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[ PhD Program: Translational Medicine Keyword: ]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Arthur, Janelle C. email , , , , publications

The Arthur lab is interested in mechanisms by which inflammation alters the functional capabilities of the microbiota, with the long-term goal of targeting resident microbes as a preventative and therapeutic strategy to lessen inflammation and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. We utilize a unique and powerful in vivo system – germ-free and gnotobiotic mice – to causally link specific microbes, microbial genes, and microbial metabolites with health and disease in the gut.  We also employ basic immunology and molecular microbiology techniques as well as next generation sequencing and bioinformatics to evaluate these essential host-microbe interactions.

Bahnson, Edward Moreira email , , , , , , publications

We are interested in studying diabetic vasculopathies. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus or metabolic syndrome have aggressive forms of vascular disease, possessing a greater likelihood of end-organ ischemia, as well as increased morbidity and mortality following vascular interventions. Our long term research aims to change the way we treat arterial disease in diabetes by:

  • Understanding why arterial disease is more aggressive in diabetic patients, with a focus in redox signaling in the vasculature.
  • Developing targeted systems using nanotechnology to locally deliver therapeutics to the diseased arteries.
Berg, Jonathan email , , , , , publications

My research group is broadly interested in the application of sequencing technologies in medical genetics and genomics, using a combination of wet lab and computational approaches.  As a clinician, I am actively involved in the care of patients with hereditary disorders, and the research questions that my group investigates have direct relevance to patient care.  One project uses genome sequencing in families with likely hereditary cancer susceptibility in order to identify novel genes that may be involved in monogenic forms of cancer predisposition.  Another major avenue of investigation examines the use of genome-scale sequencing in clinical medicine, ranging from diagnostic testing to newborn screening, to screening in healthy adults.

Bergmeier, Wolfgang email , , , , , publications

Our research focuses on the adhesion mechanisms of platelets and neutrophils to sites of vascular injury/ activation. For successful adhesion, both cell types rely on activation-dependent receptors (integrins) expressed on the cell surface. We are particularly interested in the role of calcium (Ca2+) as a signaling molecule that regulates the inside-out activation of integrin receptors. Our studies combine molecular and biochemical approaches with microfluidics and state-of-the-art in vivo imaging (intravital microscopy) techniques.

Bowers, Albert A email , , , , publications

Research in the Bowers lab focuses on investigation of structure activity relationships and mechanisms of action of natural product-derived small molecule therapeutics.  We employ a variety of methods to build and modify compounds of interest, including manipulation of natural product biosynthesis, chemical synthesis, and semi-synthesis.  One major area of research in the lab is the rationale engineering of biosynthetic pathways to make bacterial drug factories.  Compounds targeting transcriptional regulation of cancer as well as multi-drug resistant venereal infections are currently under investigation in the lab.

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.

Burks, Wesley email , , , , publications

The UNC Food Allergy Institute (UNCFAI) was established in 2012 to address the growing needs of children and adults with food allergy. Program investigators study the biologic basis of food allergy in the laboratory and in clinical research studies seeking to better understand the role of allergen-specific IgE and the mechanism of allergen immunotherapy. The Institute provides comprehensive, family-centered patient care for food allergy, food-related anaphylaxis, and other related disorders like atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic esophagitis.

Cohen, Jessica email , , , , publications

The Cohen Lab investigates how functional brain networks in humans interact and reconfigure when confronted with changing cognitive demands, when experiencing transformations across development, and when facing disruptions in healthy functioning due to disease. We are also interested in how this neural flexibility contributes to flexibility in control and the ability to learn, as well as the consequences of dysfunction in this flexibility. We use behavioral, neuroimaging, and clinical approaches taken from neuroscience, psychology, and mathematics to address our research questions.

Damania, Blossom email , , , , , publications

The work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), an oncogenic human virus. KSHV is associated with several types of cancer in the human population. We study the effect of KSHV viral proteins on cell proliferation, transformation, apoptosis, angiogenesis and cell signal transduction pathways. We also study viral transcription factors, viral replication, and the interactions of KSHV with the human innate immune system. Additionally, we are developing drug therapies that curb viral replication and target tumor cells.

Dayan, Eran email , , , publications

Our lab studies brain network connectivity in the healthy brain and in neurological and neuropsychiatric patient populations. We focus on the organizational, dynamical, and computational properties of large-scale brain networks and determine how these properties contribute to human behavior in health and disease. We strive to advance the basic understanding of brain structure and function, while making discoveries that can be translated to clinical practice.

De Paris, Kristina email , , , publications

Our research focuses on the immunological aspects of pathogen-host interactions. The lab is actively involved in HIV pathogenesis and vaccine studies using the nonhuman primate model of SIV infection. We are particularly interested in pediatric HIV transmission by breast-feeding and the early, local host immune response. A main research focus is on developmental differences in host immune responses between infants and adults and how they alter pathogenesis. The effect of co-infections (e.g. malaria and Tb) on HIV pathogenesis and transmission is a second research focus. The lab is developing a nonhuman primate model of SIV-Plasmodium fragile co-infection to study HIV-P. falciparum infection in humans.

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.

Dichter, Gabriel S email , publications

Dr. Dichter’s research examines pathophysiology and response to treatment in autism and mood disorders using function MRI, eyetracking, and electrophysiology.  Lab facilities reside at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities.  Potential students should have a strong interest in clinical neuroscience and psychiatric research methods.  For more information about the lab, please see our lab website at http://www.can.unc.edu

Dittmer, Dirk email , , , , , publications

Our lab tries to understand viral pathogenesis. To do so, we work with two very different viruses – West Nile Virus (WNV) and Kaposi¹s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8).

Falk, Ronald J. email , , , publications

As the Director of the UNC Kidney Center, the scope of Dr. Falk’s research interests spans many disciplines, including molecular biology, immunology, genetics, pathology, cell biology, protein chemistry, epidemiology, pharmacokinetics and biostatistics. Dr. Falk is recognized world wide as a leader in research on kidney diseases related to autoimmune responses. He works closely with the basic research scientists within the UNC Kidney Center, including Dr. Gloria Preston, thus this research program provides an environment for Translational Research within the UNC Kidney Center.

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.

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.

Frohlich, Flavio email , , , , , , publications

Our goal is to revolutionize the treatment of psychiatric and neurological illness by developing novel brain stimulation paradigms. We identify and target network dynamics of physiological and pathological brain function. We combine computational modeling, optogenetics, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology in animal models and humans, control engineering, and clinical trials. We strive to make our laboratory a productive, collaborative, and happy workplace.

Garcia-Martinez, J. Victor email , , , , publications

Over millions of years of coexistence humans and pathogens have develop intricate and very intimate relationships.  These highly specialized interactions are the basic determinants of pathogenesis and disease progression.  Our laboratory is interested in elucidating the molecular basis of disease.  Our multidisciplinary approach to molecular medicine is based on our interest in the translation of basic research observations into clinical implementation.  For this purpose we use a variety of in vitro and in vivo approaches to study AIDS, Cancer, immunological diseases, gene therapy, etc.  Of particular interest is the use of state of the art models such as humanized mice to study human specific pathogens like HIV, EBV, Kaposiâ’s sarcoma, influenza, xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus.  In addition, we are interested in the development and implementation of novel approaches to prevent viral transmission using pre-expossure prophylaxis and vaccines.

Gilmore, John email , , , , publications

Dr. Gilmore’s research group is applying state-of–the-art magnetic resonance imaging and image analysis techniques to study human brain development in 0-6 year olds.  Approaches include structural, diffusion tensor, and resting state functional imaging, with a focus on cortical gray and white matter development and its relationship to cognitive development.  Studies include normally developing children, twins, and children at high risk for schizophrenia and bipolar illness.  We also study the contributions of genetic and environmental risk factors to early brain development in humans.  A developing collaborative project with Flavio Frohlich, PhD will use imaging to study white and gray matter development in ferrets and its relationship with cortical oscillatory network development.

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.

Giovanello, Kelly S email , publications

My research combines behavioral, patient-based, and functional neuroimaging approaches to investigate the cognitive neuroscience of human learning and memory. My primary research focus is in elucidating the cognitive processes and neural mechanisms mediating relational memory – the form of memory which represents relationships among items or informational elements. In everyday life, relational memory processes play a critical role in linking or binding together the various cognitive, affective, and contextual components of a learning event into an integrated memory trace. I am interested in exploring the cognitive and neural processes mediating relational memory in young adults and examining how these processes change with healthy aging and neurodegenerative disease (particularly Alzheimer’s disease).

Girdler, Susan email , , , publications

I have been an NIH-funded women’s health researcher for over 20 years.   The focus of my current research is in reproductive mood disorders, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and postpartum depression.  Current research in my lab is investigating the role of psychosocial stress (e.g., histories of trauma) and alterations in cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and GABAergic neurosteroid reactivity to stress in reproductive mood disorders.   I also have a long-standing research record in studies investigating ethnic and racial differences in physiologic stress reactivity and endogenous pain regulation.    /  / I co-direct an NIH-funded postdoctoral training program as well as the UNC Department of Psychiatry Junior Faculty Mentoring Program.  I am dedicated to training the next generation of independent investigators.

Gray, Steven email , , , , publications

My core expertise is in adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy vector engineering, followed by optimizing approaches to deliver a gene to the central and peripheral nervous system.  As reagents have been developed to achieve global and efficient nervous system gene transfer, my research focus has also included preclinical studies to apply these reagents toward the treatment of neurological and ocular diseases.  Currently these include Rett Syndrome, Giant Axonal Neuropathy, Tay-Sachs, Krabbe, Batten Disease (INCL and LINCL), and AGU.  My ongoing research focuses on 1) continued development and optimization of AAV vectors specifically tailored toward neurologic and ophthalmologic disorders 2) testing novel gene therapy approaches for applicable disorders, and 3) facilitating the translation of these approaches from bench to clinic.

I am a member of the UNC Gene Therapy Center, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, and Department of Ophthalmology.  My lab has several strong partnerships with patient and rare disease advocacy groups. A major accomplishment from my lab is that we independently developed a gene therapy approach to treat Giant Axonal Neuropathy, which is in clinical testing at the NIH Clinical Center (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02362438).

Gulati, Ajay email , , , , publications

The work of our laboratory is focused on understanding interactions between the commensal microbiota of the gut and the host epithelium, particularly in the context of chronic inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).  Specifically, we are interested in determining the mechanisms by which various susceptibility genes for IBD affect the structure and function of the intestinal microbiota.  In particular, we are exploring the mechanisms by which IBD risk alleles alter the function of intestinal epithelial cells including Paneth, goblet, and stem cells. We expect these studies will lead to the development of safer, patient-specific therapies for individuals with IBD.

Hansen, Jonathan email , , , publications

Current research indicates that inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD’s), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are due to uncontrolled innate and adaptive immune responses to commensal (non-pathogenic) intestinal bacteria in genetically susceptible hosts.  However, the roles of intestinal bacteria in the perpetuation and progression of IBD’s are unclear and the effects of intestinal inflammation on commensal bacterial physiology and virulence are unknown.  We hypothesize that commensal bacteria dynamically respond to intestinal inflammation in a manner that perpetuates or worsens disease.  Exploring this hypothesis will enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of IBD’s and host-microbial interactions, and potentially identify new therapeutic targets for these currently incurable diseases.

Henning, Susan J email , , publications

Intestinal stem cells (ISC) are central to the biology of the intestinal epithelium (which is the most rapidly proliferating tissue in the human body) and may have significant therapeutic potential for repair of intestinal damage. We have developed novel methods to isolate ISC. Current projects include: a.) refinement of these methods to get purer preparations; and b.) development of protocols in vitro expansion of ISC and their in vivo transplantation. Thus, our lab offers both basic science and translational research opportunities.

Hirsch, Matthew email , , , , , publications

Our lab works with adeno-associated viral vectors for both the characterization of vector and host responses upon transduction and as therapeutic agents for the treatment of genetic diseases.  In particular, we tend to focus on the 145 nucleotide viral inverted terminal repeats of the transgenic genome and their multiple functions including the replication initiation, inherent promoter activity, and stimulation of intra/inter molecular DNA repair pathways.  The modification of the AAV ITRs by synthetic sequences imparts unique functions/activities rendering these synthetic vectors perhaps better suited for therapeutic applications.

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.

Jay, Michael email , publications

My research projects are at the interface between the pharmaceutical and nuclear sciences.  They involve the application of pharmaceutical approaches to solve problems related to nuclear imaging and therapy, and the use of radioanalytical approaches to solve problems encountered in the development of novel formulations and drug delivery systems.  I am currently developing orally bioavailable prodrugs of DTPA as radionuclide decorporation agents that can be added to the National Stockpile for use following a nuclear terrorism event or accident.   In addition, I am neutron activated to produce radiotherapeutic microneedles and nanoparticles using novel matrices. As with most of my colleagues in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program, my Ph.D. students find rewarding employment upon graduation.  My academic offspring currently hold senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry and lead research centers in prestigious academic institutions.

Jennette, Charles J. email , , publications

My research interests and diagnostic responsibilities center around nephropathology and immunopathology. My laboratory carries out basic, translational and clinicopathologic research on kidney diseases. I am most interested in pathogenic mechanisms and pathologic manifestations of glomerular diseases and vasculitis. A major current research focus is on elucidating the pathogenesis of vascular inflammation caused by anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA).

Johns, Josephine email , , , , publications

Effects of drugs of abuse on maternal behavior and aggression and the effects of prenatal exposure to drugs on offspring development and behavior.  Approaches range from molecular to behavioral as our work is basic science with a clinically applicable focus.

Juliano, Jonathan email , , , , publications

Despite recent success in reducing malaria transmission, the estimated annual numbers of malaria infections (~225 million) and deaths (~781,000) remain high. Despite this immense burden, our understanding of the genetic diversity of malaria and the factors that promote this diversity is limited.  This diversity among plasmodial parasites has a critical impact on many factors involved in the control of infections, including: 1) development of drug resistance, 2) development of naturally acquired immunity, and 3) vaccine design.  My laboratory’s primary interests are: 1) describing the genetic diversity of P. falciparum using molecular biological and next generation sequencing tools, and 2) using these data to understand the evolutionary and ecological factors that drive this diversity, promote the emergence of drug resistance and affect our ability to effectively develop immunity.

Kabanov, Alexander (Sasha) email , , publications

In our lab we develop novel polymer based drug delivery systems and nanomedicines incorporating small molecules, DNA and polyptides to treat cancer, neurodegenerative and other CNS-related disorders.

Ke, Hengming email , , , , publications

Our research focuses on the structure and function of medically important proteins from the crystallographic approach.  The current topics include cycolphilin, calcineurin, heat shock protein 90 (hsp90), and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase.

Kesimer, Mehmet email , , , , publications

The upper airways serve to clean inspired air from physical, chemical and pathological detritus that might damage the delicate peripheral airways where oxygen exchange is achieved. It is the heart of a powerful two tiered  innate immune system based upon a  layer of mucus that captures the incoming material that is moved over a bed of cilia. The system is called the muco-ciliary escalator.
Failure of this complex protective system is associated with a wide variety of diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. Biomolecules in mucus are split into two distinct groups, the first group being of globular type proteins between 6 kDa to 200 kDa and the second being of mucins which are large, space-filling glycoconjugates of 200 kDa to 100 MDa, with most of this mass being of carbohydrate in origin. Besides these biomolecules, mucus also contains secreted vesicles (exosomes) with innate immune properties. In chronic inflammatory lung diseases like cystic fibrosis (CF), chronic bronchitis (COPD) and asthma, mucus quantity and quality is altered and it is not efficiently removed from the lungs, causing airway obstruction, impaired gas exchange, bacterial colonization & infection and damage to lung tissue. The long term goal of our laboratory is to understand how this innate immune barrier is dynamically organized around the protective macromolecules under normal and pathological conditions. Currently, research in the Kesimer laboratory is focused on three main fundamentally important areas: 1- How mucins and globular proteins are organized within the airway mucosal barrier and how they are altered in disease pathogenesis, 2- How mucins are processed to mature after granular release for optimal function and how this progression is altered in chronic lung diseases, CF in particular, and 3- The role of extracellular vesicles in the airway mucosal barrier. Our laboratory is established with a wide range of state of the art biochemical, biophysical and proteomics methods including UPLC-Orbitrap mass spectrometry, atomic force microscopy, dynamic and static light scattering, and a variety of surface biophysics tools including QCM-D.

Kim, WIlliam Y email , , , , , publications

Our research explores the role of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) in tumorigenesis. HIF is a transcription factor that plays a key role in oxygen sensing, the adaptation to hypoxia and the tumor microenvironment. It is expressed in the majority of solid tumors and correlates with poor clinical outcome. Therefore, HIF is a likely promoter of solid tumor growth and angiogenesis.  Our lab uses mouse models to ask if and how HIF cooperates with other oncogenic events in cancer.  We are currently investigating HIF’s role in the upregulation of circulating tumor cells and circulating endothelial cells.

Ko, Ching-Chang email , , , , publications

Ko’s laboratory has focused on bone regeneration using biomaterials and biomechanical approaches. The on-going project is to develop a new synthetic process for biomimetic bone nanocomposites. The new biomaterial and its scaffolds are under development for stem cell-mediated bone regeneration. Biomechanical principles that regulate mineral crystallization are incorporated with the biomaterial approach to translate research outcomes to clinical usage (e.g., immediately loaded dental implants). My lab is also interested in understanding reverse engineering principles of bio-mienralization.

Loeser, Richard F. email , , , , publications

The Loeser lab uses a combination of in vitro studies in articular chondrocytes and in vivo studies in mice to examine molecular mechanisms of joint tissue destruction in aging and osteoarthritis. A major focus of this work is examining how reactive oxygen species regulate cell signaling through oxidation of Cys residues in specific kinases and phosphatases. Pathways of interest include integrin mediated signaling that stimulates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and IGF-I signaling that stimulates matrix production. Oxidative stress disrupts the balance in the activity of these pathways to favor matrix destruction over repair contributing to the development of osteoarthritis.

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.

Mackman, Nigel email , , , , publications

The major focus of Mackman lab is the procoagulant protein tissue factor. This is the primary cellular initiator of blood coagulation. We study its role in hemostasis, thrombosis, inflammation, ischemia-reperfusion injury and tumor growth.  LPS induction of the tissue factor gene in human monocytic cells and endothelial cells is mediated by various transcription factors, such as AP-1, NF-ĸB and Egr-1. More recently, we found that the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase protein kinase B intracellular signaling pathway suppresses LPS activation of monocytes and endothelial cells.  We found that inhibition of either tissue factor or the downstream coagulation protease thrombin reduced infarct size in a rabbit model of cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury. We showed that the tissue factor-thrombin pathway increased inflammation during myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by inducing chemokine expression and enhancing the recruitment of neutrophils. We have generated a number of mouse models expressing different levels of both mouse and human tissue factor. These mice have been used to provide new insights into the role of tissue factor in hemostasis and thrombosis. In 2007, we developed a new assay to measure levels of microparticle tissue factor in plasma. We found that elevated levels of microparticle tissue factor are associated with venous thromboembolism in cancer patients.

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.

Magness, Scott email , , , , publications

The primary focus of my research is to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying stem cell maintenance and differentiation with the goal of translating this information into therapeutic strategies. Using a Sox9EGFP mouse model and FACSorting we are able to specifically enrich for single multipotent intestinal epithelial stem cells that are able to generate mini-guts in a culture system. Our studies are now focused on manipulating, in vitro, the genetics of stem cell behavior through viral gene therapeutics and pharmacologic agents. Additionally, we are developing stem cell transplantation and tissue engineering strategies as therapies for inborn genetic disorders as well as damage and disease of the intestine. Using novel animal models and tissue microarrays from human colon cancers, we are investigating the role of Sox-factors in colorectal cancer.

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

Margolis, David email , , , , publications

The overall goal of our laboratory is to obtain new insights into the host-virus interaction, particularly in HIV infection, and translate discoveries in molecular biology and virology to the clinic to aid in the treatment of HIV infection. A subpopulation of HIV-infected lymphocytes is able to avoid viral or immune cytolysis and return to the resting state. Current work focuses on the molecular mechanisms that control the latent reservoir of HIV infection within resting T cells. We have found that cellular transcription factors widely distributed in lymphocytes can remodel chromatin and maintain quiescence of the HIV genome in resting CD4+ lymphocytes. These studies give insight into the basic molecular mechanisms of eukaryotic gene expression, as well as new therapeutic approaches for HIV infection.

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.

Miller, C. Ryan email , , , , , , , , , , publications

My laboratory studies diffuse gliomas, devastating primary tumors of the central nervous system for which few effective drugs are currently available.  We utilize genetically engineered mice, cell culture, and human tumor model systems to explore the molecular pathogenesis of gliomas.  We utilize animal model systems to develop drugs and diagnostic markers for their individualized therapy.  Rotating students gain experience with multiple techniques, including cell culture, molecular biology, genomics, genetic lineage tracing, fluorescence microscopy, and digital image analysis.

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.

O’Brien, Lori email , , , , publications

Modern technologies from next-gen sequencing to high resolution imaging have advanced our knowledge of kidney development, function, and disease. We are among the pioneers utilizing techniques such as ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, modern genome editing, and imaging to understand how regulatory programs control progenitor populations during kidney development. Our goal is to understand how these programs contribute to progenitor specification and maintenance, and how they are altered during disease and aging. Our ultimate goal is translational applications of our research to develop new therapeutics and regenerative strategies.

Pecot, Chad Victor email , , , , publications

The development of metastases is the cause of death in nearly all cancer patients, yet the mechanisms driving metastatic biology remain poorly understood. Also, few cancer therapeutics are being developed to specifically control this problem. My laboratory is interested in discovering novel mechanisms that drive metastatic biology, and in utilizing RNA interference (RNAi) strategies (such as nanoparticle delivery of miRNAs/siRNAs) to control this process. We will apply integrative analysis of large bioinformatic datasets, in vitro studies for mechanistic validation, and in vivo metastasis models to assess therapeutic efficacy of our RNAi approaches.

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.

Rubenstein, David email , , , , publications

The work in my lab is focused on the regulation of cell adhesion and the inter-relationship between alterations in adhesion and the biology of the cell. Our lab has made several key observations on the molecular mechanisms by which acantholysis proceeds in the human autoimmune blistering diseases pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus.  The presence or absence of adhesion represents a major biologic shift requiring coordination amongst various biological processes, including those regulating adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death.  The intracellular regulatory and signalling events observed in pemphigus acantholysis likely represent variations of normal physiologic mechanisms regulating the presence/absence of desmosome-mediated cell-cell adhesion in epidermal epithelia.  We proposes that these events are important for regulating transitions in cell-adhesion and likely have a central role in adhesion transitions occuring during such processes as wound healing, tumor cell proliferation and invasion.  Current projects in the lab are focused on furthering work on the mechanism of pemphigus acantholysis as well as elucidating the role of desmosomes in wound healing and cancer biology.

Schisler, Jonathan C. email , , , , publications

The Schisler Lab is geared towards understanding and designing therapies for diseases involving proteinopathies- pathologies stemming from protein misfolding, aggregation, and disruption of protein quality control pathways. We focus on cardiovascular diseases including the now more appreciated overlap with neurological diseases such as CHIPopathy (or SCAR16, discovered here in our lab) and polyQ diseases. We use molecular, cellular, and animal-based models often in combination with clinical datasets to help drive our understanding of disease in translation to new therapies.

Sheikh, Shehzad Z email , , publications

We seek to understand how information is encoded and dynamically utilized in immune cells from healthy and disease prone intestines (The Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis). Our lab is multi-disciplinary and combines high-throughput genomics with innate immunity and microbiology. We focus specifically on genes that regulate response to the bacteria that normally reside in our intestines. Many of these genes make products that regulate the immune system in the intestine. These products defend the intestine against the attack of foreign materials; such as bacteria that live in the intestine. We use genome-sequencing technology to precisely identify regions throughout the genome that are potential ‘on’ or ‘off’ switches for these genes. There is a fine balance between the genes that produce inflammatory substances that are necessary to kill bacteria and genes that produce anti-inflammatory substances that are important to prevent damage to the intestine. If this balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substance production in the intestine is disrupted, IBD may result. Our lab focuses on understanding how these important controllers of inflammation are turned on and off in IBD. We also study how inflammatory and anti-inflammatory signals impact disease severity, progression and response to therapy in individuals with IBD. This information has the potential to increase our understanding of causes of IBD (personalized medicine) and to contribute to the development of new treatments.

Shih, Yen-Yu Ian email , , , , publications

Dr. Shih is the Director of Small Animal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at the Biomedical Research Imaging Center. His lab has implemented multi-model MRI techniques at high magnetic field to measure cerebral blood oxygenation, blood flow, blood volume, and oxygen metabolism changes in preclinical animal models. Dr. Shih’s lab is also developing simultaneous functional MRI (fMRI) and electrophysiology recording techniques at high spatial resolution to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of neurovascular diseases. They will apply these techniques to (i) explore/validate functional connectivity network and neurovascular coupling in the rodent brain, (ii) study tissue characteristics after stroke, and (iii) investigate deep brain electrical stimulation, optogenetic stimulation, and pharmacogenetic stimulation in normal and Parkinsonian animal models.

Su, Maureen A email , , , publications

Our lab is interested in understanding the genetics of autoimmunity using both mouse models and patient samples. Our work is highly translational and aims to have direct relevance to human disease. One of our approaches is to study rare Mendelian autoimmunity syndromes in order to determine the contributions of a particular gene to developing autoimmunity. We have focused on Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1 (APS1 or APECED), a rare condition due to mutations in the Autoimmune Regulator (Aire) gene. We are interested in how Aire promotes tolerance and have utilized both APS1 mouse models and patient samples to study this disease. We are also interested in understanding how dysregulation of the immune system results in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, an autoimmune disease in which beta cells in pancreatic islets are destroyed. We are primarily using patient samples to study how the balance of suppressor of effector arms of the immune system become dysregulated.

Tisch, Roland email , , , publications

Projects involve the study of cellular and molecular events involved in autoimmunity, and development and application of genetic vaccines to prevent and treat autoimmunity and cancer.

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.

Troester, Melissa email , , , , publications

Dr. Troester’s research focuses on stromal-epithelial interactions, genomics of normal breast tissue, breast cancer microenvironment, and molecular pathology of breast cancer progression. She is a Co-Investigator on the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), a resource including breast tumors from thousands of African American women, and she is PI of the Normal Breast Study (NBS), a unique biospecimen resource of normal tissue from women undergoing breast surgery at UNC Hospitals. Dr. Troester has extensive experience in integrating multiple high dimensional data types. She is chair of the Normal Breast Committee for the Cancer Genome Atlas Project where she is leading coordination of histology, copy number, mutation, methylation, mRNA and microRNA expression data. She has more than a decade of experience working with genomic data and molecular biology of breast cancer progression and has published many papers in the area of breast cancer subtypes, breast microenvironment, and stromal-epithelial interactions. She has trained four postdocs, 12 predoctoral students and several undergraduates.

Vilen, Barbara email , , , , , publications

We are interested in understanding how autoreactive B cells become re-activated to secrete autoantibodies that lead to autoimmune disease.  Our research is focused on understanding how signal transduction through the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) and Toll Like Receptors (TLR) lead to secretion of autoantibodies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

Wang, Andrew Z. email , , , , publications

My laboratory has two research directions. One is to utilize nanotechnology to develop novel diagnostics and therapeutics to improve cancer treatment. The other is to use techniques developed in tissue engineering to develop in vitro 3D models of cancer metastasis.

Whang, Young E. email , , , , publications

My laboratory is interested in characterizing the role of cytoplasmic signal transduction pathways in regulation of androgen receptor activity and progression of prostate cancer.  Our studies have focused on HER-2 receptor tyrosine kinase and we have demonstrated that HER-2 activation stimulates androgen receptor activity and HER-2 inhibition inhibits androgen receptor transcriptional function at the level of recruitment to the androgen responsive enhancers.  These findings have led to the design and initiation of the protocol involving lapatinib, a clinical HER-2 inhibitor, in treatment of patients with prostate cancer.  More recently, we have demonstrated that activated Cdc42-associated kinase Ack1 promotes progression of prostate cancer via tyrosine phosphorylation of androgen receptor at Tyr-267 and Tyr-363 residues.  We are interested in further characterizing the role of tyrosine phosphorylation of androgen receptor in prostate cancer and development of Ack1 targeted therapy for clinical use.

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.

Willis, Monte S. email , , , , publications

We are looking for talented and motivated individuals to join our research team. Dr. Willis’s lab investigates the molecular basis of genetic and lifestyle mediated cardiomyopathic disease (heart failure) using bioinformatics, molecular, and animal model approaches. We are seeking graduate students looking for an exciting and supportive research environment offering a diversity of experiences integrating cardiac phenotyping, mouse models of disease, molecular biology, and ubiquitin proteasome biology. Both national and international training experiences supported by the Leducq Foundation (http://fondationleducq.org/network/proteotoxicity-an-unappreciated-mechanism-of-heart-disease-and-its-potential-for-novel-therapeutics/) are possible,  depending on citizenship and interest in travel.

Wolberg, Alisa email , , , , publications

We investigate cellular, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms of blood coagulation.  Using in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models, we focus on mechanisms contributing to cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis), including the effects of plasma proteins, cells, and blood flow (shear) on blood clot biochemical and mechanical stability.  We have shown that abnormalities in blood protein and/or cellular function contribute to bleeding and clotting pathologies including hemophilia and thrombosis, and shown how hemostatic and antithrombotic therapeutics modulate clot quality.  Current efforts are focused on pathophysiologic mechanisms that result in bleeding or prothrombotic disease (e.g., cancer).  Our overall goal is to translate this knowledge into novel approaches for treating bleeding and clotting disorders.

Wu, Di email , , , , publications

Our group develops novel statistical bioinformatics tools and applies them in biomedical research to help understanding the precision medicine for cancer (e.g., breast cancer and lung cancer) subtypes, the disease associated integrative pathways across multiple genomic regulatory levels, and the genetics based drug repurposing mechanisms. Our recent focus includes pathway analysis, microbiome data analysis, data integration and electronica medical records (EMR). Our application fields include cancer, stem cell, autoimmune disease and oral biology. In the past, we have developed gene set testing methods with high citations, in the empirical Bayesian framework, to take care of small complex design and genewise correlation structure. These have been widely used in the microarray and RNAseq based gene expression analysis. Contamination detection for data analysis for Target DNA sequencing is work in progress. Recently, we also work on single cell sequencing data for pathway analysis with the local collaborators.

Yeh, Jen Jen email , , , , publications

We are a translational research lab. The overall goal of our research is to find therapeutic targets and biomarkers for patients with pancreatic and colorectal cancer and to translate this to the clinic. In order to accomplish this, we analyze patient tumors using microarray analysis, identify and validate targets using forward and reverse genetic approaches in both cell lines and mouse models. At the same time, we evaluate novel therapeutics for promising targets in mouse models in order to better predict clinical response in humans. We also collaborate with the DeSimone and Huang labs to apply nanotechnology to drug delivery and therapeutics. Keywords: genomics, biomarkers, translational research, microarray, signaling, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, mouse models, GEMM, drug discovery, nanoparticles.

Zhang, Qisheng email , , , , publications

Our lab studies lipid signaling pathways that are involved in development and diseases by developing novel chemical probes and technologies. As key components of cellular membranes, lipids also serve as signaling molecules and modify functions of proteins through either covalent or non-covalent interactions. Dys-regulation of lipid signaling has been correlated with various diseases including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. Consequently, many lipid-related proteins or processes have been used as therapeutic targets. However, lipids are dynamically metabolized and transported, making it difficult to illustrate the roles of lipids in development and diseases with limited availability of probes and technologies for lipid studies. The active projects in the lab include: 1) develop novel technologies to synthesize complex lipids, particularly phosphatidylinositides, and identify their interacting proteins in live cells; 2) develop new small molecule sensors and inhibitors for lipid metabolic enzymes such as PI3K and PLC; and 3) investigate cellular functions of lipids on different processes, particularly those regulated by small GTPases.