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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Conrad, Shayla

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Immunology, Virology

“I am interested in the adaptive immune system in the context of viral infections and cancer. I want to investigate the fundamental biology of the adaptive immune response in these diseases and how we can leverage this knowledge to develop curative strategies. “

Chicz, Taras

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Immunology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Virology

“I am interested in studying host-pathogen interactions that underlie infectious disease state and recovery. To that end, viral pathology, immunovirology, and drug discovery are all research fields that I intend to pursue during graduate studies. The questions I would like to understand are what specific mechanisms viruses use in order to infect, replicate, and most importantly evade immunosuppression, and how we might be able to develop an immune response capable of countering such mechanisms. Ultimately, I hope my research will be able to uncover novel therapeutic strategies able to protect or cure against viruses.”

Berger, Harrison

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Engineering, Cell Signaling, Cell-Based Therapy, Immunology, Translational Medicine

“My scientific interest lies in the application of cell engineering to develop novel cell therapies. Synthetic receptors can be rationally designed to elicit novel functionality in cells, enabling improvements upon current cell-based platforms and therapies. Similar research generally involves the re-purposing of receptor domains or the involvement of synthetic gene circuits to facilitate cellular phenotype, stimuli responses, and other behaviors. The relevance of this research to a variety of indications, including cancers and autoimmune disorders, cannot be understated.”

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.

Pruitt, Kevin
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Cancer Biology, Cancer Genomics, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Epigenetics & Chromatin Biology, Immunology, Pharmacology

Pruitt lab research involves 3 broad areas. Interest in the first area (cancer epigenetics) stemmed from discoveries made during postdoctoral training assessing how tumor progression disrupts epigenetic mechanisms of control. The second area (Wnt pathway regulation) was the result of early screens as an Assistant Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center. We uncovered novel regulators of oncogenic Wnt signaling and published the first observation that epigenetic enzymes regulate a critical mediator of Wnt signaling (Dishevelled). The third project involves elucidating mechanisms of aromatase regulation which emerged from the obsession of early trainees in the lab with understanding mechanisms cancer-associated estrogen biosynthesis. Within the context of these three projects, I have mentored and guided multiple trainees at every level over the course of 17 years.

Graves, Christina
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Oral & Craniofacial Biomedicine

RESEARCH INTEREST
Gastrointestinal Biology, Immunology, Microscopy/Imaging, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Neurobiology, Organismal Biology

Fundamentally, our research is focused on how the nervous and immune systems are developmentally educated by infectious and non-infectious stressors across the “gum-to-gut” axis. One current major focus of the lab is to elucidate how early life stress impacts the developing gut and dentition using zebrafish as an ideal — and translational — model organism. We utilize a combination of advanced imaging, next-generation sequencing, and genetic approaches to achieve a greater understanding of how early life events dictate health outcomes across the lifespan and generations. In addition to these primary research interests, we maintain active collaborations with other groups within the Adams School of Dentistry and across campus.

Smeekens, Johanna
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Toxicology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Immunology, Toxicology, Translational Medicine

Our research focuses on investigating factors that contribute to the development of food allergy, with an emphasis on how we can manipulate these factors towards preventative and therapeutic strategies. Specifically, we aim to understand the role of environmental exposures, particularly early in life, in non-oral sensitization to foods that lead to allergy. We are also especially interested in testing novel therapeutics for food allergy that can induce tolerance, after allergy is already established. We utilize a combination of human samples and mouse models to address these goals.

Vetreno, Ryan

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Addiction/Alcohol Research, Aging/Alzheimer's, Behavior, Biochemistry, Brain Development, Developmental Biology, Disease, Epigenetics & Chromatin Biology, Immunology, Microbiome, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Neurobiology, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neuropharmacology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Regenerative Medicine

My research interests involve investigation of proinflammatory neuroimmune and epigenetic mechanisms in animal models of developmental neurobiology and neurodegeneration, including (1) alcohol pharmacology, (2) alcohol responsivity and tolerance, (3) adolescent neurodevelopment, (4) cholinergic system and neurocircuitry, (5) microglial function, and (6) Alzheimer’s disease. A major focus of the laboratory is elucidation of neuroimmune and epigenetic mechanisms underlying adolescent binge alcohol-induced disruption of basal forebrain cholinergic neurocircuitry in adulthood. A second major focus of the laboratory is investigation of lasting adolescent binge drinking-induced neuroimmune priming as a novel etiological factor contributing to the onset and progression of basal forebrain neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease. Our laboratory combines ex vivo and in vivo rodent models of alcohol abuse and Alzheimer’s disease with innovative molecular techniques.

Bartelt, Luther
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Microbiology & Immunology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Antibiotics/Antivirals, Bacteriology, Immunology, Metabolism, Microbiome, Model Organisms, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Translational Medicine, Virology

Our lab performs translational investigations of nutritional and microbiota determinants of host-pathogen interactions. We use gnotobiotic techniques (eg. germ free) mice to investigate complex microbe-microbe interactions in the context of host malnutrition, a common but poorly understood global health problem. Specific pathogens we model include Giardia (a ubiquitous parasite with unclear mechanisms of pathogenesis) and other intestinal parasites and multi drug resistant Enterobacterales (eg. Klebsiella). We work with several collaborators to translate findings in experimental models to outcomes in human cohorts. Emerging projects include determinants of host immune responses to mucosal viral infections and vaccines (eg. Polio and SARS-CoV-2).

Stanley, Natalie
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Immunology, Medical Imaging, Vaccine Development

We are a computational biology lab jointly located between the department of computer science and the computational medicine program. We develop new methods for automated, efficient, and unbiased analysis of immune profiling data, such as, flow cytometry, mass cytometry, and imaging mass cytometry. Our work specifically seeks to link particular immune cell-types and their functional responses to clinical or experimental phenotypes. Application areas of interest include, vaccine development, T-cell differentiation and designing more effective immunotherapies, neurodegenerative diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. To design scalable and automated tools for these data, we develop and apply new methods using machine learning and graph signal processing.