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MI Students
Alexander Piening
Alexander Piening

Undergraduate Institution: Rockhurst University
Research: My undergraduate research focused on examining the efficacy of monoclonal antibody glycosylation profile mapping techniques when applied to cancer and autoimmune immunotherapy drugs. In addition, I have just completed a rotation in Dr. Daniela Salvemini’s lab where I was helping to research neuropathic pain pathways related to chronic constriction injury (CCI) and spared nerve injury (SNI) pain models in mice.


Stella Hoft
Stella Hoft

Undergraduate Institution: Pitzer College
Research: Most of my previous research experience is in various realms of infectious disease. In the past, at Saint Louis University, I worked on drug development for Herpes Simplex Virus under Dr. Lynda Morrison. Before matriculating into SLU’s MD/PhD program I completed a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease under Dr. Daniel Barber, where we worked toward understanding the pulmonary CD4 T cell response toMycobacterium tuberculosis in mouse, non-human primate, and human models. For my first lab rotation at SLU I worked with Drs. James Brien and Amelia Pinto to identify the progression of the B cell response to ZIKV infection in a specified mouse model. I currently hope to complete my PhD in the Molecular, Microbiology, and Immunology department, focusing on the immune response to globally relevant infectious diseases.


Robert Kousnetsov
Robert Kousnetsov

Undergraduate Institution: Santa Clara University
Research: My undergraduate research took place in the lab of Dr. Leilani Miller, where I investigated the properties of a transcription factor that is part of a gene regulatory circuit controlling vulval cell fate execution in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. For my first summer at SLU, I rotated in the lab of Dr. Daniel Hawiger, where I studied the interactions between dendritic cells and T cells in the context of immune tolerance. While pursuing a PhD in the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, I wish to explore the dynamics of the immune system with respect to cancer (in the service of immunotherapy).


M2 Students
Monica Goodland
Monica Goodland

Undergraduate Institution: Missouri State University in Springfield
Research: My previous master's thesis research focused on a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and characterizing their oxygen consumption at rest and during physical activity; this work was primarily exercise physiology based, focusing on metabolic differences between these mice and similarly aged matched control mice. My education background is in cell and molecular biology with extensive teaching experience in human anatomy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I am currently in a summer rotation with Dr. Ayala's group and I am interested in neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. During this rotation, I am using fluorescent tagged antibodies to examine where the TDP protein (affected in ALS) with different point mutations localizes in this cell line under normal and stressful conditions. Hopefully this will bring more insight into which mutations of this protein are harmful and which are beneficial.


Di (Andy) Wu
Di (Andy) Wu

Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research: My senior thesis research in undergraduate focused on the pathogenesis of Salmonella Typhimurium, specifically it’s ability to survive within macrophages. The goal is to investigate superoxide-mediated killing of Salmonella and provide insight for new antibiotics. My current interests are in immunology and will be doing two more rotations in the Department of Molecular Immunology and Microbiology this upcoming summer


G1 Students
Emily Cybulla
Emily Cybulla

Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Chicago
Research: My previous research experiences have been focused on medicinal synthetic chemistry, but moving forward, I am interested in exploring research related to the biochemical pathways and mechanisms responsible for aging and for cancer progression. My first research rotation with Dr. Susana Gonzalo allowed me to evaluate the effects of vitamin D on the pathways involved in rapid aging in progerin-expressing cells.


Zachary Grese
Zachary Grese

Undergraduate Institution: Marquette University
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology and Immunology 
Research Mentor: Daniel Hoft M.D., Ph.D


 

G2 Students
Jessica Bourque
Jessica Bourque

Undergraduate Institution: Stevens Institute of Technology
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Daniel Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D. 
Research: My research in the Hawiger lab focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which various dendritic cell (DC) subsets influence T cell responses. Previous work in our lab has shown how a particular subset of tolerogenic DCs promotes the differentiation of peripheral regulatory T (pTreg) cells that are protective against autoimmunity. I am interested in identifying and characterizing additional pathways utilized by specific populations of DCs and T cells that may potentially be targeted for the development of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, autoimmunity, and infection.


Valerio Rasi
Valerio Rasi

Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Dan Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.
Research: After taking a graduate level course in Immunology, I developed an interest in this subject. When I joined the M.D./Ph.D. program at Saint Louis University, I decided to look for a mentor in Immunology, who also had clinical expertise in this field. For my summer rotation, I have worked in Dr. Daniel Hoft's laboratory. Dr. Hoft conducts research on gamma delta T cells and their immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Dr. Hoft has previously shown that Granzyme A induces this immunity. My rotation's project was to purify this protein first, and then inspect the pathway in which Granzyme A induces macrophage activation and Mycobacterium tuberculosis clearance. 


 

G3 Students
 
Stephen Grote
Stephen Grote

Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University 
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Physiology
Research Mentor: Gina Yosten, Ph.D.
Research: I am investigating the role of C-peptide in the health and metabolism of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE is integral to the retina and its pathology may be important to the development of diabetic retinopathy. C-peptide is cleaved from the proinsulin molecule and released with insulin from the β cell, but its biological function is poorly understood. With the identification of a putative C-peptide receptor  GPR146) in our lab, I am also looking to determine the interactions and function C-peptide has with its responsive tissues, in particular RPE cells.


Daniel Pike
Daniel Pike

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Louis University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: David Ford, Ph.D.
Research: I have just joined the Biochemistry Department in Dr. Ford’s lab. My initial research will involve investigating the link between the production of chlorinated lipids during the respiratory burst of the immune system in response to systemic infection and the sepsis phenotype, including, but not limited to, changes to the microvasculature and organ dysfunction.


Nickolas Steinauer
Nickolas Steinauer

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Louis University
Graduate Department: Pharmacology and Physiology
Research Mentor: Jinsong Zhang, Ph.D.
Research: Our lab is interested in the mechanisms by which leukemia fusion proteins alter the transcriptome of hematopoietic cells to induce a leukemic state. Of particular interest to us is the t(8;21) translocation and the aberrant transcription factor produced by this translocation, AML1-ETO. By studying the transcriptional corepressors, coactivators, and epigenetic modulators that bind to AML1-ETO and allow it to both activate and repress specific genes, we hope to uncover potential interactions for targeted therapy. 


Meghan Murray
Meghan Murray

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Louis University
Department: Pharmacology and Physiology
Mentor: Tom Burris, Ph.D.
Research: The Burris lab is focused on using chemical biology approaches to characterize the physiological roles of nuclear receptors.  The lab also develops drugs targeting nuclear receptors for the treatment of diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, liver diseases, muscular dystrophy, autism, Alzheimer's disease, and more. One particular area of concentration is identifying the ligands for a group of these nuclear receptors known as orphans. The “hormones” that bind to these orphan receptors have yet to be discovered.


G4 Students
 
Michelle Bach
Michelle Bach

Undergraduate Institution: Agnes Scott College
Graduate Department: Health Care Ethics
Mentor: Jeffery Bishop, M.D., Ph.D. 
Research: My work focuses on using insights from philosophy of science, feminist bioethics, and theology to explore topics in psychiatric ethics such as personality disorders and violence. 


Kevin Bockerstett
Kevin Bockerstett

Undergraduate Institution: Spring Hill College
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Research Mentor: Rich DiPaolo, Ph.D.
Research: Gastric cancer is the 5 th most common cancer and 3 rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the world. While chronic inflammation is strongly associated with the development of gastric cancer, the mechanism of this relationship is poorly understood. My goal is to define how cytokines produced by the immune system during the inflammatory response, such as interferon gamma and interleukin 17A, influence carcinogenesis. To date, I have found that the gastric epithelium expresses the receptors for certain immune cytokines that these cytokines are critical for cancer development in vivo, suggesting an unexplored direct effect of the immune system on the gastric epithelium that potentiates  cancer development. It is my hope that a better understanding of this interaction between the immune system and the stomach will provide new insight into gastric cancer development and create new areas of investigation for diagnosis and therapies.


 M3 Students
 
Catherine Cai
 Catherine Cai

Undergraduate Institution: Emory University (Atlanta, GA)
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Research Mentor: Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.
Research: My research seeks to understand the factors that drive protective immunity versus immunopathology during Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Chronic T. cruzi infection results in Chagas disease, a major infectious cause of heart failure. We recently discovered that CD4+ Th17 cells are highly protective against T. cruzi infection and characterized the mechanisms of protection. Ongoing work involves studying the role of Th17 cells in T. cruzi-related cardiac pathology. Broadly speaking, my research interests lie in immunology, infectious diseases, global public health and vaccine development.


Ananthi Rajamoorthi
Ananthi Rajamoorthi

Undergraduate Institution: Temple University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Ángel Baldán, Ph.D.
Research: Our lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms that regulate whole-body lipid homeostasis. We are currently studying the role of hepatic CIDEC/Fsp27, a lipid-droplet associated protein, in diet-induced steatohepatitis, VLDL secretion, and the progression of atherosclerosis. Our long-term goals are to characterize the functional consequences of hepatic CIDEC/Fsp27 in the clinically relevant setting of metabolic syndrome.


 M4 Students
 
Kostia Malley
Kostia Malley

Undergraduate Institution: University of California-Davis
Graduate Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Sergey Korolev, Ph.D.
Research: I am studying the structure and function of calcium-independent phospholipase A2b (iPLA2b or PLA2G6), an enzyme that produces important inflammatory mediators by hydrolysis of phospholipids containing arachidonic acid, a precursor of pathways involved in pain, immune reactions, and physiological responses. This enzyme is associated with cardiovascular, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, where mutations in the protein are found (the PARK14 locus). With unique structural features and its prominent role at the membrane, investigating this enzyme’s structure, mechanisms of interaction, and its regulation can uncover key links to molecular pathways important in chronic and acute inflammatory diseases, and enable new strategies to treat them.


Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Graduate Department: Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Research Mentor: Daniel Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D.
Research: My work in Dr. Hawiger’s lab has been focused on building comprehensive understanding of the ways in which DCs interact with T cells to shape immune responses. I initially worked on the role of Hopx in the induction and maintenance of peripherally induced regulatory T cells (pTreg cells) and immune tolerance. This initial work has established that pTreg cells are vital to Dendritic Cell (DC) induced tolerance that prevents induced autoimmune experimental acute encephalomyelitis (EAE). I also showed that Hopx plays a vital role in maintaining pTreg cells by blocking their production of IL2 and in this way is required to maintain tolerance. My current project has focused on the role of DC in the regulation of CD5 expression in T cells to influence pTreg cell induction. I have found that a specific immunomodulatory pathway engaged by a specific subset of DC induces CD5 expression in T cells to promote pTreg induction and therefore tolerance.


Ray Kreienkamp
Ray Kreienkamp

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Louis University
Graduate Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Research Mentor: Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D.
Research: My graduate work is focused on studying the molecular mechanisms underlying Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a rare but devastating premature aging disease. Specifically, I have been investigating ways to reduce the expression and effects of progerin, the toxic protein that causes HGPS and that is also expressed at lower levels in the normal aging process. Interestingly, we have discovered that vitamin D is able to improve drastically HGPS patient cells, reducing the production of progerin and correcting a host of disease phenotypes. My ongoing work seeks a greater understanding of this relationship between progerin and vitamin D and seeks new understandings of the mechanisms governing HGPS at the cellular level. 


Anit Behera
Anit Behera

Undergraduate Institution: Saint Louis University 
Graduate Department: Center for Health Outcomes Research
Research Mentor: Eric Armbrecht, Ph.D.
Research: "My area of expertise in health outcomes primarily falls under applied biostatistics and research methodology/design with a focus in clinical research.  In my PhD work, I have been investigating the continuum of stroke care with an emphasis on a novel neuro-interventional treatment and post follow-up management in ischemic stroke.  In 2015, five separate multicenter, prospective, randomized trials supported the efficacy and safety of mechanical thrombectomy (MT) for ischemic stroke.  MT has now become a standard of care but additional research is warranted to explore its health outcomes in the real-world setting and procedural design.  Furthermore, stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US and therefore screening for post-treatment complications is critical.  Therefore, I would like to discover new insight in stroke care from three perspectives: MT device usage, MT anesthesia use, and dysphagia and aspiration risk in patients with stroke."