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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Raffield, Laura
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Genetics, Genomics

Keywords: genetic epidemiology, human genetics, genome-wide association studies, precision medicine, multi-omics, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, hematological traits

In my research program, I use human genomics and multi-omics to understand inherited and environmental risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases and related quantitative traits. I work to link genetic variants to function through integration with multi-omics data, including transcriptomic, methylation, proteomic, and metabolomic measures. This work has important implications for cardiometabolic risk prediction across diverse populations and improved understanding of disease biology. A focus on understudied African American and Hispanic/Latino populations is a central theme of my research; human genetics research is dramatically unrepresentative of global populations, with ~95% of genome-wide association study participants of European or East Asian ancestry. As complex trait genetics moves into the clinic, increasing diversity is essential to ensure that all populations benefit from the promise of precision medicine.

I play a leadership role in collaborative efforts in human genetics, for example serving as a Genetics Working Group co-chair for the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), one of the largest population based studies of African Americans, and an Inflammation/Hematology working group co-chair for the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) consortium. I am also a co-convener of the Multi-Omics working group for the NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program.

Divaris, Kimon
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Oral & Craniofacial Biomedicine

RESEARCH INTEREST
Genomics, Translational Medicine

Dr. Divaris has diverse research interests and a portfolio interrogating both proximal and distal determinants of oral health and disease, ranging from genomics of oral health traits and behavioral sciences to health disparities and dental education. The core data-generating work is carried our via NIH grants U01-DE025046 (ZOE 2.0 study, “Genome-wide association study of early childhood caries”) and P01HD103133-02S2 (Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS); Biofilm multi-omics in the AMPU UP cohort-research supplement). I am a pediatric dentist with doctoral and postdoctoral training in oral and genetic epidemiology and interests in biological determinants of oral health and disease.

Brunk, Elizabeth
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Computational Biology, Genomics, Pharmacology, Structural Biology, Systems Biology, Translational Medicine

A growing body of work in the biomedical sciences generates and analyzes omics data; our lab’s work contributes to these efforts by focusing on the integration of different omics data types to bring mechanistic insights to the multi-scale nature of cellular processes. The focus of our research is on developing systems genomics approaches to study the impact of genomic variation on genome function. We have used this focus to study genetic and molecular variation in both natural and engineered cellular systems and approach these topics through the lens of computational biology, machine learning and advanced omics data integration. More specifically, we create methods to reveal functional relationships across genomics, transcriptomics, ribosome profiling, proteomics, structural genomics, metabolomics and phenotype variability data. Our integrative omics methods improve understanding of how cells achieve regulation at multiple scales of complexity and link to genetic and molecular variants that influence these processes. Ultimately, the goal of our research is advancing the analysis of high-throughput omics technologies to empower patient care and clinical trial selections. To this end, we are developing integrative methods to improve mutation panels by selecting more informative genetic and molecular biomarkers that match disease relevance.

Lin, Jessica
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Microbiology & Immunology

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

Dr. Lin is an infectious disease physician-scientist whose research lies at the interface of clinical and molecular studies on malaria. My current projects focus on 1) determinants of malaria transmission from human hosts to mosquitos and 2) the epidemiology and relapse patterns of Plasmodium ovale in East Africa. Work in my lab involves applying molecular tools (real-time PCR, amplicon deep sequencing, whole genome sequencing, and to a lesser extent antigen and antibody assays) to samples collected in clinical field studies to learn about malaria epidemiology, transmission, and pathogenesis.

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.

Merker, Jason
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Cancer Biology, Genomics, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine

Our laboratory is focused on translating novel molecular biomarkers into clinical oncology practice, with the overarching goal of improving the care and survival of patients with cancer. Our group is highly collaborative and applies genomic, genetic, bioinformatic, informatic, statistical, and molecular approaches. Current projects in the laboratory include:

  1. Correlative genomic testing to support clinical trials
  2. Expanded clinical applications of RNA sequencing
  3. Development and application of cell-free circulating tumor nucleic acid assays
Alkhawaja, Abdalla

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Genomics

Boyson, Sam

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology

Byun, Jess

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Genomics

McAfee, Jessica

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Genetics, Genomics, Neurobiology