Skip to main content
NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Dorofi, Sidra

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bacteriology, Evolutionary Biology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Virology

“I am interested in anything and everything microbiology, although I prefer bacteriology over virology. I’m particularly curious about the relationships microbes form with each other, their hosts, the environment at large, and the evolution of these complex symbioses.”

Anderson, Ashlyn (Ash)

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis & Infection

“I have broad equal interest in pathogenesis/infection (new to me but has always captivated my interests) and in basic science questions related to chromatin, genetics, and evolution (familiar to me + I already know I love researching these kinds of questions!) I am hoping to narrow down and explore my interests between these further with rotations in virology, genetics-genomics, or bacteriology labs. “

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.

Liu, Qingyun

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology, Microbiology & Immunology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bacteriology, Bioinformatics, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Microscopy/Imaging, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Pathogenesis & Infection

Traditionally, basic science has sought to enter the translational pipeline through what can be referred to as “Bottom-Up” science, that is, studies that start with a hypothesis in the lab and aim to develop clinical relevance of the findings. In some cases, notably in conventional antibiotic development, this has worked well – but it assumes one-size fits all solutions that are only as good as our assumptions about the biology of many infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. By contrast, my research focuses on a “Top-Down” approach, leveraging the power of bacterial population genomics to identify bacterial processes important for Mtb success in people and to then employ cutting-edge experimental techniques to mechanistically dissect these processes with the goal of leveraging them using new translational tools.

In my work to date, I have applied this “Top-Down” strategy to define bacterial determinants of treatment outcomes and transmission success, as evident in first-author/corresponding author publications in prestigious journals such as Science, Nature Ecology Evolution, Cell Host Microbe, Science Advances, Genome Biology, PNAS, etc. My work combines expertise in evolutionary biology and bacterial genomics, cutting-edge bacterial genetics and high-throughput experimental phenotyping.

In my own lab, I will use these tools to (1) define the biological mechanisms that enable Mtb to survive antibiotic treatment; (2) identify bacterial determinants of TB transmission success; and (3) elucidate the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the emergence of new bacterial pathogens.

Johri, Parul
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Computational Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genomics

Our research interests broadly span population genetics, statistical inference, and evolutionary genomics. We are interested in how evolutionary processes like changes in population size, recombination, mutation, selection and factors such as genome architecture shape patterns of genomic variation. Work in the lab involves employing computational and theoretical approaches, statistical method development, or using an empirical approach to perform evolutionary inference and ask fundamental questions in population genetics.

Parr, Jonathan
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Evolutionary Biology, Genomics, Translational Medicine

Dr. Parr’s research focuses on the infectious diseases of poverty, with translational projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and other sites. His research concentrates on the molecular epidemiology of malaria and the evolution of “diagnostic-resistant” strains of Plasmodium falciparum, in particular. As a founding member of a World Health Organization laboratory network, he collaborates with malaria control programs and ministries of health to support surveillance of these parasites across Africa. His recent work in Ethiopia uncovered genetic signatures of strong positive selection favoring parasites with pfhrp2 gene deletion and influenced malaria diagnostic and surveillance policy in the Horn of Africa.

Dr. Parr has recently expanded his research program to include studies of other diseases that disproportionately impact marginalized populations worldwide, including viral hepatitis and syphilis, and serves as the director of the genomics core for a large NIH-funded syphilis vaccine development project that spans sites in Malawi, Columbia, China, North Carolina, and the Czech Republic.

Rotating students can expect to undertake translational projects that apply cutting-edge methodologies to real-world problems. Examples include application of novel enrichment methods that enable pathogen genomic sequencing from challenging field samples, development of CRISPR-based diagnostic assays, and evaluation of how infectious disease interventions affect pathogen population structure. Trainees will interact with diverse investigators and benefit from a highly collegial training environment in the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Ecology Lab.

Dr. Parr continues to attend on the infectious disease inpatient services at UNC Medical Center and, in response to the pandemic, co-directed the UNC division of infectious diseases’ inpatient COVID-19 services. He also serves as Associate Editor for global health for Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation. Dr. Parr and his work have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and other media outlets.

Joseph, Sarah B.

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Microbiology & Immunology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Neurobiology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Virology

We use studies of HIV/SIV evolution to reveal information about viral dynamics in vivo. This typically involves genetic and/or phenotypic analyses of viral populations in samples from HIV-infected humans or SIV-infected nonhuman primates (NHPs). We are currently exploring the mechanisms that contribute to neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected people by sequencing viral populations in the CNS of humans and NHPs not on antiretroviral therapy. We are also using these approaches to examine viral populations that persist during long-term antiretroviral therapy in an effort to better understand the viral reservoirs that must be targeted in order to cure HIV-infected people.

Matute, Daniel
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Biology, Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Computational Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Organismal Biology

My research program studies how species form. We use a combination of approaches that range from field biology, behavior, and computational biology.

Gordon, Kacy

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biology, Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics

The Gordon lab is brand new to UNC, and studies stem cell and stem cell niche biology in the model organism C. elegans. The germ line stem cells make the gametes, which make the next generation of worms. These cells are therefore at the nexus of development, genetics, and evolution. We will be getting started with projects pertaining to evolutionary comparative gene expression in the stem cells and stem cell niche and niche development. The techniques we use include molecular biology, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, worm genetics, and microscopy.

Schrider, Daniel
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Genomics

The Schrider Lab develops and applies computational tools to use population genetic datasets to make inferences about evolutionary history. Our research areas include but are not limited to: characterizing the effects natural selection on genetic variation within species, identifying genes responsible for recent adaptation, detecting genomic copy number variants and other weird types of mutations, and adapting machine learning tools for application to questions in population genetics and evolution. Study organisms include humans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its relatives, and the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles gambiae.