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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
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.

Corteselli, Elizabeth

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Toxicology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Pulmonary Research, Toxicology, Translational Medicine

Dr. Corteselli’s research aims to uncover the mechanisms by which exposure to air pollutants causes lung injury. Her lab uses advanced in vitro models, including lung organoids and precision cut lung slices, to investigate the effects of inhaled toxicants on airway epithelial cell function, with a focus on redox homeostasis and signaling.

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.

Liu, Qingyun

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology

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.

Khan, Shahzad
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Aging/Alzheimer's, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Neurobiology, Signal Transduction

Maintaining health and reducing disease-risk requires the brain to properly transduce signals across specialized regions and cell types. My lab studies neural signaling at the primary cilium, an antenna-like organelle that helps cells sense and respond to environmental cues. The function of primary cilia in the adult brain remains enigmatic. To probe cilia function, the lab will utilize mouse models, neural cultures, human brain samples, single-cell transcriptomics, proteomics, and microscopy. Ultimately, we aim to identify therapeutic targets for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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).

Okuda, Kenichi
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Pulmonary Research, Respiratory Physiology & Infections

We inhale about 10,000 L of air to take oxygen into our bodies every day. Along with the inhaled air, numerous pathogens, chemical pollutants, and other irritants are inhaled, which could pose potential life-threatening risks to our lungs. However, our lungs are protected by mucociliary clearance (MCC), a critical innate defense mechanism that is important for maintaining lung health. Okuda lab’s overall research interest focuses on how the MCC system is regulated to maintain homeostasis in the lung and how it fails in muco-obstructive lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis (CF), asthma, and COPD. Our previous work successfully characterized the regional expression patterns of major airway secretory mucins, MUC5AC/MUC5B, and CFTR/ionocytes in normal and CF human airways. These investigations provide insight into the small airway region (< 2 mm in diameter) as a critical site for pathogenesis of muco-obstructive lung diseases. We have developed a microdissection technique for human small airways and established in vitro and explant small airway epithelial cell cultures. We have combined these culture systems with single-cell-based omics approaches and gene editing technologies to understand cellular biology and physiology of the human small airways. In response to the emergent situation caused by SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Okuda lab has been also actively involved in COVID-19 research.

Edwards, Whitney

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cardiovascular Biology, Cardiovascular Disease, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Developmental Biology, Developmental Disorders, Disease, Genetic Basis of Disease, Metabolism, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

Our lab aims to identify the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying heart development and congenital heart disease. Our multifaceted approach includes primary cardiac cell culture, genetic mouse models, biochemical/molecular studies, and transcriptomics. Additionally, we employ proteomics-based methods to investigate 1) protein expression dynamics, 2) protein interaction networks, and 3) post-translational modifications (PTMs) in heart development. Current research projects focus on investigating the function of two essential PTMs in cardiogenesis: protein prenylation and palmitoylation.

Chen, Gang
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Pulmonary Research, Regenerative Medicine, Respiratory Physiology & Infections, Signal Transduction, Stem Cells

We use cutting edge technology to study pathogenesis of human pulmonary diseases including cystic fibrosis, Job’s syndrome, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis by both human specimens, mouse genetic models, with a goal of finding the therapies. Recently, we developed a serial of lung epithelial-lineage tracing systems, providing the powerful tools for identify mechanisms of lung disease involved in post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection, also known as “long COVID”, in collaboration with Dr. Ralph Baric’s Lab at UNC-CH.