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Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics (MCBG) Faculty

  • Seena Ajit, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms of neuropathic and inflammatory pain, epigenetic regulation, microRNA expression and regulation, biomarkers

  • Carol Artlett, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Inflammasome signaling; IL-1 mediated fibrosis; collagen export from the endoplasmic reticulum; miR-155; small molecule therapeutic development

  • Jane Azizkhan-Clifford, PhD

    Professor Emerita; Associate Dean for Medical Student Research
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Cellular response to DNA damage, regulation of gene expression, cellular proliferation and the cell cycle

  • Peter Baas, PhD

    Professor; Director, Graduate Program in Neuroscience
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Degeneration, dysfunction, injury and repair of the nervous system

  • Jacqueline Barker, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Addiction, learning and memory, behavioral neuroscience, habits, compulsivity, sex differences, drug and alcohol exposure, substance and alcohol use disorders

  • Joris Beld, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Chemical biology and microbiology of secondary metabolism in various organisms

  • Lawrence Bergman, PhD

    Professor Emeritus
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Malaria, invasion, global gene expression, merozoite, sporozoite, actin-myosin, microarray, Plasmodium

  • Karen Berkowitz, MD*

    Associate Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Obstetrics & Gynecology
    Research Interests: Mammalian germ cell development, Molecular mechanisms governing gametogenesis

  • Michael Bouchard, PhD

    Director, Division of Biomedical Science Programs; Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Liver cancer; hepatocyte transformation; calcium signaling; apoptosis; cell proliferation; alcohol; novel liver models; hepatitis B virology and hepatic cancer; HBx protein and hepatitis viral replication; calcium signaling and its role in cellular transformation; fatty liver disease and the gut microbiome axis

  • Irwin Chaiken, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Protein interactions in health and disease, structure-based antagonism of HIV-1 Env, recombinant protein/peptidomimetic/small molecule inhibitor design and mechanism of action

  • Jessica Chen, PhD

    Faculty
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Graduate student education & on-line programs; previous research focused on beta-adrenergic signaling in cardiovascular disease

  • Kimberly Dougherty, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Spinal locomotor circuit organization

  • Garth D. Ehrlich, PhD

    Professor of Microbiology & Immunology; Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology, Otolaryngology
    Research Interests: Use of large-scale comparative genomic technologies to explore the molecular pathogenesis of chronic infectious diseases and the human genetics of susceptibility and resistance to infection.

  • Elias El Haddad, PhD

    Professor of Medicine; MD/PhD Program Director
    Department: Medicine: Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine
    Research Interests: Human immunology, systems biology, infectious disease pathogenesis and vaccinology

  • Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating metastatic potential of solid tumors, studies in vitro and in animal models of neoplastic disease

  • Wen-Jun Gao, MD, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Synaptic signaling and regulation of prefrontal neuronal circuitry and neurobiology of schizophrenia

  • Peter Gaskill, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: HIV, drug abuse, neuroimmunity, neurotransmission, macrophage immunology, dopamine, serotonin, catecholamines

  • Edward Hartsough, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Mechanisms contributing to metastatic progression and susceptibility of cancers to targeted inhibitors

  • Joshua Jackson, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Astrocyte biology, neuro-glial interactions, neurovascular coupling, synaptic development, calcium signaling, mitochondrial dynamics, brain metabolism

  • Pooja Jain, PhD

    Professor; Co-Director, Master of Science in Immunology Program
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Human retroviral infections (HTLV-1, HIV-1), neuroinflammatory diseases induced by infection or inflammation such as multiple sclerosis, exosomes, myeloid cells and immunotherapy

  • Bradford Jameson, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Medical and graduate student education; previous research focused on structure-based drug design studies for development of immune-regulatory compounds

  • Zachary Klase, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Molecular neuropathogenesis of HIV-1, epigenetic control of transcription and microRNA involvement in viral diseases

  • Sandhya Kortagere, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Biased signaling of dopamine D3 receptor agonists; developing symptomatic and disease-modifying therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease; etiology of mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease; role of dopamine receptors in neurocognitive impairment in HIV and other neuronal infections

  • Fred Krebs, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: HIV-1 immunopathogenesis and neuropathogenesis, plasma medicine (biomedical applications of non-thermal plasma)

  • Michele Kutzler, PhD

    Associate Dean for Faculty; Professor of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology
    Department: Medicine: Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Translational research in the area of vaccinology, immunology and infectious disease

  • Michael Lane, PhD

    Associate Professor; Co-Director, Neuroscience Camp for High School Students; Co-Director, T32 NIH Spinal Cord Injury Training Program
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Spontaneous and therapeutically enhanced neural plasticity following cervical spinal cord injury

  • Patrick Loll, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: X-ray crystallography and protein biophysics; integral membrane protein structure; antibiotic resistance; mechanism of drug action; protein homeostasis

  • Amy T. Ma, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Bacteriology, microbial interactions, gut microbiome, vitamin cross-feeding and biosynthesis

  • Julio Martin-Garcia, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Macrophage tropism and neurotropism of HIV-1; cellular senescence during HIV-1 infection and HIV-1 neuropathogenesis; innate immune responses to HIV-1 infection in macrophages, microglia and dendritic cells; microRNAs and HIV-1

  • Joshua Chang Mell, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Using genomics to investigate the mechanism, consequences and evolution of genetic recombination, especially in pathogenic bacteria.

  • Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD

    Professor & Chair
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and drug abuse, chemokine-based therapeutics, neuroprotective pathways in neuroinflammation

  • Ole Mortensen, PhD

    Associate Professor; Director, Pharmacology & Physiology Graduate Program
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Neurotransmitter transporters, drug addiction and affective disorders

  • Eishi Noguchi, PhD

    Professor; Director, Graduate Program in Molecular & Cellular Biology & Genetics
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Genome maintenance mechanisms relevant to the biology of cancer and aging, including DNA replication, DNA repair, DNA damage response and cell cycle checkpoints; investigating the mechanisms required for preservation of genomic integrity in response to environmental factors and toxins, including alcohol and aldehydes

  • Michael Nonnemacher, PhD

    Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: HIV-1 genetic variation in disease progression; role of viral accessory proteins in pathogenesis; gene-editing strategies for HIV cure research; HIV/HBV coinfection in cancer; impact of HIV-1 and drugs of abuse on the CNS

  • Shae Padrick, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Kinetic mechanism of signal integration; X-ray crystallography and protein biophysics; cell biology; cytoskeleton dynamics; protein complexes

  • Vanessa Pirrone, PhD

    Associate Professor; Assistant Dean of Admissions
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Impact of HIV infection on colorectal cancer, and the role of the HIV-1 Nef protein; impact of age and HIV/HCV coinfection on HIV-1 replication, pathogenesis and immune activation profiles

  • Liang Oscar Qiang, MD, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Neurological disease modeling and potential therapies using iPSC-derived neurons, as well as other cellular reprogramming strategies

  • Ramesh Raghupathi, PhD

    Professor
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Cell death and plasticity after traumatic injury to the mature and immature brain

  • Mauricio Reginato, PhD

    Professor and Interim Chair; Director, Graduate Program in Cancer Biology
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms regulating breast cancer growth and metastasis and understanding interplay between signaling and metabolic pathways to identify novel cancer therapies.

  • Gabriele Romano, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Cancer drug resistance; mouse models; immunology; genomics

  • Antonio Sanz-Clemente, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Synaptic protein content, glutamate receptors, synaptic/extrasynaptic NMDA receptor balance, excitotoxicity, excitatory neurotransmission, synaptic maturation, autism spectrum disorder, post-translational modifications

  • Priscila Sato, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Pharmacology & Physiology
    Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms of cardiac metabolism; cardiovascular function; GPCR-signaling in the heart-pancreas axis; in vivo animal models of diabetes and cardiac diseases

  • Christian Sell, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Biology of aging; neuroendocrine networks.

  • Srinivas Somarowthu, PhD

    Assistant Professor; Director, Biochemistry of Health and Disease Program
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Long non-coding RNAs; non-coding RNAs in viral genomes; RNA-protein complexes; molecular modeling and bioinformatics

  • Todd Strochlic, PhD, VMD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Research Interests: Protein kinases, oncogenic signaling, breast cancer, and Drosophila oogenesis

  • Claudio Torres, PhD

    Associate Professor
    Department: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Mechanisms of aging that predispose to neurocognitive disease. Cellular senescence in human brain during aging and neuropathology; role of senescent cells in inflammatory response in Alzheimer's disease and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders; use of markers of senescence for early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Kazuhito Toyooka, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
    Research Interests: Analysis of neuronal morphology in the developing cerebral cortex - neurite formation and synaptogenesis

  • Akhil Vaidya, PhD

    Professor; Director, Center for Molecular Parasitology
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Understanding basic molecular functioning of malaria parasites with a view to developing new antimalarial drugs.

  • Brian Wigdahl, PhD

    Professor and Chair; Director, Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease
    Department: Microbiology & Immunology
    Research Interests: Immunopathogenesis and neuropathogenesis of HIV-1 and HTLV-I infection; transcriptional regulation of retroviral expression; viral sequence diversity and correlations to disease; development of microbicidal agents

 
Faculty in the Department of Biology at Drexel University
 

Felice Elefant, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding the mechanisms that govern epigenetic regulation of higher order brain function. Epigenetic-based mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders, and broad insights into HAT (histone acetyltransferase)-based drug design for early therapeutic intervention of cognitive deficits.


Aleister Saunders, PhD

Research Interests: My laboratory focuses its research efforts on identifying and characterizing genes that are involved in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We believe our efforts will lead to the identification of novel therapeutic strategies to delay or prevent onset of AD.


Nianli Sang, PhD

Research Interests: Regulation of cell metabolism and its relevance in major human diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.


Elias Spiliotis, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the morphogenesis of epithelial and neuronal tissues; focus on regulation of the cytoskeleton and its functions by a novel family of GTP-binding proteins termed septins.


 
Adjunct Faculty at Fox Chase Cancer Center
 

Sanjeevani Arora, PhD

Research Interests: Personalized medicine initiatives to impact early diagnosis and cancer treatment; identifying novel genetic risk factors that can be relevant to cancer risk assessment, biomarker development and potential optimization of personalized treatment; investigating the molecular circuits that govern DNA damage response and how changes in these can contribute to cancer.


Siddharth Balachandran, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding how viruses interact with cells, trigger cell death, provoke innate immune responses, and induce disease; leveraging these discoveries to develop new therapies for virus infections and human cancers; identifying signaling nodes in antiviral innate immune pathways through CRISPR and other screening approaches.


Alfonso Bellacosa, MD, PhD*

Research Interests: Genetic and epigenetic alterations of cancer cells in an effort to understand normal gene function and pathogenesis of disease, with the ultimate goal of identifying critical regulatory molecules/pathways as targets for innovative approaches of cancer prevention and therapy.


Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD*

Research Interests: Signal transduction by small G proteins and their effectors and the role of these proteins in regulating cytoskeletal structure, tumor invasion, and metastasis; regulation of insulin signaling.


Edna Cukierman, PhD

Research Interests: Isolating primary fibroblasts from various murine and human cancers at different stages of tumorigenesis.


Roland Dunbrack, PhD

Research Interests: Computational structural biology, including homology modeling, fold recognition, molecular dynamics simulations, statistical analysis of the PDB and bioinformatics.


Joan Font-Burgada, PhD

Research Interests: Research in my group focuses on the tissue and cellular dynamics during aging, chronic tissue damage and continuous regeneration leading to the development of cancer.


Erica Golemis, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding points of communication between the cell cycle machinery and cell shape controls, with particular reference to how these processes are simultaneously disrupted in cancer; the HEF1, HEI10, and HEI-C proteins, which function in cell cycle-cell attachment control pathways.


Eileen K. Jaffe, PhD

Research Interests: Protein quaternary structure dynamics; the morpheein model of allosteric regulation; quaternary structure as a basis for understanding disease and discovering drugs.


Neil Johnson, PhD

Research Interests: The Johnson laboratory studies mechanisms of DNA damage detection, repair, and signaling that occur in BRCA1 mutation-containing organisms and cancers. We use a range of approaches, including cell biology, mouse genetics, and therapy resistance modeling, to understand basic biological processes and their implications for tumorigenesis and chemotherapy sensitivity.


John Karanicolas, PhD

Research Interests: The goal of the Karanicolas laboratory is to develop structure-based approaches for modulating protein function using small-molecules. We apply these new approaches to re-activate disabled tumor suppressors, inhibit cancer-driving RNA-binding proteins, disable key oncogenic kinases, and tune the activity of antibodies used in cancer immunotherapy.


Ekaterina Koltsova, PhD

Research Interests: Uncovering immune-mediated mechanisms regulating cardiovascular disease (CVD) development, adipose tissue inflammation and cancer with particular emphasis on the role of cytokines in the regulation of intestinal microbiota, metabolites, stress hematopoiesis in the bone marrow, and anti-cancer immunity.


Warren D. Kruger, PhD

Research Interests: Molecular chaperone correction of missense mutations; genetic defects of methionine metabolic enzymes and human disease.


Alana O'Reilly, PhD

Research Interests: Our goal is to understand the mechanisms that control epithelial stem cell function in vivo. Since identifying novel signals that regulate stem cell function is technically challenging in mammalian tissues, we are focusing on Drosophila ovarian follicular epithelium stem cells (FSCs) as a model system for this analysis.


Jeffrey Peterson, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding how the Rho family of signaling proteins function in normal cells and how their signaling is altered in cancer and metastasis.


Yibin Yang, PhD

Research Interests: Immune regulatory pathways in human lymphoid malignancies. We are interested in the immune signaling pathways, particularly key transcriptional factors and ubiquitin-mediated signaling, required for lymphoma pathogenesis and immunotherapy. We have established an unbiased high-throughput CRISPR library screening technology to rapidly and accurately identify key pathways that are suitable for targeted therapy and immunotherapy.


Tim Yen, PhD

Research Interests: The mechanisms that regulate genome stability and how these processes are disrupted in cancer cells; mechanisms in cancer cells that promote their survival in response to chemotherapy using hi-throughput siRNA and small molecule screens; development of assays including imaging and biochemical assays.


 
Adjunct Faculty at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
 

Alexander Muller, PhD

Research Interests: Understanding molecular and genetic interactions that exist between tumors and the host environment as the basis for developing novel approaches for achieving effective therapeutic intervention.


 
Adjunct Faculty at the Wistar Institute
 

These faculty members are available for MCBG master's students.

Dario Altieri, MD*

Research Interests: The mechanisms that underlie how tumor cells survive and proliferate in cancer, in particular how tumor cells evade the normal processes that cause cells with genetic faults to self-destruct.

Qing Chen, MD, PhD*

Research Interests: The molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment.

Alessandro Gardini, PhD

Research Interests: The epigenetic control of transcription during cell differentiation and oncogenesis.

Paul Lieberman, PhD

Research Interests: How certain viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma–associated herpesvirus, establish a long-term latent infection that can lead to cancer.

Luis Montaner, DVM, DPhil*

Research Interests: Mechanisms of disease in HIV-1 infection, and explores new ways to boost the natural function of the immune system in order to combat infection or viral-associated disease.

Maureen Murphy, PhD

Research Interests: The most frequently mutated gene in human cancer, the tumor suppressor protein p53, especially how genetic polymorphisms in the p53 tumor suppressor gene that are more common in African Americans affect the ability of this protein to induce apoptosis and growth arrest, and hence combat tumor development.

Yulia Nefedova, MD, PhD*

Research Interests: Her research focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms by which the bone marrow microenvironment promotes tumor survival and progression.

Joseph M. Salvino, PhD

Research Interests: Medicinal chemistry, lead optimization and drug development, organic synthesis, design and synthesis of chemical biology tools to assist in mechanistic studies.

Kavitha Sarma, PhD

Research Interests: Dr. Sarma studies the mechanisms of RNA-mediated epigenetic gene regulation to understand how the loss of chromatin modifier-RNA interactions impacts cellular function.

Zachary Schug, PhD

Research Interests: Dr. Schug is interested in investigating metabolic adaptation in cancer cells through the use of cell biology, biochemistry, and metabolomics.

David Speicher, PhD

Research Interests: The use of proteomics, computational methods and biophysical approaches to characterize the roles of normal and mutant proteins in cancers and other human diseases. One approach uses systems biology strategies to better understand tumor progression and resistance to cancer therapeutics.

Jessie Villanueva, PhD

Research Interests: Our lab studies the molecular pathways that become deregulated in melanoma aiming at identifying suitable targets for therapy, particularly for tumors with limited treatment options, such as those driven by oncogenic NRAS. Our research goals are to dissect the mechanisms mediating drug resistance and identifying new targets or vulnerabilities that can be therapeutically exploited to combat melanoma drug resistance.

Rugang Zhang, PhD

Research Interests: The mechanisms that underlie how normal mammalian cells age and how tumor cells evade the process and become transformed, in particular how alterations in epigenetics lead to the evasion of the aging process during tumor development.


 
Retired Faculty
 

Jane Azizkhan-Clifford, PhD

Professor Emerita; Associate Dean for Medical Student Research; Course Director, Cancer Biology
Research Interests: Cellular response to DNA damage, regulation of gene expression, cellular proliferation and the cell cycle


Bradford Jameson, PhD

Professor
Research Interests: Medical and graduate student education; previous research focused on structure-based drug design studies for development of immune-regulatory compounds


Marilyn Jorns, PhD

Professor
Research Interests: Use of structure-based drug design to develop a new class of drugs to treat heart failure, based on modulation of the gasotransmitter hydrogen sulfide; structure and mechanism of membrane-bound oxidoreductases


* Physician's practice is independent of Drexel Medicine and Drexel University.

 

A Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics program graduate student working in a laboratory at Drexel University College of Medicine.