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Microbiology & Immunology (MI) Students & Alumni

First-Year Students

Alexis Brantly

Undergraduate: BA, English, University of Florida; MS, Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida
Email: ab4532@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: First Year Rotations
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Background and Interests: My research background primarily focuses on cancer and cancer virology. During my undergraduate studies I was involved in studying the DNA damage response in the context of cancer development, and during my master's I looked at the effect of novel STAT3 inhibitors on Epstein-Barr virus–derived cancers. After graduating with my master's I went on to work with human papillomavirus, looking at the effect of PTPN14 in promoting a cancer phenotype in HPV positive keratinocytes. I am primarily interested in virology and immunology.


Mackenzie Collins

Undergraduate: BS, Clinical Laboratory Science, BA, Biology; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Email: mc4289@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Garth Ehrlich, PhD (Rotating)
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Background and Interests: Following my undergraduate degrees, my work in diagnostics at a clinical molecular microbiology lab at UNC Medical Center has fueled my broad interest in improving molecular research and diagnostic techniques to combat antimicrobial resistance and benefit patients with chronic and persisting infections.


Adam Glass

Undergraduate: BS, Biology, Washington College
Email: ag3894@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: First-Year Rotations
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Background and Interests: Upon completion of my undergraduate education, I worked for two years as an ORISE post-baccalaureate research fellow at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. My research focused on bacteriophage therapy, specifically for the nasal decolonization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. I have a particular fascination with virology and emerging infectious diseases, but am excited to expand my knowledge across the many topics in microbiology and immunology.


Kyra Woloszczuk

Undergraduate: BS, Microbiology, University of the Sciences; MS, Infectious Disease and Immunity, Temple University
Email: kw959@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: First-year Rotation
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Background and Interests: My master's research was targeted at mixed-species biofilms and horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance determinants. Following my MS, I spent four years working in an industry where I focused on post-surgical site infections, biofilm growth on medically implanted devices, and the development of novel antibiotics to specifically target gram-negative antibiotic-resistant bacteria. My current interests include host-pathogen interactions, antimicrobial resistance and vaccine development.


Lilly McQueen

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Ursinus College
Email: lmm544@drexel.edu
Advisor: First-year rotations
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Background and Interests: During my time at Ursinus College, I researched the use of single-walled carbon nanotubes covalently attached to antibiotics to circumvent mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in coliforms and Enterococci isolated from raw sewage influent. While at Ursinus, I also joined the Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good, an organization that strives to consider the intersection of science and other ways of understanding – ethical, political, religious and artistic. After graduation I was hired as a laboratory technician at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Unit. While there, I helped identify genes associated with cell adhesion and biofilm formation in O157:H7. I love working with pathogenic bacteria and am interested in mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and natural product antibiotics. I also dabble in bioethics and science policy and would like to have an impact in these discussions.


Rachel Reviello

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Microbiology, The Pennsylvania State University
Email: rer89@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Elise Mosser, PhD
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Background and Interests: I have always been passionate about both microbiology and education. During my undergraduate experience, I spent my time outside of my own classes teaching introductory microbiology lab courses. I find scientific mentorship to be incredibly fulfilling because I get to share novel information with my students and expose them to the exciting world of microbes. I hope to become a science educator who focuses on developing students' critical thinking skills with active learning techniques. My research interests are broad, but working with preliminary data to define complex mechanisms has been exciting for me.


William Stump

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Biology, Gettysburg College
Email: ws454@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: First-year rotations
Background and Interests: My past research experience focused on characterizing bacteriophage genomics and host-pathogen interactions between phage and their bacterial hosts. Here at Drexel, I find myself most interested in the development of more effective vaccines that better promote host immune responses to prevent or treat diseases.


Julia Sutter

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS Biochemistry, University of New Haven
Email: js4932@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Rotations in progress
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Background and Interests: My undergraduate research focused on the identification of novel mutations in viruses contributing to viral myocarditis. In addition to my undergraduate research, I completed an internship in the Pre-Therapeutic Target Discovery Department at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. At this internship, my research was focused on investigating differences in tumor growth and cytokine activity in the tumor microenvironment for different strains of mice. My research interests include studying viruses and their contribution to disease.

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Second-Year Students

Erik Carter

Microbiology & Immunology PhD Program
Undergraduate: BS, Pathobiology, University of Connecticut
Email: ec899@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Irwin Chaiken, PhD
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Background and Interests: Following my undergraduate education, I spent six years working, both in academia and industry, in molecular virology, viral immunology and vaccine development. My interests are primarily in the areas of virus-host interaction and vaccine design, particularly as they pertain to RNA viruses. My project focuses on a highly conserved region of the HIV-1 envelope protein called the membrane proximal external region (MPER). My goal is to understand the conformational structure of this region and explore ways of using it as a vaccine antigen.


Gina Cusimano

Microbiology & Immunology PhD Program
Undergraduate: BS, Biotechnology, Elizabethtown College; MS, Molecular Medicine, Drexel University
Email: gc468@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Dr. Michelle Kutzler
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Background and Interests: I have a BS in biotechnology and MS in molecular medicine. Following my masters, I spent three years working at Merck Co. & Inc. where I supported vaccine commercialization, manufacturing optimization and batch release. My overall interests are in immune modulation and how our understanding of immune modulation can be applied to vaccine/ adjuvant development as well as cancer immunotherapy development.


Julie Joseph

Microbiology & Immunology PhD Program
Undergraduate: BS, Biology, St. John’s University; MS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of New Haven
Email: jj932@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Dr. Pooja Jain
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Background and Interests: My overall interest is in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that dictate immunological responses to infection, disease and autoimmune disorders. My past research experience focused on identifying T- cell populations that may be responsible in the generation of food-specific antibodies as well as assisting in characterizing a sub-population of T follicular helper cells that drive anaphylactic IgE. Currently, my primary research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that underlie HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and the role exosomes and immune checkpoint mediators play in the overall anti-viral immune response associated with this debilitating neuroinflammatory disease.


Abhisek Rao

Undergraduate: BE, Instrumentation Engineering, Vishwakarma Institute, Pune, India; MS, Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University
Email: asr56@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: First-year rotations in progress
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Dominic J. Sales

Microbiology & Immunology PhD Program
Undergraduate: BS, Biology, James Madison University
Email: djs487@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Pooja Jain, PhD
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Background and Interests: My background involves a general aptitude for all things science, specifically cellular and molecular biology. I have always been interested in the interplay between self and non-self, and how biological processes can lead to disease. During my undergraduate education at James Madison University, I was part of a lab that investigated migrational aspects of immortalized tumor cells within extracellular matrices. After graduation, I worked as a laboratory technician at Thomas Jefferson University where I studied a model of pulmonary fibrosis and senescence both in vitro and in vivo. I am currently in Dr. Jain’s lab whose focus is on understanding the mechanisms driving disease pathology during HTLV-1 infection and understanding the role that dendritic cells play in orchestrating the immune response. My project aims to better understand the crosstalk between different populations of immune cells, the impact of this crosstalk on neuroinflammation, and how we can modulate this to develop more effective treatment modalities for patients with neuroinflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis.


Neeta Shadija

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BE, Biotechnology, University of Mumbai
Email: ns3338@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Hangjun Ke, PhD
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My undergraduate research focused on the bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil using the indigenous bacteria and fungi. During my undergraduate studies, I presented a review seminar on using Batroxobin, a venomous component of the snake Bothrops atrox moojeni, as an alternative to thrombin for blood clotting. I also have experience in a pharmaceutical company as an industrial trainee where I drafted dossiers for the company’s exported products.

My current research study focuses on the V-type ATPase and the mitochondrial fission of Plasmodium falciparum. V-type ATPases are highly conserved multi-subunit enzymes found in all eukaryotic organisms. It is present in the intracellular membranes of various organelles such as lysosomes, endosomes and secretory vesicles. It has been known that V-type-ATPase works as an ATP-driven rotary proton pump that causes acidification of intracellular vesicles such as endosomes and lysosomes and is thus crucial for various processes. Another unique feature of this machinery is the reversible assembly/disassembly of its V1 and Vo domains, regulating the organelle acidification in response to extracellular conditions. This machinery is evolutionarily conserved in malaria parasites; however, its biological significance has been under-appreciated. The project aims to understand the localization, composition, mechanism and regulation of this proton-pumping machinery in an early divergent eukaryotic organism (malaria parasite).

Apicomplexan protozoans (in general) have a single mitochondrion per cell, which is essential for all life cycle stages. Once in erythrocytes, the malaria parasite grows and divides via a unique reproduction mechanism termed schizogony, which gives rise to 8-32 progeny by dividing the single multinucleated schizont at the end of the asexual lifecycle. Hence, during the process of schizogony, the single mitochondrion of the parasite is also split into 8-32 pieces, which is known as mitochondrial fission. However, neither the mitochondrial fission machinery nor the mechanisms of fission are known in malaria parasites. Using Plasmodium falciparum as a model, the goal of this project is to identify the essential components of the mitochondrial fission machinery.


Omobukola Solebo

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Biology, The College of New Jersey
Email: os337@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Hangjun Ke, PhD
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Background and Interests: During my undergraduate experience, I identified microbiology and education to be my two primary interests and have spent time exploring both avenues. After working on Mycobacterium tuberculosis for a period of time and teaching high school biology, I decided to return to obtain my master's in microbiology and immunology to work toward the goal of more closely bridging these two fields. It is my goal to conduct the critical science and provide the vital health information that protects the public and informs and transforms health security. This, I believe, would be the best way to merge my two passions together to have just as an impactful effect as teaching.

Third-Year Students

Matthew Bell

Undergraduate: BS, Biology, Gwynedd Mercy University
Email: mrb433@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Michele Kutzler, PhD

Background and Interests: During my time at Gwynedd Mercy University, I studied the relationship between Quercus spp and members of the root microbiome. I also aided in the isolation and characterization of an endophytic bacterium, Serratia marcescens, that produced prodigiosin, a secondary metabolite that shows antibiotic and antitumor properties. Currently, in Dr. Kutzler's lab, my research focuses on studying the impacts of immunosenescence on both the innate and adaptive immune responses in the context of C. difficile infection as well as the immune response to a DNA vaccine for C. difficile.


Olivia Cipollini

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Microbiology/Molecular Biology, Quinnipiac University
Email: oc65@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Sonia Navas-Martin, PhD

Background and Interests: My current research focuses on characterizing the effects of amyloid-beta stimulation in various cell lines, specifically examining the innate immune response. Additionally, we are evaluating the potential role of the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) pathway in this response.


Elijah H. Davis

Undergraduate: BS, Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Email: ehd43@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Sonia Navas-Martin, PhD
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Background and Interests: Shortly after graduating for UMBC, I accepted a position within Virginia Commonwealth University’s post-baccalaureate research education program. During this year, I worked in VCU’s Immunology & Microbiology Department, conducting research with Dr. Rebecca Martin and Dr. Daniel Conrad. Our study investigated how helminth infections could confer protection against allergic pathologies. We discovered that B1 cell-derived IgE can enhance parasite survival and may play a role in reducing allergic conditions. We were able to publish these results and present them at national conferences.

Currently, I am part of Drexel’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and work with Dr. Sonia Navas-Martin. Our lab is focused on understanding novel Toll-like receptor signaling pathways and their role in inflammation. My project examines the relationship between Toll-like receptors and exosomal responses within microglia. My other research interests include autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivity disorders, and neuroinflammation.


Rita Esposito

Master's Student
Undergraduate: BS, Biology; BA, Theatre, Acting Concentration; Muhlenberg College
Email: rae55@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Fred Krebs, PhD

Background and Interests: The effects of nonthermal plasma on herpes simplex virus (HSV) binding, entry and replication in epithelial cells.


Dema Ghaban

Undergraduate: MD, Medicine, Taibah University, Saudi Arabia; MSc, Immunology and Allergy, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Email: dmg384@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Alexander Muller, PhD

Background and Interests: Part of my work in the U.K. focused on multiple sclerosis (MS) which has high prevalence in the U.K. and is one of the most common causes of neurological disability in the younger population. In one project, we looked for the role of multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus envelope (one of the two main elements encoded by the W family of human endogenous retroviruses) in the pathogenesis of MS. We also studied which immune cells are involved in this process.


Doug Krauth

Undergraduate: BS, Cellular and Physiological Biology, University of Louisville
Email: dmk357@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Sonia Navas-Martin, PhD

Background and Interests: After completing my undergraduate biology degree, I joined the Bagaitkar Lab in the University of Louisville’s Oral Immunology and Infectious Disease Department. There, my research focused on delineating the role NADPH oxidase-derived oxidants have in immune-regulation. Specifically, I worked to understand how NOX-deficient neutrophils contributed to the hyper-inflammatory response seen in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) and the role ROS plays in modulating neutrophil effecter functions. More recently, my research interests focus on understanding how neurotropic viruses spread within the CNS and how immune responses to viral infection differ in the brain and the periphery.


Richa Pande

Undergraduate: Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), India
Email: rp834@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Seena Ajit, PhD
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Background and Interests: My previous research experience at NYU Langone Medical Center involved studying ubiquitination and its modification in the cell cycle, including its role in circadian rhythm. After relocating to Philadelphia, I pursued research at the University of Pennsylvania in an immunology laboratory that focused on the mechanisms that lead to impaired fracture healing and connective tissue and bone loss in diabetes via altered transcription factor activity and cytokine dysregulation.

The Ajit Lab investigates the molecular mechanisms of pain with emphasis on epigenetics. At present, my project involves studying microRNA has-miR-605 and its role in regulating the pro-inflammatory chemokine CXCL5 in CRPS patients. Another project involves studying the role of macrophage-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) on helper T cell activation during inflammation. This study will help elucidate the contribution of these immune cell subtypes in sEVs-induced attenuation of inflammatory pain.

Fourth-Year Students

Avantika I. Ahiya

Undergraduate: MS, Biotechnology, Nirma University
Email: aia36@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Akhil B. Vaidya, PhD

Background and Interests: My undergraduate research involved understanding the role of CD8+ T-cells in providing long-lived protective immunity against irradiated sporozoites during malaria infection. Subsequent to this, I worked on a large scale RNAi screen to identify genes that co-operate with the oncogenes in the EFGR/Yki pathway in a Drosophila tumor model. My current research in the Vaidya Lab is focused on understanding the underlying molecular pathways that are perturbed upon treatment with antimalarials. Specifically, uncovering the mechanisms by which Plasmodium maintains low levels of cholesterol, a process that is perturbed upon treatment with antimalarials that cause accumulation of Na+ in the parasite.


Jennifer Connors

Undergraduate: MS, Drexel University College of Medicine
Email: jrc354@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Elias El Haddad, MD, and Michele Kutzler, PhD
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Background and Interests: The innate and adaptive branches of immunity undergo a process termed immunosenescence, in which an increase in basal inflammation levels occur. Consequences of this include poor vaccine responses and dysregulation of the immune system leading to grave clinical complications for the elderly. In dendritic cells (DCs) and monocytes, immunosenescence results in modulation of antigen presentation function in response to stimuli signals. A large body of evidence shows a decrease in significant pro-inflammatory cytokines and surface or endosomal TLR and RLR expression in aged innate cells. However, the effects of aging on the downstream mechanism of these signaling pathways have not been evaluated. In the Haddad Lab, we aim to find a deficit in a downstream signaling mechanism that accounts for the inefficient adaptive immune response seen in the elderly in reaction to vaccines and use this information to ameliorate vaccine responses.


Ian Lamb

Undergraduate: BS, University of Iowa
Email: iml28@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Akhil Vaidya, PhD

Background and Interests: Before starting my PhD at Drexel University College of Medicine, I spent two years as a technician at the University of Iowa looking at immune responses in dogs naturally infected with the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. I then moved to New York City, where I was a lab manager for a joint laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College for two years. The lab investigated DNA damage responses in yeast and mammalian cells with a focus on VDJ recombination in developing B cells. At Drexel, I joined Dr. Akhil Vaidya’s laboratory. The lab studies basic aspects of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum’s molecular physiology with particular attention to the mitochondrion. Since malaria parasites and humans are both eukaryotes, antimalarials often interfere with human protein function and therefore cause side effects. However, given the extreme divergence of mitochondria between P. falciparum and humans, selective toxicity to the parasite is possible. This is highlighted by the antimalarial Atovaquone, which inhibits the parasite bc1 complex of the electron transport chain, thus causing parasite demise. My project focuses on characterizing the function of mitochondrial proteins in P. falciparum that are essential to parasite viability but have no annotated function. The long-term goal is to identify novel protein targets for antimalarials.


Teresa M. LuPone

Undergraduate: BS, Microbiology, BS, Health Sciences, BA, Journalism and Mass Communications, MS, Science of Healthcare Delivery, Arizona State University; MS in Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine
Email: tml86@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Sonia Navas-Martin, PhD

Background and Interests: My undergraduate research focused on understanding genetic alterations in response to DAMPs and developmental delays in Drosophila melanogaster. My job was to perform expression studies and monitor developmental timing. Throughout my research and coursework at Arizona State University, I became interested in following a path into medically relevant research specifically in the field of virology. As such I am interested in aspects of virology and immunity particularly in host pathogen interactions, how viruses escape the host immune system, and building a deeper understanding of the complexities of the immune system.


Hager Mohamed

Undergraduate: BS, Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University; MS, Molecular Biology, Montclair State University
Email: hm469@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Fred C. Krebs, PhD
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Background and Interests: My project involves characterizing the effects of non-thermal plasma (NTP) on T lymphocytes and HIV-1 infection. Our studies investigate cellular stress responses and the induction of immunogenic cell death after non-thermal plasma exposure. The effect of NTP on HIV-1 replication and latent infection is also being explored. Our long-term goal is to use these studies to guide the development of a novel immunotherapy for HIV-1 infected individuals.


Kayla M. Socarras

Undergraduate: BS, Biological Sciences, University of Saint Joseph; MS, Cellular Molecular Biology, University of New Haven
Email: kms58@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Garth D. Ehrlich, PhD
LinkedIn
ResearchGate

Background and Interests: Kayla Socarras is a PhD student in Garth Ehrlich’s lab within the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Drexel University College of Medicine. Prior to joining Drexel University, Kayla received her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at the University of Saint Joseph. Afterwards, she continued her education at the University of New Haven for a master’s degree in cellular molecular biology. During her master’s, Kayla participated in several ongoing studies on the pathogenesis of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, alternatively known as Lyme disease. Lyme borreliosis is globally one the most common bacterial vector-borne diseases and has become more prevalent due to climate and ecological changes over the past decades. For her master’s thesis, Kayla tested several antimicrobials for their efficiency on destroying Borrelia burgdorferi in vitro as well as their potential efficacy as a therapeutic treatment. After completing her master's thesis, Kayla also did a post-graduate research fellowship at the University of New Haven. During her fellowship, Kayla studied the pathogenesis of Borrelia spp in causing Borrelial lymphocytoma, a cutaneous infection that occurs primarily within individuals infected with Borrelia spp in Europe.

Currently, at Drexel University College of Medicine, Kayla is continuing her research on the pathogenesis of Borrelia spp within the Center for Advanced Microbial Processing, with an emphasis on characterizing the complex dynamics of tick-borne disease microbes within the tick microbiome. In addition to her research studies, Kayla has presented her research in local meetings and conferences and her work on tick-borne diseases has been spoken about at several media outlets. Her media outreach encompasses traditional news outlets such as television, newspapers and radio as wells as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.


Yih-Ping Su

Undergraduate: BS, Life Sciences, National Chung-Hsing University
Email: ys646@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Garth Ehrlich, PhD
LinkedIn

Background and Interests: After obtaining my BS in life sciences at National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan, I worked as a junior research fellow at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, focusing on the development of a non-invasive screening approach for the early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). My current research interest at Drexel is to investigate the impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes, mutations and integration on liver carcinogenesis, with an aim to develop an HCC risk prediction program for the management of the disease.

Fifth-Year Students

Swati Dass

Undergraduate: BS, Fergusson College, University of Pune, India; MS, Zoology, University of Pune, India
Email: sd978@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Hangjun Ke, PhD; co-advisor: Akhil Vaidya, PhD
LinkedIn

Background and Interests: My master’s research work was to monitor the antimalarial drug resistance in the among field isolates from Pune, India. The results revealed a high percentage of patients were developing resistance to the prolonged use of four antimalarial drugs and thus rendering the whole therapy counterproductive. I later joined a pharmaceutical company and worked on designing antiviral drugs against hepatitis C virus using molecular docking studies. I am currently interested in understanding the biology of the malaria parasite Plasmodium. I have joined Dr. Hangjun Ke’s lab, and here my research work focuses on the mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) of Plasmodium falciparum. Plasmodium mitoribosome have taken an unusual evolutionary route of assembling 30 highly reduced and fragmented rRNA of about 20-200 bp in length with nuclear encoded mitoribosomal proteins (3). Using CRISPR/Cas9 double crossover recombination technique with a TetR-DOZI-aptamer system, we have shown that mitoribosomes are essential for the malaria parasites to maintain the structural and functional integrity of the parasite mitochondrion and are essential for the survival of the parasite (2). I am currently working on developing a protocol to isolate these mitoribosomes to explore the unique and unknown compositional and structural features of the malarial mitoribosomes. The long-term goal of the project is to get an atomic-level structure of this highly diverse ribosomal assembly known, which can be further studied as a potential antimalarial drug target.


Haley M. Majer

Undergraduate: BSc, Life Sciences, Penn State University
Email: hmm76@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Joris Beld, PhD
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Background and Interests: I received a BSc in life sciences from Penn State University in 2015. I went on to receive my first professional science experience working as a microbiologist for Eurofins, Lancaster Labs biopharmaceutical microbiology testing group. My undergraduate experience combined with my professional training led to my interest in drug design and development with the career goal of directing industrial lab operations. I work in the lab of Dr. Joris Beld, studying natural product discovery, and believe this thesis research will provide the proper training to accomplish my goals.


Phillip Palmer

Undergraduate: BS, Biology, Stockton University
Email: pp496@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Garth Ehrlich, PhD
LinkedIn

Background and Interests: Bacterial persistence describes the ability of some cells within a genetically susceptible population to survive antibiotic treatment. Compared to resistance where all cells survive antibiotics unaffected, persistence is due to a difference in phenotype that results in some cells being dormant. The reawakening of persisters has been implicated in reestablishment of infections, potentially leading to antibiotic resistance. My research focuses on developing molecular tools to observe the behavior of persister cells.


Amanda Platt

Undergraduate: BS, Biology, Eastern University; MS, Biomedical Sciences, Temple University
Email: ajp369@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Joris Beld, PhD

Background and Interests: I am interested in bacterial genetics and secondary metabolism. Work for my master's thesis focused on detecting horizontal gene transfer events within mixed species bacterial biofilms. My current project is focused on characterizing bacterial non-ribosomal peptide synthases, which are an important source of medically relevant secondary metabolites.


Cassandra Spector

Undergraduate: BS, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut; MS, Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine
Email: cs3373@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Michael Nonnemacher, PhD
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Background and Interests: After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a BS in molecular and cell biology, I worked at Charles River Laboratories in the Research Animal Diagnostic Services Molecular Diagnostics Department. There, I was part of a team using TaqMan PCR testing to identify and diagnose microbial infections in laboratory animals. I then matriculated into the MS in Microbiology and Immunology program at Drexel University College of Medicine and, upon completion of my MS degree, transitioned into the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program. My research in the Nonnemacher Lab focuses on genetic variation in the HIV-1 transactivator of transcription (Tat) protein and how this variation affects Tat function. Tat has been observed to be a major contributor to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) in HIV-infected individuals. Moreover, naturally occurring amino acid variants of Tat have been found to be functionally impaired in HIV-1 promoter region transactivation as well as in causing neuronal damage. Therefore, my work aims to i) identify specific amino acid variants in Tat that correlate with neurocognitive impairment in our Philadelphia-based HIV-infected patient cohort, and ii) determine mechanisms of neuropathogenesis in which Tat amino acid variants exhibit differential function.

Sixth-Year Students

Abdullah Izmirly

Undergraduate: BS, Medical Laboratory Technology, King Abdulaziz University; MS, Immunology, Drexel University
Email: ami38@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Elias Haddad, PhD; co-advisor: Michele Kutzler, PhD
LinkedIn

Background and Interests: I developed an early interest in biology, which led me to obtain my undergraduate degree majoring in medical laboratory technology from King Abdul-Aziz University (KAU). I have received extensive clinical experience with rotations in all clinical laboratories at KAU hospital including an immunology laboratory. This was followed by an internship that was divided between blood bank, hematology and the level 3 biosafety virology unit at King Fahad Research Center. Getting exposed to immunology and virology during my undergraduate studies focused my passion for immunology and infectious disease. This passion resulted in my pursuing my master's in immunology at Drexel University. During my master's, I worked in David Weiner's laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. During that period, I worked with Dr. Muthumani Karuppiah on a part of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) DNA vaccine project, which is currently undergoing a Phase II clinical trial. Afterward, I joined the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program and currently work at Dr. Elias Haddad’s laboratory on the novel live-attenuated dengue vaccine (TV003) that is curranty in Phase III trial. Dengue virus is one of the most transmitted mosquito-borne diseases worldwide, with an estimate infection rate of close to 400 million yearly. Dengue places a great burden both on health as well as the economy, and the vaccine that is currently licensed is only administered to dengue seropositive individuals. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of a highly efficacious dengue vaccine that provides protection regardless of dengue serostatus.


Ronak Loonawat

Undergraduate: MS, Biotechnology, SIES College, Mumbai University
Email: ami38@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Michael Bouchard, PhD

Background and Interests: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) has come a long way from first being linked to "Australian Antigen" to now being one of the most dreadful viruses known to humans. HBV chronically infects 257 million people worldwide, which resulted in 887,000 deaths just in 2015 alone. Chronic HBV infection is a leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which in turn is the second most prevalent cause of deaths related to cancer worldwide. Mechanistically, the advancement from HBV infection to HCC is not fully understood. However, recent studies indicate that alterations by HBV to cellular metabolism could be one of the factors that lead to transformation of the hepatocytes. We are addressing this question by focusing on the perturbation of glucose metabolism using primary rat hepatocytes (PRHs)/primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) and HBV-expressing recombinant adenovirus infection model systems. While studying metabolic pathways, it is important to focus on nutrient conditioning and oxygen exposure, as these factor are key to metabolic regulation. Hence, we carried out our experiments using physiologically relevant medium and oxygenic conditions. Here, we show that AdHBV infected PRHs have increased glucose uptake rate as compared to the controls. We also show an effect of varying glucose concentration on HBcAg (HBV core protein) levels and on HBV replication suggesting a major role of glucose utilization on viral pathogenesis. Furthermore, to understand how glucose is being utilized by the hepatocytes to favor HBV replication, we hereby present data to support that upregulation of glucose uptake could be mediated by PKM2 (pyruvate kinase M2)/HIF1a (hypoxia inducible factor 1a) axis, which is one of the most commonly activated pathways in cancers. Glucose could then be subsequently shunted toward anabolic PPP (pentose phosphate pathway) generating excess nucleic acids required for viral replication. Downregulating PKM2 transcriptional activity using digoxin also reduces HBV replication, corroborating the importance of the PKM2/HIF1a axis in HBV pathogenesis. Understanding how HBV manipulates cellular activities that subsequently cause HCC may reveal some new potential therapeutic targets.


Kiran Madugula

Undergraduate: BS, Biotechnology, Satyabama University, Chennai, India; MS, Immunology, Long Island University, C.W. Post and LIJ North Shore Medical Center
Email: km3349@drexel.edu
Advisor/Mentor: Pooja Jain, PhD
LinkedIn

Background and Interests: As a doctoral student working in Dr. Pooja Jain’s lab at Drexel University College of Medicine, I am involved in various projects that are associated with HTLV-1 (human T-cell leukemia virus-1) pathogenesis. HTLV-1 was the first discovered retrovirus, even before HIV; it is a fast-growing epidemic in various parts of the world like Australia, Japan, South America, parts of Caribbean and in some immigrant populations in the U.S. It causes two disease phenotypes, ATLL (adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma) and HAM/TSP (HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical paraparesis). My project revolves around a transcription factor MEF-2 (myocyte enhancer factor-2), its role in HTLV-1 pathogenesis and causing ATLL. In this study we are analyzing various HLTV-1 infected cell lines and patient cohorts to narrow down the distinct role of MEF-2 isoforms that are involved in causing ATLL post infection of HTLV-1. Also, we are working on MEF-2 as a potential drug target for interfering carcinogenesis of ATLL at various upstream and downstream loci of the MEF-2 pathway and potentially translating it as a drug in clinical setting. I want to pursue my goal of working toward cancer immune therapeutics where I can apply my current knowledge and previous research experience in cancer immunology to harness the immune system against/in the tumor microenvironment and produce translational medicine to treat various kinds of cancers.

Alumni

2021
Bhavani Taramangalam – LinkedIn
Advisor/Mentor: Elias El Haddad, PhD

2021
Riley M. Williams
Advisor/Mentor: Glenn Rall, PhD

2020
Donald C. Hall Jr. (DJ) – LinkedIn
Advisor/Mentor:Garth Ehrlich

2020
Alexander Allen – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 system to cure HIV-1 infection

2020
Ogan K. Kumova – LinkedIn
Advisor/Mentor: Alison Carey, MD
Thesis: Altered Innate Immune Responses to Influenza Virus in the neonate

2020
Jamie Marino – LinkedIn
Advisor: Mike Nonnemacher
Thesis: Effects of morphine and HIV-1 Tat on the blood-brain barrier: Implications in HIV disease and HAND

2020
Anthony R. Mele – LinkedIn
Advisor: Mike Nonnemacher
Thesis: Impact of HIV genetic variation on Tat length, function and ability to be targeted by gene-editing

2020
Kevin Raible – LinkedIn
Advisor/Mentor: Joshua Chang Mell, PhD
Thesis: Effects of morphine and HIV-1 Tat on the blood-brain barrier: Implications in HIV disease and HAND

2020
Aarti A. Ramanathan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: The antimalarial drug target PfATP4 and effects of its inhibition at the intersection of life and death in P. falciparum

2019
Kristen Buenconsejo – LinkedIn
Advisor: Joris Beld
Master's thesis: The Significance of Secondary Metabolism on the Predatory Behavior of Myxococcus fulvus

2019
Jacqueline Schneider Eacret – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Design, Production and Evaluation of a Plasmodium Falciparum Merozoite Surface Protein 2-Based Vaccine for Inclusion in a Multivalent Formulation Targeting Multiple Parasite Stages

2019
Ebony Gary – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler
Thesis: Enhancing the Immunogenicity of Anti-HIV DNA Vaccines with Molecular Adjuvants

2019
Harmin Herrera – LinkedIn
Advisor: Anand Mehta
Thesis: Development of lectins for cancer-specific fucosylation

2019
Sezin Nicklas – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Exploring Interactions Between the Parasite Plasma Membrane and the Parasite Vacuolar Membrane of Plasmodium falciparum

2019
Muhammad Sheraz – LinkedIn
Advisor: Ju-Tao Guo
Thesis: Identification of Host Proteins Required for Hepatitis B Virus Covalently Closed Circular DNA Biosynthesis by a Chemogenetic Approach

2019
Liudi Tang – LinkedIn
Advisor: Ju-Tao Guo
Thesis: Role and Mechanism of Host Cellular DNA Repair Proteins in Hepatitis B Virus cccDNA Biosynthesis

2019
Breanna Tyrell – LinkedIn
Advisor: Amy Ma
Thesis: The Complex Nature of Cobalamin Biosynthesis in the Pathogenic Bacterium Vibrio cholerae

2018
Suyash Bhatnagar – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Investigating Na+ and Lipid Homeostasis as Targets for Antimalarial Drugs

2018
Rashida Ginwala – LinkedIn
Advisor: Pooja Jain
Thesis: Potential of the Flavonoid Apigenin in Regulating Immune Cell Functions During

2018
Marguerite Johnson – LinkedIn
Advisor: Sandhya Kortagere
Master's thesis: Sustained proinflammatory signaling contributes to neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease

2018
Vivin Karthik – LinkedIn
Advisor: Elias Haddad
Master's thesis: Role of CMV- and HIV-Specific cTFH response in HIV infection

2018
Jennifer Marcy – LinkedIn
Advisor: Vanessa Pirrone
Thesis: Dysregulation of the Wnt Signaling Pathway in the Development of Colorectal Cancer in HIV-Infected Patients

2018
Courtney Marshall
Advisor: Sandhya Kortagere
Thesis: D3 Receptor Agonism Attenuates Deficits Observed in Rodents with 6-OHDAInduced Medial Forebrain Bundle Lesions

2018
Monique Maubert – LinkedIn
Advisor: Mike Nonnemacher
Thesis: Effects of morphine and the viral protein Tat on the blood-brain barrier, Implications in HIV disease and HAND

2018
Elizabeth Parzych – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Towards a Multivalent, Multistage Malaria Vaccine: Evaluation of a Plasmodium-specific Carrier Protein to Enhance Production and Immunogenicity of a Transmission-blocking Vaccine Candidate

2018
Chris Stairiker – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Molecular Changes in Alveolar Epithelial Cells During Influenza Virus Infection

2018
Neil Sullivan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Understanding the functional, immunological and clinical impact of genetic variation in the long terminal repeat (LTR), the viral promoter of HIV-1 in relation to CRISPR/Cas9 gRNA design

2017
Frank Bearoff – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Genetic Mapping and Analysis of Disease Susceptibility in a Mouse Model of Multiple Sclerosis

2017
Hanna David – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Parasite growth inhibitory activity of antibodies to conserved and polymorphic epitopes of a malaria vaccine candidate antigen

2017
Kevin Egan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Stephen Jennings
Thesis: Characterizing Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Replication Kinetics, Latency, and Reactivation in the Lip Scarification Model of Infection and Disease

2017
Jenna Hope
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Novel roles for microRNAs in the regulation of effective CD8+ T cell responses

2017
Arpita Mondal – LinkedIn
Advisor: Mueller (Lankenau)
Thesis: IDO1, an immuno-oncology target that supports tumor-promoting, inflammatory neovascularization

2017
Andrea Partridge – LinkedIn
Advisor: Julio Martin-Garcia
Thesis: A senescence-like phenotype in human macrophages

2017
Lindsay Pomykala – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Genetic exploration of the ATP synthase complex in Plasmodium falciparum

2017
Arjun Ramamurthi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler
Thesis: Plasmid DNA as a Platform for the Development of Prophylactic and Therapeutic Vaccines Against Clostridium difficile in Aging Models of Disease

2017
Emily Reesey – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Characterization of the Mitochondrial DNA Polymerase in Plasmodium falciparum

2017
Melody Wright – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: PFF1320C an Essential but Presumptive Plasmodium Myosin Light Chain

2017
Ming Yang – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: The Role of Isocitrate Dehydrogenase and Assessment of Intracellular ATP Levels during the Erythrocytic Stages of Plasmodium falciparum

2016
Chelsea Burgwin – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Characterization of the cell-autonomous traits of Tsk2/+ mice, a model of systemic sclerosis

2016
Ashley Curtola – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler

2016
Andrew Holmes – LinkedIn
Advisor: Irwin Chaiken
Thesis: AIDS vaccine candidates from a combinatorial library of human rhinovirus 14 (HRV14): Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV -1) gp41 chimeras

2016
Bethany Jenkins
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Characterization of PfCoq10 and its use in exploring the Plasmodium falciparum mitochondrial proteome

2016
Selena Lin – LinkedIn
Advisor: Ying-Hsiu Su
Thesis: Analysis of the complexity of HBV-host junction sequences in patients with HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma

2016
Courtney Marin – LinkedIn
Advisor: Shira Ninio
Thesis: BffA: a Novel Regulator of Biofilm Formation in the Pathogen Legionella pneumophila

2016
April Pershing – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Genetic exploration of the ATP synthase complex in Plasmodium falciparum

2016
Nehal Solanki
Advisor: David Wiest (FCCC)
Thesis: Role of RPL22 in T Cell Development and Transformation

2016
Andreas Solomos – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Genetic exploration of the ATP synthase complex in Plasmodium falciparum

2015
Adam Fike – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Non-thesis master's degree

2015
Aidan Hancock – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Effect of Influenza A virus on type II alveolar epithelial cells

2015
Jason Lamontagne – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michael Bouchard
Thesis: Global analysis of HBV-mediated changes to the primary hepatocyte transcriptome and metabolome

2015
Renzo Perales – LinkedIn
Advisor: Sonia Navas-Martin
Thesis: Role of Toll-like receptor 3 in the context of a neurotropic virus infection

2015
Fiorella Rossi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Julio Martín-García
Thesis: The Role of TLR3 Stimulation in the Suppression of HIV-1 Infection in Monocyte Derived Dendritic Cells

2015
Divya Sagar – LinkedIn
Advisor: Pooja Jain
Thesis: Dendritic Cell Trafficking in to the Central Nervous System : Targeting C-type Lectin Receptors to Prevent Neuroinflammation

2014
Scott Baliban – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler
Thesis: Development of a DNA Vaccine Encoding the Receptor-Binding Domain of Clostridium Diffiicile Toxin A and Toxin B, and the Role of Immune Suppression in Increased Susceptibility to Clostridium Difficile Infection

2014
Satinder Dahiya – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Reticulocyte-associated protein export machinery and cytoadherence in blood stage malaria parasites

2014
Ian Goodwin – LinkedIn
Advisor: Shira Ninio
Master's thesis: A Novel Virulence-Related Operon in the Pathogen Legionella Pneumophila

2014
Archana Gupta – LinkedIn
Advisor: Sonya Navas-Martin
Thesis: Activated Monocyte-Derived Exosomes Transfer MIR-223 to Neural Cells: Impact of Peripheral Inflammation of Cognitive Impairment

2014
Elamaran Meibalan – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Reticulocyte-associated protein export machinery and cytoadherence in blood stage malaria parasites

2014
Mohit Sehgal – LinkedIn
Advisor: Pooja Jain
Thesis: Immunomodulatory effects of IFN-α on dendritic cells: Implications for HIV-1/HCV pathogenesis and treatment

2014
Luz-Jeanette Sierra – LinkedIn
Advisor: Julio Martín-García
Thesis: Characterization of the Genotypes, Phenotypes and Neurotropism of the HIV-1 Envelope glycoproteins from two highly Neurotoxic CSF-derived isolates

2014
Gokul Swaminathan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Novel roles of Toll-Like Receptor-3 and microRNA-155 in HIV-1 infection of human macrophages

2013
Sarah Cavanaugh – LinkedIn
Advisor: Glenn Rall
Thesis: Characterization of cell type-specific responses to interferons in the central nervous system

2013
Ryan Eberwine – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Germline-Encoded T-cell Receptor Sequences Are a Determinant of Diabetes Susceptibility and Islet-Antigen Recognition in the LEW.1WR1 Rat Model of Type-1 Diabetes

2013
Kelley Healey – LinkedIn
Advisor: Santosh Katiyar
Thesis: Sphingolipids modulate echinocandin susceptibility in opportunistic fungi

2013
Alicia Holmgren – LinkedIn
Advisor: Glenn Rall
Thesis: Interferons induce BST-2/tetherin in measles virus-infected neurons and permissive mice

2013
Noshin Kathuria – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler
Thesis: Modulation of immune responses to DNA-based vaccine antigens following co-delivery of mucosal chemokine molecular adjuvants CCL28 and CCL25

2013
Shawn Keogan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Fred Krebs
Thesis: Sphingolipids modulate echinocandin susceptibility in opportunistic fungi

2013
Christina Kollias
Advisor: Stephen Jennings
Thesis: Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses in Herpes Simplex Virus

2013
Kathryn Matthias – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: A Tale of Two Regulators: Expression of the Virulence-Associated Type IV Pili and Lipooligosaccharide sialyltransferase is Controlled by CrgA and Rsp in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

2013
Nirzari Parikh – LinkedIn
Advisor: Fred Krebs
Thesis: Using an in vitro model of the polarized cervicovaginal epithelium to investigate the immunomodulatory effects of human semen and impact on the risk of hum

2013
Marianne Strazza – LinkedIn
Advisor: Mike Nonnemacher/Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: The Impact of HIV-1 and Mu-Opioids on the Bone Marrow and Blood-Brain Barrier

2012
Benjamas Aiamkitsumrit – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Identification of HIV-1 X4 and R5 genetic signatures in the viral promoter, Tat, and Vpr

2012
Jennifer Bennett – LinkedIn
Advisor: Garth Erlich
Thesis: Identification and characterization of a novel bacterial virulence in Haemophilus influenza

2012
Amy Cernetich Ott – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Global gene expression profiling, cytoadherence and immune evasion in Plasmodium yoelii blood-stage malaria parasites

2012
Joseph Fraietta – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Targeting Inflammation for the Prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Transmission and Disease Progression

2012
Donald Gracias – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Role of microRNA-155 in CD8+ T cell Responses

2012
Benjamin Janto – LinkedIn
Advisor: Garth Erlich
Thesis: Characterization of Autoinducer-2 Quorum Sensing and the Lsr locus Haemophilus influenzae

2012
Michael Johnson – LinkedIn
Advisor: Thomas Edlind
Thesis: Mutational and topological analysis of FKS1: A novel for echinocandin action

2012
Lorena Loarca – LinkedIn
Advisor: Carol Artlett
Thesis: The Role of Glucose-derived Compounds in Liver Diseases

2012
Kristen Long – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Examination of a Model of Systemic Sclerosis, Tight Skin 2 Mouse: Before, During and After Fibrotic Disease

2012
Luidmilla Mazaleuskaya – LinkedIn
Advisor: Sonia Navas-Martin
Thesis: Contrasting Effects of Triggering Toll-Like Receptors 2, 3, 4, and 7 in the Macrophage Susceptibility to Murine Coronavirus Infections

2012
Jonathan Pitcher – LinkedIn
Advisor: Olimpia Meucci
Thesis: The role of ferritin heavy chain and opiates in neuroAIDS

2012
Sonia Shah – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Regulation of HIV-1 LTR driven gene expression within a chromatin-based microenvironment

2011
James Alaro – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Development of a novel chimeric blood-stage malaria vaccine.

2011
Nishat Aliya – LinkedIn
Advisor: Ju-Tao Guo
Non-thesis master's degree

2011
Kasturi Chaterjee – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Identification of the myosin B light chain partner in Plasmodium and elucidation of the motor properties.

2011
Adriano Ferrucci – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: The role of extracellular human immunodeficiency virus type 1 viral protein R in neuropathogenesis

2011
Suresh Maddur Ganesan – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Investigation of mitochondrially targeted proteins in blood stage malaria parasites.

2011
Jennifer Gyamfi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Michele Kutzler
Non-thesis master's degree

2011
Hangjun Ke – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Investigation of the unusual tricarboxylic acid metabolism and mitochondrial electron transport chain functions in Plasmodium falciparum.

2011
Sumit Kumar – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Identification and characterization of transcription co-factor multiprotein bridging factor-1 in Plasmodium.

2011
Yuanjie Liu – LinkedIn
Advisor: Anand Mehta
Thesis: Ubiquitin plays a critical role in Hepatitis B virus envelope protein MHC class I antigen presentation

2011
Sharron Manuel – Website
Advisor: Pooja Jain/Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Dynamics of dendritic cells and T cells in HTLV-1 associated oncogenesis and neurimflammation: Implications in immunomodulatory therapies and diagnostic tools

2011
Angela Richardson – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Genetic determinants of susceptibility to herpes simplex virus encephalitis in the murine host

2010
Praveen Balabaskaran Nina – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Investigation of the unusual ATP synthase complexes in the alveolates Tetrahymena thermaphila and Plasmodium falciparum.

2010
Priyanka Duttagupta – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: The cellular and signaling requirement of effector CD8+T cells during influenza A virus infection.

2010
Luna Li – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Functional properties of patient-derived human immunodeficiency virus type 1 long terminal repeat and the transactivator protein Tat

2010
Danielle Loughlin
Advisor: Carol Artlett
Thesis: A story of the ACEs: Regulation of dermal fibroblast signaling by the precursor of advanced glycation end products 3-deoxyglucosone

2010
Karissa Lozenski – LinkedIn
Advisor: Fred Krebs
Thesis: Use of the murine model of cervicovaginal toxicity to examine factors that adversely affect epithelial integrity and inflammation following microbicide application.

2010
Mitali Purohit – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Anthrax sporulation, the role of proteases in anthrolysin O expression, and interactions of a novel immunomodulator with cells of the innate immune system.

2010
Saifur Rahman – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl/Pooja Jain
Thesis: Evaluating the role of dendritic cells in host immune response during human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection using a transgenic mouse model system.

2010
Viraj Sanghvi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Laura Steel
Thesis: Interactions between HIV-1 and host cell RNAi pathways and the characterization of a conditional promoter for use in RNAi-based anti-HIV-1 therapeutics.

2010
Jessica Kennedy Weidner – LinkedIn
Advisor: Ju-Tao Guo
Thesis: Modes of action of two newly identified interferon-induced antiviral proteins, IFITM3 and GBP5, against vesicular stomatitis virus infection.

2010
Meghan Wynosky-Dolfi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Characterization of receptor interactions with ALO and activation of signaling pathways.

2009
Anupam Banerjee – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Modulation of HIV-1 replication by μ-opiod and cAMP pathways in human bone marrow progenitor cells

2009
Mariana Bernui – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: The effects of antioxidants on the interaction of bacillus anthracis with phagocytes

2009
Hui Nie – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Finding the link from a surface adhesion in to the actin motor for Plasmodium merozoite invasion

2009
Marissa Panicella-Migaleddi – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Non-thesis master's degree

2009
Patricia Petritus – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Analysis of vaccine- and infection-induced immune responses contributing to suppression of blood-stage malaria in the Plasmodium yoelii rodent model

2009
Vanessa Pirrone – LinkedIn
Advisor: Fred Krebs
Thesis: Poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) (PSMA) as an inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection and as a partner in safe and effective combination microbicides

2009
Shriya Raj – LinkedIn
Advisor: Thomas Edlind
Thesis: Mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance in Candida species

2009
Swati Thorat – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Plasmodium yoelii orthologue of macrophage migration inhibitory factor alters the course of blood stage malaria infection

2009
Kristen Weaver – LinkedIn
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Comparative immunogenicity and efficacy studies in a rodent model of a subunit blood-stage malaria vaccine formulated with adjuvants suitable for use in humans

2008
Christie Deneve Bucks
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: CD8+ T cells: From Autoimmunity to antigen induced exhaustion

2008
Yujie Liu – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Impact of a downstream C/EBP site on HIV-1 gene expression and pathogenesis

2008
Heather Painter – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: The Role of the Mitochondria in the Life and Death of Plasmodium falciparum

2008
Devanshi Pandya
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Study of the regulation of the human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) promoter formatted in the context of chromatin in T cells and monocytes

2008
Nina Thakkar Rivera – LinkedIn
Advisor: Fred Krebs
Thesis: Mechanism of action studies defining the activity of the biguanide-based, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 co-receptor inhibitor NB325

2007
Aikaterina Alexaki – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Modeling bone marrow progenitor cell differentiation and susceptibility to HIV-1 infection

2007
Elise Mosser – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: The bacillus anthracis toxin anthrolysin O modulates human macrophage and neutrophil function

2006
John-Paul Vermitsky – LinkedIn
Advisor: Thomas Edlind
Thesis: Molecular Basis for Azole Resistance in C. glabrata

2005
Annie Borowski – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: The role of CD28 costimulation in the reaction of memory CD8+ T cells

2005
Mathanraj Packiam – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Differential expression and regulation of lipooligosacharide specific sialyltransferase in pathogenic neisseria

2005
Qifang Shi
Advisor: James Burns
Thesis: Characterization of merozoite surface protein-8 and evaluation of it's potential as a blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate

2004
Christian Grant – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Analysis of cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating human T cell leukemia virus type 1 viral gene expression in cells of the monocyte/macrophage lineage

2004
Kate Mostoller – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Secretion and extracellular function of the human T cell leukemia virus trans-activator protein Tax

2004
Michael Nonnemacher – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Comparative analysis of lentiviral LTR structure and function

2004
Jason Stumhofer – Website
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya
Thesis: Characterization of a functional DNA repair enzyme from Plasmodium falciparum that displays gycolyase and AP-lyase activity

2003
Ross Albert – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Signaling through serotonin 1B and 2C receptors on lymphocytes is essential for T cell activation and proliferation

2003
Timothy Alefantis – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Analysis of amino acid signals within the human T cell leukemia virus type 1 transactivator protein Tax that control nuclear export, cytoplasmic intracellular localization, and secretion

2003
Tricia Burdo – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Cellular and viral factors involved in HIV-1-associated neurologic disease

2003
Bradley Catalone – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Model systems for the preclinical evaluation of topical vaginal microbicides

2003
Devrim Eren – LinkedIn
Advisor: Akhil Vaidya Plasmodium falciparum Enzymes Involved in Redox Balancing of Thesis: Nicotinamide Nucleotides

2003
Alfred Kim – LinkedIn
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: The role of CD40 in dendritic cell induced CD8+ T cell responses

2003
Janine Knight – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: The Regulation of Pho81p, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

2003
Kim Metera – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Characterization of the YLR190w Gene Product in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

2003
Shane Quiterio – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Modeling HIV-1 infection of bone marrow progenitor cells: Implications for HIV-1 CNS disease

2003
Jeffrey Shannon – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Characterization of Anthrolysin O, the Baccillus anthracis cholesterol-dependent cytolysin

2002
Eric Scott Halstead – Website
Advisor: Peter Katsikis
Thesis: Modulating CD8+ T Cell Responses in Vivo

2002
Kerrianne Mello
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Characterization of proteins that interact with the amino-termius of the plasmodium merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1)

2001
Brian Cocca – LinkedIn
Advisor: Marko Radic
Thesis: Structural basis for autoantibody recognition of phosphatidylserine-Beta2 glycoprotein 1 and apoptotic cells.

2001
John Leander Po – LinkedIn
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: Age-associated changes in influenza A virus-specific CD8+ lymphocyte response in C57BL/6 mice

2000
Mohamed Elrafaei – Website
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: The effect of aging on the immune response again E55+ murine leukemia retrovirus infection

2000
Karl Henry – LinkedIn
Advisor: Thomas Edlind
Thesis: Molecular basis for tolerance to sterol biosynthesis inhibitors in Candida species and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

2000
John McAllister – Website
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Cell type-and differentiation-specific gene regulation and viral replication: Implications for HIV-1 disease pathogenesis

2000
Scott Millhouse – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Biochemical and functional analysis of the herpes simplex virus type 1 latency-associated transcript promoter

2000
Heather Ross
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Impact of LTR sequence variation and C/EBP factors on HIV-1 gene expression in cells of the monocytic lineage: Implications for HIV-1 CNS disease

2000
Naomi Vishnupad – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Factors that contribute to resistance and susceptibility to EAE in the rat.

2000
Jing Yao – Website
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Physical and functional interface of CREB-1, SP1, and Tax with the HTLV-1 LTR

1999
Dawn Maria Shell – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Physical and immunologic characterization of neisserial sialyltransferases; the role of PIII (Rmp) in gonococcal adhesion and invasion.

1999
John Williams – Website
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Using the yeast two-hybrid system to identify human epithelial cell proteins that bind gonococcal opa proteins.

1998
Melissa Bourque-Philion – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Characterization of the EAE-resistant LER rat T cell response following immunization for EAE

1998
Jessica Jenulis
Advisor: Edward Schulman
Thesis: Release of Chemokines from Human Lung and Human Mast Cells

1998
Rocio Marchese – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest/Blank
Thesis: Immunogenetic Studies on the Mechanisms of Host Resistance against Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis

1998
Anne Marie Martin – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: The genetics of autoimmunity in the rat: The search for non-MHC-linked genes

1998
Paul Artur Plett – LinkedIn
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: Age-related decrease in murine natural killer cell activity after interferon-a/b stimulation

1997
Erica Bernstein – LinkedIn
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: The role of cell-mediated immunity after influenza vaccination of healthy elderly individuals

1997
Ana Gabrea-Todor – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Analysis of the high nitric oxide and high eosinophil phenotypes in the brown Norway rat

1997
Mark Glaum – Website
Advisor: Edward Schulman
Thesis: Expression and modulation of asthma-related cytokines by human lung mast cells

1997
Yang Kang
Advisor: Carole Long
Thesis: The 19-kDa Carboxyl-Terminal Region of Merozoite Surface Protein-1 as a Vaccine Candidate against Malaria

1997
John Langell – LinkedIn
Advisor: Libby Blankenhorn
Thesis: Suppression of α1,3-galactosyl epitopes on mammalian cells

1997
Denise LaTemple – LinkedIn
Advisor: Uri Galili
Thesis: Enhancement of tumor vaccine immunogenicity by the nature anti-gal antibody

1996
Maria Cristina Cruz – LinkedIn
Advisor: Thomas Edlind
Thesis: Molecular basis for benzimidazole susceptibility and resistance in the opportunistic yeasts Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida albicans

1996
Janine Ferguson
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Regulation of gonococcal sialyltransferase activity by in vivo signals and substrates

1996
Fred Krebs – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl
Thesis: Lymphoid and neuroglial ATF/CREB factors interact physically and functionally with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 long terminal repeat

1996
Joseph Kutza – LinkedIn
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: The effect of aging on human natural killer and lymphokine activated killer cell activity

1996
Xiao He – LinkedIn
Advisor: Donna Murasko
Thesis: Response of murine splenocytes to staphylococcal enterotoxin b in vitro: Effects of aging and cytokines

1996
Timothy Henion – LinkedIn
Advisor: Uri Galili
Thesis: Primate α1,3-galactosyltransferase: Structure-function analysis and application for the enhancement of vaccine immunogenicity

1996
David McGee – LinkedIn
Advisor: Rick Rest
Thesis: Molecular analysis of the regulation of expression of gonococcal and meningococcal sialyltransferase gene(s)

1996
Yvette Murley-Henry – LinkedIn
Advisor: John LiPuma
Thesis: Cloning and characterization of the haemocin locus of haemophilus influenzae and assessment of its role in virulence

1996
Le Wang – LinkedIn
Advisor: Uri Galili
Thesis: Anti-Gal immunoglobulin genes

1996
Norman Waters – LinkedIn
Advisor: Bill Bergman
Thesis: Identification of multiple substances of the Pho85 cyclin dependent protein kinase as key regulators of acid phosphatase expression and glycogen metabolism in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

1995
Joseph Kenny – LinkedIn
Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: An analysis of the cell type-specific transcriptional regulation of the herpes simplex virus type 1 latency-associated transcript promoter

1995
Christina Nevel-McGarvey – LinkedIn
Advisor: Alan Hudson
Thesis: Changes in the mitochondrial genetic system in rabbit urinary bladder after partial outlet obstruction

1994
Maribeth Tillmann – LinkedIn
Mentor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: A biochemical and functional analysis of the human T cell lymphotropic virus type 1 long terminal repeat region

1991
Charles Kunsch – LinkedIn
Advisor: Advisor: Brian Wigdahl (Penn State)
Thesis: Analysis of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 infection of the developing human nervous system