Ruben Dagda

Ruben K. Dagda, Ph.D., received his doctoral training at the University of Iowa and his postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is currently investigating the molecular mechanisms that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in cell culture, tissue and animal models of Parkinson’s disease.

Yong Zhang

Ph.D., Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2008
B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Life Sciences, Shandong Normal University, China

David Aucoin

The primary focus of the AuCoin laboratory is to develop diagnostics and therapeutics for infectious diseases. Current funding includes three research grants through the National Institutes of Health. Two additional grants were recently secured through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Naval Research Laboratory (DoD). All these projects rely on the identification of secreted or circulating microbial antigens that can be targeted for diagnosis of disease. The AuCoin laboratory has developed a novel platform technology termed “In vivo Microbial Antigen Discovery” or InMAD to identify such secreted antigens. InMAD is currently being utilized to identify candidate diagnostic antigens secreted during infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis), Aspergillus fumigatus (invasive aspergillosis) and Francisella tularensis (tularemia).

Jeff Harper

The Harper lab is interested in how a plant can use as few as 28,000 genes to develop and survive under extreme environmental conditions, such as cold, heat, drought and salt stress. A primary focus is on calcium signaling. The lab employs genetic, cell, bioinformatic, and biochemical approaches, using Arabidopsis and yeast as model systems.

Jeff Angermann

Our group studies the toxicological effects of acute and chronic arsenic exposure at multiple levels of organization, with a primary focus on cardiovascular and metabolic perturbations. We are conducting a ongoing study in rural Bangladesh, where endemic arsenic exposure via tube well water consumption is consistently high. Our initial research trip (December 2013 – January 2014) focused on identification of susceptible populations in the Shariatpur district of Southern central Bangladesh, involving collection of tube well water, biological samples, assessment of clinical signs of arsenicosis, and administration of health effects surveys. Future visits will expand the study, with refined clinical assessments and survey subclinical cardiovascular and metabolic biomarkers of arsenic exposure.

Jeffery Shen

Dr. Shen’s research focuses on development of databases and bioinformatics tools for genome analyses and gene annotations, predictions of genes responsive to environmental/developmental cues, and predictions of gene functions (subcellular localization, and protein motifs). Another focus of my research is the molecular mechanism controlling plant responses to abiotic stresses, seed dormancy and germination. He is also interested in the mechanism underlying tissue-specific and developmentally-regulated gene expression.

The recent accomplishment in sequencing the genomes of thousands of organisms, including human being and important crops such as rice, is leading to a revolution in scientific research, medicine discovery, and improvement of the quality of our food. His lab is interested in developing (adopting, modifying, and inventing) bioinformatics tools for genome analyses and gene ontology studies. Gene ontology addresses: Biological Process (Why is this, such as cell enlargement, being done?), Molecular Function (What kind of molecule is this? Enzymes or transcription factors?), and Cellular Component (Where is this located? Nuclei or Mitochondria?).

Kenneth Hunter

The Hunter laboratory is engaged in several areas of immunological/microbiological research and biomedical engineering. Using the 4T1 mouse mammary carcinoma model in mice, we are investigating the effect of hematopoietic cells and soluble mediators in the tumor microenvironment on tumor growth and metastasis. We have developed and are characterizing the immune response to fungal β-glucan, including its potential use as a vaccine adjuvant. Our lab is developing animal models of the neuro-immune diseases autism and chronic fatigue syndrome. Over the last few years, we have delved into comparative immunology by assessing the immune response of the desert tortoise to bacterial pathogens. On the biomedical engineering front, we and our collaborators have developed a novel fluorescence-based biosensor for sensing nucleic acids, and we are studying the potential of this sensor as a rapid diagnostic tool.

Ronald Pardini

One of the most exciting projects in our laboratory is the investigation of the role of nutritional intervention in cancer therapy. We are demonstrating that different types and levels of dietary fat can slow tumor growth rates, increase tumor responsiveness to therapy, lower drug-host toxicity of certain anticancer agents, and reduce cachexia- the wasting syndrome associated with cancer victims. This research is working toward a nutritional-intervention clinical trial designed to improve the outcome of chemotherapy and patient well-being.  Our laboratory is also investigating the induction of oxidative stress by various chemicals in insects and cancer. More specifically we are investigating the biochemistry and molecular biology of antioxidant systems of insects and tumor cells in order to predict mechanisms of insect resistance to plant allelochemicals and other foreign chemicals. In addition, we are investigating the mechanisms of tumor cell resistance to pro-oxidant anti-cancer agents.  These projects have potential for the selective destruction of insect pests and the selective survival of specific plant species. We are utilizing our insect model system to predict oxidative stress from various xcuobiotics including environmental pollutants. In addition, this approach would predict a tumor cell’s sensitivity or resistance to pro-oxidant anti-tumor agents.