Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh joined the University of Nevada, Reno in July 2019 as an assistant professor. Dr. Sarmazdeh was a senior research fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology at Mayo Clinic, Florida from 2017 to 2019 at Dr. Radisky’s lab, during which her work was focused on engineering novel protein-based therapeutics based on natural enzyme inhibitors. Prior to her appointment at Mayo Clinic, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Delaware at Prof. Wilfred Chen’s lab for 2.5 years. Dr. Sarmazdeh earned her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville under Prof. Eric Boder’s supervision. There, her research was focused on generating site-specific protein immobilization on the surface and protein engineering using yeast surface display and directed evolution.

Iain Buxton

The Buxton lab is exploring contraction-relaxation coupling in the uterine myometrium in order to better understand and develop treatments for the problem of preterm labor. Preterm delivery of an underdeveloped fetus is a global problem. Babies delivered prior to full development at term have multiple medical problems that plague these individuals throughout their lifetime. Prematurity explains 75% of all fetal morbidity and mortality. Thus, beyond the tragic and costly fact of their prematurity, is the major impact on individuals and societies long-term. There are no effective (or FDA-approved) medications that prevent contractions of the uterus in patients who enter labor preterm (PTL). What is used is ineffective at allowing the fetus to remain in the womb until term. Drugs employed to prevent PTL (tocolytics) are only evaluated for an ability to prevent labor for 48 hours, a time during which treatments can ready the fetus to breath air. PTL leads to preterm delivery (PTD) in over 50% of cases. Spontaneous PTL (sPTL, no explanation such as infection) accounts for the majority of PTL.

The approach to sPTL we are pursuing is based on the non-canonical pathway by which NO relaxes myometrium. Our approach hypothesizes specific S-nitrosation differences in the protein fingerprint of sPTL compared with laboring myometrium. What is needed to investigate sPTL is to know the specific proteins that are post-translationally S-nitrosated and their abundance and/or unique presence and the impact of their S-nitrosation in pregnancy, labor and sPTL.

We have discovered particular unique proteins that are deferentially S-nitrosated and are pursuing their role in mediating relaxation on pregnancy and labor. One such protein is a channel called TREK-1. This channel is stretch-activated. We discovered genetic variants of the channel associated with PTL in women. Electrophysiological measurement of these gene variant channels suggests that their expression in women may constitute a mechanism to explain PTL in these patients. Drug discovery is in process to generate therapeutics to treat this form of PTL.

In a second thrust, the Buxton lab is looking for therapeutic targets in breast cancer. Tumor cells migrate to distant sites in the body before they are capable of forming aggressive metastases and thus remain dormant. We do not know the cellular behavior of disease we label latent but attracting a blood supply may be an early property that precedes and is required for those lesions that become malignant in women. Breast cancer specific mortality is almost exclusively a function of metastasis. Growth of tumor cells as metastases dictates that tumor cells must first develop a capillary blood supply or risk necrosis. Metastatic tumor cells have already attracted a blood supply, a hallmark of cancer. What activates dormant cells at metastatic sites to move from a quiescent to aggressive phenotype is not known. It is critical to determine the effect of a kinase we discovered to be released from cancer cells because every indication is that it produces a blood supply for cells that can later become malignant, an event that cannot take place unless a blood supply is available. Our current experiments are focused on the actions of the kinase that permit intravasation and extravasation of tumor cells that permit their passage to distant sites in the body where they can lodge and remain undetected for years. We have developed an inhibitor of the kinase and hope to demonstrate its potential a breast cancer prophylactic.

Hyeun Joong Yoon

Dr. Yoon’s current research is to develop advanced bioMEMS tools for understanding cell trafficking in cancer through isolation, characterization, and study of circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood of cancer patients. His goal is to create cutting edge engineering solutions to clinical problems with novel translational biomedical research tools. He has published more than 40 journal and conference papers, including Nature Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials, ACS Nano, Analytical Chemistry, Sensors and Actuators A, B, etc.

Sid Pathak

Marian Berryhill

My research falls in the domain of cognitive neuroscience. I study how we hold on to a few items in working memory and use them for immediate task demands. My lab investigates what factors matter in getting information into working memory, how we maintain and manipulate information, and how well we retrieve it. For example, we are currently investigating the consequences of familiar and unfamiliar distractor items on older adults’ working memory performance. We use a range of experimental techniques in human participants, some with brain lesions. These include fMRI, fNIRS, tDCS/tACS, and HD-EEG.

John Cushman

John Cushman, a Foundation Professor and Director of the Biochemistry Graduate Program in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, joined the University of Nevada in Reno, Nevada in 2000. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Microbiology from Rutgers University. He was awarded an NSF postdoctoral fellowship in Plant Biology and conducted research at the University of Arizona on the induction of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) by environmental stress. He then moved to Oklahoman State University moving up through the academic ranks until moving to the University of Nevada. Professor Cushman’s research is focused on plant responses to abiotic stress with an emphasis on cold, salinity, drought responses and mechanisms of desiccation tolerance. More recently, his laboratory is seeking to exploit engineered tissue succulence and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to improve the water-use efficiency of potential feedstocks for expansion of food and biofuels production in marginal or abandoned agricultural lands. Until recently, he served as the biomass/biofuels group leader within the UNR Renewable Energy Center. He currently serves as an associate editor of The Plant Journal.

David Alvarez-Ponce

Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno, 2014 – present

Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral fellow, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain, 2012-2014

Postdoctoral fellow, Trinity College Dublin, 2012

Postdoctoral researcher, National University of Ireland Maynooth, 2010-2012

See our lab webpage for research description:

Samuel Odoh

My research interests are in theoretical/computational chemistry approaches to explain the properties of materials and to predict materials with better performance. I have experience using density functional theory approaches (DFT), ab initio quantum-chemical methods as well as molecular dynamics (MD) approaches . Examples of materials that I have worked on in the past are: proteins, porous materials (like zeolites and metal-organic frameworks), solids (like Mott insulators, metal oxides, metal oxide surfaces), liquids and
heavy elements.

Craig Smith

Dr. Craig Smith’s professional interests are in Energy Meteorology, Wildfire Meteorology, and Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP). With over 15 years experience in NWP, Dr. Smith has built and runs several applied operational weather decision support systems for Wind Energy companies, public lands managers, and the construction and outdoor event industries.

His works seeks to quantify and improve the predictability of weather-driven variable generators to facilitate and accelerate their integration onto the electrical grid, and determine and improve the predictability of extreme weather-driven processes such as wildfires and high wind events.

Mehmet Gunes

Mehmet H. Gunes is an Associate Professor at University of Nevada, Reno. He received his M.S. degree in Computer Science & Engineering from Southern Methodist University in 2004 and Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from University of Texas at Dallas in 2008. Dr. Gunes’ research expertise includes Complex networks (biological networks, decentralized OSNs, graph data mining, information networks, infrastructure networks, network visualization, social networks, and technological networks); Cyber security (access control, anonymizer technologies, digital currencies, cloud, healthcare systems, privacy, and smart grid); and Internet measurements (big data analytics, Internet topology, Internet modeling, network sampling, synthetic graph generation, and traffic fingerprinting). So far his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Department of Defense, the University of Nevada, Reno and Cincinnati Children’s Center for Pediatric Genomics.