College of Medicine Participating Faculty

Anatomy & Cell Biology 

John P. Aris, Ph.D.

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

We study mechanisms of aging that operate at the cellular and molecular level.  Currently, we use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model eukaryotic cell for our studies.  Our recent experiments have focused on the role of amino acid homeostasis in yeast chronological longevity.

Jun Cai, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

My research has concentrated on the regulatory mechanisms of pathological angiogenesis. I made a number of novel and important findings. Such breakthroughs include a) identifying the role of placenta growth factor (PlGF-one member of VEGF family) as a survival factor to remodel and sustain newly-formed vessels by binding to VEGF receptor-1 (VEGFR1) at the later stages of angiogenesis and b) elucidating the mechanism by which pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), a natural potent angiogenic inhibitor, exerts its inhibitory effects on VEGF-induced angiogenesis via the γ-secretase regulated cleavage and intracellular translocation of VEGFR1. These novel studies have been fundamental in providing evidence that VEGFR1 plays an active role in the regulation of angiogenesis. The clinical achievement with angiogenesis inhibitors in cancer treatment is a milestone in the field of angiogenesis research. However, the clinical benefits are transitory and are followed by a restoration of tumor growth and progression. Recently my research interest is expended on establishing research programs centered in the mechanistic basis of this apparent resistance for the therapeutic targeting of tumor angiogenesis. This year I have been awarded a New Investigator Grant from the BankHead Coley Cancer Program. Within the next three or four years I will focus on studying the underlying mechanisms of the strategies adapted by angiogenic-stimulated endothelial cells to perpetuate aberrant angiogenesis within tumor microenvironment, which may will provide some alternative points of therapeutic intervention in anti-angiogenesis strategies.

Yehia Daaka, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair / Anatomy and Cell Biology

  • Email
  • Tel: 352-273-8112

A focus of our research is to characterize molecular mechanisms of mitogenic signal transduction initiated by the ubiquitous G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), with the goal of elucidating novel approaches for intervention in human pathophysiologic processes with special emphasis on genitourinary (e.g. prostate and kidney) cancers.  Specifically, we are using molecular, cellular, and animal models to elucidate the role of the GPCRs and their effectors G proteins and βArrestins in the progression of prostate cancer from androgen-dependent to androgen-independent state, and in the metastasis of kidney cancer. A second line of investigation in the laboratory is centered on studying mechanisms involved in vesicle trafficking, with emphasis on the G proteins dynamin that support constriction and fission of vesicles from the plasma membrane into the cytosol. We have discovered that dynamin is post-translationally modified by tyrosine phosphorylation and S-nitrosylation and we are studying the effect of these modifications on its function in active receptor endocytosis and uptake of infectious bacteria and viruses.

William A. Dunn, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

  • Phone: 352-273-9007
  • Email

Cells are capable of surviving environmental stresses and chemical insult by promoting autophagy that degrades endogenous proteins within lysosomes for recycling of amino acids and sugars.  This pathway has also be shown to promote cell survival by removing damaged organelles and intracellular pathogens.  Furthermore, dysfunctional autophagy has been implicated in aging, tumor growth, and in the progression of macular degeneration and neurodegenerative diseases.  We are collaborating with other UF laboratories to better define the role of autophagy in these diseased states.  Autophagy has been shown to have a major role in tumor growth and in the resistance of cancerous tissue to chemotherapy.  This degradative pathway recycles nutrients required for tumor growth and provides the cell an avenue for chemotherapy resistance by removing mitochondria that have been damaged by these agents.  Autophagy is an essential homeostatic pathway that protects the cells.  However, uncontrolled autophagy can result in cell death.  We have been collaborating with Dr Law to identify compounds that will suppress or enhance autophagy.  We have identified a number of potential compounds that can inhibit key regulatory proteins of autophagy.  The effectiveness of these compounds to inhibit or activate autophagy in osteosarcoma, hepatoma, and glioblastoma cell lines is now being assessed by biochemical and morphological means.  The next stage will be to evaluate the effects of these compounds on tumor growth in xenograph models.   We project these studies will provide new avenues for drug design and therapeutic intervention that will modulate autophagy thereby limiting tumor growth and enhancing chemotherapy susceptibility.

Alexander M. Ishov, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and Shands Cancer Center

Research Interests: Chemotherapy resistance and new treatments in breast and prostate cancer; chromatin organization and epigenetic.

Daiqing Liao, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy an Cell Biology

Deregulation of cellular pathways in transformation and cancer, focusing on how viral oncogenes perturb cellular regulatory circuitry; Molecular genetics of tandemly repeated genes. Students are expected to learn to use cutting-edge techniques in molecular cell biology and genetics for the research project.

Paul J. Linser, Ph.D.

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Zoology, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences and Entomology and Nematology

To date we have characterized 8 of the 12 carbonic anhydrases encoded in the mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) genome. Comprehensive gene expression profiling (i.e. DNA micro array analyses) has also been generated which provides the big pictureof gene expression in relation to homeostasis in the various cell types of the larval gut. New emphases that have emerged from the big picture analyses included a focus on gut function in mediating innate immunity, the role of the salivary glands in gut function and homeostatic ion balance as a function of the activity of the hindgut (rectum) of larvae.

Nadja Makki, Ph.D.

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-9550

The Makki lab studies Complex Diseases & Gene Regulation ( We focus on characterizing non-coding regulatory variants, genetic networks and molecular pathways underlying complex diseases of the connective tissue. Currently we are focusing our efforts on studying idiopathic scoliosis, the most common musculoskeletal disorder of childhood, leading to sideways curvature of the spine. Our goal is to discover novel regulatory mechanisms underlying this diseases by identifying gene regulatory elements such as enhancers and understanding how mutations in these elements lead to human diseases. In addition, we study the genetic networks that the associated genes are involved in and dissect the molecular and cellular processes underlying disease pathogenesis.

Satya Narayan, Ph.D.

Anatomy and Cell Biology

Mechanism of colorectal carcinogenesis – Recently, for the first time, we have implicated a novel role of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) in base excision repair (BER). We hypothesized that, after DNA damage, APC level increases and interacts with DNA polymerase beta and flap-endonuclease 1 and blocks BER. Thus, the compromised BER results in the accumulation of mutations that might be a triggering point for the neoplastic transformation of colorectal epithelial cells.

Mechanism of cigarette smoke carcinogen-induced breast carcinogenesis – In recent studies, we have shown that cigarette smoke condensate-treated normal breast epithelial cells gained a growth advantage over untreated cells in vitro and in vivo. Our long-term goal is to establish the mechanism by which cigarette smoke condensate induces breast carcinogenesis.

Chemotherapeutic intervention of colorectal and breast cancers – Currently, we are actively developing structure-based designing of novel small molecular weight inhibitors to combat these deadly diseases.  Several lead compounds have been identified and their usefulness has been proven both in vitro and in vivo studies.

Maria Zajac-Kaye, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology; Affiliate appointment in the Department of Medicine

  • Email
  • Tel: 352 273-9153

My research interests focus on understanding mechanisms of oncogenic transformation. We have recently studied the role of thymidylate synthase (TS) in tumorigenesis since TS plays a central role in DNA synthesis/repair and high levels of TS have correlated with a poor prognostic outcome in patients with lung, pancreas, colon, and rectal carcinomas. We demonstrated that ectopic expression of catalytically active human TS (hTS) was sufficient to induce a transformed phenotype in mammalian cells both in culture and in transgenic models confirming that it serves as a bona fide cancer therapeutic target. Our current work is focused on defining patterns of cooperation between TS and other cancer genes using a series of defined mouse models. Our goal is to use these transgenic animals to study the in vivo consequences of elevated TS on DNA stability, to test how this relates to tumorigenesis, and to improve the use of TS as a biomarker and therapeutic target.


Anatoly E. Martynyuk, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Department of Anesthesiology

  • Email
  • Telephone: (352) 846-1553

Mechanisms mediating the adverse actions of general anesthetics in the early stages after birth. We test the hypothesis that systemic actions of sevoflurane and isoflurane and resulting neurohumoral and inflammatory signaling are necessary elements in the mechanisms mediating acute and long-term developmental abnormalities caused by the anesthetics in neonates.

Daryl L. Reust, M.D.

Department of Anesthesiology

Research interests:

  1. Application of machine learning/artificial neural networks to address the diagnosis and treatment of coagulopathies. Candidates will need have an aptitude for data analysis and computer programming.
  2. Perioperative coagulation testing and treatment.  Candidates will need have an aptitude for data analysis and to learn about coagulation mechanisms at the molecular level.

Steven Robicsek, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Anesthesiology

My research interests are in (1) mechanisms and management of secondary injury in patients with traumatic brain injury (2) prevention, detection and management of spinal cord ischemia.

Soleil Schutte, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor with the Department of Anesthesiology 

I am interested in regional anesthisa and perioperative pain management. My research interests include the teaching difficult spinal and epidural,  safety of neuraxial procedures in the setting of anticoagulants use and peripheral nerve block related injuries. 

Kevin J. Sullivan, M.D.

The Congenital Heart Center and Department of Anesthesiology

  • Email
  • Division Phone: 352-273-5422

The Congenital Heart Center at the University of Florida provides comprehensive cardiology and cardiac surgical care to patients ranging from preterm infants, through early childhood and into young adulthood. Care rendered includes correction of congenital heart defects, heart and lung transplantation, and medical management of cardiac disease. Care is rendered in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the north Tower and involves all aspects of critical care medicine including artificial heart support, dialysis, and ventilator support. Operative repairs and cardiac catheterization occur in the operating room and the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

Patient outcomes and Quality and Safety Assurance is increasingly recognized as a cornerstone of evidence based medicine, and is a required activity for many physician leaders.The Congenital Heart Center is conducting numerous Quality and Safety studies to track and improve the peri-operative care of this very fragile patient population. The student who wishes to work within our division will have the opportunity to choose between over thirty Quality/Safety initiatives that range from small to large, and simple to complex. As the interested student participates in these activities they will be exposed to all aspects of pediatric cardiac surgery, anesthesia, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric critical care medicine. Finally, students will participate in the formation of recommendations for changes in the processes used to care for our patients.

Patrick Tighe, M.D.

Department of Anesthesiology

Over 60% of surgical patients will suffer from severe acute postoperative pain. While effective non-opioid interventions exist to significantly minimize or even prevent this suffering, such therapies can carry significant costs and risks if not matched to appropriate patients. Our lab applies a variety of machine learning techniques to characterize and forecast severe acute postoperative pain. Active experiments involve content and sentiment analysis of social media, social network analysis, and machine learning of clinical data from UF Health in order to improve our understanding and prediction of severe acute postoperative pain.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Linda Bloom, Ph.D.

Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 294-8379

Research Interests: Our research interests are in DNA replication and repair. We are working on defining molecular mechanisms by which the replication machinery duplicates genomes to support normal cell division, and mechanisms by which the replisome responds to DNA damage that is encountered during replication. In addition to defining these biochemical pathways, we are using what we have learned to work towards the development of antibiotics that target bacterial DNA replication.

Melike Caglayan, Ph.D.

Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Our research interest is DNA repair. We are working on elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which the oxidative DNA damage is repaired by multi-protein repair proteins complex. The lab uses a combination of biochemistry, structure/function studies, and molecular biology approaches to understand how DNA repair proteins involved in maintaining genomic stability are deregulated or mutated in cancer cells in hopes of beneficially impacting the treatment and/or prevention of human diseases.

Chen Zhao

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-8385

Cells rely on membrane proteins to faithfully detect and transduce extracellular signals. These membrane proteins comprise more than 60% of current drug targets. My lab aims to utilize structural biology tools (primarily cryo-EM) to characterize the molecular mechanisms of these membrane proteins during signal transduction. We will combine structural observations with functional analyses such as electrophysiology, fluorescence microscopy and Ca2+ imaging to understand how membrane protein structures are correlated with physiology and diseases.

Now it is an exciting time to join us on this journey. On top of the unprecedented popularity of cryo-EM, we just developed a new method that allows us to look at membrane protein structures in cell membrane environments. We are now ready to apply this new method to a large variety of membrane proteins, and we need your help to make this happen!

Nancy D. Denslow, Ph.D.

Scientist, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-9665

I am interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which environmental contaminants act as endocrine disruptors and affect biological systems. We use fish as a model for our studies because they are present in the rivers and lakes that are polluted by these compounds. The project would include protein analyses and western blots, isolation of mRNA, northern blotting with appropriate probes and the determination of the extent of induction of specific genes.

Matthew Gentry, Ph.D.

Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Gentry is a prominent brain metabolism scientist who has made seminal discoveries in the realm of brain glycogen and glucose metabolism and how perturbations in these pathways impact neuro-centric diseases. Gentry has nearly 20 years of experience working on glycogen storage diseases (GSD) and has been continuously funded by NIH since 2007 via a K99/R00, multiple R01 grants, and a recent R35 that focuses on Brain Glycogen – Metabolism, Mechanisms, and Therapeutic Potential. He has also been continuously funded by NSF since receiving a NSF CAREER award in 2013 to study the enzymology of metabolic enzymes. His lab now works on a number of neurological GSDs, Alzheimer’s disease, and the role of glycogen in lung cancer. The lab focuses on defining disease mechanisms, pre-clinical drugs and clinical biomarkers. Gentry was awarded the 2014 NIH IDeA Thomas Maciag Award and the 2018 NINDS Landis Award for outstanding mentoring. He serves on multiple NIH, NSF, and foundation study sections. He is a Journal of Biological Chemistry Editorial Board member and a Council Member for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He is also a science advisor for the Lafora disease patient advocacy group, Glut1 Deficiency Syndrome Foundation, and Adult Polyglucosan Body Disease Foundation in addition to several for-profit companies.

Michael S. Kilberg, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • Phone:  392-2711

We are investigating transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of several human genes in response to nutrient stress; either protein/amino acid deprivation, which activates the Amino Acid Response signaling pathway or ER stress, which activates the Unfolded Protein Response pathway.  For example, genomic analysis of the human asparagine synthetase (ASNS) gene has allowed us to identify several genomic cis-acting sequences, the corresponding transcription factors, and the assembly mechanisms of the general transcriptional machinery that are responsible for nutrient-dependent transcriptional control.  These data have led us to focus on the molecular control of the genes for the nutrient-responsive transcription factors themselves, to understand the mechanisms for “regulation of the regulators.”  Among these transcription factors are ATF4, ATF3, C/EBPb, JUN, FOS, and NF-kB.

Zhipeng Li, Ph.D.

Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 294-8382

Our lab employs gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR, high-throughput functional genomics, small molecule drug screens, and confocal microscopy, to investigate mechanisms underlying the maintenance of redox homeostasis in human cancer (and, soon, neurodegenerative diseases). We are particularly interested in the following areas:1. Roles and regulations of selenium in human cancers.2. Functions of selenoproteins in regulating redox homeostasis. 3. The regulation of lipid peroxidation during ferroptosis.4.  Ferroptosis vulnerability in human cancers.5. The control of protein quality under selenium deficient condition.

Joanna R. Long, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Director, Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging & Spectroscopy Facility

  • Email
  • TEL: (352)846-1506

My research focuses developing magnetic resonance techniques for monitoring proteins, lipids, and metabolites in situ and in vivo to gain a molecular level understanding of their complex behaviors. Current projects include: 1) the structure, dynamics and function of lung surfactant peptides which traffic lipids in pulmonary surfactant; 2) The development of dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) to examine metabolic flux in vivo; 3) the structure and assembly of proteins in fibril formation and biofilm stabilization; 4) Developing DNP approaches for studying membrane protein structure

 Jianrong Lu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Our research is aimed at understanding the mechanisms and functions of epigenetic regulations in cancer metastasis. In particular, we focus on histone post-translational modifications at the E-cadherin gene, which encodes for a suppressor of metastasis and is frequently inactivated in cancer.

Thomas H. Mareci, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-5348

Our research focuses on the study of tissue structure, function, and biochemical processes in brain accessible to study with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. To provide a detailed understanding of the brain, we are performing detailed investigations of biophysical processes at the cellular and tissue level, along with the development of NMR measurement, processing methods, and specialized hardware.  Our current projects are focused on structure and function in the brain: 1) We are using NMR measurements of water translational diffusion in tissue to map fibers in highly structured white matter in the brain and constructing a network map of brain structure, and 2) we are NMR measurements of brain function to estimate functional connectivity.  The results of these two projects will then be combined to relate structure to function in the brain. We are particularly interest in students with experience or expertise in writing data processing code in languages like, C, MATLAB, or Python.

Robert McKenna

Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


My lab employs a multi-disciplinary approaches using structural biology (i.e. SAX, SAN, X-ray and neutron crystallography, Cryo-EM, and in silico modeling), and biophysical methods (circular dichroism (CD) and calorimetry (ITC and DSC)), to examine how the structures of macromolecular molecules (proteins and viruses) are inter-related with the function of the biological processes they perform.

Matthew E. Merritt, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

My lab focuses on using magnetic resonance based methods to measure metabolic flux quantitatively, in systems ranging from cell culture to whole animals.

Mingyi Xie, Ph.D.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-8171

The Xie Lab’s research interest is to decipher biogenesis pathways that generate RNAs essential for gene expression in metazoans and associated Herpesviruses. Our current focus is on microRNAs, small non-coding RNA molecules that control the function of other genes. In the near future, we will integrate approaches from biochemistry, cell biology, virology and bioinformatics to study viral and cellular non-canonical microRNA biogenesis pathways, which surprisingly incorporate several fundamental cellular machineries involved in processing other classes of RNAs. Our efforts will provide a better basis for developing novel therapeutics that alter microRNA levels to combat a variety of diseases, including Herpesvirus-induced malignancies and other cancers.

Community Health & Family Medicine

Danielle Nelson, MD MPH

Dept. of Community Health & Family Medicine

Use of EHR in improving accuracy of ordering and in improving rates of health maintenance /preventive care, chronic disease management (especially diabetes), and optimization of EHR to improve provider satisfaction and efficiency.

Emergency Medicine

Marie-Carmelle Elie, M.D.

Dept. of Emergency Medicine

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-265-5911, 352-265-8075

My area of research focuses on improved diagnostics and the prevention of organ dysfunction associated with critical illnesses such as sepsis and shock. The ability of a clinician to avert disease is directly related to whether they can reliably discern which of their many patients are at risk. In the emergency department, prevention is underemphasized. Tools, such as biomarkers and risk stratification calculators,that reliably predict the development of conditions such as severe sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute renal failure are underutilized. The consequence is often related to poor outcomes that require prolonged ventilator support, renal replacement therapy, and other resources that impact quality of life, the cost of healthcare, and survival.  Current clinical trials enroll emergency department patients with severe illness in an effort to prevent the progression of their disease.

Kevin K.W. Wang, Ph.D.

Director, Program for Neurotrauma, Neuroproteomics & Biomarkers Research (NNBR).
Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Wang current research focuses on (i) novel temporal “omic” biomarkers to study the subphenotypes of traumatic brain injury and manifestation into chronic neurodegeneration in both animal model and human studies; (ii) animal model and therapeutic intervention of post-TBI tauopathy and TDP43 proteinopathy; and (iii) Exploiting the use of biofluid-based biomarkers in combination of MRI-neuroimaging markers as new novel drug development tools (Theranostics biomarkers).

Zhihui Yang, Ph.D.

Dept. of Emergency Medicine

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-5233

My research involves CNS disorders-linked proteolytic enzymes, neuroproteomics, disease biomarker discovery, diagnostics and therapeutic development.  In this field, Dr. Yang utilizes an advanced multidimensional neuroproteomics  biology and neuroimage platforms to investigate differential markers of central nervous injury that will be translated into clinical settings. She focuses on the translational research involving TBI, stroke, AD-related brain injury animal models as well as clinic trails.


Natalie Chichetto, PhD, MSW

Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology

I am a formally trained social worker and epidemiologist in the area of Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine. My primary focus as an epidemiologist is investigating the health implications of common behavioral health syndemics, particularly concurrent unhealthy alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and depressive symptoms. I am specifically interested in bridging the gap between mechanistic research and implementation science by focusing on biologically-informed pathways (e.g. the gut microbiome) for interventions to reduce inflammation, and by extension end organ disease (e.g., CVD) in those with syndemic behavioral conditions.

Robert L. Cook, MD, MPH

Department of Epidemiology

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-5869

I am the Associate Director for the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research; we are interested in evaluating health effects (both benefits and potential harms) from persons who are using medical marijuana in Florida.  I also direct the Southern HIV Alcohol Research Consortium; our research seeks to study the intersections of substance use, mental health, and HIV infection.  Our research focuses on the range of factors involved in HIV care engagement and successful HIV viral suppression.   We also have some projects that are more focused on the connections between the gut microbiome and brain health in persons with HIV infection.

Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., MPH, FACE

Department of Epidemiology

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-5947

Research interests include addiction, community based research, global health, mentoring pedagogy and health disparities. Current projects include assessment of polysubstance use, community outreach in rural counties focused on memory disorder screening, and the landmark Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study following 455 children at the UF site.

Volker Mai, Ph.D.

Department of Epidemiology

  • Emerging Pathogens Institute, 2055 Mowry Rd., Room 373
  • Email

My research interests include the correlations between diet, gut microbiota and human health with a focus on cancer epidemiology and infectious enteric disease.

Drew A. Westmoreland, Ph.D.

Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Westmoreland’s research focuses on sexual behavior associated with HIV/STI risk and prevention including the role that social and structural contexts play in influencing sexual behavior. Her current research centers the intersection of alcohol/substance use and sexual health behavior culminating in her NIAAA funded K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award investigating the impacts of alcohol use and misuse on daily PrEP (pill form) adherence. Additionally, Dr. Westmoreland has research interests and experience in the use of technology to conduct research and disseminate interventions to hard-to-reach populations, in LGBTQ+ health disparities, in applied social network analysis, and in survey research methodology.

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Jiang Bian, Ph.D.

Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Contact: 352-273–8878

Social media and social web, consumer health, semantics of health knowledge and semantic web technology, data science and data-driven health research, data privacy, and network science.

Michelle Cardel, Ph.D., R.D.

Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Background: Obesity and cardiometabolic risk disproportionately affects Hispanic American (HA) adolescents relative to their white counterparts. The reasons for such differences appear to be both biological (physiological) and non-biological (environmental). Socioeconomic status (SES) has been consistently used as a proxy for environmental exposure, and an association between lower SES, obesity and cardiometabolic risk has been demonstrated during adolescence and adulthood. In adolescents, recent studies are demonstrating that perceptions of social status are better indicators of obesity risk than traditional SES. However, the nature of perceived social status and its relationship to eating behavior and obesity risk are poorly understood. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of manipulation of social status condition on eating behavior and obesity risk in 15-18 year old Hispanics.

Hypothesis: Adolescents will consume a greater number of calories, fat, and sugar following the low social status condition when compared to the high social status condition. Obese adolescents will consume a greater number of calories, fat, and sugar following the low social status condition when compared to normal weight adolescents.

Methods: This aim will be accomplished using a randomized crossover design to place adolescents in experimental high and low social status conditions. We will evaluate how much adolescents eat in an ad libitum buffet meal following the manipulation of social status.

Role of medical student: The medical student(s) will be expected to assist in the data collection and data analysis to examine the role of psychosocial outcomes on eating behavior and obesity risk in youth.  Expected outcomes include a poster presentation at UF and possibly national meetings and manuscript preparation. In addition, the student(s) will gain joint mentorship and exposure from faculty with the Institute for Child Health Policy, the Department of Health Psychology, the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, and the Department of Pediatrics.

Funding and relevant publications: Current internal efforts by Health Outcomes and Policy allow for this integrated research. Previous funding for pilot study allotted from University of Colorado and University of Alabama’s Nutrition Obesity Research Centers.

  1. Cardel MI, Johnson SL, Beck J, Dhurandhar E, Keita AD, Tomczik A, Pavela G, Huo T, Janicke D, Peters JC, Hill JO, Allison DB. The Influence of Experimentally Manipulating Social Status on Acute Eating Behavior: A Pilot Study. Physiology and Behavior (under review as of December 1, 2015).
  2. Cardel M, Bellows L, Boles RE, Davies P, Gavin W, and SL Johnson. Self-Concept and Obesity Risk in Low Income Diverse Preschoolers. Presented as an oral presentation at American Society of Nutrition, 2015.

Matthew J. Gurka, Ph.D.

Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-627-9088

I am leading, along with faculty in PHHP and CLAS, one of 25 sites associated with the National Institutes of Health’s HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Study, a longitudinal, multidisciplinary effort to study brain development and behavioral health in young children. The HBCD study will enroll thousands of pregnant women and their babies and follow them through early childhood to identify trajectories of brain development. The primary aims of the study is to gain a deeper understanding of the normal variability in early brain development, as well as to disentangle complex factors that negatively impact child development including substance use, trauma, and stress. At UF and the other study sites, data will be collected on participants’ medical and family histories, their pregnancies, and fetal development as well as biospecimens. As their babies age and grow, data and biospecimens will continue to be collected from parents and children for up to 10 years. The study will also use neuroimaging, including MRI and EEG, to examine the brain’s structural and functional development while documenting the children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.

Recruitment of participants will begin in the summer of 2022.  There will be opportunities for students to participant in activities associated with recruitment, community engagement, biospecimen collection, and/or MRI and EEG data collection, among other activities, depending on the interest of the student.

William Hogan, M.D.

Dept. of Health Outcomes & Policy

My research interests including biomedical ontology, use of electronic health record and administrative data for research, and informatics in support of research in general.

Christopher N. Kaufmann, PhD, MHS

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics


My research interests are at the intersection of sleep, aging, and health services research. I examine the association between sleep disturbances and various health outcomes (including in the physical, mental, and cognitive health domains) in older adult populations, as well as trends in the delivery of treatments for sleep disorders. Recently, I have a particular interest in the role that sleep treatment can have on preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Georges E. Khalil, MPH, PhD

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Phone: 352 294 8415 (office)

My research interests include cancer prevention, digital technologies, and social interactivity. As a behavioral scientist in implementation science, my work primarily focuses on the design and evaluation of entertainment programs and technology-based interventions that aim to improve clinical and behavioral outcomes related to cancer prevention and control among youths. I am particularly passionate about the application of games for health to bring about behavior change, such as substance use prevention and cessation and physical activity. Most recently, my research has focused on tobacco prevention, exploring adolescents’ reactions to ASPIRE, a web-based smoking prevention program, and the study of young adults’ experience with a mobile health campaign for tobacco-risk communication. I have also conducted studies on Re-Mission, a video game designed to improve medication adherence among pediatric cancer patients and cancer-risk communication among young-adult college students. Funded by an R00 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, I am currently developing and testing social influence strategies for tobacco prevention and cessation among adolescents.

Mildred M Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D.

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-5797

Areas of interest: Preventing consequences associated with alcohol and drug abuse among youth, including drugged driving and prescription drug abuse.

Keywords: Alcohol and drug prevention, youth, research methodology, policy evaluations, applied statistics, health outcomes, epidemiology, cohort and national studies, longitudinal data.

Jessica Ray, Ph.D.

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Our lab investigates human-systems interactions in health information technology with a particular focus on clinical decision making, decision support, and patient/caregiver facing health information technology. We work in a range of clinical areas including pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as collaborating with colleagues in surgery, orthopedics, and pathology. We are currently investigating how to tailor patient/caregiver technologies in pediatric primary care clinics to better engage patients/caregivers with varying levels of health literacy. Our work takes a mixed methods approach including qualitative interviews, observations, EHR data analysis, surveys, and biometrics including eye-tracking which we use as a measure of attention and cognitive load. 

Ramzi G. Salloum, Ph.D., MBA

Dept. of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Contact: (352)294-4997

We are currently conducting research in various aspects of tobacco control, ranging from the identification of targets for the regulation of waterpipe (hookah) smoking and e-cigarettes, to the development of effective interventions to screen for and treat tobacco use within clinical settings.

Qianqian Song, PhD 

Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Phone: 336-926-4972

Dr. Song’s research focuses on developing innovative computational methods and graph-based artificial intelligence algorithms to decipher disease mechanisms and identify therapeutic biomarkers. Her primary research interests are to advance precision medicine and personalized therapy through the data-driven informatics approach and the integration of multi-modality biomedical data. With specialized expertise in the large-scale biomedical data, spanning from the molecular level including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics data, to the cell-level with the cutting-edge single-cell and high-plex spatial imaging data, and to the population-level EHR data, Dr. Song has developed a series of tailored deep learning, machine learning, and statistical methods for data analysis, representation, and interpretation, to facilitate the understanding of human diseases such as cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Stephanie Staras, Ph.D.

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

We are currently conducting research on ways to increase the number of 11- to 12-year-olds in Florida who receive the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine prevents six types of cancer and is received by low rates of teens, especially in Florida. Projects involve working in primary care clinics, developing best parent and provider messaging, and evaluating intervention effectiveness.

Carla Vandeweerd, PhD

Professor; Director, UF Health – Precision, Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 247-2493 

Research Project Title: Alzheimer’s Disease Progression Prognosis and Monitoring using EEG and Neurovascular Clinical Data: A Study of Applied Cognition in The Villages

The UF Health: Precision Health Research Center (PHRC)- The Villages is dedicated to promoting brain health in older adults and has begun a project that focuses on better understanding the utility of an innovative wearable technology to detect and monitor cognitive decline. The Villages FL is the largest active-lifestyle community in the United States, consisting of over 135,000 residents over the age of 55. Due to an aging population, members of our community are at an elevated risk for developing different forms of Dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As of 2021, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s and within Sumter County, there are approximately 16,000 people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. As the number of older Americans continues to grow, so will the number of new and existing cases of AD. It is projected that by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with AD may grow to 12.7 million. These numbers place significance on the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or cure AD. Understanding the relationship between aging and brain health can help older adults in our community and beyond maintain and improve their quality of life, by increasing awareness and introducing early interventions to prevent or reduce cognitive impairment.  

The individual choosing to collaborate with our center would have an opportunity to participate under the mentorship of Dr. Carla VandeWeerd and senior coordinators at the Center in a unique academic-industry partnership. This is a longitudinal, single-site study to determine the effect size to power an FDA pivotal study on using multimodal EEG and neurovascular measures captured by the Applied Cognition S1 band, and the reaction time measurements captured by the Longevity phone app, as prognostic and monitoring biomarkers of Early AD. In support of this goal, this study will examine the efficacy of 1) using multimodal EEG and neurovascular measures captured by the Applied Cognition S1 band, and 2) the reaction time measurements captured by the Longevity phone app, as prognostic and monitoring biomarkers of Early Alzheimer’s Disease (EAD). 


The PHRC is expecting capable individuals to assist with clinical research data management, sample collection and processing, interpretation of data, and developing statistical models, data collection systems, and other strategies that optimize statistical efficiency and quality. This allows for the rapid dissemination of information about cognitive health through publications, conferences, and policy briefs. This individual will be required to follow regulatory standards while developing targeted databases and participating in existing cognitive health research data analytics. We also expect to inform public policy through dissemination activities (e.g., research abstracts, manuscripts, data briefs) to briefly explicate clinical data to various professional and lay community groups. Other responsibilities of this position include participant recruitment, which is an important aspect of the project. The individual will brainstorm and execute community outreach techniques, assist with survey completion, and host community events. The Center will provide support and guidance to students undertaking this work, alongside exposure to industry and community partners, with broad aims to:  

Specific Aim 1: Understand the relationship and health implications of diseases affecting brain health, including assisting in examining research questions based on early findings from the study.  

Specific Aim 2: Submit an academic work product (e.g. data brief, manuscript, conference abstract) for review under the mentorship of Dr. VandeWeerd and senior research members of the PHRC. 

Rui Yin

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

My research mainly focuses on applying and developing machine learning approaches (CNN, RNN, GNN, Transformer, etc.) and protein language models to address biomedical problems, especially in (1) RNA virus and infectious diseases, e.g., mutation and variant identification, viral antigenicity and virulence prediction; (2) rare disease study, e.g., variant pathogenicity prediction and gene prioritization; (3) cancer study, e.g., miRNA-mRNA target identification in colorectal cancer patients and renal tumor classification, (4) Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD), e.g., computational drug repurposing for AD/ADRD; and (5) Health equity, e.g., identify social determinants of health that impact healthy aging people.


Abdel A. Alli, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor Department of Medicine Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Renal transplantation; Department of Physiology and Aging, Department of Pediatrics

Research interest: Our research interests include: 1) investigating the role of extracellular vesicles in the pathophysiology of hypertension, diabetic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, and cardiovascular disease 2) investigating the role of proteases, adaptor proteins, and lipids in the regulation of epithelial transport mechanisms in the pathogenesis of disease including various kidney associated diseases.

Dorina Avram, M.D.

Professor of Medicine

Dorina Avram’s research interest is in immune regulation, mostly at mucosal sites. Her work has an important impact in the control of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as in airway inflammation. 

Norman Beatty, M.D.

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine

  • Email
  • Office: 352-273-8830

Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease caused by an infection with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is spread primarily through a complex interaction with the triatomine vector known as the “kissing bug”. Chronic disease often goes unrecognized for decades with 30-40% who will eventually die from cardiomyopathy, sudden cardiac arrest, and/or gastrointestinal illnesses. Approximately 300,000 people in the United States and 18,000 here in Florida are living with Chagas disease but <1% have actually been diagnosed.

My research focuses on both clinical Chagas disease, transmission and the kissing bug. We are currently investigating the prevalence of this disease in Florida among at-risk individuals who have migrated from Latin America. Furthermore, our team has an active lab looking at T. cruzi infection among kissing bugs collected here in Florida and throughout the United States. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more about getting involved with these research endeavors.  

Richard Bennett

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-8333

My work focuses on discovering the molecular mechanisms that drive cancer cell growth and therapy resistance. Specifically, we are investigating how epigenetic mechanisms that regulate patterns of gene expression become altered in cancer. One fundamental way that gene expression is regulated centers on how tightly or loosely DNA is packaged around histone proteins. My lab is working to characterize how histone mutations that are frequently found in cancer patient samples may disrupt the interaction between histones and DNA, causing aberrant gene expression and the development of cancer phenotypes. In addition, I am working to determine the mechanisms whereby cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy. The goal of this research is to reveal new mechanistic insights into why cancer develops in order to develop more effective anticancer therapies.

Azra Bihorac, MD MS FCCM FASN

Glenn Davis Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Anesthesiology, University of Florida Term Professor, Director of Precision and Intelligence in Medicine Partnership (PrismaP), Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, & Renal Transplantation, UF College of Medicine.

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-9009

Precision and Intelligence in Medicine Partnership (PrismaP) is a multidisciplinary research group of experts in data science, AI and clinical informatics at University of Florida. Her research focus is on the development and implementation of intelligent clinical decision-making systems and technologies to optimize health care system delivery. Visit or                     

Mark Brantly, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone 352-392-7861

We study the molecular basis of the conformational disease alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, and develop therapies to treat the lung and liver disease associated with this disorder. In our lab students have an opportunity to work on projects that potentially have a direct impact on the health of individuals with this disorder. We conduct clinical studies to evaluate novel therapies develop our lab. See our web site for more information about our research group. 

Katelyn Bruno, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine

Our research focuses on the intersection of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. This includes viral myocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure as well as projects in the cardio-oncology field. Myocarditis is a leading cause of sudden death from heart failure in children and young adults. The main cause of myocarditis in the United States is viral infections including hand foot and mouth disease (CVB3), influenza and SARS-CoV-2. Other causes include drugs such has vaccines and cancer therapies (immune checkpoint inhibitors).  We are working to develop new animal models of myocarditis and discover mechanisms for both adult and pediatric myocarditis with the goal of developing new biomarkers to diagnose disease and therapeutics to treat disease. This includes novel immune targets as well regenerative medicine therapies.

Andrew J. Bryant, M.D.

Department of Medicine / Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

  • Cell: 352.682.1073

Our laboratory focuses on the unique role that bone-marrow derived cells play in creating an immunotolerant microenvironment within the lung, contributing to pulmonary vascular remodeling and eventual development of high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).  Specifically, we examine the role of the following related pathways in understanding the mechanisms of lung vasculopathy:

1. Arginine metabolism: Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) inhibit the adaptive immune response in a variety of pulmonary-related diseases including cancer, tuberculosis and obstructive sleep apnea.  Recently our group has demonstrated that these cells are necessary for the development of pulmonary hypertension, as well.  One of the mechanisms they do so is through release of proteins that influence the cellular utilization of the amino acid arginine.  Broadly, we study how arginine metabolism by these cells contributes to vessel fibrosis and narrowing, leading to pulmonary hypertension.

2. Chemokine receptor expression and activation:  Myeloid-derived cells traffic to the lungs based upon activation of cell surface receptors that coordinate the complex anti-inflammatory response to resolving pulmonary injury.  Our lab examines how proteolytic cell-specific activation of these receptors, through canonical ligand interactions, leads to accumulation of leukocytes within the lung, leading to muscularization of pulmonary vessels and elevated pressures within the lung.  
3. Circadian core clock signaling: In our most recent set of studies we are exploring the fundamental role of circadian influence on leukocyte activation, and involvement in pulmonary hypertension secondary to fibrosis or emphysema.

Michael R. Bubb, M.D.

Associate Professor, Dept. of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-9681

My laboratory uses cell biological and biophysical techniques to study actin polymerization and cell movement.  We are particularly interested in understanding the intracellular regulation of the traffic of molecules within the crowded confines of the interior of cells.  The processes of intracellular traffic and cellular movement are relevant to many human disease s such as in development of cancer and of autoimmunity.  We also study pharmacologic agents that target the regulation of actin polymerization. These agents have a broad range of applications, including modulation of apoptosis, angiogenesis, immunology, neurodevelopment and cancer biology.

Donna Carden, M.D.

Department of Emergency Medicine

  • Email
  • TEL: 352.265.5911

Emergency Department (ED) crowding represents a major threat to the nation’s health care safety net. The reasons for ED crowding are complex and include increased use of EDs for both emergent as well as non-urgent conditions. However, there is little agreement in the published literature regarding the definition of a non-urgent ED visit.

The overall purpose of this project is to define ED visit urgency in order to begin to address the causes and health outcome consequences of ED crowding.

Christopher R. Cogle, M.D.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology

Dr. Cogle is a physician and scientist with research focus on blood cancers. Dr. Cogle is seeking undergraduate and graduate students to participate in research involving two separate projects: (a) drug development, and (b) health policy. The drug development project involves in vitro leukemia cell assays and related data analyses. Students are expected to produce data for co-authoring meeting abstracts, presentations, publications and grant applications. The health policy project will examine the use of computational biology systems in the clinical diagnosis and treatment of patients with cancer. Students will participate in state-level and national-level meetings and produce written reviews for co-authored publications in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Kenneth Cusi, M.D.

Medicine / Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Phone: 352-273-8661 or 7236

My work involves cutting-edge research in adult diabetes and metabolism, both on clinical and basic research aspects related to the role of obesity, insulin resistance and lipotoxicity (fat-induced cellular damage) in the development of type 2 diabetes and its complications, in particular, the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).  Because we have a broad spectrum of clinical and basic research projects I would be glad to discuss them personally with the interested candidate.  I have enjoyed training many undergraduate students over the past 20 years and have recently moved to UF to develop a vibrant research program.  A more detailed description can be found in our website at

Lara Dakhoul, MD, MSCR

Department of Medicine – Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

I am a new Faculty here, joined UF August 2021. I have published several papers in Hepatology during my training years mostly NASH, DILI and HCC. As a Faculty, I am mostly working as a general Gastroenterologist but I have not done any focused Research in the general GI world yet. I am working on finding a research focus, but for the time being, any GI/Hepatology topic with clinical outcomes Research project is of interest to me.

Bahram Dideban, MD, MSc

Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine.

Cell: 786.300.7808

My specific personal interests are in gynecology, obstetrics, and we’re currently performing the majority of our research in cohort studies in gynecologic oncology. I’d also be interested in mentoring in general internal medicine, community health, and quality improvement projects. 

Bently Doonan, MD, MS

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology


My research interests are on targeting the tumor microenvironment of advanced metastatic cancers primarily in targeting brain metastases from melanoma. As part of the University of Florida Brain Tumor Immunotherapy program I have projects involving use of novel therapeutics with effects on immune modulation in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors for use in metastatic melanoma and CNS lymphoma, as well as projects using adeno-associated viruses as transfection vectors for tumor microenvironment remodeling of brain metastases and liver metastases as a mechanism of improving immunotherapy efficacy. I also have interest in improving adoptive cellular therapies and immunotherapeutics in glioblastoma.

Coy Heldermon, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine

My interests are as follows:

  1. Treatment of Inherited Disorders through gene and stem cell therapies
  2. Assess factors that modulate the exchange of stem cells between mother and offspring during gestation.
  3. Develop breast cancer biomarkers using Breast cancer xenografts.

Nicole M. Iovine, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Medicine

  • Email
  • office: 376-1611 ext 4265

Currently, there are two active projects in my lab, both of which involve innate host defense against Gram negative bacterial infection; 1) Autophagy as an innate immune defense against C. jejuni and 2) The Bactericidal/Permeability-Increasing Protein: A Neutrophil-Derived Antibiotic with Activity Against Multi-Drug Resistant Gram-Negative Bacteria.

Lei Jin, Ph.D.

Department of Medicine

  • 352-273-8661 or 7236
  • TEL: 352-2948495, Email

Our motto is Today’s research is tomorrow’s medicine. Dr. Jin’s lab current research interests are: 1) STING biology with a focus on developing STING agonists as therapeutic reagents; 2)Lung mucosal immunology with a focus on lung-resident dendritic cells; 3) Pulmonary pneumococcal infection.; 4) Impact of common human STING variants on human health and medicine. More information can be found on our lab website.

Christian Jobin, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Jobin’s research focuses on establishing mechanisms controlling host-bacteria interaction in the intestine.  His laboratory is especially interested in the functional impact of bacteria in intestinal injury repair, inflammation and colorectal cancer.  Using genetically engineered mice and zebrafish, germ-free and gnotobiotic technology in combination with microbiome analysis, he is studying the role of innate signaling on homeostasis and disease process.

Chalermchai Khemtong, PhD

Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-8646

Our research is focused on analyzing intermediary metabolism using stable isotope tracers, primarily carbon-13, combined with magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry techniques. We are also developing novel imaging methods based on carbon-13 isotopes to identify metabolic abnormalities associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cancer.

Nazli Khodayari, PhD

Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, and Department of Anatomy and cell biology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 294-5198

The long-term goal of Dr. Khodayari is to obtain knowledge and develop treatments for human diseases including, but not limited to, liver disease in an association with systematic inflammation. Extracellular vesicles are critical in organ and cellular cross-talk. Dr. Khodayari’s interest is the rule of extracellular vesicles and organ cross-talk in inflammatory diseases.

Jonathan D. Licht, M.D.

Department of Medicine
Director- The University of Florida Health Cancer Center
The Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. Foundation and David B. and Leighan R. Rinker Chair

  •  Email
  • TEL: 352-273-8143

We study how mutations in epigenetic regulators lead to wide-ranging defects in gene regulation and the development of blood and other malignancies.

Margaret C. Lo, M.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 265-0651

Our research interest is clinically based, focusing on improvement in internal medicine (IM) resident education and performance of core clinical measures of diabetes as a chronic illness.  Specifically we are studying the effectiveness of an ambulatory rotation through a multidisciplinary resident diabetes clinic (MRDC) (which includes an endocrine attending, 2 medicine attendings, a clinical diabetic educator, a clinical nutritionist, and a pharmacist) on learning and practice behaviors of PGY-1 and 2 IM residents, and on the quality of care that they subsequently give to the uncontrolled diabetic patients in their own longitudinal clinics.  We will be comparing patient outcomes (hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol) among uncontrolled diabetic patients managed by PGY-1 AND 2 IM residents before and after resident exposure to the MRDC.

Michael MacMillan, MD

  • Department of Orthopaedics
  • Email

We are the Strength Science Lab where we apply resistance training to certain orthopaedic conditions and preventative programs. We are also pursuing support for ACL injury prevention and certain tendonopathies. We are also interested in the health aspects of resistance training.

Stratford May, MD, PhD

Department of Medicine

Mechanisms of programmed cell death, cell cycle regulation and metastasis; identification of novel signal transduction pathways related to protein kinases, cysteine proteases, Bcl2 family members, and tumor progression; DNA damage/repair

Rajesh Mohandas MD, MPH

Department Affiliation: Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physiology and Functional Genomics

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-5355

My research interests focuses on the cardiovascular complications of kidney disease. It includes clinical as well as basic laboratory research. My clinical research examines cardiovascular outcomes in patients with kidney disease. My laboratory focuses on elcudiating the molecular basis of vascular stiffness and how stiffness of the extracellular matrix affects vascular smooth muscle function. In addition to the usual molecular biology tools such as PCR and western blot, our lab performs arteriography of the microvasculature (which involves canulating vessels that are thinner than a hair), murine echocardiography and atomic force microscopy to measure stiffness of cells and matrix.

Helen Moore, PhD

Department of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-9552

In my research, I use mathematical methods to improve patient outcomes in oncology, immunology, virology, and many other disease settings. Typically, we first create mathematical models of in-host disease dynamics using literature information, input from disease experts, and data. We then use additional data to evaluate these models. We apply sensitivity analysis to validated models to determine pathways that are most influential in driving disease outcomes. These important pathways can be targeted with therapies for disease control.  Another major area of my research is optimization of therapeutic regimens, including combination therapies, using validated math models of disease dynamics. I am excited to work with UF students who are interested in applying mathematics to medicine. More information about my work is available here.

Emily Moser, PhD

Department of Medicine and Department of Pathology

  • Email
  • Phone: 804.304.1842

My lab studies how antibody responses are triggered.  Antibodies comprise a powerful arm of the immune system.  Antibodies protect from infection but can also cause autoimmune disease and transplant rejection.  Before becoming antibody-secreting cells, activated B cells receive and respond to a multitude of cues that instruct the antibody response.  My lab studies how protein modifications within the B cells shift the antibody program to induce protective or pathologic antibodies.  This research will help design therapies to better elicit protective antibodies and inhibit disease-causing antibodies

Aleksey Novikov, MD

Medicine Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

My research interests involve pancreatic malignancies and chronic inflammatory conditions of the pancreas. My work focuses on quality assurance in advanced endoscopy procedures, evaluating access to endoscopic ultrasound in the state of Florida, and ways to better predict behavior of pancreatic malignancies at the time of the diagnostic endoscopic ultrasound. 

Aline Cristina Oliveira 

Department of Medicine  

Our studies focus on neuronal-immune cell interactions that seek to uncover the mechanism involved in disease-associated sympathetic activity in chronic diseases, more specifically in pulmonary hypertension (PH).  Pulmonary hypertension is a progressive disease leading to right heart failure and an unacceptably high mortality rate. Increased sympathetic activity in PH patients is associated with a worse prognosis. However, the mechanism behind chronic elevation in sympathetic activity in PH is poorly understood. Thus, a mechanism-based breakthrough is critical to identify novel targets and develop innovative therapeutic strategies to control/or cure PH. Our recent discovery of neuroinflammation in brain regions associated with autonomic function in experimental models of PH may represent such breakthrough. Our central hypothesis is that PH leads to activation of resident microglia and infiltrated myeloid precursors promotes aberrant preautonomic neuronal signaling in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, leading to sustained sympathetic activation. Our lab will combine two-photon microscopy in brain slices, virally mediated gene transfer, flow cytometry, sympathetic ablation, and several cutting-edge genetic models to explore: 1. microglia-dependent mechanisms that contribute to increased preautonomic neuron activity within the hypothalamus; 2. evaluate the mechanism by which TREM2 contributes to PH pathophysiology and 3. test the hypothesis of a feedforward loop contributing to PH pathophysiology, integrating systemic and neuroinflammation through interaction with the autonomic nervous system. 

Lyda Cuervo Pardo, M.D.

Department of Medicine / Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Clinical Immunology

  •  Email
  • TEL: 352.265.0007

I have a research project looking at the incidence of lung disease in patients affected with a condition called Common variable immunodeficiency. This would be a quality improvement project in conjunction with the pulmonary department.

Establishing the presence of lung damage can have implications on their treatment and even though there is evidence lung damage is associated guidelines regarding screening in this population are lacking.

Aims of this study include characterization of the Lung function in patients undergoing immune evaluation at the adult immunology clinic at the University of Florida with CVID.

For this project the student will be involved in obtaining the necessary IRB approval for the study, perform chart review and data collection, data analysis and draft of a manuscript. The student will also have the opportunity to closely work with the mentors to write an article summarizing the findings/current knowledge and gaps in the immunology and hematology/oncology/pulmonary fields.

Divya C. Patel, DO, MBA

Department of Medicine


My research interests is in sarcoidosis, a multi-system condition which can affect any organ in the body. I primarily work on clinical research but do I also have one translational project and one basic science project I am working on. I also have interest in health equity research since sarcoidosis is highly prevalent in black Americans and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The aim of this health equity research is shed light on poor access to acre for these patients and advocate to improve access.

Nisha M. Patel, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine


I am a member of a research team across several institutions that examins various issues in current public health policy. We are currently studying the funding sources and programs of local health departments across eight different states with varying political and demographic make-ups. We are looking at primary source data from FY 2017-2021 in order to examine any changes in revenues or program priorities prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome students interested in learning data collection within the fields of public health and policy. 

Bashar J. Qumseya, M.D., MPH, FASGE

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition


My research includes prospective studies, retrospective studies (Chart review), and meta-analysis covering several areas of Gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy including Barrett’s esophagus, colon polyps, esophageal cancer, obesity, and GERD. 

Yuri Y. Sautin, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Associate Professor Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Transplantation

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-5805

Our group is involved in basic research in the field of the metabolic syndrome, obesity and kidney disease. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms of signal transduction involving several lipid and protein kinase cascades and NADPH oxidase, which are responsible for oxidative stress, inflammation and prediabetic phenotype in adipocytes, hepatocytes and renal epithelial cells in cell culture and animal models of the metabolic syndrome and obesity. We use a variety of techniques, such as immunofluorescence, live cell imaging by confocal microscopy, RNA interference, recombinant viruses, immunoprecipitation, real-time PCR and immunoblotting to characterize gene expression, etc.  We use also animal models of the metabolic syndrome.

Yogesh Scindia Ph.D

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathology


Our laboratory focuses on understanding the unique role of iron in maintaining normal cellular physiology, while being instrumental in a recently identified form of cell death termed “Ferroptosis”. Excess intracellular iron catalyzes the formation of toxic reactive oxygen species, that in co-ordination with cellular enzymes orchestrate ferroptosis. We have unique animal models and proprietary drugs that are utilized to address our specific research questions. We collaborate with academics within the UF community and outside, as well as partner with the industry. Importantly, we nurture and provide multiple opportunities to undergraduates to present their work in meetings and conferences as well as gain authorships on manuscripts.

 The three focus projects are

  1. Role of iron in mediating renal tubular cell ferroptosis in autoimmune kidney disease.

The renal tubules are a drug target to treat kidney disease associated with lupus. We have demonstrated the importance of iron biology in human and animal models of lupus and are now testing novel compounds as possible therapeutics. We already have a patent on the use of Hepcidin (master regulator of systemic iron metabolism) in lupus and our ongoing research is exploring new iron centric mechanisms that contribute to the pathogenesis of this complex disease.

  1. Importance of regulating iron metabolism in disseminating candidiasis.    

Infections due to candida albicans (C. albicans), a common fungus are associated with renal failure and an unacceptably high mortality rate. C. albicans possesses a range of iron acquisition pathways that contribute to its persistence, and virulence. Iron is a nutrient for sustaining C. albicans as well as to increase its resistance to killing by the hosts immune cells. However, mechanisms of this nutritional tug of war in a mammalian host are incompletely understood. Using murine models of systemic iron overload and human cell lines we investigate the evolution of host response to C. albicans and outcomes of kidney injury.

  1. Functional significance of iron in the development of lupus T follicular helper cells

T follicular helper CD4+ cells (Tfh) are a subset of T cells which form the adaptive arm of our immunity. These cells are essential for maintenance of lupus as they help B cells generate high affinity auto-antibodies. It is recognized that T cells avidly take up and store iron, and lupus CD4+ T cells, which are activated and hyperproliferative contain more iron than healthy controls. We have identified that the key signaling pathway (specifically IL-6/IL21-JAK1-Stat3 pathway) that induces the differentiation of Tfh cells is dependent on availability of intracellular bioactive iron. Whether increased iron content of lupus CD4+ T cells augments IL-6/IL21-JAK1-Stat3 signaling and their differentiation into Tfh cells has not been investigated to date.By filling this gap, we intend to identify lupus CD4+ T cell iron metabolism as a novel therapeutic target and treat a disease still managed mainly by toxic immunosuppression. In this collaborative project my expertise in iron metabolism and lupus is complemented perfectly by Dr. Laurence Morel, a world-renowned expert in lupus T cell biology.

Mark Segal, M.D.

Professor and Division Chief, Dept. of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-392-4008

The Segal Lab is focused on understanding the mechanism of the increased cardiovascular risk in unique populations. These populations include patients with chronic kidney disease, patients with lupus nephritis, patients receiving high doses of erythropoietin, women who have complicated pregnancies, and patients who suffer from acute kidney injury. Our hypothesis is that the mechanism of the increased risk in these populations can be determined by analysis of components of the peripheral blood. Our lab has focused on utilizing circulating endothelial cells as a marker of increased endothelial injury and bone marrow derived angiogenic cells as a mechanism of endothelial repair.

With regard to women with complicated pregnancy, dramatic changes occur in the maternal systemic circulation during pregnancy epitomized by massive vasodilation, reduction in systemic vascular resistance and reduction in global arterial compliance. In addition to changes in arterial tone and remodeling, another potential mechanism for the decrease in systemic vascular compliance and increase in global arterial compliance is vasculogenesis and angiogenesis (formation of new or increased branching of existing blood vessels, respectively) or arteriogenesis (increase in compliance by arterial remodeling) via the mobilization of bone marrow derived angiogenic cells.  The pregnancy hormone, relaxin, secreted by the corpus luteum during pregnancy, has been shown to replicate the maternal circulatory changes in pregnancy when administered to non-pregnant rats and humans.  We were the first to demonstrate that relaxin is a mobilizer of bone marrow derived endothelial cells. Currently we are studying the levels and function of circulating endothelial cells and bone marrow derived endothelial cells in women during spontaneous pregnancies and pregnancies in women who conceived through artificial reproductive technology. We are studying two types of artificial technology: 1) Standard artificial reproductive technology in which the women have supraphysiologic levels of relaxin; and 2) Egg donor artificial reproductive technology in which the women have absolutely no detectable level of relaxin. We are investigating the question as to whether the health of the blood vessels during pregnancy affects future risk of heart disease.

Karina Serban

Department of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division

I am a physician-scientist with clinical and research interest in obstructive airway diseases, with emphasis on chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD) and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. I conduct translational and basic science research focused on the cross talk between inflammation and complement system in emphysema and alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency. I specifically look at the inhibitory role of alpha-1 antitrypsin on the complement system in murine models of COPD, epithelial cell organoids, epithelial cell air-liquid interface cultures, and in human samples from COPD and Alpha-1 deficient patients.

Marie Nancy Séraphin, Ph.D.

Medicine – Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-9584

The research in our lab focuses on global health and tuberculosis molecular epidemiology. Specific interests include the correlations between Mycobacterium tuberculosis within-host genetic diversity, clinical outcomes, and transmission dynamics.

Wei Shao, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of AI in Quantitative Health, Department of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone 319-855-0631

Dr. Shao’s research focuses on developing artificial intelligence methods in medical imaging to improve patient care. His current research projects include: (a) developing machine learning algorithms for multimodal image registration, multi-object image segmentation, and image-to-image translation, etc. (b) developing machine learning algorithms for accurate and fast disease diagnosis on medical images, (c) integrating image processing algorithms into clinical workflows.

Ashutosh M Shukla, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Division of Nephrology, Hypertension & Transplantation

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-548-6000 x106813

Study: A Patient-centered, System-based Approach to Improve Informed Dialysis Choice and Outcomes in Veterans with CKD (CKD Education for Veterans)

Chronic Kidney Disease is the 4th most common diagnosis among Veterans. Each year 13,000 Veterans with CKD transition to End Stage Renal Disease and the care of CKD costs VHA over $18 billion annually. Most Veterans with ESRD have limited awareness of CKD and its management options including the dialysis modalities. Availability of Comprehensive Patient Education within VHA is limited.

This randomized control trial is to investigate the impact of comprehensive education on patient knowledge and confidence, treatment selection and use, and patient-reported health services and clinical outcomes in a cohort of Veterans who were diagnosed with CKD and receive CKD treatment from the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SG VHS).

Students will:

  • Learn administrative research processes, such as maintaining study documents, ensuring data integrity and collaborating with multiple levels of researchers
  • Work with study team in active data collection, data entry, and database management
  • Engage with veterans and help facilitate health education programs
  • Participate in weekly meetings and participate in research development
  • Access opportunities to lead own project and potential publications/presentations

We are asking for students interested to be able to commit one-year to our team. On boarding at the VA can take up to three months it-self.

Peter W. Stacpoole, Ph.D., M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

My research summary can be found in the websites for the Dept of Medicine or Dept of Biochem and Mol Biol. In brief, it involves laboratory and clinical research into the causes and treatment of both acquired and congenital mitochondrial diseases. I have mentored over 35 undergraduate pre-professional students and currently have 3 undergraduates working with my group.

Roland Staud, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-9682

Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain (CWP) is highly prevalent in the general population (20%) and represents a major cause for dysfunction and loss of income [2; 3] . There are few pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies available, which generally are of small effect size. Central pain processing abnormalities, including abnormal pain modulation, play an important role for the pathogenesis of this disorder but specific details are lacking [1]. We hypothesize that excessive central pain facilitation is a major factor for patients’ increased pain and pain sensitivity. This hypothesis will be tested by quantitative sensory testing (QST) and functional MRI (fMRI). The student will interact with chronic pain patients and healthy controls and will consent, obtain questionnaires and perform QST (heat and pressure stimuli) on the subjects. He/she will be trained to perform these tasks reliably and how to avoid bias. The student will observe fMRI and will help prepare the subjects for the procedure. The study is funded by NIH and UF funds.

[1] Latremoliere A, Woolf CJ. Central sensitization: a generator of pain hypersensitivity by central neural plasticity. J Pain 2009;10(9):895-926.

[2] Papageorgiou AC, Silman AJ, Macfarlane GJ. Chronic widespread pain in the population: a seven year follow up study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2002;61(12):1071-1074.

[3] Staud R. Peripheral pain mechanisms in chronic widespread pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 2011;25(2):155-164.

Amy Y. Vittor M.D., Ph.D.

Dept of Medicine, Division Infectious Disease & Emerging Pathogens Institute

I am intrigued by various factors that drive disease emergence. To this end, I study the influence of factors such as immunity, deforestation and climate change on the emergence of mosquito-borne viruses such as chikungunya, Mayaro, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and South American eastern equine encephalitis. I also find the mechanisms behind the tendency of these viruses to jump hosts and become adapted to humans fascinating, and am looking at the host response to viral infection in various types of human cells to better understand what allows a zoonotic virus to take hold and spread in humans.

Gary P. Wang, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Research in my Lab focuses on understanding virus-host interactions, in particular the mechanisms by which viruses evade host immune responses and antiviral drug selective pressures. Specifically, the lab studies hepatitis C virus and Human Immunodeficiency Virus, using a combination of methods including high throughput next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, as well as traditional methods of molecular biology and virology.  As a deeper understanding of viral population dynamics and evolution is critical to many aspects of HIV and HCV treatment and prevention, the lab studies the genomic consequences of HIV and HCV infection in patients in the face of antiviral pressure, with the dual goal of understanding mechanisms and developing strategies for antiviral therapy.  Please see for more information.

Charles Wingo, M.D.

Department of Medicine

Studies in the Wingo lab focus on the molecular physiology of H,K-ATPase’s of the kidney and the ion channels and signal transduction proteins that regulate this class of pumps. These pumps are important in potassium conservation (potassium reabsorption) during potassium depletion and have been hypothesized to play a role in certain forms of hypertension. We are also interested in the distribution and function of these pumps in other tissues and the role of hormones which affect blood pressure such as angiotensin II, bradykinin, and dopamine in the regulation of these transporters.

We utilize a variety of techniques including physiological studies in knockout animals, patch clamp analysis of intact and cultured collecting duct cells, heterologous expression studies of ion channels and ATPase subunits with analysis of their activities, and immunohistochemical studies at the light and EM level. Expertise within the laboratory includes, protein chemistry and molecular biology, patch clamp analysis and confocal microscopy, and microperfusion, intracellular pH and intracellular calcium measurements.

Whitney Woodmansee M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-8656

I have had a long standing interest in pituitary and thyroid disorders.  My current main area of research interest is in optimization of the care of the neuroendocrine/pituitary patient.  Patients with hypopituitarism and pituitary tumors are at risk for a number of associated comorbidities including obesity, metabolic syndrome and impaired quality of life.  I am interested in understanding and managing these associated conditions so as to improve health outcomes in patients with pituitary disorders.   Additionally, several other research projects in thyroid disease are also available.

Elena Yarmola, Ph. D.

University of Florida Department of Medicine

  • Email
  • Tel. (352) 376-1611 ext. 4305

Dynamic remodeling of actin cytoskeleton is vital for development and immune system function. Actin-binding proteins tightly regulate actin cytoskeleton in response to extracellular stimuli.

We study molecular mechanisms of actin regulation proteins both theoretically and experimentally. 

Ellen M. Zimmermann, M.D.

Professor of Gastroenterology
Associate Vice Chair for Research, Department of Medicine

Our labs studies Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two chronic diseases of the intestine that affect all ages but particularly young adults. Our research focus is on mechanisms of tissue inflammation that lead to tissue fibrosis with particular interest in genes that contribute to specific disease phenotypes. We use cell culture and animal models to study inflammatory mechanisms and effects of therapy on inflammatory mediators. We also perform clinically oriented studies on MRI imaging of the intestine and on aspects of the disease including natural history, patient quality of life, and response to therapy. Our lab is collaborative and collegial and there are many opportunities for students to participate.

James R. Zucali, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-2991

We are interested in studying the insertion of chemoresistant genes using lenti viral gene transfer into normal hematopoietic stem cells to increase resistance to elevated chemotherapy in bone marrow transplantation. We are also interested in creating mixed chimeras to determine whether graft versus host disease can be prevented while preserving graft versus tumor effects in an allogeneic bone marrow transplant setting.

Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

David C. Bloom, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics

My lab’s overall goal is to understand how Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) is able to go latent in nerve cells, and how stress causes it to reactivate and cause recurrent disease. My current research is focused in three major areas: 1) Characterizing viral genetic elements that regulate latency and reactivation, 2) Identifying molecular determinants of HSV latent gene expression and silencing of lytic genes, and 3) Developing novel therapeutic approaches to reducing the ability of HSV to reactivate.

Steeve Boulant, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone: 1+ (352) 451-8088

We are studying how the intestinal epithelium combats enteric pathogens. We believe that to gain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating gut homeostasis (finely tuned balance between response against enteric pathogens vs. tolerance of commensals), an integrative system approach needs to be implemented and exploited. To achieve this, we combine stem cell biology, virology, genomics, bioengineering, and cell biology to dissect host/pathogen interactions at the intestinal mucosa surface. Our long-term goal is to develop technologies and cross disciplinary pipelines to tailor pharmacological interventions to both the host (patient specific, cell type specific or pathology specific) and the pathogen (norovirus, coronavirus, rotavirus, astrovirus).
Our work satellites around three axes:
Impact of the gut specific microenvironment on host/pathogen interactions
Single cell approach to define host/enteric pathogen interactions in tissue and tissue-like environments
Molecular definition of cellular polarity and its impact on intestinal epithelium functions and host/pathogen interactions

Barry J. Byrne, M.D., Ph.D.

Asst. Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 846-1531

My laboratory is actively involved in developing new genetic therapies for cardiovascular disease. In the area of cardiomyopathy, we are studying gene replacement in an autosomal recessive form of fatal cardiomyopathy in children. Additional projects are focused on transplant rejection and heart failure as well as hemophelia. In these projects we use AAV vectors to achieve sustained correction of the gene deficiency and correction of the phenotype in mouse models of disease.

Lung-Ji Chang, Ph.D.

Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-3315

Analysis of lentiviral transgene functions, modification of dendritic cell immunity, HIV gene therapy and immunogene therapy using mouse and cat cancer models.

Martin Cohn, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-8099

The Cohn lab studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie anatomical variation in 2 areas, (1) human birth defects and (2) animal evolution. For area #1, our research focuses on the causes of genitourinary birth defects and differences of sex development (DSDs). Congenital malformations of the genitalia are among the most common birth defects, affecting approximately 1 out of every 200 babies, but the causes are poorly understood.  Even less is known about Differences in Sex Development that result in genitalia phenotypes that are neither male-typical nor female-typical. To understand how these conditions arise during embryonic development, we use mouse molecular genetics, multi-scale analyses of gene expression from the organismal to the single-cell levels, 3-D imaging, and a variety of other techniques. For area #2, we investigate the developmental and genomic mechanisms responsible for major transitions in animal evolution. Specific projects have investigated the origin of fins, the fin-to-limb transition, the evolutionary origin of new cell types, loss of limbs in snakes and whales, and the evolution of bird genitalia.  These projects involve comparative approaches to evolutionary developmental biology. Students will be trained in a range of techniques and will be mentored to develop independent projects. Our students have an excellent track record of earning authorship on peer-reviewed publications.

Kotaro Fujii, Ph.D.

Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Center for NeuroGenetics Assistant Professor

We are a new laboratory developing a new research field by focusing on the most erroe-prone step in the central dogma, mRNA translation. We seek to understand the outstanding questions:

  1. How does the accuracy of ribosomal decoding increase from single cellular organisms to multicellular organisms?  
  2. How is translation fidelity regulated among tissues during mammalian development?  
  3. What is the impact of translation error, such as amino acid misincorporation, stop codon readthrough, and ribosomal frameshift, on disease caused by protein aggregation?  

We tackle these questions by applying state of the art Biochemistry, Genetics, and Genomics to the developing mammalian embryos, culture cells, and yeast. We also study transcript-specific translational regulation of cell signaling transcripts. We decode the “Translatome” by integrating both the quantity and quality of regulation. 

Paul A. Gulig, Ph.D.

Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

Oxalobacter formigenes is an obligate anaerobic bacterium that is a component of the gut microbiota of humans and other animals. Its sole carbon and energy source is oxalate, the major component of most kidney stones. O. formigenes can decrease urinary oxalate and prevent kidney stones by stimulating the gut epithelium to excrete oxalate from the blood into the intestinal lumen, where the bacteria consume the oxalate.  We are using a molecular genetic approach with O. formigenes in a mouse model to elucidate the mechanism by which the bacteria stimulate oxalate excretion and the biology of intestinal colonization.  We are combining bacterial genomics and bioinformatics to construct mutations is specific O. formigenes genes, and we examine the mutants for their ability to decrease urinary oxalate in mice fed a high oxalate diet.  When genes of interest have been identified, we will determine if they can be expressed in other probiotic bacteria of if their products can be used to treat hyperoxaluria (high urinary oxalate).

Stephanie Karst, Ph.D.

Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

Our laboratory studies the interactions between the host mucosal immune system and enteric pathogens, specifically using the enteric noroviruses as a model system.  The noroviruses are particularly interesting to us because people fail to develop a lasting protective immune response upon a primary exposure – thus, people can be repeatedly infected by noroviruses.  This failure of the host mucosal immune system to maintain protection against a pathogen is also observed with other mucosal pathogens.  We believe that the failure can be explained by an aberrant recognition of the pathogen by the mucosal immune system such that it responds as it would to non-pathogenic commensal organisms.  This information is critically important to the design of effective vaccines against mucosal pathogens.  A second major project in the lab aims to elucidate the mechanisms by which noroviruses cause disease, specifically testing the hypothesis that they encode virulent enterotoxins.

Zhe Ma, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-7513

Approximately 15% of cancers diagnosed were attributed to carcinogenic viral infections. Upon viral infections, the host’s innate immune system acts as the first line of host defense to prevent viral invasion or replication, while viruses also strive for survival by repressing innate immune signaling. By gaining a further understanding of how innate immunity is regulated by tumor viruses, our lab aims to dissect innate immune responses and viral tumor development for the sake of identifying potential targets and strategies for viral cancer treatment. For more details about our lab, please visit our lab website.

Chythanya Rajanna, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

My main focus is on bacterial pathogenesis particularly of Yersinia pestis. I am interested in studying the diversity of Y. pestis strains isolated from different regions of world and to develop phage based techniques for surface decontamination and detection. I am also investigation role of bacterial biofilm in environmental persistence and virulence of Y. pestis.

Rolf Renne, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics

My laboratory studies how Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) also called Human Herpesvirus Type 8 (HHV8) contributes to tumorigenesis. We are focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which latency-associated gene products such as the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) and 12 viral-encoded microRNAs contribute to viral pathogenesis. We are utilizing a wide range of molecular biology, genetic. ribonomics, and high throughput methods to investigate miRNA function and epigenetic regulation of both the viral and host cellular genome during tumorigenesis.

Megan Stanifer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Our laboratory focuses on the co/post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression and the roles of simple sequence repeats, or microsatellites, in neurological and neuromuscular disease. We use a combination of in vivo model systems, high-throughput sequencing and computational biology techniques to uncover novel mechanisms of gene regulation, RNA processing and human disease pathogenesis.

Maurice S. Swanson, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Director,Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Our research group focuses on how RNA processing is controlled during mammalian development and how this regulation is disrupted in neurological and neuromuscular diseases. More than half of the human genome is comprised of repetitive elements, and more than 60 hereditary diseases are caused by the expansion of short tandem repeats (STRs). We investigate the functions of these genomic elements using a wide array of biochemical (e.g., transcriptomics, proteomics) and genetic (e.g., gene knockout and knockin models) strategies. Additionally, we study how RNA binding proteins (RBPs) interact with various RNA structures, the functions of nuclear biomolecular condensates generated by pathogenic STR expansions, and how RNA-based mechanisms promote mammalian tissue regeneration.

Margaret (Peggy) Wallace, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 392-3055

The Wallace laboratory performs molecular and cellular studies of human diseases that are hereditary in origin or have a genetic predisposition.  These studies employ patient samples such as DNA and cultured tumor cells.  There are several ongoing projects.  The main project is neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a common dominant condition characterized by localized abnormal growth of many tissues.  This results in features such as neurofibromas (benign tumors of the peripheral nervous system), skeletal dysplasia, and other problems such as learning disabilities. We are working to discover and correlate mutations and expression changes in the NF1 and other genes with the clinical presentation and tumor behavior in samples from NF1 patients.  We are also collaborators in other projects, such as studying genetic contributions to taste preferences and pain sensitivity.

Lizi Wu, Ph.D.

Molecular Genetics & MIcrobiolgy

Our laboratory is interested in understanding transcriptional events of signal transduction pathways critical for normal development and human diseases and one of our current major focuses is a highly conserved cell fate determination pathway mediated by Notch receptors.  Aberrant Notch signaling is associated with T cell leukemia as well as a growing number of solid tumors.  However, it remains elusive how Notch signaling regulates the growth, survival, and interactions of the tumor cells and its microenvironment during cancer development. Therefore, we aim to elucidate molecular regulation underlying normal and pathological Notch signaling and hope that the knowledge from our research may point to the mechanisms that transform normal cells to cancerous cells, and thus aid in developing novel cancer therapies.

Lei Zhou, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

The overall objective of my research is to understand how the regulatory pathways controlling cellular suicide (apoptosis) are activated in response to cellular stresses and virus infection. Apoptosis is a gene-controlled process that leads to the destruction of obsolete, damaged, or pathogen-infected cells. The destruction of the cell is largely achieved by the activation of a group of proteases called Caspases. Caspases are synthesized as dormant enzymes in essentially all cells, their activation is controlled by several interrelated pathways.  While the downstream effector components of these pathways are expressed ubiquitously, the upstream pro-apoptotic regulators are regulated at the transcriptional level.  The expression of these upstream pro-apoptotic genes acts as the “trigger” for initiating selective cellular destruction.  In mammalian systems, genes encoding BH3-only proteins such as Noxa, Puma, and Bim are the transcriptional targets of P53.  In Drosophila, P53 induces apoptosis through transcriptional activation of the RHG (reaper, hid, grim) genes.


Michael Weiss, M.D.

Division of Neonatology, Pediatrics Department

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-4195

Currently our laboratory focuses on the role of amino acid transporters in the pathophysiology of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). HIE occurs with an incidence of 1 in 1000 births. We hope, that by gaining a better understanding of how amino acid transporters modulate the transport of glutamine and glutamate, to develop treatments for this neurologically devastating disease.


Abbas Babajani-Feremi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neurology

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and one of the leading causes of death in the US. AD is a degenerative and progressive disease, thus, preventive and/or disease-modifying therapies are more effective in the earlier stage of AD (e.g., at mild cognitive impairment [MCI] stage). Evidence from previous studies suggestes that the neuroimaging and electrophysiological modalities (e.g. magnetoencephalography [MEG] and MRI) can characterize neurodegeneration and predict the earlier stage of AD. However, we currently lack biomarkers based on these modalities to unambiguously diagnose the early stage of AD. A research interest of my lab is to overcome these limitations by developing and validating accurate biomarkers for identification of the early stage of AD based on a multi-modal approach (i.e. MEG and MRI) and leveraging new advancements in deep learning (DL).

Katharina M. Busl, MD, MS, FNCS

College of Medicine, Associate Professor in Neurology and Neurosurgery

Research interests include development of novel strategies of pain control for neurocritically ill patients, advancement of care systems and quality of care in the neuroICU, delineation of headaches in patients with craniotomies and subarachnoid hemorrhage, and end-of-life aspects including brain death, palliative approaches and prognostication (see for list of publications)

Daniel Ferris, M.D.

Professor of Neurology

We study human electrocortical dynamics during human walking and running. The goal is to determine brain activity patterns that correlate with real world behaviors. We use high-density electroencephalography and novel hardware & software to localize changes in electrical power to different regions of the brain. Applications of our work include diagnosis and rehabilitation of gait disabilities. policy, and neurology education.

Glen Finney, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology

I am interested in research in memory and cognitive disorders, brain-behavior relations, the neurobiology of creativity, neurology and health policy, and neurology education.

Jessica Frey, M.D.

Department of Neurology

My research focuses on using non-invasive neuromodulation techniques to help the quality of life for patients with movement disorders. Specifically, my current clinical projects involve using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to help patients with dystonia as well as patients with tourette’s. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with patients, learn clinical techniques related to TMS, EEG, and fMRI, and learn important study design, data acquisition, statistical analysis, and manuscript preparation skills.

Vishnumurthy S Hedna, M.D.

Stroke Division, Neurology Department

  • Email
  • TEL: 353-273-5550

Brain edema management; subarachnoid hemmorhage; vasopressin in stroke; atrial fibrillation and stroke, transcranial dopplers in stroke.

Kenneth M. Heilman M.D.

Professor, Department of Neurology

  • Email 
  • Telephone numbers are 352-273-5550 (Neurology) and 352-376-1611 Extension 10-6077 (GRECC at the VA).

We perform primarily neurobehavioral research (Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychology) examining the relationships between brain and behavior in patients with neurological diseases (e.g., stroke and Alzheimer’s disease) and healthy adults.

Matthew J. LaVoie, PhD

Department of Neurology 

The LaVoie lab is dedicated to uncovering the earliest pathogenic mechanisms in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and others. We use stem cell technology and CRISPR gene editing to generate novel neuronal models of disease and study the influence of genetic mutations that cause these disorders. At the moment, we focus  primarily on intracellular trafficking and transport, as well as mitochondrial biology and dysfunction

Yuqing Li, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology

My research is mainly focused on pathophysiology and experimental therapeutics of dystonia and restless legs syndrome. I am also broadly interested in animal models of movement disorders and in molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity during development and learning. My lab’s expertise is to perform conditional mutagenesis in mouse where selected genes are altered in specific neurons or circuits in the brain and in defined period during animal’s development. This powerful approach allows us to apply functional genomics and other multidisciplinary approaches to understand the pathogenesis of neurological disorders and to develop effective treatment.

Carolina B. Maciel, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology. Division of Neurocritical Care. Neurology Department

  • Email
  • TEL:  352-273-6165

Dr. Maciel’s interests include the humbling task of predicting neurologic outcome following acute brain injury, the mechanisms related to secondary brain injury in the neurocritically ill, and the critical care management of the potential organ donor. Dr. Maciel’s research focuses on improving neuroprognostication techniques and understanding the impact of cortical electrical phenomena (seizures and cortical spreading depression) after acute brain injuries.  Dr. Maciel is working to elucidate mechanisms responsible for transient neuronal dysfunction and secondary brain injury which could lead to delayed or incomplete recovery, so that accuracy of neuroprognostication assessments can improve.

Nikolaus McFarland, M.D./Ph.D.

Department of Neurology

Research: My research focuses on Parkinsonian disorders and pathological mechanisms, in particular the role of alpha-synuclein and other neurodegenerative proteins.

Kimford J. Meador, M.D.

Department of Neurology, McKnight Brain Institute

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-5550

Active areas of research include cerebral lateralization, dementia, epilepsy, mechanisms of attention and memory, neglect syndrome, neurodevelopmental effects of antiepileptic drugs, and the pharmacology and physiology of cognition.

Diego E. Rincon-Limas, Ph.D.

Department of Neurology

My laboratory applies a variety of techniques to study the molecular pathways associated with several neurodegenerative diseases and to discover potential therapeutic targets. To do so, we use a multidisciplinary approach combining Drosophila genetics, neuroscience, molecular biology, biochemistry and optogenetic technologies.

Nitya Subrahmanian

Department of Neurology

  • Email
  • Phone: 392-294-5403

My research investigation of the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of neurodegenerative disorders, with a specific focus on Parkinson’s disease. To delineate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying disease development, I utilize human cellular models such as stem cells and iPSC-derived neurons, in addition to novel mouse models. My current research is focused on determining the relationship between mild complex I deficits and defects in alpha-synuclein proteostasis.

H. Subramony M.D.

Professor of Neurology

I have clinical research projects in the field of genetically determined cerebellar degenerations.

Malú Gámez Tansey, Ph.D

Neuroscience and Neurology

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-4029

Our research is focused on the role of inflammation and immunity in brain health and neurodegeneration. We focus on the central-peripheral neuroimmune crosstalk and use the gut-brain axis as a model to study these interactions.


Karina Alviña, PhD

Department of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone: Office (352) 273 – 8855, Lab (352) 273 – 8866
  • Website

My lab is focused on understanding how brain cells communicate with each other to evoke different behaviors, in normal and pathological conditions. We are particularly interested in neural mechanisms altered by stress and environmental factors such as dietary habits and exercise. We are also interested in uncovering how these mechanisms can sometimes lead to unhealthy cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress is a crucial contributing factor to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and schizophrenia and chronic pain. Stress has also been linked to neurodegeneration. Thus, investigating mechanisms underlying stress and resilience to stress will contribute to find alternatives for prevention and/or treatment of these mental health problems. To tackle these important questions, we use animal models (rodents) and a combination of techniques including electrophysiology, behavioral analysis, viral genetic manipulation, and pharmacology.

David R. Borchelt, Ph.D.

Department of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-0105

My laboratory works to understand the basic mechanisms by which specific populations of neurons lose function and degenerate in neurodegenerative disease.  Our studies mainly focus on genetic forms of Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Sara N. Burke, Ph.D.

Dept. of Neuroscience

In order to design therapeutic strategies for maintaining function in the elderly, it is imperative that we understand how different brain regions communicate with each other in support of behavior, and how this is altered by old age. The long-term goals of my research program are to 1) pinpoint alterations in how different brain regions communicate over the lifespan and how this contributes to loss of function in advanced age, and 2) to design therapeutic strategies for alleviating cognitive dysfunction in order to promote positive health outcomes in older adults. 

Paramita Chakrabarty, Ph.D.

Dept of Neuroscience

My key research focus is to explore how the activation of the innate immune system affects unique sets of pathological hallmarks in different neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Using recombinant adeno-associated virus mediated gene targeting in mouse models of these human neurodegenerative diseases, I am a) analyzing the effect of immune activation on the neuropathology, and b) designing and testing bioengineered innate immune modulators as therapeutic strategies in these mouse models. Some of the techniques that I frequently use in AAV based modeling and therapeutic studies are: behavioral analysis, high throughput biomarker studies (Nanostring and proteome arrays), biochemical analysis of neuropathological epitopes and MRI. Other secondary techniques, for example, primary neuroglial cultures and flow cytometry are also frequently used. More recently, my research has focused on understanding how specific innate immune mediators affect intrinsic vulnerability of neurons, leading to regionally selective neurodegeneration.

Pedro Fernandez-Funez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Tel: (352) 273-5557

I am interested in understanding the molecular basis of complex neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. To identify new genes and cellular networks with a key role in the neurodegenerative process, we use fruit fly models of several diseases. For this, we express human genes (wild type and mutant) that cause neurodegeneration in the brain of flies and, then, try to identify new genes that lessen the cell loss. In the laboratory we use classic genetics, molecular genetics, RNA/DNA analysis, PCR, Western blot, protein biochemistry, immunofluorescence, cell culture and histological analysis.

Thomas C. Foster, Ph.D.

Professor of Neuroscience

Synaptic plasticity is thought to mediate the associative and information storage properties of neurons, and intracellular Ca2+ levels occupy a pivotal position in regulating synaptic plasticity by determining whether synaptic strength increases or decreases in response to neuronal activation. Changes in synaptic strength involve biochemical cascades and ultimately changes in gene regulation. One area of research in my laboratory is directed toward examining age-related changes in this signaling cascade from synaptic plasticity to transcription. The other area involves examining age-relate changes in estrogen. Many effects of estrogen are opposite to those observed during aging; however, the efficacy of the hormone is reduced if therapy is initiated several years after the onset on menopause or after the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are manifest.

Todd E. Golde, M.D.

Professor of Neuroscience
Director of the Center for Translational Research In Neurodegenerative Disease

Current Projects in the Golde Lab and the staff who lead these projects are described below.

  1. Immunotherapeutic approaches for Alzheimer’s disease and other amyloid disease (Yona Levites, PhD, Pedro Cruz PhD). Aggregation and accumulation of the amyloid β protein  in the brain is thought to trigger a complex degenerative cascade  that results in Alzheimer’s disease. These studies build on ~10 years of research in the labaoroty and are designed to develop novel active and passive immunotherapies that safely and effectively target AB amyloid in AD. Notably these therapies may have benefit in other amyloid diseases.  Funded by the NIH/NIA
  2. Gamma-Secretase Modulators and the role of short amyloid pep tides in Alzheimer’s disease. (Thomas Ladd, Brenda Moore PhD). A longer species of Aβ, Aβ42, is thought to be the key pathogenic molecular in AD. It is critical for deposition of Aβ. Thus, lowering levels of Aβ42 could have a major impact on the development of AD. In collaboration with Dr. Edward Koo’s laboratory (UCSD), we previously demonstrated that select drug and drug-like compounds could modulate A42 production and that this effect was attributable to direct alteration of -secretase activity. Drug with this type of effect oon Aβ are now referred to as a -secretase  modulators (GSMs). These studies provided the rationale for clinical testing of GMSs by the commercial sector.  Our current collaborative studies are designed to examine more closely how GSMs work, and whether short Aβ peptides are protective.  Funded by the NIH/NIA.
  3. Therapeutic Targeting of Intramembrane Cleaving Protease. (collaborations with Dr. Wolfe Harvard, Drs. Osborne (U. MASS), Miele (Loyola/U. Miss), M. Bouton (U. FL) and Greenbaum ( U. Penn)).  Presenilin is the catalytic component of a multisubunit protease called -secretase that cleaves membrane proteins within their transmembrane domains. -Secretase cleaves a number of proteins and mediates signal transduction by many of these. In 2003, in collaboration with Dr. Chris Ponting, we identified a family of intramembrane proteases (signal  peptide peptidase)  that were related to -secretase.  We are evaluating targeting these proteases in cancer, immunologic disease, and malaria.  Funded by the NIH/NIA.
  4. Proteinopathy induced Senescence Reponses in Neurodegenerative Disease (Wei Kou PHD, Paramita Chakrabarty PhD). We are exploring an alternative way in which protein accumulation in the brian might lead to brian organ failure.  We hypothesize that protein misfolding and aggregation triggers a self-reinforcing cycle of chronic stress (sub-lethal toxicity), pro-inflammatory signals and a senescence response (Golde and Miller, Alz Res Ther 2009). We will examine whether under stress, neurons can undergo changes that phenocopy aspects of replicative senescence and whether these senescent changes are accelerated in AD and other CNS proteinopathies. To avoid confusion over semantics, we will refer to a putative stress response in non-dividing, terminally differentiated cells that mimics phenotypes seen in replicatively senescent cells as a senescence response. Funded by the Ellison Senior Scholar Award
  5. Somatic Brian transgenesis and AAV based models of Neurodegeneration (Yona Levites, PhD, Carolina Ceballos-Diaz, and Paramita Chakrabarty PhD). We have developed a method using viral vectors to transduce large portions of the neonatal brain. We refer to this technique as somatic Brain transgenesis.  Using this technique we can much more rapidly model various aspects of neurodegenerative disease for a fraction of the costs associated with traditional transgenics. We have established over a dozen collaborations based on this technique.
  6. Inflammatory and Immune Mediators in Neurodegeneration. (Paramita Chakrabarty, Carolina-Ceballos Diaz, Pedro Cruz PhD, Wie Kou PhD). Recent work from our lab has challenged a long-standing hypothesis that inflammatory processes in AD accelerate Aβ deposition. Unpublished studies also reveal a potential novel role of interferon  in nigrostriatal degeneration. Using the somatic brain transgenic technology described above we plan to more broadly explore immune modulators as mediators of neurodegenerative pathways.

Valerie Joers, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 294-5308

My research focuses on the mechanisms of homeostatic peripheral-central immune crosstalk in aging and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Our long-term goal is to translate our findings into therapies that can help slow down or prevent aged disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. We are currently investigating the role of cannabinoid receptor 2 on peripheral immune cells and microglia as a means to reduce toxic protein aggregation. We utilize animal and cell models and a variety of methods including PCR, western blot, functional cellular assays, immunofluorescence and microscopy. Profile

Habibeh Khoshbouei, Ph.D., Pharm D.


Our research primarily focuses on exploring the intricacies of dopamine transmission in both healthy and diseased states, including drug addiction, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease. We investigate how altered dopamine transmission plays a significant role in various neuropsychiatric conditions, notably drug addiction and ADHD, which are characterized by increased dopamine levels in the brain. Conversely, a decrease in dopamine neurons, leading to a hypo-dopaminergic state, is associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Our recent breakthroughs have revealed a potential connection between dopamine neuron activity in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and peripheral immune responses. Supported by multiple grants, our studies extend to examining the influence of methamphetamine on CNS dopamine transmission and its impact on peripheral immunity leading to increased bacterial infection and HIV-1 replication in human macrophages. A recent grant has enabled us to test the hypothesis that cannabinoids may mitigate the hypodopamine state during methamphetamine withdrawal. This research could open new pathways for drug development and therapeutic strategies to combat methamphetamine addiction and to prolong drug abstinence. Finally, I also intend that my research laboratory will provide an outstanding venue for the training of undergraduate and graduate trainees.

Michael King, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, and VAMC

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 376-1611×6499

Our lab uses anatomical, electrophysiological, and biochemical/molecular techniques to study progressive neurodegenerative disease. The neuropathological effects of prolonged alcohol consumption are studied to figure out mechanisms by which damage results in impaired learning and memory. Gene transfer techniques are being used to develop better animal models for human neurodegenerative diseases, and potential therapeutic approaches to such diseases.

Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.

Neuroscience, McKnight Brain Institute

The overall goal of my research is to understand the relationship of cognitive impairment with brain aging and age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Towards this goal, a central focus of my research involves delineating the basic mechanisms contributing to age-related cognitive decline and assess the role of various interventions such as environmental enrichment, exercise, and viral-vector mediated upregulation of target proteins in restoring and or rescuing impaired cognition, synaptic plasticity, and cell excitability.

Yona Levites, Ph.D.

Neuroscience / CTRND/ McKnight Brain institute

  1. Levites’ research is focused on designing, engineering, and testing recombinant antibodies against proteins that have been identified as contributors to the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The stated goal of Dr. Levites’ research is to achieve preclinical immunotherapy success so that it may be tested in the clinical realm.  Dr. Levites has also been instrumental in the development of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector to be delivered to the central nervous system to achieve high levels of transgene expression. 

Jada Lewis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease

  • Office: (352) 273-9666
  • Lab: (352) 294-5160

My lab focuses on generation and characterization of in vivo model systems of Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Individuals in my lab will gain experience in a wide range of tasks in molecular biology, neuropathology, and biochemistry.

Alfonso Martin-Peña, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience 


My research interest revolves around the synaptic mechanisms supporting cognition. To pursue this long-term goal, we focus on two main areas: (i) the molecular and cellular processes underlying proper cognition and synaptic function; and (ii) the earliest triggering factors of neurodegeneration that lead to synapse loss and cognitive decline. Our scientific approach works in the intersection of basic neuroscience and the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders, with an especial emphasis on the role that sleep-regulated processes play in brain function.

Freddyson J Martinez-Rivera, PhD

Department of Neuroscience

The Martinez-Rivera Lab is focused on studying the Neurobiology of Maladaptive behaviors using different behavioral, cellular, and molecular approaches.  We use rodent models to study a variety of Neuropsychiatric disorders including Substance Use Disorders, Depression, and Stress/Anxiety (OCD/PTSD). This is combined with chemogenetics, optogenetics, electrophysiology,  transcriptomics, and protein techniques. 

Jeremy McIntyre, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone (352) 294-8266 

Olfactory disorders affect a significant portion of the population. Disorders in the sense of smell can be caused by aging, traumatic injuries, infections and genetic mutations. Defects in ion channel function underlie an emerging class of human genetic diseases, termed channelopathies. In addition to other sensory defects, channelopathies can cause the loss of the sense of smell. Our research aims to identify mechanisms by which specific ion channels regulate olfactory signaling, how these are disrupted in disease states and the ability to correct channel defects. The ultimate goal of this work is to demonstrate functional recovery of olfactory function in channelopathy models for the further development of treatments for human patients.

Additionally, my lab studies the role of primary cilia on the neurons present in the olfactory bulb. Primary cilia are a type of cellular “antenna” that function to sense cues in the extracellular environment. However the precise roles for these organelles on neurons in the brain remain unknown. Many of these cilia possess G-protein coupled receptors for neuromodulatory signals. The aim of this project is to elucidate the role for cilia in modulating neuronal function in the olfactory bulb.

Harry S. Nick, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-3033

Our laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that control the regulation of gene expression during the inflammatory response. We study the regulation of a subset of genes regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines that play a cytotoxic or cytoprotective role in the inflammatory response in the brain, lung and kidney.

Lucia Notterpek, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Dr. Notterpek investigates how the loss of glial insulation around axons, called myelin, contributes to the pathogenesis of neural disorders. Diseases that are specifically linked with defects in myelin include peripheral neuropathies, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth diseases and multiple sclerosis. Recent studies also suggest an involvement of myelin damage in underlying the painful symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. Current research is focused on understanding the subcellular changes within neural cells that underlie the progressive nature of these disorders and to identify approaches to restore myelin and neural function. The laboratory is equipped with models and reagents, including small molecule therapeutics and genetic modifications to attain these goals. Other areas of active investigation include the role of gene regulatory mechanisms in peripheral nerve development, and the effects of aging on neuromuscular function.

Matt Sarkisian, Ph.D.

Dept of Neuroscience

My lab is interested in the development of the cerebral cortex and its pathogenesis which frequently is associated with neurological disorders such as seizures, mental retardation, autism and abnormal learning and memory. Primarily, we approach this in animal models by introducing new or mutated genes into neural progenitors in the embryonic cerebral cortex. This enables us to track subsequent genetic, neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioral changes during brain development.

Wolfgang J. Streit, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-3910

Research concerns functions of microglial cells in the regenerating and degenerating central nervous system. Understanding microglial biology is important for developing strategies to repair the injured CNS, and also for understanding primary neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Adrienn Varga, PhD

Department of Neuroscience

The central goal of research in my lab is to determine the cellular, circuit, and network-level mechanisms whereby respiratory control neurons in the brain shape breathing. Breathing is an automatic behavior, yet no two breaths are generated equally. Importantly, voluntary control can override the automatic motor output and significantly change the breathing pattern to allow for other airway utilizing behaviors. Breathing is also under strict state-dependent control, where specific breathing patterns correlate with sensory arousal, stress and anxiety, and the sleep/wake cycle. The high diversity of breathing-related voluntary behaviors and the constant state-dependent adjustments require the coordinated effort of a large array of neural circuits and interplay between multiple neuromodulatory systems. We are currently focusing on a neural pathway that we recently discovered between the locus coeruleus and pontine respiratory group, that may be pivotal in understanding state-dependent influences on breathing. We use whole-cell patch clamp recordings and optogenetics for functional circuit mapping, and to elucidate cell-type specific synaptic signaling in respiratory circuits. To link synaptic function and neural activity to behavior, we use fiber photometry combined with optical methods and synchronous whole-body plethysmography in awake mice.


Alexandra Calinescu MD, PhD

Assistant Scientist, Neurological Surgery


Laboratory of Dr. David Tran

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-6997

In the laboratory of Dr. David Tran, we are interested in transcriptional networks that regulate cell fate determination and that guide malignant transformation of cells giving rise to cancer. Powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms have been developed in the laboratory to analyze sequencing data, predict and rank with high degree of accuracy the master regulators driving phenotypic changes. We have developed a system to transform normal Neural Stem Cells into brain tumor cells without using genetic alterations. Our AI algorithm predicts several developmental transcription factors to be at the core of this malignant transformation. The project for which we are recruiting undergraduate students involves testing these predictions by using cellular, molecular, biochemical and histological techniques and animal models of brain tumors. Interested students will have the opportunity to learn all these techniques, assist in executing experiments, analyze and interpret data in the context of current knowledge of the field, acquired from the literature and discussions with laboratory members. Students will be expected to present data in laboratory meetings and at scientific symposia.

Loic P. Deleyrolle, Ph.D.

Dept. of Neurosurgery

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-682-1961

My research interest lies in understanding mechanisms contributing to brain tumor heterogeneity and developing novel therapeutic paradigms to treat glioblastoma, including metabolic interventions and immunological targeting.

Lan Hoang-Minh, Ph.D.

Dept. of Neurosurgery

Our group focuses on preclinical research investigating novel immuno-therapeutic approaches, particularly T cell therapy, to improve treatment outcomes for adult and pediatric patients diagnosed with malignant brain tumors. Our group is part of the Preston A. Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy and UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program​, both led by Dr. Duane Mitchell, M.D./Ph.D. (

Dan Jin, Ph.D.

Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Catherine Flores lab has developed an adoptive cellular transfer therapy (ACT) through the integration of  hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) with T cell  and dendritic cell vaccine in brain tumor mouse model. The current research efforts are directed towards unraveling the underlying mechanisms of HSC-combined ACT and understanding the resistance mechanisms associated with HSC-combined ACT. My research specifically delves into deciphering the role of dendritic cell dysfunction in ACT resistance and employing CRISPR Screening to identify regulators of dendritic cell function.

Maryam Rahman, M.D.

Department of Neurosurgery

Research interests: novel therapies for brain tumors, immunotherapy for adult glioblastoma, quality improvement and patient safety.

Elias Sayour, MD, PhD

Department of Neurosurgery

Research interests: RNA, mRNA vaccines, nanoparticles, cancer immunotherapy, pediatric oncology

Vinata Vedam-Mai, Ph.D.

Neurosurgery & Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration (UFCMDNR)

Research is focused on neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease and improving its current therapies (including immunotherapy).  Trying to comprehend the effect of chronic electrical stimulation such as DBS on neurogenic niches of the brain.  Using metabolomic techniques, assessing the minute fluxes within the metabolome of diseased brain.

Obstetrics & Gynecology 

Joel Cardenas, MD FACOG


  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-7571; 352-273-7555

Research interests include Robotic surgery, Minimally invasive surgery. Endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer.

Nancy S. Hardt, M.D.

Ob-Gyn and Pathology

  • 352-273-5460 office

We work on the city, county, state, and federal level to improve the health of Floridians. For example, we study and monitor health disparities using GIS mapping, we train students in advocacy through monthly visits to Tallahassee, we work on a number of county and state level committees in the areas of mother/baby health, maternal mortality, domestic violence, and child abuse; and we work on federal health policy in the areas of graduate medical education, reimbursement for Medicaid, and coverage of pregnancy and interconceptional health.  This choice would be perfect for an undergraduate student in biological sciences, psychology, or political science who would like to go to graduate school in the health professions.

Gregory Schultz, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Phone: (352) 273-7560
  • Email

Excessive scarring of corneal wounds causes impaired vision.  Therapies currently used to reduce corneal scarring use non-specific drugs, including anti-inflammatory steroids or anti-proliferative cancer drugs like 5-fluorouridine (5FU) or mitomycin-C that can cause severe, long-term side effects.  We are developing antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that specifically target mRNAs for the two growth factors, transforming growth factor beta (TGFb) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), that are known to regulate scarring in the cornea and in other tissues in the body.  Initial studies with these new drugs show significant reduction of the target mRNAs in cultures of corneal fibroblasts and reduced corneal scarring in rabbit models following excimer ablation of corneas.  In this project, the student will participate in experiments using gene-targeted therapy to reduce corneal scarring.  The student will assist in surgery creating corneal wounds, measure expression of TGFb and CTGF mRNA and proteins, and measure corneal scarring (haze) in photographs of rabbit corneas. The student should have basic understanding of biochemistry and molecular biology techniques and be willing to work with laboratory animals.

Lisa Beth Spiryda, M.D., Ph.D.

Obstetrics and gynecology

  1. Translational research on Identifying molecular markers involved with Human Papillomavirus acquisition and persistence and role in cervical dysplasia and cancer as well as other cancers. 2. Health Disparities, Women’s Health – breast feeding, routes of surgeries.


Shannon E. Boye, Ph.D.

Ophthalmology (primary), Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (secondary)

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-9342

Dr. Boye’s lab focuses on the development of viral vectors for the treatment of inherited retinal disease. The retinal disorders she currently studies include, but are not limited to, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA1, LCA2 and CEP290-LCA) and Usher syndrome. Because of its importance to human vision, much of Dr. Boye’s work focuses on cone photoreceptor-targeted therapy. The three major goals of her research program are:

  1. Developing an AAV-based therapy for the treatment of GUCY2D-LCA1. Dr. Boye manages the pre-clinical, proof-of-concept and safety studies aimed to bring this treatment from bench to bedside within the next couple of years.
  2. Optimizing AAV vectors to successfully treat diseases which involve mutations in large genes (something recently considered outside the scope of standard AAV gene therapy).
  3. Developing novel viral vectors capable of delivering therapeutic genes to the outer retina (photoreceptors) following a surgically less invasive, intravitreal injection.

Cristhian J Ildefonso, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor Department of Ophthalmology

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-8786

My research program seeks to further our understanding of the inflammatory mechanism in the retina and how to use gene therapy methods to limit its effects on the retina. We use a combination of human cell cultures, molecular biology, biochemistry, animal studies, immunofluorescence, and other methods to ask scientific questions about retinal inflammation. We expect to translate our work into therapies that can help prevent or slow down vision loss in human patients in the long term. 

Qiuhong Li, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-392-0747

Our research is mainly focused on retinal renin angiotensin system. The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays a vital role in the cardiovascular system. Angiotensin II (Ang II), a key peptide hormone of RAS, has been known to regulate a variety of hemodynamic physiological responses, including fluid homeostasis, renal function, and contraction of vascular smooth muscle. In addition, elevated level of Ang II is capable of inducing a multitude of non-hemodynamic effects, such as the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and expression proinflammatory cytokines, leading increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Classically, RAS is considered a circulating hormone system consisting of a linear cascade of Ang II generation. However local RAS exists in almost every organ including the CNS and eye, and plays vital role in neuro-vascular function and modulating local immune responses. Furthermore, the discovery of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has resulted in the establishment of a novel axis of RAS involving ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas. ACE2 is able to cleave Ang II to form Angiotensin-(1-7) (Ang-(1-7)).  Ang-(1-7) binds to a G-protein coupled receptor, Mas, and activates signaling pathways that counteract the effects of Ang II. Thus the ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas axis has emerged as a critical regulator of Ang II/AT1R signaling.  Accumulating evidence has also demonstrated that enhanced expression of Ang-(1-7) and ACE2 reduces inflammation, oxidative damage, inhibits pathologic angiogenesis, and confers protection against a variety of pathological conditions including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and its complications; neuro-vascular dysfunctions and neurological diseases. Our current research projects are primarily focused on this protective axis (ACE2, Ang-(1-7) and Mas receptor).

Two main aspects of our current research projects, funded by NIH, American Diabetes Association and BrightFocus foundation, are: (1) Translational studies- to enhance this protective axis using various approaches, including local ocular gene delivery via recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors, pharmacological and oral delivery of proteins expressed and bioencapsulated in plant cells, to treat (both prevention and possibly reversal) a number of retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and inherited photoreceptor degeneration in animal models;  (2) Basic research studies-   although the protective effects of Ang-(1-7)/Mas signaling are well-established in many organs under many different pathological conditions including the CNS, the signaling mechanisms and downstream target genes are largely unknown.  Our long term goal is to further elucidate these signaling mechanisms and downstream genes involved in the protective actions of Ang-(1-7) in the retina and their interactions with other pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of retinal diseases in order to develop more effective and targeted therapeutics.

Clay Smith, Ph.D.

Shaler-Richardson Associate. Professor of Ophthalmology

Eyes are exquisitely sensitive detectors, capable of registering a single photon of light.  In my lab, we focus on how eyes achieve this amazing quantum detection ability.  Our primary interests cover the biochemistry and cellular biology of the early events in this process– how the eye captures photons, and how this information is reliably translated into a signal that can be utilized by the brain to form an image.  Since defects in this process often lead to visual complications, such as retinal degeneration and stationary night blindness, we anticipate that our studies will lead to therapies for these associated diseases.  In my lab, we utilize the tools of molecular biology, protein chemistry, structural biology, and cell biology to delve into these questions.

Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine 

Jessica McQuerry, MD

Assistant Professor, Pediatric Orthopaedics Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine


Pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Research interests include scoliosis, pediatric orthopedic trauma, extremity deformities, and orthopedic education.

Pathology, Immunology & Laboratory Medicine

Todd M. Brusko, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Brusko and his team of diabetes researchers at the University of Florida are dedicated to the development of safe and effective therapies to prevent and reverse type 1 diabetes. His laboratory works in close collaboration with Michael Haller, M.D., and Desmond Schatz, M.D., to conduct mechanistic studies in ongoing clinical trials and generate novel avenues for therapeutic intervention.

Jason H. Byrd, Ph.D.

Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Byrd’s laboratory is involved in the forensic sciences.  Specifically, forensic entomology, forensic botany, postmortem interval estimations, DNA analysis, crime scene analysis and veterinary forensic sciences.

Martha Campbell-Thompson, DVM Ph.D.

Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine

  • / Email
  • TEL:     352-273-6129

My laboratory studies type 1 diabetes using human biosamples including a primary beta-cell line and isolated islets. Projects are designed around protein or RNA expression of genes of interest related to the neuronal phenotype of islet neuroendocrine cells. Students will be trained to use multiplex immunofluorescence and high resolution imaging including confocal microscopy or expression levels following in vitro studies in cells or islets.

Michael Clare-Salzler, M.D.

Professor and Chair, Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

Research interests include Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Autoimmune diseases

Antigen presenting cells, Dendritic cell biology, Type 1 interferon biology and immunogenetic regulation of interferon responses, Inflammation, Eicosanoid metabolism, and Inflammation resolving lipids (resolvins).

Timothy J. Garrett, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-5050

I’m interested in the application of mass spectrometry in clinical research.  We are working on global and targeted metabolomics in which we are developing methods and instrumentation for identifying and quantifying as many metabolic markers to understand what is happening with individual metabolism in disease.  Mass spectrometry is employed because it has sufficient sensitivity, mass resolution, and accuracy to measure a few thousand small  molecules in a single plasma sample.

Bruce A. Goldberger, Ph.D., DABFT

Director of Toxicology and Professor, Department of Pathology,
Immunology & Laboratory Medicine, Department of Psychiatry

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 265-0680 x72001

Dr. Goldberger’s laboratory supports Medical Examiner Offices in seven districts throughout the State of Florida with an approximate yearly caseload of 3000. Dr. Goldberger’s laboratory also provides analytical services for governmental, academic, and private organizations. Dr. Goldberger’s research includes: ( 1) the study of the role of illicit and prescription drugs (especially cocaine and opioids) in the death of individuals investigated by medical examiners; (2) the study of the dietary influences of caffeine; and (3) the identification and measurement of alcohol and drugs in breath.

Marguerite Hatch, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology

A number of diseases are associated with kidney stone formation which is a very painful condition and damaging to kidney function.  My research involves studying animal models and investigating basic mechanisms that are responsible for excreting the stone-forming compounds.

Saeed R. Khan, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Pathology, Immunology & Lab Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-3574

Investigating the role of renal epithelial injury in modulation of crystallization in the kidneys. Molecular biological, biochemical and microscopic techniques are used to investigate the production of various urinary proteins by renal epithelial cells in culture as well as in animal models in response to various stimuli.

Ryan Kolb, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine


Primary research interest is on the interaction between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment in the pathogenesis and progression of cancer. The lab studies how changes in the tumor microenvironment due to co-morbid conditions such as obesity effects cancer progression. The long term goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets and drug treatments to improve treatment for cancer patients. He has shown that the upregulation of Angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) in adipocytes in response to obesity-associated inflammation drives breast cancer progression, and has developed blocking antibodies against ANGPTL4. He is also looking at the role of ANGPTL4 and its potential as a therapeutic target in other cancers including renal cell carcinoma, and obesity-related liver disease and cancer.

Clayton E. Mathews, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone (Office) 352-392-9803

Dr. Mathews’ studies have forged a new path in the understanding of autoimmune diabetes. While the majority of the field focuses on identifying defects in cells of the immune system, the guiding hypothesis of Dr. Mathews’ research is that insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells are active contributors to the autoimmune process in T1D. The initial publications from Dr. Mathews demonstrating that pancreatic islets had down regulated self-defenses, and that this reduction was important in the initiation of diabetes. The extension of this work strongly supported the hypothesis that beta cells play an active role in the pathogenesis of diabetes. The findings demonstrated that islets varied in their resistance to autoimmune destruction and further that islets from different donors ranged from highly susceptible to extremely resistant to damage. These novel findings proved to be influential because, prior to this paper, there was no evidence suggesting that beta cells could resist autoimmune destruction. Dr. Mathews’ investigations have provided the proof of concept for many subsequent therapy studies y both his and other groups. These findings also led Dr. Mathews a postulate that there are genetic factors expressed at the level of the pancreatic islet that provide resistance to autoimmune diabetes. His successive publications have supported this hypothesis and have identified a gene (mt-Nd2) that is responsible for protection as well as to the identification of the signaling pathways that can be blocked inhibiting beta cell death without modifying beta cell insulin secretory activity. The discovery of genes that pancreatic islets employ to ward off autoimmune effector mechanisms have important ramifications for transplantation, stem cell engineering, and future genetic and pharmacological diabetes preventative therapies.

Laurence Morel, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine

  • Email
  • Tel #  (352) 273-5638

Dr. Morel’s research focuses on the genetic analysis of lupus susceptibility using a mouse model and validates the findings obtained in the mouse with immune cells obtained from lupus patients and healthy controls.  The long-term goal of this research is to identify the genes responsible for lupus susceptibility and to characterize their contribution to autoimmune immunopathology.  This is a multifaceted project combining immunological and genetic approaches that has established her expertise in lupus genetics and more generally in the genetics of autoimmune diseases and in mouse models of autoimmune pathogenesis. The complexity of lupus genetics stems from the fact that it is a polygenic disease and that no single gene is required for disease development.  Dr. Morel has made a significant contribution to the field of complex trait genetics, and lupus genetics in particular, by showing that lupus susceptibility was inherited as a threshold liability of a combination of four susceptibility alleles.  Dr. Morel has defined a conceptual approach, the congenic dissection, which is now widely used to analyze complex traits in animal models.  In the process, they have updated the production of congenic strains to molecular screens and develop the “speed-congenic” method, which is now considered to standard approach for the production of congenic strains.

Dr. Morel has made considerable progress toward the identification of lupus susceptibility genes and in their functional characterization. She has shown that lupus pathogenesis was reconstituted by the combination of three chromosomal regions from the lupus-prone strain in a triple congenic strain.  This was a landmark study in the field that has not been achieved in any other models.  This BcN/LmoJ triple congenic strain is now the basic model to study lupus immunogenetics and mechanisms of tolerance in Dr. Morel’s lab.  This BcN/LmoJ strain has now been licensed and it is distributed by the Jackson Laboratories to numerous investigators and companies. Dr. Morel’s research now focuses of characterizing the contribution to autoimmune pathogenesis of several genes that she has positionally cloned as lupus susceptibility genes in the NZM2410 mouse. These genes, which include homeobox protein (Pbx1), orphan nuclear receptor (Esrrg), cell cycle regulator (Cdkn2c), SAP family adaptor (Sh2d1b1) and growth factor receptor (Csf3r), are very diverse in function and cellular target of expression. Finally, Dr. Morel is conducting research on the genetic regulation of cellular metabolism in immune cells and how it can be used to treat lupus with metabolic inhibitors.

Emily Moser, PhD

Department of Medicine and Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone: 804-304-1842

My lab studies how antibody responses are triggered.  We use models of vaccination, viral infection, and autoimmune disease to understand how changes in B cells impact antibody responses in health and disease.  Antibodies comprise a powerful arm of the immune system.  Antibodies protect from infection but can also cause autoimmune disease and transplant rejection.  Before becoming antibody-secreting cells, activated B cells receive and respond to a multitude of cues that instruct the antibody response.  My lab studies how protein modifications within the B cells shift the antibody program to induce protective or pathologic antibodies.  This research will help design therapies to better elicit protective antibodies and inhibit disease-causing antibodies.

Naohiro Terada, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Pathology

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-392-2696

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a newest type of stem cells artificially generated by transiently expressing a set of exogenous transcription factors in somatic cells such as skin fibroblasts. The iPSCs can differentiate into all the cell types in our body such as neurons and cardiomyocytes as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) do. Since Yamanaka (2006) originally reported the method for iPSC induction, the field has been rapidly expanding with great expectation. Essentially, the clinical implications of iPSCs are in two fold; first, as a cellular resource for transplantation therapy, and second, as a system to model human diseases. In my laboratory, in collaboration with many clinical investigators, we focus on utilizing patient-derived iPSCs for understanding disease mechanisms and for drug discovery. We welcome highly motivated and innovative undergraduate students to join our effort.

Lijun Yang, Ph.D.

Asst. Professor Dept. of Pathology

On-going research in my laboratory focuses on major areas of adult stem cell plasticity for a cure/management of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Over the past several years, we have made great progress by discovering ways to transdifferentiate adult stem cells (bone marrow, liver stem cells, and splenocytes) into functional insulin-producing pancreatic islet-like cells extrinsically by manipulating culture microenvironments and intrinsically by over-expressing those transcription factor(s) playing critical roles in pancreatic beta-cell development. In addition, we are pursuing two additional research projects: (1) Explore molecular mechanism of ATRA-induced cell differentiation in acute promyelocytic leukemia; and (2) Generate tumor-antigen-specific cytotoxic T-cells for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Weizhou Zhang, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

  • Email
  • Phone 352-273-6748

Our laboratory is interested in studying study breast cancer, melanoma, and renal cancers, with focus on mechanistic studies related cancer immunology, cancer immunotherapy, as well as developing novel drugs for clinical translation.


Brittany Bruggeman, MD

Assistant Professor Department of Pediatric Endocrinology


Our research team focuses on understanding the natural history and pathophysiology of exocrine pancreas dysfunction in patients with type 1 diabetes. Students would be exposed to both clinical and translational research. Our current studies use MRI to evaluate pancreas volume and clinical markers to evaluate exocrine function in people at-risk for type 1 diabetes. We also evaluate pancreas samples from people with type 1 diabetes to look at exocrine function and autoimmunity. We hope to use this information to better predict who will develop type 1 diabetes and to better understand the pathophysiology of type 1 diabetes overall. 

Manuela Corti, PT, Ph.D.

Department of Pediatrics

      I am the Associate Director of the University of Florida (UF) Powell Gene Therapy Center (PGTC) where we develop strategies to deliver therapeutic genes into specific cells of the body to treat genetic disorders. I am also an Associate Professor in the Department Pediatrics at UF. My interests lie in translating developing therapeutic strategies for neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders into successful clinical trials. I am involved in both clinical and preclinical research, offering a comprehensive approach to bridging the gap from the bench to bedside. I am studying various conditions, including Friedreich’s Ataxia, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Pompe disease, Barth syndrome among others. In addition, my line of research focuses on the evaluation of strategies to prevent immune responses against the AAV capsid, allow for AAV redosing and management of natural pre-existing AAV immunity.

Sam Xianjun Cheng, MD, Ph.D.

Department of Pediatrics

  • Email
  • TEL: (352)273-9358

My lab is currently working on several projects with the goal of defining novel therapeutic approaches to inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and secretory diarrhea.

Pedro E. Cruz, Ph.D.

Pediatrics Department

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-7880

My research interest is AAV gene therapy. The research will be focused on constructing new AAV gene therapy vectors for the treatment of muscular dystrophy diseases, development of new viruses, and development of AAV production methods for clinical application.

Curt DeGroff, M.D.

Pediatric Cardiology

Clinical chart review study – We would like a student to look at whether the use of a new micro-mini size transesophageal echo probe we use in the operating room on patients receiving congenital heart surgery has improved post operative feeding issues.

Willa H. Drummond, M.D.

Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics

My research will be in areas relating to developing effective clinical computer systems and in using data derived from computerized systems to study the physiology of ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and the neonatal cardiopulmonary diseases that cause need for ECMO (mainly pulmonary hypertension, failure and septic shock).

Marilyn Dumont-Driscoll, MD, PhD

Medicine- General Pediatrics

  •  Email
  • TEL: 352-334-1340

My focus is on clinical research (non-laboratory) in the area of childhood obesity including aspects of prevention, early identification of risk factors including genetic predisposition for obesity and associated physical and mental health co-morbidities, with clinical assessment, management and follow-up in the context of a medical home.  My other area of interest is in resident and student medical education, genetics in primary care, quality of care in pediatrics, and patient/family satisfaction and strategies to improve adherence.

Dima Ezmigna,MBBS,FAAP

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Pulmonology


Sickle cell lung disease in pediatrics, focus on categorizing lung disease phenotypes and identifying risk factors for acute chest syndrome. All clinical research. No basic science research available.

Suman Ghosh, M.D.

Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Neurology. Joint Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology.

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-265-8250

My clinical research focuses on etiologies and treatment of cerebral palsy, co-morbidities associated with pediatric traumatic brain injury and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with congenital heart disease.

Michael Haller, M.D.


  • Email
  • TEL: 352.273.9264

My research focus is pediatric type 1 diabetes. Our group uses a bench to bedside (translational) research approach in efforts to better understand type 1 diabetes and to develop therapies to prevent and ultimately reverse the disease. We have opportunities that span the entire spectrum of research from basic science in the laboratory to animal model experiments, to large clinical trials.

Brad E. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cellular & Molecular Therapy

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-8152

My research laboratory is focused on manipulating immunological tolerance by exploiting unique molecular, cellular, and gene therapy mechanisms that induce antigen-specific regulatory T-cells (Tregs) in order to develop novel therapeutics for treating Autoimmune Diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Optic Neuritis, and Celiac disease.

Bilal Khodr, MD

Department of Pediatric

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-213-1243

Research interests Clinical research in Behavior pediatric and Autism 

John A. Ligon, M.D.

Department of Pediatrics

Translational pediatric oncology studies, clinical trials, cancer immunotherapy, tumor microenvironment, cancer.

Michael T. McIntosh, Ph.D.

Department of Pediatrics, Child Health Research Institute

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-8870

My research combines advanced molecular biology and bioinformatics with traditional microbiology to reveal connections between infectious agents and diseases of unknown etiology or emerging epidemiology.  We employ RNA-seq and capture-seq platforms to study transcriptional networks associated with gammaherpesvirus infections and to discover new viruses in human diseases of unknown etiology or emerging epidemiology, at the human animal or vector interface, and in the context of immunocompromise or cancer. In this regard, I combine virus discovery and transcriptomics to reveal new diagnostic markers, host factors contributing to disease, and virus surface protein targets for neutralizing antibodies and the development of vaccines or antibody therapeutics.

Jordan Milner, MD

Dept. of Pediatrics / Hematology, Oncology, Stem Cell Transplantation

Jordan works with various clinical trials in the field of pediatric bone marrow transplantation.  Through clinical trials and translational research we are dedicated at decreasing morbidity and mortality in transplant recipients. Projects would mainly be focused on chart review, case series analysis.  Students would have the opportunity to understand stem cell transplant and various graft manipulation techniques and how clinical trials are created and how patients are accrued.

Eric Jorge Nelson, MD PhD

Dept. of Pediatrics / Child Health Research Institute

Our lab website describes well what our lab does: 

Josef Neu, M.D.


The Neonatal Gastroenterology and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory most recently has been involved in studies of the intestinal microbiome and how it relates to the development of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis. We are also studying the relationship of how different microbes related to later health and disease.

Don Novak, Ph.D.

Professor and Chief, Department of Pediatrics

Our laboratory is interested in the pathophysiology of normal fetal development, particularly as related to fetal nutrition. Our primary focus is upon placental function and the passage of nutrients across the placenta from mother to fetus. We utilize a variety of models (in vivo animal models, isolated cells, human placenta) and techniques in our efforts. The eventual goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms and regulation of nutrient transfer from mother to fetus, thus allowing the development of effective therapies for common disorders such as intrauterine growth retardation, which currently adversely impact the health of infants worldwide.

Jennifer Christine Munoz Pareja, M.D.

Pediatric Critical Care

Madhurima Saha, M.D.

Department of Pediatrics

My research covers cutting-edge biomedical areas. I study AAV gene therapy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, rare mitochondrial diseases like MEPAN and Barth syndromes, and how the immune system reacts to AAV capsids. We use hands-on methods to explore gene therapy techniques, understand disease causes, and look for new ways to treat these conditions. 

Arun Srivastava, PhD


  • Email
  • TEL:   352.273.8259

Please view the Projects on my website:

Lindsay Thompson M.D. M.S. and Erik Black Ph.D.

General Pediatrics

Through multidisciplinary work in medicine, public health/ health services research and education, we, as investigators with the Division of General Pediatrics, employ techniques of observational research to understand outcomes in health and well-being.  We are currently involved in several projects in education and medicine, although we specifically are seeking help in investigating online profiles and their relationships to health. We argue that the degree of overlap between high-risk behaviors depicted in online social networking profiles (eg: Facebook, MySpace) and real-life, high-risk behaviors (alcohol, drug, tobacco consumption, sexual practices, etc) is unknown. Our research aims to explore two related objectives: first, it aims to establish a rubric, or tool, to reliably quantify the content of online social networking profiles. Second, it aims to test whether high-risk behaviors depicted in individual online social networking profiles are associated with participation in real-life, high-risk behaviors, and to establish how personal characteristics such as age, gender and race/ethnicity affect this relationship.

Christopher C. Wendler Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

  • Email
  • TEL:  352-294-5675

Increasing evidence indicates that alteration of the normal prenatal environment affects development and can influence an individual’s lifetime risk of developing obesity and cardiovascular disease.  Thus, understanding how in utero exposure to chemical agents lead to increased susceptibility to adult diseases is the goal of my research.  Previously, we have demonstrated that adenosine A1 receptor (A1AR) signaling protects the embryo from hypoxic conditions in utero.  In addition, we have revealed that in utero caffeine exposure has long-term effects on cardiac function and morphology in adult offspring, and that these effects are mediated by A1AR action.  Recently, we have demonstrated that in utero caffeine treatment leads to changes in DNA methylation patterns in adult hearts.  And we are currently pursuing research to determine if these changes in DNA methylation mediate the changes we see in adult hearts.  In addition, we have begun to examine whether caffeine exposure in utero has transgenerational effects on heart function.

Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Jonathan Bird Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Dept. of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

  • Email
  • Contact: 352-294-8633

The Bird Lab is interested in how myosin molecular motors generate force on actin filaments and how defects in this fundamental cytoskeletal mechanism cause human disease. Dr. Bird studies this question using hair cells, the neural receptors for hearing and balance that are found within the inner ear. Hair cells transduce sounds and accelerations using actin-based stereocilia that protrude from their surface. The loss of stereocilia and hair cells, due to noise exposure, ototoxic drugs and aging, is a significant cause of permanent hearing impairment that is estimated to affect more than 360 million people worldwide.

Olga Guryanova, Ph.D.

Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  • Email
  • Contact: 352-294-8590

To stay healthy, our bodies need to produce 100 billion new blood cells every day. Molecular mistakes in this tightly regulated process can lead to precancerous conditions, and eventually leukemia. In our lab, the students will contribute to studies looking how specific mutations lead to abnormal DNA organization and gene regulation in the process of leukemia development. Read more here:

Jeffrey K. Harrison, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  • Email
  • Tel: 352-627-9208

Glioblastoma is one of the most challenging adult brain tumors to treat. Therapeutic targeting of the immune system, i.e. immunotherapy, in cancer is an active area of investigation. Despite some early success, additional combinatorial approaches will be needed for immune-based therapies to be more effective. Our lab uses pre-clinical mouse models to study the biology of glioma and to identify new therapeutic targets. We are primarily interested in understanding the mechanisms of communication between glioma and immune cells within the tumor microenvironment and how specific chemokines and chemokine receptors function in these interactions.

Helen Jones Ph.D.

Associate Professor Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics

  • Email
  • Phone: 352.846.1503

Research Interests: Understanding the development, anatomy and physiology of the maternal-fetal interface is fundamental and will aid in the development of interventions during fetal life that may mitigate congenital, childhood or adult diseases. One aspect of my research aims to identify methods of assessment of the interface and placenta during pregnancy by utilizing maternal blood and the extracellular vesicles within, in conjunction with delivered placental samples across normal pregnancy and in several pregnancy complications including placenta accreta spectrum, and congenital heart defects in order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms associated with these conditions and identify potential interventional targets within the placenta/Interface.

William Kem, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-0669

My lab investigates naturally occurring toxins that act upon nerve and other excitable cells. We sue these toxins as chemical probes to investigate receptors and ion channels of biomedical interest. Currently there are two major projects. One involves the design of nicotinic receptors in the brain and may be useful in therapy of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The second project utilizes a sea anemone peptide as a molecular model for developing new immunosuppressant drugs for treating organ transplants and autoimmune disorders. Students electing to do research in the laboratory would gain experience in chromatography and electrophoresis of proteins and their biological characterization.

May Khanna, Ph.D.

Dept. of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

My laboratory is dedicated to drug discovery in the realm of neurodegenerative diseases. Our work spans from in silico, structure-based docking to identify small molecules targeting RNA-protein, protein-protein, and RNA for therapeutic development. Our methodologies encompass molecular docking, elucidation of macromolecular structures, in vitro cell-based assays, and in vivo screening using flies. Joining our team provides the opportunity to acquire a multidisciplinary scientific approach and engage in vibrant, out-of-the-box thinking.  

Michael King, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, and VAMC

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 376-1611×6499

Our lab uses anatomical, electrophysiological, behavioral, and biochemical/molecular techniques to study progressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Gene transfer techniques are being used to develop better preclinical models for human neurodegenerative diseases, and potential therapeutic approaches for treating such diseases.  Models we have developed can reproduce key neuropathological phenomena and progressive dementia to permit experimental focus on specific mechanisms and interventions.  The lab also studies age-related memory loss apart from disease, particularly in relation to neuronal function in a temporal lobe structure known as the hippocampus.

Daniel Kopinke, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in Dept. of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and member of Myology Institute

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-5355

We study how cells communicate with each other to repair injured tissue. We specifically focus on primary cilia, small cellular antennae evolved to interpret extracellular cues and coordinate intercellular behavior. Recently, we discovered that cilia are crucial for skeletal muscle regeneration by controlling how two different types of stem cells in muscle talk to each other during the repair. Our findings suggest possible new therapies for repairing not only injured muscle but also to prevent muscle loss due to aging or diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We are now building on these findings using sophisticated mouse genetics to further understand which signals cilia sense, how these signals go awry during disease and ways to design novel therapies to counteract these disease processes. For more information, visit us at

Brian Law, Ph.D.

Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-9423

Our research focuses on the mechanisms responsible for breast cancer formation and spread and developing new therapeutic agents to block these processes. Specifically, current work examines the disulfide isomerases AGR2, AGR3, and ERp44 as novel targets for breast cancer medicines. Our team has developed the first inhibitors of these enzymes and demonstrated them to have striking activity against breast cancer in vivo. Ongoing work is to determine the client proteins that require AGR2, AGR3, and ERp44 for their folding and maturation, and the specific roles of these proteins in mammary tumorigenesis.

Erica Levitt, Ph.D.

Dept. Pharmacology & Therapeutics

We are interested in understanding how opioids cause respiratory depression, which is the primary cause of death from opioid overdose. Breathing is coordinated by a network of neurons, primarily situated in the brainstem, and opioids modulate these neurons to cause breathing disturbances. A variety of cellular and systems level approaches, including imaging, brain slice electrophysiology and plethysmography in awake animals are used in pursuit of this goal.

Steven D. Munger, Ph.D.

Professor and Vice-Chair of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-5749

My lab uses molecular biological, genetic and behavioral approaches to understand how chemosensory receptors contribute to the body’s detection of, and response to, odors, tastes and food components.

Edgardo Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

A significant number of adult-onset neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease are characterized by the aberrant and toxic accumulation of proteins in affected neurons. Our group relies on the use of model systems to test novel gene-based therapies that prevent, halt or reverse these “proteinopathies”. In particular, we develop Adeno-Associated virus-based gene therapies to suppress the expression of these proteins in affected neurons. Recently, using models of spinocerebellar ataxias, we have demonstrated that suppressing the expression of toxic proteins, even after disease onset, can lead to significant recovery of neuronal function and halt the progression of pathology. A new exciting area of gene therapy research in our group focuses on the development of “gene-editing” tools that can be used to modify inherited mutations in adult neurons.

Gemma Casadesus Smith, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-5346

Work in my laboratory focuses on the study of fundamental physiological events that become deregulated by aging or poor lifestyle (environment) and have been identified as major effectors of AD development. A major emphasis of my laboratory is to develop therapeutic strategies to prevent the development of AD.  To current areas of focus in my laboratory are 1) menopause, and 2) the exosome, particularly as it pertains to Age/life-style dysregulation of metabolic function ­­­­­­­­­­and their impact on CNS function and AD risk. In both of these events, neuronal dysfunction and functional loss are driven by alterations in levels of various hormones. Therefore, current projects are directed toward understanding how specific reproductive and metabolic hormones involved in these lifespan/lifestyle events affect neuronal function/structure and how these changes impact memory function and development of AD.

Nikhil Urs, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Dopamine (DA) is a catecholamine neurotransmitter found in the mammalian brain and regulates many critical physiological processes such as movement, cognition, motivation, reward/pleasure, and hormone regulation. Dysfunction of the dopamine system has been implicated in many brain disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), schizophrenia, OCD, and ADHD. The goal of our laboratory is to study the role of genetic and environmental factors on dopamine neurotransmission and to learn more about the dopamine system by deciphering, a) signaling pathways involved in DA neurotransmission, b) functional dopamine neuronal circuits, and c) how these integrate and manifest behaviorally in an organism (mouse). Using these integrated approaches—in parallel—will allow us to fine-tune dopamine neurotransmission and devise novel drug- and gene-based therapeutic approaches to treat dopamine-related disorders such as PD, ADHD and schizophrenia.

Dan Wesson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-8767

We explore the neural processing of sensory information in the context of behavior. This line of questioning provides an ideal platform to test specific hypotheses regarding the brain basis of sensory dysfunction in neurological disorders, including dementias and addiction, wherein sensory processing is aberrant. We also develop tools for the study of the brain in behaving animals, including brain interfaces, and 3D-printed components to control and monitor behavior. Three major projects in the lab are outlined below:

  1. Define brain systems for sensory information processing and motivated behaviors. Work from my lab was the first to uncover how neurons in a previously underappreciated brain region, the olfactory tubercle, represent odor information based upon their emotional meaning (valence) and also represent reward-related information, and do so in manners dependent upon motivational states. We are following upon these initial studies by using awake physiological and imaging methods in behaving animals to unravel the neural circuits underlying emotion- and motivation-based sensory processing.
  2. Determine why, and how, the olfactory system is vulnerable to early onset dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Pathology in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is observed early in life in the olfactory system. This is accompanied by deficits in odor perception. What causes olfactory perception loss in these diseases? Why are olfactory centers vulnerable to these pathologies? We believe we will be able to learn fundamental information regarding these diseases and how they progress by studying olfactory dysfunction. We are using models of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in combination with awake physiological and imaging methods to address these voids.
  3. Define mechanisms whereby the olfactory system is shaped by cognitive state. Our perception is entirely different when we attend to a stimulus versus when we don’t. Recent work in my lab developed an assay allowing us to harness olfactory selective attention and in doing so we uncovered that olfactory selective attention controls olfactory decisions and the brains representation of odors. We are following-up on this initial exciting discovery by examining pathways and systems we hypothesize orchestrate this influence of attention on olfaction.

More information can be found at

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Heather K. Vincent, Ph.D.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Research Interests:  running and gait mechanics, injury prevention in sport, sports biomechanics, exercise and lifestyle medicine throughout the life span, parasport and unique physiological needs of niche sports, strength and physical function assessment and relation to performance and injury prevention in adolescents and older adults, exercise and musculoskeletal pain. Fitness assessment in clinic and related health outcomes research.

Sharareh Sharififar

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-273-8453

Research interests: management of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, running and gait mechanics, clinical research in the area of stroke recovery.

Physiology & Aging

Abdel A. Alli, Ph.D., MPH

Assistant Professor of Physiology and Aging

  • Email
  • Tel:  (352) 273-7877

My laboratory is interested in understanding the role of nanometer-scale cell-derived vesicles called exosomes in the regulation of sodium transport mechanisms in the kidney during diabetic nephropathy and salt-sensitive hypertension.  We are also interested in identifying novel proteolytic-dependent regulatory mechanisms in the kidney that contribute to blood pressure disorders.  We use a multidisciplinary approach that integrates molecular biology, biochemistry, proteomics, and electrophysiology in order to examine complex regulatory mechanisms of membrane transporters in both cellular and animal models.  This allows for the identification of novel drug targets and the development of specific therapeutics.

Stephen Anton, Ph.D.

Aging and Geriatric Research

  • Email
  • (352) 273 – 7514

I am interested in the role that lifestyle factors and natural compounds may have in influencing biological mechanisms related to the aging process, as well as age-related metabolic diseases.

David Clark, Sc.D.

Aging and Geriatric Research, Institute on Aging and Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.

  • Email
  • (352)376-1611 x5244

My research examines how the neural control of walking is affected by aging and/or by neurological injury. A variety of physiological assessments are used in my research, including electromyography (neuromuscular activity), functional near infrared spectroscopy (brain activity) and biomechanics.

Karyn Esser, Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology and Aging
Assistant Director of the Myology Institute

  • Email
  • Phone:  352-273-5728

Circadian rhythms are well known daily patterns in sleep/wake cycles and core body temperature.  Recent discoveries have uncovered that the molecular clock mechanism underlying circadian rhythms exists in all cells in the body.  My lab is currently pursuing three main areas of research related to circadian rhythms and skeletal muscle.   Using targeted genetic mouse models, we have found that the clock mechanism in skeletal muscle modulates fat/carbohydrate metabolism, muscle structure/function in the presence of normal circadian function in the brain.   We are pursuing these observations to define  the transcriptional and translational networks regulated by the molecular clock in skeletal muscle that regulate both metabolism and function.   The second area of study is based on the recent work that has shown that time of activity/exercise can function as a cue to “set” the clocks in skeletal muscle independent the brain.  We are using cell culture models of muscle contraction combined with unique exercise paradigms to define the mechanisms by which activity can regulate the molecular clock.  Lastly, we are working to develop analytic techniques to use biometric data obtained from wearable devices to define “circadian health” in human populations.

Michelle L. Gumz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Aging  

The long term goal of my lab is to characterize the role of Per1, a circadian clock protein, in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function. Our current focus is on the mechanism of Per1 action in the kidney. Current projects in the lab include  (1) whole animal experiments to study the blood pressure phenotype and renal sodium handling defect in Per1 knockout mice, and (2) in vitro experiments to understand the molecular regulation of Per1 target genes in mouse kidney collecting duct cells.

Sung Min Han, Ph.D.

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-5682  

Our long-term research goal is to understand how the nervous system maintains its function and integrity during aging. In particular, our current goal is to investigate the underlying mechanisms of adult neurons’ axon regeneration to provide therapeutic strategy against axonal damage. Axon regeneration is one of the essential processes that restore the nervous system after neuronal injury and neurodegeneration. Despite its clinical significance, very little is known about the underlying mechanism of axon regeneration. We are developing a unique research program in the field of axon regeneration by combining our expertise in cell biology, mitochondrial biology, and laser axotomy.

Annette de Kloet, Ph.D.

Physiology and Aging

  • Email
  • TEL: (352)-294-8490

A major goal of my research program is to elucidate mechanisms underlying obesity and co-morbid conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.  A particular emphasis is placed on the interactions among neural circuits that regulate energy balance with those that control blood pressure, and also on the impact that the renin-angiotensin system has on these circuits.   Some specific research topics currently being explored include: (1) examining the role of angiotensin-II and related peptides in the neuroendocrine regulation of energy balance; (2) optogenetic targetting of angiotensin-sensitive neurons of the nodose ganglion to combat obesity and hypertension; and (3) evaluating mechanisms by which angiotensin-sensitive neurons of the median preoptic nucleus coordinate physiological and pathophysiological responses to hypertensive stimuli.  In order to explore these and other research topics, we use a mutli-level approach that spans the use of several molecular, genetic, physiological and behavioral techniques.  Some examples of the approaches used are: telemetry and indirect calorimetery, which are used to assess cardiovascular parameters and energy expenditure respectively; optogenetics, fiber photometry, neuronal tract tracing, mRNA in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry, which are used to characterize the structure and function of specific sets of neurons involved in these processes; and genetic recombination and virally-mediated gene transfer techniques, which allow for the manipulation of gene expression in specific cellular phenotypes.

Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D.

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 273-5735

Dr. Leeuwenburgh’s major research focus is to better understand the molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death (apoptosis), mitochondrial bioenergetic failure with age, mechanisms of oxidative stress and inflammation with age. The Biochemistry of Aging laboratory investigates transgenic mice, uses rodent models for intervention studies and he directs several funded clinical translational studies on humans.  In these later studies, he conducts research on the role of apoptosis in the loss of human skeletal muscle with age and its role in human frailty, specifically on low and high functioning older adults.

Andrew C. Liu, Ph.D.

Physiology and Aging, College of Medicine

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-8900

The focus of my lab is the molecular and physiological mechanisms of circadian rhythms in mammals. We ask i) how the circadian (~24 h) clock is built in a cell and in the master SCN clock in the brain that regulates our sleep/wake cycle, and ii) how the clock is integrated with cellular homeostasis. We use mice and cultured cells as model systems and employ highly integrated approaches including molecular biology, genetics and genomics. We study the clocks at the levels of cell, tissue, organ, and organism, and use kinetic and longitudinal methods to study the dynamics of physiological processes such as sleep/wake states. For example, we are investigating how the circadian clock cross-talks with the immune functions in the central nervous system to regulate sleep pathophysiology. Ultimately, we hope to gather sufficiently detailed knowledge to modulate our timekeeping system to improve body functions and contribute to chronotherapeutic treatment strategies.

Robert Mankowski, Ph.D.

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research

My translational research, that consists of clinical and basic science aspects, is focused on testing interventions (nutraceuticals and exercise) on cardiovascular and physical function in older adults. Additionally, I am interested in describing the cardiovascular dysfunction in older survivors of critical illness (sepsis) and planning lifestyle interventions (exercise and nutrition) in this population to improve cardiovascular and physical function.

Mohan K. Raizada, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Aging

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-9299

Regulation of angiotensin receptor-mediated neuromodulatory actions in the brains of normal and hypertensive rats. This involves studies in various signal transduction pathways and participation of signaling kinases.  Use of antisense gene therapy for a permanent control of hypertension.

Regilda Ann (Rea) Romero, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Aging

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-1816

My clinical and research interests include pediatric neuropsychology particularly focusing on autism and neurodevelopmental conditions (i.e., ADHD, Learning Disability, Intellectual Developmental Disability, etc.) . I view assessment and treatment in a multicultural lens. My most current research projects are in multicultural neuropsychological/autism assessments.  

Peter Sayeski, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Aging

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-1816

The research performed in my laboratory is focused on understanding the role of Jak2 tyrosine kinase in human diseases. A variety of cellular, molecular, genetic, biochemical and bioinformatic techniques are used for these studies.

Sharareh Sharififar

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  • (352) 273-8453

Management of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, running and gait mechanics, clinical research in the area of stroke recovery.

Shinichi Someya, Ph.D.

Department of Aging and Aging

  • Email
  • Tel: 352-294-5167

Hearing loss is caused by genetic defects, noise exposure, ototoxic drugs, and/or aging and is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in adults. A major question being studied in our laboratory is how hearing deteriorates with age at the molecular level. We are particularly interested in understanding how cochlear hair cells, spiral ganglion neurons, and/or stria vascularis cells are continually lost throughout life. To answer these questions, we study the molecular basis of hearing loss as well as hearing function under normal/healthy conditions using various transgenic and knockout mice and cultured mouse inner ear cell lines. A second question being studied in our laboratory is can the progression of hearing loss be slowed? To find these answers, we study the effects of calorie restriction and exercise on hearing in mouse models of hearing loss.

Colin Sumners, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology, and Program Director

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-4485

Our research focus is in two major areas. 1) Understanding the intracellular signaling mechanisms by which angiotensin II alters the activity of brain neurons, and how these mechanisms may be impaired in hypertension. 2) Studying the role of the angiotensin type 2 receptor (AT2) in neural and cardiovascular function.

Clayton Swanson, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Aging

My research investigates the neural control of mobility and how it is affected by aging and/or by neurological disease. I use a variety of assessments in my research, including non-invasive brain stimulation, electromyography (neuromuscular activity), magnetic resonance imaging, and wireless inertial sensors. 

Charles E. Wood, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Physiology & Aging

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 392-4488

The research performed in this laboratory is focused on the mechanisms controlling the responses to stress in the fetus in utero and on the mechanisms controlling the timing of birth.

Rui Xiao, Ph.D.

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, Biology of Aging Division, Institute on Aging

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-9389

We are interested in understanding the fundamental biology of the interaction between genetic factors and environmental factors in the process of animal aging (Xiao et al., (2013), Cell, 152(4):806-17; Xiao et al., (2015), Cell Reports, 11(7):1123-33.).  To address this question, we mainly use the genetic model organism C. elegans because of its short generation period and lifespan and powerful genetic tools.  Approaches used in the lab including molecular genetics, lifespan and stress assays, calcium and fluorescence imaging, protein biochemistry, and electrophysiology.


Adrie W. Bruijnzeel, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 294-0421

Role of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in the depressive-like signs associated with drug withdrawal We use the rat intracranial self-stimulation procedure to investigate the effects of CRF in nicotine withdrawal. This entails the implantation electrodes in the medial forebrain bundle of rats and the daily assessment of brain reward thresholds. Withdrawal from drug of abuse increases the brain reward threshold (i.e. depressive like state) and we try to reverse this by using CRF antagonists and other novel pharmacological treatments for mood disorders. The student will become experience with the following techniques: Surgical techniques: Implantation of electrodes and cannulae in the brain; implantation and removal and subcutaneous minipumps that contain drugs of abuse. Injection procedures: Subcutaneous, intraperitoneal and intracranial administration of drugs. In addition the student will gain extensive knowledge about animal care, how to conduct scientific experiment and drug dependence research. This projected will be conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Mark Gold.

Marcelo Febo, Ph.D.

Department of Psychiatry

Our research objective is to determine the in vivo neurobiological actions of psychostimulant drugs of abuse. To achieve this, we utilize several magnetic resonance imaging modalities in rodent models of psychostimulant exposure (e.g., diffusion, functional and manganese enhanced MRI). Ongoing work by our group is focused on understanding the deleterious neurotoxic and long-term neuroadaptions with chronic abuse of synthetic cathinones and other psychostimulants. More information on other projects can be found here:

Paola Giusti-Rodriguez, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

  • Email
  • Phone: (352)294-4925

My laboratory has two major areas of research: 1. Expand our understanding of the genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders by increasing the number of research participants of non-European ancestry. 2. Employ functional genomics approaches to gain mechanistic insight onto the role of the non-coding genome in the disease etiology of psychiatric disorders and to explore potential regulatory mechanisms. These projects will involve an array of functional genomics assays and techniques (Hi-C, RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, etc.) and data analysis using standard pipelines. I am committed to the success of my trainees and have extensive experience mentoring and working with undergraduate students.

Jacqueline A. Hobbs, MD, PhD, FAPA

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics

My clinical/research interest is women’s mental health. My laboratory focuses on the role of viruses such as parvovirus B19 and human herpesvirus 6 in inflammatory diseases including autoimmunity and cancer. Target diseases are postpartum depression/psychosis, pregnancy-related mental illness, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, thyroid cancer, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Grave’s disease. Target organs of interest are brain, thyroid, skin, testis, and lymph nodes.

Khurshid A Khurshid, M.D.

Dept. of Psychiatry

Neuromodulation, sleep disorders. Transcranial Magnetic stimulation for insomnia. Transcranial direct current for depression. ECT for depression.

Mark H. Lewis, Ph.D.

Professor and Assistant Chair

My lab works with animal models of autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically we are focused on the abnormal repetitive behavior (e.g., stereotyped behavior, compulsions, rituals, insistence on sameness) characteristic of children and adults with these developmental disorders. We are investigating the neurobiology underlying the development and expression of abnormal repetitive behavior in several animal models. Our research with deer mice involves examining the brain changes associated with the development of abnormal repetitive behavior and its prevention by early experience. These studies include examination of developmental trajectories and the temporal organization of repetitive behavior and associated changes in key pathways in cortical basal ganglia circuitry. These biochemical and pharmacological studies have not only identified neurobiological mechanisms but have identified potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of these behaviors. Other work with an inbred mouse strain is focused on identifying genetic loci that mediate the development and expression of repetitive behavior.

Cheryl B. McNeil, Ph.D.

Professor Dept. of Psychiatry

My academic interests are focused on program development and evaluation for interventions that address disruptive behaviors of young children (1 to 9 years) in the home, school, and dental settings. I am particularly interested in applications of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy to a variety of populations, including ADHD, autism, and child maltreatment. 

Lisa Merlo, Ph.D., MPE

Department of Psychiatry

My research focuses on wellbeing and impairment among healthcare professionals and trainees. Specifically, I study ways the healthcare environment contributes to professional fulfillment vs. burnout, and interventions to improve the culture of wellness within healthcare systems and educational settings. I also study the process of recovery among healthcare professionals with potentially-impairing conditions (e.g., substance use disorders, psychiatric disorders, and other cognitive and behavioral conditions). I work with both the state impaired practitioners monitoring program and the national Federation of State Physician Health Programs, and my research involves mainly survey data, interviews/focus groups, and clinical chart review.

Amber Muehlmann, Ph.D.

Department of Psychiatry

We study basal ganglia circuitry dysfunction as it relates to maladaptive behaviors that are phenotypic for psychiatric (e.g. OCD) and neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism, intellectual disabilities), using mouse models. Our mice exhibit high rates of repetitive behaviors as a consequence of genetic manipulations or environmental impoverishment. Our experiments utilize molecular techniques as well as psychopharmacology and drug development to investigate neuropathology and targeted drug treatments.

Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D.

Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-294-4920

Dr. Nixon’s research focuses on the neurobehavioral concomitants of substance use and dependence/addiction.  Her work uses comprehensive behavioral assessments including neuropsychological testing, brain electrophysiology (electroencephalography and event-related potentials), and clinical research interviews.  A recurrent theme in her work has been the exploration of sex/gender differences in both the psychosocial and neurobiological aspects of addiction.

Barry Setlow, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry

In my laboratory, we use a range of behavioral, pharmacological, biochemical, electrophysiological, and optogenetic techniques in rodent models to investigate the neural mechanisms of impulsive and risky decision making, and how they are altered by drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana.

Takahiro Soda, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry


I am a general as well as child and adolescent psychiatrist with clinical expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  I am the medical director for the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment.

I am interested in the intersection between ongoing research in the biological underpinnings of these conditions and the clinical implementation of research findings into routine care. I am interested in doing this ethically.  I participate in research consortia that look at the genetic factors that contribute to the development of various neuropsychiatric disorders as well as whether there are genetic predictors to response to treatment. I am also conducting practical implementation studies that look at what results in successful change of practice patterns- in academic medical settings and am interested in expanding/ implementing successful interventions to the community at large so that all patients have access to the highest standards of care. I work with many colleagues in the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment and have opportunities for research that can have an impact on patients autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Radiation Oncology

Song Lai, Ph.D.

Professor of Radiation Oncology; Director, CTSI Human Imaging Core

  • Email
  • Phone: 352-294-5597

My research is devoted to the advancement of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology for applications in health and disease in humans, with a focus on brain functional MRI (fMRI). Going beyond the traditional strength of MRI for providing images of the structure/anatomy of the body in health and disease, fMRI allows for imaging the human brain at activity (e.g., thinking, seeing, hearing, etc.) by detecting cerebral hemodynamic responses (i.e., microscopic blood flow or perfusion, and oxygen consumption by brain tissues) accompanying brain activity. fMRI can also be applied to studying/monitoring effects of a treatment, therapy or intervention. We offer excellent opportunities for students to participate in our exciting research, with a particular emphasis on translational MRI research in humans.

Jiyeon Park, Ph.D., DABR

Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Our research team’s work is to devise better treatment strategies to contribute to radiotherapy outcome improvements from a clinical radiation physics perspective. The multidisciplinary technologies of science and biomedical engineering are applied to provide a higher level of radiation treatment. We principally investigate proton and photon beam characteristics in treatment cases by simulating and verifying radiation dose and radiobiological effects. Based on assessing the underlying changes in radiation beam characteristics, we suggest more optimized beam parameters to enhance radiation treatment effects in a planning system. These studies include evaluating dose perturbations by medical implants, patient motions, and treatment accessories in head and neck, breast, lung, and prostate cancer treatments. We formulate models to predict treatment outcomes and increase the therapeutic ratio. In addition, we explore clinically applicable methodologies to improve medical image quality and beam delivery precision using various radiation detectors in proton treatment.

Dietmar W. Siemann, Ph.D.

Professor, Dept. of Radiation Oncology

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 395-0287

Research in our laboratories is focused on improving conventional anticancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy. Our current focus is on the use of drugs which damage the tumor vasculature which cripples the blood supply to the tumor and leads to the death of the tumor cells.

Walter O’Dell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Dept. Radiation Oncology

Our team recently solved the technical challenges of extracting and characterizing the structure of lung vessels in 3D from medical images, and we have two patents pending for these new tools. The long-term purpose of our current work is to apply and optimize these tools for use in 3 classes of patients: (1) children born before their lung vessels have fully deformed; (2) teenagers with pulmonary vessel insufficiency (often as a result of being born prematurely); and (3) adults with chronic pulmonary hypertension (PAH). Our clinical objectives are to (1) characterize the development of the pulmonary vessels over time in prematurely-born infants; (2) determine the time-course of progressive vessel disease in these children as they age into young-adulthood; and (3) to study vascular remodeling with chronic PAH. In parallel with the clinical work, our technological objectives are to (4) characterize and validate the accuracy and sensitivity of the method, (5) compare our results against competing approaches; and (6) optimize and streamline the analysis algorithms to position ourselves strongly for additional funding.


Scott Berceli, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352)376-1611, extension 6470

Work in Dr. Berceli’s lab is focused on the process of the vascular response to injury, with a specific interest in understanding the role of biomechanical forces in mediating these events.  Although these concepts are also seen in vascular problems such as atherosclerosis and arteriogenesis, our current basic science and translational research projects examine the dynamic interplay among the various forces that lead to luminal narrowing following vein bypass grafting.  Integrating mathematics, engineering, and vascular biology, research opportunities in our laboratory offer a range of experiences, from bench top testing to in vivo experimentation to the development of in silico computational models.

Song Han, Ph.D.

Department of Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352)272-7758

My research interests focus on pancreatic cancer, including both basic biological research and translational research. We are interested to understand the cell-to-cell communication in tumor microenvironment through extracellular vesicles (EVs) and how it affects tumor biology and consequently clinical impact. We are also exploring molecule cargos carried by EVs as biomarkers for pancreatic cancer diagnosis and prognosis.

Eric I. Jeng, MD, MBA

Department of Surgery, Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

  • Email
  • TEL: 310-922-4265

 Research focus centers on mechanical cardiac support (LVADs), aortic surgery, dysphagia in cardiac surgery, and economics in medicine.  Major interest in translational research that leads to either improved quality of life as it relates to procedures, or patient safety improvement.  Many projects that are appropriate for entry level research include retrospective chart review, abstract construction, and participation in national presentation.  We have a strong track record of mentoring young investigators to published authors in peer reviewed journals.

Zhihua Jiang, Ph.D.

Department of Surgery

  • Email
  • TEL: (352) 294-5688 

Using both transgenic animal models and cell culture system, we have been exploring the mechanisms that are responsible for occlusive arterial diseases, such as restenosis of arteries and bypass vein grafts. Recently, we have developed projects focusing on the role of TGF-beta signaling pathways in the development of aortic aneurysms. Students in the lab will learn to perform various cellular and molecular assays while gaining knowledge on vascular biology. Those who were trained in our group have been accepted by either Medical School or Dental School at UF. We currently have two open seats for UF undergraduates.

Shawn D. Larson, M.D.

Division of Pediatric Surgery/Department of Surgery

  • Email
  • Office: (352) 273-8761

My interests are in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which is a disease process affecting the GI tract of premature and newborn infants. The condition is associated with significant morbidities and in severe cases, death. Our laboratory is interested in the following projects: investigating innate immune responses secondary to sepsis/NEC with both cell cultures and mouse models, development of an animal model to investigate immune function in NEC, and developing a human tissue bank of intestinal tissue to investigate factors contributing to NEC.

Guanyi Lu, MD, PhD.

Research Associate Professor
Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352)294-8929

 Our research focus on the mechanism of abdominal aortic aneurysm formation, developing new models of experimental aneurysm and selecting novel approaches for aneurysm treatment. Student will work in Dr. Upchurch Lab, one of the core research facilities in the Department of Surgery. Depend on the time committed, student trainee will have the opportunities of participating our current research projects, gaining research experience on bench analyses or hands-on skills of microsurgery on small animal.

Tiago N. Machuca, M.D., Ph.D.

Dept. of Surgery, Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

My areas of research are lung preservation for transplant, ex vivo lung perfusion and porcine models of lung transplantation. I also do clinical research aiming to improve outcomes in lung transplantation.

Alicia M. Mohr, MD

Associate Professor of Surgery

  • Email
  • TEL: 352-273-5670

My research focus is on basic and translational research in the field of trauma and prolonged critical illness with an emphasis on the understanding on injury-associated persistent anemia as a manifestation of bone marrow dysfunction. We are using a novel rodent model to study the effects of chronic adrenergic stimulation following injury and hemorrhagic shock on erythropoiesis and hematopoietic progenitor cell mobilization. Our basic research findings can be correlated with clinical studies persistent anemia and abnormal healing of injured tissue.  The student will develop insight on how basic science research can be applied in the clinical arena.

Lori P. Rice, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist, Dept. of Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352)392-2382

Our research program goals are to determine the effects of various antiproliferative agents on prostate cancer cells and to identify target genes or metabolic pathways that may be useful in drug design or diagnostic tools in cells and patient tissue. We are interested in the mechanisms of cancer progression and metastasis and in chemoprevention. Assays currently used in the lab include traditional molecular and cell biology protocols, laser capture microscopy, electron microscopy, animal xenograft studies and microarray analyses. We have an interdisciplinary program with collaborators are based in various departments and colleges, including IFAS, Statistics, Radiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Molecular Genetics and Surgery.

Winston T. Richards, M.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 273-5670

My research interests include outcomes analysis of burn and hand injuries as well as developing mathematical models for the clinical characteristics of skin grafting on the hand. I am currently involved in projects describing the need for hand surgery centers of excellence in the State, The need for increased awareness of the pending population changes from the baby boom and their effect on burn care for elderly patients, and a model for the scar contractures that can be expected after skin grafting hand burns.

Ellen Satteson, M.D.

Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery

Dr. Satteson’s clinical research focuses on patient outcomes, satisfaction, safety, and quality of care in plastic surgery, particularly hand surgery. Projects are available for any experience level with the ability to participate as a manuscript author and project presenter. Operating room and clinic shadowing opportunities also available.

Ashish K. Sharma, Ph.D. 

Department of Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: (352) 294-8660

My laboratory focuses on defining the molecular and signal transduction mechanisms of acute lung injury (i.e. ischemia-reperfusion injury or primary graft dysfunction) after lung transplantation as well as investigating the pathophysiology of aortic aneurysms. The main focus of our research is to decipher the contribution of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in acute and chronic lung injury, as well as to implement mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles as a therapeutic strategy in aortic aneurysms and primary graft dysfunction after lung transplantation.

Ali Zarrinpar, MD, PhD

Division of Transplantation & Hepatobiliary Surgery, Department of Surgery

  • Email
  • Phone: TEL: 352.265.0606

We are interested in getting the right treatment to the right patient in the right place at the right time. Our models to test our methodology include cellular and animal models, as well as patients. Our diseases and processes of interest include fatty liver disease, liver cancer, transplantation, immunosuppression, and reperfusion injury. We also have a great interest in the development of surgical technology for use in the operating room or for the preservation of organs. For more detail please also take a look at our website:

Ali Zarrinpar

Department of Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Please visit our website.


Benjamin K. Canales, M.D., MPH

Assistant Professor, Urology

The focus of our laboratory is a basic-science, translational approach to kidney stone disease utililizing MS technologies of 2D DIGE and qualitative iTRAQ isobaric reagent peptide labeling as well as gene array expression. We have an established knock-out mouse model of hypercalciuria and a hyperoxaluric obese rat model of gastric bypass sugery, all of which have potentials for further exploration. In the summer of 2008, a student completed a 3 month research project involving dissolution of urinary crystals and kidney stones using a novel enzymatic approach.

Philipp Dahm, MD, MHSc

Department of Urology

  • Email
  • phone: (352) 273-8239

The focus of interest of our clinical research group is the development of evidence-based resources and knowledge translation services with an emphasis on urologic surgery. Recently completed projects include a critical appraisal of the quality of evidence supporting the widespread use of robotic-assisted prostatectomy and a formal assessment of the methodological quality of prostate cancer guidelines.

Sergei Kusmartsev, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Urology

  • Email
  • Tel.  352-273-8235

Our studies are focused on mechanisms of tumor-induced immune suppression and immune tolerance. We are trying to dissect the role of CD11b myeloid cells in the regulation of anti-tumor immune response in both cancer patients and tumor-bearing mice. Currently, several projects are underway, including characterization of myeloid suppressor cells population in peripheral blood of cancer patients with bladder and renal cell carcinoma. Another interest concerns regulatory mechanisms of local immune response in tumor microenvironment. We investigate several genes and transcription factors which are affected in tumor-infiltrated myeloid cells and precursors of antigen-presenting cells.  The ultimate goal of our research is correction of tumor-induced dysfunction, activation of immune system and induction of therapeutic immune response.

Our studies are focused on mechanisms of tumor-induced immune suppression and immune tolerance. We are trying to dissect the role of CD11b myeloid cells in the regulation of anti-tumor immune response in both cancer patients and tumor-bearing mice. Currently, several projects are underway, including characterization of myeloid suppressor cells population in peripheral blood of cancer patients with bladder and renal cell carcinoma. Another interest concerns regulatory mechanisms of local immune response in tumor microenvironment. We investigate several genes and transcription factors which are affected in tumor-infiltrated myeloid cells and precursors of antigen-presenting cells.  The ultimate goal of our research is correction of tumor-induced dysfunction, activation of immune system and induction of therapeutic immune response.