Grad Openings

The following Molecular Genetics and Microbiology graduate faculty members are currently accepting rotation students and new graduate students into their research programs.

(Last updated May 19,2022)


Steeve Boulant, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Immunology/Microbiology
We study how enteric viral pathogens (rotavirus, norovirus, astrovirus) infect and replicate in the human gastro-intestinal tract. We aim at defining how host/enteric pathogen interactions is coordinated at the molecular level in space and time and how these complex interactions can either lead to pathology development or resolution of viral infection. Our goal is to exploit these mechanisms to develop novel antiviral therapeutic approaches and pharmacological interventions to treat inflammatory bowel diseases. We use a multidisciplinary approach combining molecular and cellular biology, state-of-the-art live single molecule imaging, bio-engineering (to simulate the physiological microenvironment) and single cell transcriptomic approaches. Our integrative research approach allows us to address within a tissue how individual cell types communicate together to coordinate different antiviral strategies to ultimately lead to viral clearance while maintaining tissue homeostasis.


Andrew J. Bryant, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Immunology/Microbiology, Physiology
Myeloid cell regulation of pulmonary vascular disease using preclinical and clinical models of disease including chronic hypoxia exposure and pulmonary fibrosis.


Josephine Clark-Curtiss, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Immunology/Microbiology, Biochemistry
Development of an effective vaccine against tuberculosis using recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccine delivery systems producing Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens.
Understanding mechanisms of M. tuberculosis pathogenesis through (a) analyses of M. tuberculosis gene expression, (b) identification of operational metabolic pathways during growth of the bacilli in human macrophages and dendritic cells and (c) analyses of regulation of gene expression.


Kotaro Fujii, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations: 
Genetics, Biochemistry, Neuroscience
Gene expression must be accurate in theory, however mRNA translation is surprisingly error prone with 10% of nascent proteins having at least one error. These error products could stimulate protein aggregation with a progressive deterioration of protein homeostasis across aging. We approach disruptions in protein homeostasis from a protein production standpoint to understand how error products contribute to protein aggregation and the late onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Our lab’s study of molecular mechanisms of translation error through cutting-edge biochemistry, molecular biology, and state-of-the-arts genomics in yeast, mouse embryonic stem cell culture, and in vivo mouse models will provide crucial insight for the development of therapies for neurodegenerative disease. 


Henry Heine, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Immunology/Microbiology, Biochemistry
Use of animal model systems for evaluation of therapeutics against potential biowarfare/bioterrorism bacterial pathogens to include, B. anthracis, Y. pestis, F. tularensis Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei.


Stephanie Karst, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Immunology/Microbiology
My lab studies norovirus pathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on understanding how the intestinal microbiota influence viral infection and the antiviral immune response.


Zhe Ma, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Immunology/Microbiology , Cancer Biology
Approximately 15% of cancers diagnosed were attributed to carcinogenic viral infections. Upon viral infections, the host innate immune system acts as the first line of defense to prevent viral invasion or replication, while viruses also strive for survival by repressing innate immune signaling. By further understanding how innate immunity is regulated by tumor viruses, our lab aims to dissect the interactions between innate immune responses and viral tumor development. Our long-term goal is to identify potential targets and strategies for viral cancer treatment. Utilizing molecular biology as well as bioinformatics tools, our lab seeks to extend our knowledge of how viral proteins regulate the cGAS-STING pathway and how to develop potential KSHV cancer therapy by targeting these viral proteins. 


Lauren McIntyre, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics
In order to better understand complex phenotypes, Dr. McIntyre is developing a systems approach to the statistical analysis of genomic, proteomic, and other “omic” data. The program is computational and highly collaborative with experimental groups with expertise in Drosophila, Staphylococcus aureus, and diabetes. We seek to answer fundamental questions about how genetic variation influences variation in phenotype.​


Borna Mehrad, M.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Immunology/Microbiology
Our lab studies mechanisms of lung immune response and repair in the context of infectious and non-infectious injury.


Laura P.W. Ranum, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Neuroscience
We use gene discovery and mouse models to understand the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases. In 2011 we discovered a novel form of protein translation in which repeat expansion mutations express proteins in all three reading frames without the canonical AUG start codon. These repeat associated non-ATG (RAN) proteins have now been reported in a growing number of neurological diseases and we are focused on understanding the mechanisms of RAN translation and developing therapeutic strategies to target these toxic proteins as a therapeutic strategy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myotonic dystrophy, spinocerebellar ataxia and other repeat expansion disorders.


Megan L. Stanifer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Immunology/Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology
In the Stanifer lab, we evaluate how the mucosal surfaces such as the intestinal and respiratory tracts elicit an antiviral response. We use single cell sequencing, live cell microscopy and primary human organoid cultures to monitor virus infection and the induction of the intrinsic innate immune response. We have found that each cell type in these surfaces have unique antiviral programs and we are working to unraveling the molecular mechanisms leading to these differences.


Maurice Swanson, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Neuroscience
A major objective of our research group is to address the question of how RNA processing is regulated during mammalian embryonic, fetal and postnatal development and how this regulation is disrupted in neurological disease, particularly in microsatellite expansion disorders. Our primary experimental system is the mouse and we have generated a number of knockout, knockin and transgenic lines to investigate the roles of specific RNA-binding proteins and RNA mis-processing in disease pathogenesis.


Eric Wang, Ph.D .
Associate Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, & Genetics and Genomics
We use molecular, cellular, computational, and imaging-based approaches to 1) understand molecular mechanisms of repeat expansion diseases, 2) elucidate basic mechanisms underlying RNA processing & localization, and 3) develop therapeutic approaches. We specifically focus on myotonic dystrophy, and study how molecular changes in muscle, heart, and brain tissues lead to disease symptoms, such as muscle weakness, hypersomnolence, and circadian disruption. RNA processing and RNA transport are disrupted in multiple repeat expansion diseases, and thus we study how these fundamental processes are regulated in various contexts. Finally, we incorporate basic insights we make into gene therapy, oligo-based, and small molecule-based therapeutic strategies aimed at treating human disease.


Lizi Wu, Ph.D.
Professor
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Concentration Affiliations:
Genetics, Cancer Biology, Molecular Cell Biology
We study aberrant cancer cell signaling with the goals of gaining molecular insights into cancer pathogenesis and identifying novel cancer diagnostic and therapeutic targets.