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Biochemistry of Health and Disease (BHAD) Students & Alumni

Meet Our Students & Alumni

Diane Kambach, Drexel University College of Medicine, PhD in Molecular Pathobiology

Diane Kambach

"I came in as a master's student but quickly switched over to the PhD program. I really liked that there was a lot of collaboration across multiple departments. I loved how we did the coursework, too. We were mixed in with people who were doing a lot of different things. Everybody had a different background that you could learn from. It helped to create a broader perspective on medicine and on the research that I was doing." Read more about Diane.

Honors and Distinctions

Photis Rotsides (mentor: Patrick Loll, PhD) was awarded 3rd Place Outstanding Senior Graduate Student Poster at Discovery Day 2021.

Megan Meuser won the Bondi Fellowship 2020.

Jennifer Koch (mentor: Patrick Osei-Owusu, PhD) won the Dean’s fellowship 2019.

Megan Meuser, Biochemistry Program

Megan Meuser received the first prize for an oral presentation at the Young Researchers Conference hosted by the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering in April 2019. Megan also received a National Research Service Award (NRSA) pre-doctoral fellow on Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS (T32) funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Project Title: Uncovering the mechanism of action of a novel HIV-1 antibody that was identified using a closed SOSIP immunogen

Lina Maciunas, Biochemistry Program

Lina Maciunas was selected to give a platform presentation at the 27th Annual Philadelphia Infection and Immunity forum on December 7, 2018.

Lina received a 2018 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID).
Mentor: Patrick Loll, PhD
Project Title: Investigating how VanS induces vancomycin resistance genes: vancomycin sensing and signal transduction

Neha Akella, Biochemistry Program

Neha Akella received first prize for Best Poster at the Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center Breast Cancer Symposium in November 2018. Neha’s poster was entitled "O-GlcNAc transferase regulates breast cancer tumor-initiating cells." In September 2018, she was selected for oral presentation at the First Annual Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Education Retreat.

She also gave a platform presentation at the Emerging Graduate Scholars Conference, Drexel University, April 2017, and also at the Biology of Cancer: Microenvironment & Metastasis meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Labs, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, October 2017. Neha is conducting her dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Mauricio Reginato.

Emilia Arturo, Biochemistry Program

Emilia Arturo received the 2017 Bondi Fellowship. This is to recognize and reward excellence in research performed by continuing graduate students in Biomedical Graduate Studies programs. Emilia is conducting her dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Eileen Jaffe.

Charles Wang gave a platform presentation at the 2016 Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center MBG Program Faculty/Trainee Retreat. He also received an Outstanding Junior Graduate Student Poster Award at Drexel Discovery Day 2017. Charles is conducting his dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Alexander Mazin.

Sergey Karakashev gave a platform presentation at the 2013 Third AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research in National Harbor, Maryland. His research project was also selected for a platform presentation at Drexel Discovery Day 2014.

He was also awarded: the GSA Student Travel Award to present his research at the 2014 AACR Annual Meeting, San Diego, California; the DUCOM GSA Fellowship Award ($2,000) for his dissertation project; the Best Graduate Student Poster, the 2014 Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium; and the Outstanding Senior Graduate Student Poster, Drexel Discovery Day 2012.

Sergey conducted his dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Mauricio Reginato. He is currently pursing postdoctoral studies at the Wistar Institute.

Lauren Bailey received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID).
Mentor: Irwin Chaiken, PhD
Project Title: The mechanism of HIV-1 virolytic inactivation by Env-targeting peptide triazoles

Lauren is currently a research scientist at Arbutus Biopharma Corporation.

Matthew Rossi received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) from National Institute on Aging (NIH-NIA).
Mentor: Alexander Mazin, PhD
Project Title: The novel role of branch migration protein Rad54 in maintaining genome stability

Matthew is currently an assistant research professor at Pennsylvania State University.

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Recent Dissertation Defenses

Megan Meuser, PhD (2021)
Title: Pharmacological and biological inhibition of HIV-1 entry
Current position: Postdoctoral associate at Yale University

Kristie D. Cox, PhD (2020)
Mentor: Marilyn Jorns, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: Investigating SQOR-catalyzed H2S Metabolism and its Therapeutic Potential in Heart Failure

Lina Maciunas, PhD (2020)
Mentor: Patrick Loll, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: Activation of VanR/VanS, the Two-Component System that Regulates Vancomycin Resistance

Jennifer Koch, PhD (2020)
Mentor: Patrick Osei-Owusu, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: Influence of Physiologic and Environmental Factors on the Role of Regulator of G Protein Signaling 2 (RGS2) in Vascular Remodeling During Pregnancy

Neha Manjari Akella, PhD (2019)
Mentor: Mauricio Reginato, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: The role of O-GlcNAc transferase in regulation of breast cancer stemness and tumor initiation

Emilia Arturo, PhD (2018)
Mentor: Eileen Jaffe, PhD (Fox Chase Cancer Center)
Doctoral Dissertation: The study and manipulation of the structures of mammalian phenylalanine hydroxylase

Nadish Goyal, PhD (2017)
Mentor: Alexander Mazin, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: The role of N-terminal domain of RAD54 in branch migration of Holliday junction
Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Drexel University College of Medicine

Peining Jimmy Xu, PhD (2017)
Doctoral Dissertation: Discovery and mechanism of action of a novel HIV-1 capsid inhibitor, CX06
Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Drexel University

Lauren Bailey, PhD (2015)
Mentor: Irwin Chaiken, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: Mechanism of Virolysis Induced by HIV-1 Env Targeting Peptide Triazole Thiols

Scott Melideo, PhD (2015)
Mentor: Marilyn Jorns, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: Towards understanding the pathway for hydrogen sulfide metabolism
Current Position: Instructor of Chemistry, Bucks County Community College

Sergey Karakashev, PhD (2015)
Mentor: Mauricio Reginato, PhD
Doctoral Dissertation: The Role of Hypoxia in Mediating Resistance to Breast Cancer Therapy Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher, the Wistar Institute

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Recent MS Thesis Defense

Thuraya Saleh H Alruiwaili, MS (2021)
Review title (non-thesis MS): Long non-coding RNAs in aging
Advisor: Srinivas Somarowthu, PhD

Prajakta Dilipkumar Mehetre, MS (2020)
Thesis Title: Identification of the BORG2 Actin Binding Element
Advisor: Shae Padrick, PhD
Current position: Research Associate II at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Eric Rossi, MS (2020)
Thesis Title: Structure, Function and Interactions of the HIV-1 capsid protein

Rebecca A. Rhodes, MS (2020)
Thesis Title: SEPT9 Binds Actin Through a Novel Binding Motif
Advisor: Shae Padrick, PhD

Courtney Fesko, Biochemistry Program

Courtney Fesko, MS (2018)
Thesis: Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 secondary metabolism: aryl polyene biosynthesis and phosphopantetheinyl transferase crosstalk
Mentor: Joris Beld, PhD
Current Position: Characterization Scientist, Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories

Michael Smith, MS (2017)
Mentor: Mauricio Reginato, PhD
Thesis: Regulation of ACSS2 by O-GlcNAc transferase in glioblastoma cells

Caroline Rajiv, MS (2017)
Mentor: Tara Davis, PhD
Thesis: A study of two multi-domain spliceosomal proteins: Peptidyl prolyl isomerase-like 2 and Zinc finger 830

Guila Fakhoury, MS (2017)
Mentor: Michael Bouchard, PhD
Thesis: Expression of Hepatitis B virus X protein HBx

Kriti Acharya, MS (2015)
Mentor: Irwin Chaiken, PhD
Thesis: Recognition of HIV-Inactivating Peptide Triazoles by a Recombinant Soluble Trimer, BG505 SOSIP.664

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Selected Publications

Neha M. Akella

"O-GlcNAc Transferase Regulates Cancer Stem-like Potential of Breast Cancer Cells"
Akella NM, Le Minh G, Ciraku L, Mukherjee A, Bacigalupa ZA, Mukhopadhyay D, Sodi VL, Reginato MJ
Mol Cancer Res. 2020 Apr;18(4)

"Fueling the fire: emerging role of the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway in cancer"
Akella NM, Ciraku L & Reginato MJ
BMC Biol. 2019, July 4;17(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s12915-019-0671-3

Rama Karadsheh

Emilia Arturo

"Biophysical characterization of full-length human phenylalanine hydroxylase provides a deeper understanding of its quaternary structure equilibrium"
Arturo EC, Gupta K, Hansen MR, Borne E & Jaffe EK
J Biol Chem. 2019, June 28;294, 10131-10145.

"First structure of full-length mammalian phenylalanine hydroxylase reveals the architecture of an autoinhibited tetramer"
Arturo EC, Gupta K, Héroux A, Stith L, Cross PJ, Parker EJ, Loll PJ, Jaffe EK
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Mar 1;113(9):2394-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1516967113. Epub 2016 Feb 16

Jennifer Koch

"Regulator of G Protein Signaling 2 Facilitates Uterine Artery Adaptation During Pregnancy in Mice"
Koch JN, Dahlen SA, Owens EA, Osei-Owusu P.
J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 May 7;8(9):e010917

Megan Meuser

"Field-Based Affinity Optimization of a Novel Azabicyclohexane Scaffold HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor"
Meuser ME, Rashad AA, Ozorowski G, Dick A, Ward AB, Cocklin S.
Molecules. 2019 Apr 22;24(8). pii: E1581. doi: 10.3390/molecules24081581.

"Kinetic Characterization of Novel HIV-1 Entry Inhibitors: Discovery of a Relationship between Off-Rate and Potency"
Meuser ME, Murphy MB, Rashad AA, Cocklin S
Molecules 2018 Aug 3;23(8)

Elizabeth C. Upton

"Vancomycin does not affect the enzymatic activities of purified VanSA"
Upton EC, Maciunas LJ, Loll PJ
PLoS One. 2019 Jan 24;14(1):e0210627

Caroline Rajiv

"The spliceosomal proteins PPIH and PRPF4 exhibit bi-partite binding"
Rajiv C, Jackson SR, Cocklin S, Eisenmesser EZ, Davis TL
Biochem J. 2017 Oct 25;474(21):3689-3704

Kristie Augustin

Kriti Acharya

"Recognition of HIV-inactivating peptide triazoles by the recombinant soluble Env trimer, BG505 SOSIP.664"
Acharya K, Rashad AA, Moraca F, Klasse PJ, Moore JP, Abrams C, Chaiken I
Proteins. 2017 May;85(5):843-851

Jimmy P. Xu

"Identification of a small molecule HIV-1 inhibitor that targets the capsid hexamer"
Xu JP, Branson JD, Lawrence R, Cocklin S
Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2016 Feb 1;26(3):824-828. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.12.087. Epub 2015 Dec 25

Sergey Karakashev

"Progress toward overcoming hypoxia-induced resistance to solid tumor therapy"
Karakashev SV, Reginato MJ
Cancer Manag Res. 2015 Aug 12;7:253-64

"Hypoxia/HIF1α induces lapatinib resistance in ERBB2-positive breast cancer cells via regulation of DUSP2"
Karakashev SV, Reginato MJ
Oncotarget. 2015 Feb 10;6(4):1967-80

Scott Melideo

Lauren Bailey

"Disulfide Sensitivity in the Env Protein Underlies Lytic Inactivation of HIV-1 by Peptide Triazole Thiols"
Bailey LD, Kalyana Sundaram RV, Li H, Duffy C, Aneja R, Rosemary Bastian A, Holmes AP, Kamanna K, Rashad AA, Chaiken I
ACS Chem Biol. 2015 Dec 18;10(12):2861-73

Mollie Kelly

"A Pak1/Erk signaling module acts through Gata6 to regulate cardiovascular development in zebrafish"
Kelly ML, Astsaturov A, Rhodes J, Chernoff J
Dev Cell. 2014 May 12;29(3):350-9

"Role of p21-activated kinases in cardiovascular development and function"
Kelly ML, Astsaturov A, Chernoff J
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Nov;70(22):4223-8

"Mouse models of PAK function"
Kelly ML, Chernoff J
Cell Logist. 2012 Apr 1;2(2):84-88

Getting smart about p21-activated kinases
Kelly ML, Chernoff J
Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Feb;31(3):386-7

Julianna Deakyne

"Analysis of the activities of RAD54, a SWI2/SNF2 protein, using a specific small-molecule inhibitor"
Deakyne JS, Huang F, Negri J, Tolliday N, Cocklin S, Mazin AV
J Biol Chem. 2013 Nov 1;288(44):31567-80

Geetika Sethi

"An RNA interference lethality screen of the human druggable genome to identify molecular vulnerabilities in epithelial ovarian cancer"
Sethi G, Pathak HB, Zhang H, Zhou Y, Einarson MB, Vathipadiekal V, Gunewardena S, Birrer MJ, Godwin AK
PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47086

Kate Beishline

"Sp1 and the 'hallmarks of cancer'"
Beishline K, Azizkhan-Clifford J
FEBS J. 2015 Jan;282(2):224-58

"Interplay between the cell cycle and double-strand break response in mammalian cells"
Beishline K, Azizkhan-Clifford J
Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1170:41-59

"Sp1 facilitates DNA double-strand break repair through a nontranscriptional mechanism"
Beishline K, Kelly CM, Olofsson BA, Koduri S, Emrich J, Greenberg RA, Azizkhan-Clifford J
Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Sep;32(18):3790-9

Hollie Flick

"The Tumor-Selective Cytotoxic Agent β-Lapachone is a Potent Inhibitor of IDO1"
Flick HE, Lalonde JM, Malachowski WP, Muller AJ
Int J Tryptophan Res. 2013 Aug 19;6:35-45

Yuliya Skorobogatoko

"O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) site thr-87 regulates synapsin I localization to synapses and size of the reserve pool of synaptic vesicles"
Skorobogatko Y, Landicho A, Chalkley RJ, Kossenkov AV, Gallo G, Vosseller K
J Biol Chem. 2014 Feb 7;289(6):3602-12

A graduate student in the Biochemistry program at Drexel University College of Medicine.