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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Fedoriw, Yuri
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Immunology, Pathology, Translational Medicine

Our research interests focus on the immunologic and genetic mechanisms of lymphomagenesis, particularly in the setting of HIV infection. While hematologic malignancies and lymphoproliferative disorders in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) arise under intrinsic and extrinsic pressures very different from those in the United States, comprehensive analyses of these diseases have not been performed. We use advanced sequencing, immunophenotypic and cellular analyses to address gaps in our understanding of lymphomagenesis and tumor microenvironment in the context of HIV-associated immune dysregulation, with the goal of translation to clinical care and future clinical trials.

Williams, Morika
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Early life and adult pain can have drastic effects on neurodevelopment and overall quality of life. In the Williams’ Pain, Aging, and Interdisciplinary Neurobehavioral (P.A.I.N.) Lab, our research focuses on behavioral neuroscience and the mechanisms of neurobiology and neurophysiology of pain processing, with a special emphasis on the neonatal. The ultimate research goal is to better understand, recognize, and alleviate pain in the newborn to improve the quality of life in adulthood by uncovering new assessment tools and interventional strategies. Our research interests include the mechanisms of neurobiology and neurophysiology of pain processing, neonatal pain, chronic pain, neurobehavior, osteoarthritis, translational medicine, anesthesia/analgesics, and evoked and non-evoked pain assessment tools. The P.A.I.N. Lab has both pre-clinical and clinical studies to help close the gap in translation.

Freeman, Ronit
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Applied Physical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Nanomedicine, Translational Medicine

My lab focuses on developing bioinspired molecular constructs and material platforms that can mimic proteins and be programmed to respond to stimuli resulting from biomolecular recognition. Major efforts are directed to design peptide- and nucleic acid-based scaffolds or injectable nanostructures to create artificial extracellular matrices that can directly signal cells.

Miller, Brian
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Systems Biology, Translational Medicine

The Miller lab is working to improve the efficacy of immunotherapy to treat cancer. We aim to develop personalized immunotherapy approaches based on a patient’s unique cancer mutations. We have a particular interest in myeloid cells, a poorly understood group of innate immune cells that regulate nearly all aspects of the immune response. Using patient samples, mouse models, single-cell profiling, and functional genomics approaches, we are working to identify novel myeloid-directed therapies that allow us to overcome resistance and successfully treat more patients.

Fenton, Owen

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Nanomedicine, Translational Medicine

The broad aim of research in the Fenton Laboratory is to develop and evaluate synthetic drug delivery platforms to treat neurodegenerative disorders in the brain using RNA therapeutics. RNA therapeutics represent a particularly promising class of therapeutics for neurodegenerative management given their ability to tune levels of specific protein expression in living systems. For example, protein downregulation can be achieved by administering short interfering RNAs (siRNAs); alternatively, proteins can be upregulated by messenger RNA (mRNA) administration. Despite this promise, fewer than 0.05% of the world’s clinically approved drugs are RNA therapeutics, and their translation to neurodegenerative disorders in the brain warrants further study at the fundamental and clinical levels.

To address these challenges, our group focuses on the discovery and development of molecular carriers and technology platforms to improve the targeting, safety, and efficacy of RNA drugs within target cells. Specifically, our group leverages an interdisciplinary approach to develop lipid nanoparticles (LNP) as well as soft matter hydrogel platforms that can serve as carrier systems and/or drug delivery models for RNA drugs. Further, our group also explores the development of technological platforms to further expand the potential of RNA drugs within resource limited settings. Lastly, given that mRNA drugs can be engineered to encode for virtually any polypeptide or protein based antigen, our group also aims to leverage our platformable LNP technologies for the study and prevention of cancers and infectious disease. In undertaking such an approach, the goal of our research is to equip students with fundamental skillsets for the development of next generation drugs while simultaneously developing clinically-relevant carrier platforms and technologies for the study, prevention, and treatment of human disease.

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.

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.

Mock, Jason
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Microbiology & Immunology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Immunology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Our research interests focus on investigating the reparative processes critical to the resolution of acute lung injury. Acute events such as pneumonia, inhalational injury, trauma, or sepsis often damage the lung, impeding its primary function, gas exchange. The clinical syndrome these events can lead to is termed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a common pulmonary disease often seen and treated in intensive care units. Despite decades of research into the pathogenesis underlying the development of ARDS, mortality remains high. Our laboratory has built upon exciting observations by our group and others on the importance of how the lung repairs after injury. One type of white blood cell, the Foxp3+ regulatory T cell (Treg), appears essential in resolving ARDS in experimental models of lung injury–through modulating immune responses and enhancing alveolar epithelial proliferation and tissue repair. Importantly, Tregs are present in patients with ARDS, and our lab has found that subsets of Tregs may play a role in recovery from ARDS.

Coelho, Jenny

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Genetics, Immunology, Translational Medicine