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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Jiang, Guochun
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Chemical Biology, Drug Discovery, Immunology, Metabolism, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Neurobiology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine, Virology

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in suppressing HIV-1 replication in the periphery, however, it fails to eradicate HIV-1 reservoirs in patients. The main barrier for HIV cure is the latent HIV-1, hiding inside the immune cells where no or very low level of viral particles are made. This prevents our immune system to recognize the latent reservoirs to clear the infection. The main goal of my laboratory is to discover the molecular mechanisms how HIV-1 achieves its latent state and to translate our understanding of HIV latency into therapeutic intervention.

Several research programs are undertaking in my lab with a focus of epigenetic regulation of HIV latency, including molecular mechanisms of HIV replication and latency establishment, host-virus interaction, innate immune response to viral infection, and the role of microbiome in the gut health. Extensive in vitro HIV latency models, ex vivo patient latency models, and in vivo patient and rhesus macaque models of AIDS are carried out in my lab. Multiple tools are applied in our studies, including RNA-seq, proteomics, metabolomics, highly sensitive digital droplet PCR and tissue RNA/DNAscope, digital ELISA, and modern and traditional molecular biological and biochemical techniques. We are also very interested in how non-CD4 expression cells in the Central Nervous System (CNS) get infected by HIV-1, how the unique interaction among HIV-1, immune cells, vascular cells, and neuron cells contributes to the initial seeding of latent reservoirs in the CNS, and whether we can target the unique viral infection and latency signaling pathways to attack HIV reservoirs in CNS for a cure/remission of HIV-1 and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). We have developed multiple tools to attack HIV latency, including latency reversal agents for “Shock and Kill” strategy, such as histone deacetylase inhibitors and ingenol family compounds of protein kinase C agonists, and latency enforcing agents for deep silencing of latent HIV-1. Several clinical and pre-clinical studies are being tested to evaluate their potential to eradicate latent HIV reservoirs in vivo. We are actively recruiting postdocs, visiting scholars, and technicians. Rotation graduate students and undergraduate students are welcome to join my lab, located in the UNC HIV Cure Center, for these exciting HIV cure research projects.

Baker, Rick
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Molecular Biology, Structural Biology

Our lab is interested in the mechanisms of membrane trafficking in eukaryotic cells. Using a combination of biochemistry, in vitro reconstitution, and structural biology, we seek to understand how protein complexes assemble to bend and perturb membranes during vesicle budding (endocytosis) and vesicle fusion (exocytosis). Our group also specializes in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and we use semi-native substrates (nanodiscs, liposomes) to visualize complexes engaged with the membrane.

Azcarate-Peril, M. Andrea
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Nutrition

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bacteriology, Bioinformatics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Systems Biology

We are interested in determining the mechanisms involved in the beneficial modulation of the gut microbiota by prebiotics (functional foods that stimulate growth of gut native beneficial bacteria) and probiotics (live bacteria that benefit their host). Specifically, we aim to develop prebiotic and probiotic interventions as alternatives to traditional treatments for microbiota-health related conditions, and to advance microbiota-based health surveillance methods.

Isaeva, Natalia
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology, Molecular & Cellular Pathology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Translational Medicine

The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) has significantly elevated in the last years and continues to increase; however, despite the continuous rise of HPV-related OPSCC, molecular mechanisms of how HPV promotes OPSCC are not well defined. Our ongoing research projects focus on understanding the role of HPV in the development, maintenance, and progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). These discoveries are leveraged to identify and test novel therapeutic strategies that exploit susceptibilities of HPV-associated HNSCC.

Jensen, Brian
WEBSITE
EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cardiovascular Biology, Metabolism, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Our lab uses cell culture and animal models to define the mechanisms that lead to heart failure and to identify novel approaches to its treatment.  We are particularly interested in the roles of inflammation and cardiomyocyte metabolism in the pathobiology of the failing heart. Ongoing projects focus on (1) the cardioprotective role of the alpha-1A adrenergic receptor; (2) transcriptional regulation by the nuclear receptor ROR-alpha; (3) cardiotoxicity of antineoplastic kinase inhibitors.

Gupta, Gaorav
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EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics, Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Translational Medicine

Our lab studies pathways that regulate genome instability in cancer, which is a cancer hallmark associated with clinically aggressive disease. We utilize CRISPR-enhanced murine models of breast cancer to interrogate the impact of DNA damage response gene mutations on cancer pathogenesis and therapeutic susceptibility. We have identified an alternative DNA double strand break repair pathway as a driver of genome instability in a subset of breast cancers, and are investigating its potential as a therapeutic target.  We also study how deficiencies in DNA repair can impact responsiveness to immunotherapy. Finally, we have developed sensitive assays for detecting circulating tumor DNA (i.e., “liquid biopsy”) in cancer patients, with an interest in validating predictive biomarkers for personalized cancer therapy.  These translational studies are currently being performed in patients with breast cancer and cancers that arise in the head/neck.

Chorley, Brian
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EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Toxicology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Systems Biology, Toxicology

The long-term goal of my research is to incorporate ‘omic (genomic, epigenomic, proteomic, etc.) measurements into environmental human health hazard identification, prioritization and risk assessment using a quantitative and interpretable biological systems framework. Thus, short-term goals have been to develop the molecular tools to investigate key biological events, and measurable biomarkers linked to those events, related to important disease processes that are impacted by environmental chemical exposures, such as liver and lung toxicity.  We have focused recent efforts on early-in-life genomic and epigenetic alterations and linkages to latent adverse outcome susceptibility due to commons exposures, genetics, and pre-existing conditions. Our laboratory uses cutting edge techniques such as gene editing tools including CRISPR-based methods; next generation nucleic acid-based sequencing to probe the genome and epigenome; advance, high-throughput microscopy; targeted RNA, DNA, and non-coding RNA measurements such as digital drop PCR and Fireplex; and advanced in vitro models.

Zannas, Anthony
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EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

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

RESEARCH INTEREST
Computational Biology, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Translational Medicine

Psychosocial stress is abundant in modern societies and, when chronic or excessive, can have detrimental effects on our bodies. But how exactly does stress “get under the skin?” Our lab examines how stress shapes the human epigenome as age advances. Epigenetic changes are a set of chemical modifications that regulate gene transcription without altering the genetic code itself. We examine how lasting epigenetic patterns result from stressful experiences, accrue throughout life, and can in turn shape health or disease trajectories. We address these questions through a translational approach that combines large-scale analyses in human cohorts with mechanistic work in cellular models. We use both bioinformatics and wet lab tools. Our passion is to promote creative team work, offer strong mentorship, and foster scientific growth.

Diekman, Brian
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Stem Cells, Translational Medicine

A major focus of the Diekman lab is to develop new strategies to limit age-related osteoarthritis (OA).  The lab uses genetically-engineered mouse models to investigate the development of cellular senescence in joint tissues with physiologic aging.  One goal of this work is to determine whether “senolytic” compounds that induce selective apoptosis in senescent cells will mitigate OA development.  Our group has also developed genome-editing protocols for primary human chondrocytes to produce single-cell derived colonies with homozygous knockout of target genes.  We are using engineered tissues from these cells to dissect the mechanism of genes implicated in OA development by genome-wide association studies, as well as coupling these technologies to high throughput screening approaches for OA drug discovery.

Dominguez, Daniel
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Signaling, Computational Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Pharmacology

The Dominguez lab studies how gene expression is controlled by proteins that bind RNA. RNA binding proteins control the way RNAs are transcribed, spliced, polyadenylated, exported, degraded, and translated. Areas of research include: (1) Altered RNA-protein interactions in cancer; (2) RNA binding by noncanonical domains; and (3) Cell signaling and RNA processing.