lead. We aim to understand molecular mechanisms by which such early exposures are associated with long-term health effects in humans. For example, we are examining DNA methylation (epigenetic) profiles in humans exposed to metals during the prenatal period. This research will enable the identification of gene and epigenetic biomarkers of metal exposure. The identified genes can serve as targets for study to unravel potential molecular bases for metal-induced disease. Ultimately, we aim to identify mechanisms of metal -induced disease and the basis for inter-individual disease susceptibility.

Gilmour, M Ian email , , , , publications

Dr M Ian Gilmour is a Principal Investigator at the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), U.S Environmental Protection Agency in RTP.    He received an Honors degree in microbiology from the University of Glasgow, and a doctorate in aerosol science and mucosal immunology from the University of Bristol in 1988.  After post-doctoral work at the John Hopkins School of Public Health and the U.S. EPA, he became a Research Associate in the Center for Environmental Medicine at the University of North Carolina. In 1998 he joined the EPA fellowship program and in 2000 became a permanent staff member.  He holds adjunct faculty positions with the UNC School of Public Health and the Curriculum in Toxicology, and at NC State Veterinary School.  He has published over 80 research articles in the field of pulmonary immunobiology where his research focuses on the interaction between air pollutant exposure and the development of infectious and allergic lung disease.

Harry, G. Jean email , , , publications

The Neurotoxicology Group examines the role of microglia interactions with neurons and the associated immune-mediated responses in brain development and aging as they relate to the initiation of brain damage, the progression of cell death, and subsequent repair/regenerative capabilities.  We have an interest in the neuroimmune response with regards to neurodegenerative diseases such as, Alzheimer’s disease.

Hayes, David N email , , , publications

Molecular carcinogenesis, research translation, biomarkers, computational toxicology

Hazari, Mehdi S email , , , publications

Research in my laboratory focuses on the effects of air pollution and other environmental pollutants on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. We use both traditional as well as novel physiological approaches (radiotelemetry, HF echocardiography, physiological challenge testing) to determine not only the short-term effects of exposure, but also the long-term consequences on health, particularly in the development of chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease). Rodent models are used to study the effects of real-world air pollution concentrations on the central and local neural controls of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems that render a host susceptible to adverse health events. Newer exciting research is focused on public health aspects such as nutrition (e.g. vitamin deficiencies) and non-environmental stressors (e.g. noise, climate change, social disruption) as modifiers of air pollution health effects. These studies examine the epigenetic changes that occur in early life or during development that result in physiological effects and future susceptibility.

Hunter, E. Sidney email , , publications

Our research focuses on determining the mechanisms responsible for craniofacial birth defects. We use the whole embryo culture system to expose mouse conceptuses to toxicants and evaluate morphological, molecular (Affy arrays) and protein changes. Antisense morpholinos and adenoviruses are used to modulate gene expression and determine phenotypic effects.  We are using embryonic stem cells as a model to evaluate the effects of environmental chemicals on differentiation. Using molecular markers to identify differentiation may provide critical information to identify developmental toxicants.

Jaspers, Ilona email , , , , , publications

Research in my lab focuses on the mechanisms by which exposure to air pollutants alters respiratory immune responses and modifies susceptibility to and the severity of respiratory virus infections. Specifically, we are examining the effects of air pollutants such as ozone, woodsmoke and tobacco product exposures on host defense responses and influenza virus infections, using several in vitro models of the respiratory epithelium. In collaboration with physician scientists, we are also translating these studies into humans in vivo.

Kelada, Samir email , , , , , publications

While both genes and environment are thought to influence human health, most investigations of complex disease only examine one of these risk factors in isolation.  Accounting for both types of risk factors and their complex interactions allows for a more holistic view of complex disease causation.  The Kelada lab is focused on the identification and characterization of these gene-environment interactions in airway diseases, particularly asthma, a disorder of major public health importance.   /  / Additionally, to gain insight into how the airway responds to relevant exposures (e.g., allergens or pathogens), we study gene expression in the lung (particularly airway epithelia). Our goal is identify the genetic determinants of gene expression by measuring gene expression across many individuals (genotypes). / This “systems genetics” approach allows us to identify master regulators of gene expression that may underlie disease susceptibility or represent novel therapeutic targets. /

Kleeberger, Steven email , , , , publications

Genetic determinants of environmental lung diseases.

Kodavanti, Urmila P email , , , , publications

Our research focuses on understanding mechanisms of cardiovascular and metabolic health effects of inhaled air pollutants. Specific emphasis is given to susceptibility variations due to underlying cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The roles of genetic versus physiological factors are examined. We use molecular and high throughput genomics, and proteomics techniques to establish a link with disease phenotype and physiological alterations. State-of-the-art EPA inhalation facilities are used for air pollution exposures in animal models with or without genetic predisposition. The role of environment in disease burden is the focus.

LeCluyse, Edward L email , , , , publications

Dr. Edward (Ed) LeCluyse is currently a Senior Research Investigator in the Institute for Chemical Safety Sciences at The Hamner Institutes of Health Sciences.  Dr. LeCluyse leads a program initiative to identify and develop novel in vitro hepatic model systems to examine cellular responses to drugs and environmental chemicals that target known toxicity pathways. The focus of his research efforts has been to create more organotypic, physiologically-relevant in vitro models that integrate the architectural, cellular and hemodynamic complexities of the liver in vivo.

Luebke, Robert email , , , , publications

My interests include immunotoxicant modes of action, developmental immunotoxicity, alternative models to screen and prioritize potential immunotoxicants and shared pathways of toxicity/susceptibility across systems and biological levels of complexity.  Recent projects include exploring the relationship between exposure to amphibole asbestos and the reported increases in systemic autoimmune disease in residents of Libby, MT, developing zebrafish-based alternative methods to screen for developmental immunotoxicants, and most recently, the effects of particulate and gaseous air pollutants on innate and acquired resistance to respiratory pathogens.

Macdonald, Jeffrey email , , , publications

Dr. Macdonald is the Founder and Scientific Director of the new Metabolomic Facility and Co-Scientific Director of the joint UNC/NCSU/NOAA Marine MRI facility at Pivers Island near Beaufort NC. Dr. Macdonald’s research goal is to combine metabolomics and tissue engineering and apply these tools to quantitative biosystem analysis.

Madden, Michael C. email , , publications

Exposure to ambient air particulate matter  has been associated with increased human deaths and cardiopulmonary morbidity, such as lung infections and increased asthma symptoms.  I am investigating some types of PM and associated gases  that may be associated with those health effects so  to better regulate or manage the sources of the airborne particles which are identified as playing a role in the adverse health outcomes. I am currently focusing on the effects of diesel exhaust using a variety of approaches ranging from exposing cultured human lung and vascular cells to the exhaust, to studying responses of humans exposed out in traffic.  I am currently designing and implementing testing strategies to assess the toxicity of the future types of vehicular emissions. Additionally some of my research effort attempts to identify what populations are more sensitive to the effects of air pollutants, and the genetic, diet, and environmental reasons behind the increased sensitivity.

Maeda, Nobuyo N. email , , , , , , , publications

Our research is focused on the genetics and molecular pathology of complex multi-factorial conditions in humans – obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, insulin resistance, and hypertension.  These conditions underlie cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, the major cause of death and disabilities in North America. Our approach consists of experiments with mice carrying modifications in various genes important for the maintenance of vascular function, antioxidant defense, and metabolism.  We dissect how gene-gene and gene-environment interaction influences the pathogenesis of these common human conditions and their complications.

Maile, Robert email , , , , , publications

An overwhelming number of burn patients die from wound infection and sepsis. Our laboratory, along with Dr Bruce Cairns, investigates translational immune mechanisms within mouse models and burn patients. Focuses in the lab include  1) investigation of innate molecule control of both the innate and adaptive immune systems after burn injury, 2) role of innate signaling to Damage Associated Molecular Patterns in Immune Dysfunction after burn / inhalational injury 3) using NRF2/KEAP1-Targeted Therapy to Prevent Pneumonitis and Immune Dysfunction After Radiation or Combined Burn-Radiation Injury and 4) Investigating sex-specific disparities in Immune Dysfunction

McCullough, Shaun D. email , , , , , publications

Dr. McCullough’s lab focuses around the role of the epigenetic elements as both a molecular mechanism mediating the effects of toxic exposures and as a biomarker for predicting susceptible populations and identifying factors that can be used to mitigate adverse health outcomes.  The lab employs a translational research approach to toxicology with an emphasis on molecular biology that uses both advanced in vitro primary cell models and in vivo clinical controlled human exposure studies.

Morrow, Leslie email , , , , , , publications

Function, expression and trafficking GABA-A receptors in the CNS; effects of chronic ethanol exposure that leads to ethanol tolerance and dependence; role of endogenous neurosteroids on ethanol action and ethanol-induced adaptations. Role of neuroactive steroids in neuropsychiatric disease, including addiction, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, inflammatory disorders.

Narotsky, Michael email , , publications

My research interests include the endocrinology of pregnancy and parturition; reproductive and developmental toxicity testing; mixtures toxicology; structure-activity relationships; axial skeletal development; and strain differences in toxic responses.

Nylander-French, Leena email , , publications

My research focuses on understanding the relationship between dermal and inhalation exposure and the effect of individual genetic differences on the function of enzymes that detoxify hazardous agents and that affect the development of disease. My research group has pioneered approaches to quantitatively measure skin and inhalation exposures to toxicants; additionally, my group has developed sophisticated exposure modeling tools using mathematical and statistical principles in an effort to standardize and improve exposure and risk assessment.

Pearce, Ken email , , , , , publications

We are a comprehensive, collaborative group with a primary focus on lead and early drug discovery for oncology and epigenetic targets and pathways.  Our research applies reagent production, primary assay development, high-throughput screening, biophysics, and exploratory cell biology to enable small molecule drug discovery programs in solid partnership with collaborators, both within the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery and across the UNC campus.  We apply small molecule hit discovery to highly validated biochemical targets as well as phenotypic cell-based assays.  Our methods include various fluorescence-based readouts and high content microscopy.  Examples of some of our collaborative small molecule discovery programs include, inhibition of chromatin methyl-lysine reader proteins, hit discovery for small GTPases such as K-Ras and Gaq, inhibitors of inositol phosphate kinases, inhibitors of protein-protein interactions involving CIB1 and MAGE proteins, and several cell-based efforts including a screen for compounds that enhance c-Myc degradation in pancreatic cancer cells.  In addition, we are developing a DNA-encoded library approach for hit discovery to complement traditional high-throughput screening.  Our ultimate goal is discovery of new chemical probes and medicines for exploratory biology and unmet medical needs, respectively.

Peden, David B. email , publications

Translational and clinical research in environmental lung disease.

Perou, Charles M. email , , , , , , , publications

The focus of my lab is to characterize the biological diversity of human tumors using genomics, genetics, and cell biology, and then to use this information to develop improved treatments that are specific for each tumor subtype and for each patient. A significant contribution of ours towards the goal of personalized medicine has been in the genomic characterization of human breast tumors, which identified the Intrinsic Subtypes of Breast Cancer. We study many human solid tumor disease types using multiple experimental approaches including RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq), DNA exome sequencing, Whole Genome Sequencing, cell/tissue culturing, and Proteomics, with a particular focus on the Basal-like/Triple Negative Breast Cancer subtype. In addition, we are mimicking these human tumor alterations in Genetically Engineered Mouse Models, and using primary tumor Patient-Derived Xenografts, to investigate the efficacy of new drugs and new drug combinations. All of these genomic and genetic studies generate large volumes of data; thus, a significant portion of my lab is devoted to using genomic data and a systems biology approach to create computational predictors of complex cancer phenotypes.

Ramsden, Dale email , , , , , publications

The end joining pathway is a major means for repairing chromosome breaks in vertebrates.  My lab is using cellular and cell-free models to learn how end joining works, and what happens when it doesn’t.

Randell, Scott email , , , , , , , publications

Identification of airway epithelial stem cells; innate immunity in the airway; the pathophysiology of post-lung transplant ischemia reperfusion injury and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

Samet, James M. email , publications

Our laboratory is focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control  inflammatory and adaptive responses induced by inhalation of ambient air pollutants. Projects focus on early events that result in the disregulation of signaling processes that regulate gene expression, specifically oxidative effects that disrupt signaling quiescence in human lung cells. Approaches include live-cell imaging of human lung cells exposed in vitro and ex-vivo and characterization of oxidative protein modifications.

Sancar, Aziz email , , , , , publications

We have three main areas of research focus: (1) Nucleotide excision repair: The only known mechanism for the removal of bulky DNA adducts in humans. (2) DNA damage checkpoints:  Biochemical pathways that transiently block cell cycle progression while DNA contains damage.  (3) Circadian rhythm:  The oscillations in biochemical, physiological and behavioral processes that occur with the periodicity of about 24 hours.

Styblo, Miroslav email , , publications

Dr. Styblo is a biochemist with background in nutritional biochemistry and biochemical toxicology. His research focuses on topics that require expertise in both nutrition and toxicology and typically involve a translational or interdisciplinary approach. His current research projects examine mechanisms and etiology of diseases associated with exposures to environmental toxins with main focus on cancer and diabetes associated with exposure to arsenic (a common drinking water contaminant), and on the role of diet or specific nutrients in prevention of these diseases.

Thomas, Nancy email , publications

Molecular carcinogenesis, environmental toxicology, research translation, biomarkers

Tong, Haiyan email , , , , publications

Research in my laboratory focuses on the cardiovascular effects of air pollution and other environmental pollutants in human, animal, and in vitro models, as well as the dietary interventional strategies to mitigate the adverse health effects of air pollution exposure. We are currently conducting two clinical studies to investigate the cardiopulmonary effects of air pollution exposure, and to determine whether dietary omega-3 fatty acids can mitigate the air pollution-induced health effects in human volunteers. These studies provide good training opportunities for students who are interested in training in clinical and translational toxicology research.

Tropsha, Alexander email , , , , , , , publications

The major area of our research is Biomolecular Informatics, which implies understanding relationships between molecular structures (organic or macromolecular) and their properties (activity or function). We are interested in building validated and predictive quantitative models that relate molecular structure and its biological function using statistical and machine learning approaches. We exploit these models to make verifiable predictions about putative function of untested molecules.

Vaziri, Cyrus email , , , , , , publications

Our broad long-term goal is to understand how mammalian cells maintain ordered control of DNA replication during normal passage through an unperturbed cell cycle, and in response to genotoxins (DNA-damaging agents).  DNA synthesis is a fundamental process for normal growth and development and accurate replication of DNA is crucial for maintenance of genomic stability.  Many cancers display defects in regulation of DNA synthesis and it is important to understand the molecular basis for aberrant DNA replication in tumors.  Moreover, since many chemotherapies specifically target cells in S-phase, a more detailed understanding of DNA replication could allow the rational design of novel cancer therapeutics.  Our lab focuses on three main aspects of DNA replication control:  (1) The S-phase checkpoint, (2) Trans-Lesion Synthesis (TLS) and (3) Re-replication.

Watkins, Paul email , publications

Mechanistic toxicology, hepato-toxicology, research translation, biomarkers

Weissman, Bernard E. email , , , , , publications

How the loss of different components of the SWI/SNF complex contributes to neoplastic transformation remains an open and important question. My laboratory concentrates on addressing this question by the combined use of biological, biochemical and mouse models for SWI/SNF complex function.

Williams, Carmen J. email , , , , publications

Reproductive biology of early mammalian embryogenesis including gametogenesis, fertilization, and preimplantation embryo development. Effects of environmental disrupting chemicals on female reproductive tract development and function, with a focus on epigenetic alterations.

Wilson, Elizabeth M email , , , , , publications

Our research focus is on mechanisms of action of the androgen receptor (AR), a ligand-dependent transcriptional regulatory protein that mediates the effects of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Studies seek to identify and characterize AR coregulatory proteins and their regulation by phosphorylation and the cell cycle. Areas of interest include male sex development, the androgen insensitivity syndrome, and AR action in the ovary, endometrium and prostate cancer. Melanoma antigen gene protein-11 (MAGE-11) was identified as an AR coregulatory protein that belongs to the MAGE gene family of cancer-germline antigens. The MAGE-11 gene is located on the human X chromosome and is exclusively expressed in human and nonhuman primates, providing a gain-of- function to AR. Mechanisms whereby MAGE-11 regulates AR transcriptional activity through its interaction with the AR NH2-terminal FXXLF motif and cell cycle regulatory proteins are being investigated. Our objective is to understand how AR regulates gene transcription and cell proliferation in the human male and female reproductive tracts.  Keywords:  androgen receptor, MAGE-11, male reproduction, female reproduction, prostate cancer, transcription regulation, FXXLF motifs