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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Pratas, Jimmy

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Chemical Biology, Immunology, Metabolism

“I’m interested in how metabolism can regulate major aspects of biology with a focus on immunology. Some research areas that get me excited are; how do immune cells acquire nutrients during both naive and activated stages, nutrient preference and metabolic programs of T cell subtypes and leveraging this knowledge for effective treatments during disease states such as autoimmunity, bolstering effector function of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment while hindering the metabolism of cancer. Essentially, I am very interested in having a fundamental understanding of metabolism with the ultimate goal of engineering novel therapeutic strategies for diseases such as autoimmunity and cancer. Apart from this, I am also interested in plant metabolism in the context of waste revalorization, biofuels, and sustainability!”

Pon, Ailing

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology

“I have a keen interest in epigenetics, particularly its implications for cancer research. Additionally, I am passionate about developing chemical probes to explore the field of epigenetics.”

Pacini, Sara

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Chemical Biology, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine

“Being a Biochemistry major, I have had various opportunities to explore different research techniques and areas where I have found great interest. Through industry internships, I found a fascination with high throughput screening, mass spectrometry, protein degraders, and general drug discovery. I currently work in a lab focused on mass spectrometry and the gut microbiome which has been an increasing interest of mine as well.”

Coker, Katherine

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Translational Medicine

“I am incredibly interested in unraveling the intricate molecular mechanisms and proteins that drive diseases, with a particular focus on neurodegenerative diseases, chronic stress, and intestinal disorders influenced by the gut microbiome. I am eager to contribute to collaborative and interdisciplinary research environments, fostering a comprehensive approach to address the complexities of these health challenges and translating our findings into impactful solutions for society.”

Cherry, Kendall

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biophysics, Chemical Biology, Computational Biology

“I’m primarily interested in using applying computational and experimental approaches to study macromolecule structure, dynamics, and function. Coming from drug discovery research, I know how much of an asset protein structures are in rationally designing drugs. I am interested in studying systems or creating tools that can be used in a wide variety of applications. However, I am open to other areas of study as well!”

Baucom, Conner

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Chemical Biology, Drug Discovery, Pharmacology

“I’m interested in developing/improving drug discovery/design methodologies that are derived from a physical/theoretical chemistry perspective. In addition to the application to drug design, I am very interested in understanding the physical laws and mechanisms that govern biochemical activity and its external modulation through drugs.”

Schrank, Travis

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Cancer Signaling & Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Computational Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Translational Medicine, Virology

I am a surgeon-scientist specialized in head and neck cancers. My goal is to address translationalquestions with genomic data and bioinformatic methods, as well as benchtop experimentation. My clinical practice as a head and neck cancer surgeon also influences my research by helping me seek solutions to problems that will directly inform gaps in the current treatment protocols.

I have developed a strong interest in HPV genomics as well as HPV/host genome integrations, as these factors are intrinsically related to transcriptional diversity and patient outcomes in HPV-associated head and neck cancers. Our work has helped to demonstrate that a novel mechanism of HPV-mediated oncogenesis requiring NF-kB activation is present in nearly 50% of oropharyngeal tumors. In this vein, we are aggressively investigating the cellular interplay between the NF-kB pathway and persistent HPV infection, tumor radiation response, NRF2 signaling, and more.

Another outgrowth of this work has been investigating APOBEC3B and its non-canonical roles in regulating transcription. Our preliminary work has demonstrated that APOBEC3B has surprisingly strong transcriptional effects in HPV+ HNSCC cells and may promote oncogenesis and tumor maintenance by suppressing the innate immune response and influencing the HPV viral lifecycle.

Our group also have a strong interest in translational genomic studies. Our group is working to develop methods that will make gene expression-based biomarkers more successful in the clinic, as well as studying many aspects of genomic alterations that contribute to the development of squamous cell carcinomas.

Chung, Kay
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Cancer Biology, Cancer Immunology, Cancer Signaling & Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Computational Biology, Gene Therapy, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Signal Transduction, Systems Biology, Translational Medicine, Virology

The Chung lab is engineering immune cells, particularly T cells, to achieve maximum therapeutic efficacy at the right place and timing. We explore the crossroads of synthetic biology, immunology, and cancer biology. Particularly, we are employing protein engineering, next-gen sequencing, CRISPR screening, and bioinformatics to achieve our objectives:

(1) Combinatorial recipes of transcription factors for T cell programming.

(2) Technologies for temporal regulation and/or rewiring of tumor and immune signal activation (chemokine, nuclear, inhibitor receptors).

(3) Synthetic oncolytic virus for engineering tumor-T cell crosstalk.

Cho, Rae
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Developmental Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Systems Biology

We study proteases that induce rapid changes in cell morphology, behavior, and identity. We are particularly interested in ones that play a role in myotube formation, muscular dystrophies, rhabdomyosarcoma, and cachexia. Our model systems include C2C12 cells, primary myoblasts, patient-derived iPSCs, and zebrafish. In addition to standard cell biology approaches, we make use of chemical biology and advanced microscopy techniques. Ultimately, we seek to identify a combination of protease inhibitors/activators that can cure musculoskeletal diseases.

Kratochvil, Huong
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biophysics, Chemical Biology, Structural Biology

We take inspiration from Nature to build new proteins that guide our understanding of how natural proteins function: we can distill complex natural proteins into simple model proteins where we have exact control over the physicochemical properties of the entire system. Our group combines protein design strategies with biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology to 1) test mechanistic hypotheses of membrane protein structure and function, and 2) define novel protein-protein interactions in immunology for engineering protein-based therapeutics.