Faculty Profiles: MDB
Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
Professor, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cell Biology
I investigate the pathobiology and treatment of CNS injury and repair in both the acute and chronic setting. Animal models of cerebral ischemia, and brain and spinal cord trauma are utilized to investigate the mechanisms of tissue injury and to test novel therapeutic interventions including temperature modification, pharmacological treatment and cell therapies. The ultimate goal is to develop clinically relevant therapies that can be translated to people living with brain and spinal cord injury.
Research Assistant Professor, Cell Biology
Dr. Hudson lab’s research is focused on understanding receptor based mechanisms underlying disease states including breast cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and translating these basic observations to human clinical studies. His research efforts have focused on the role of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-products (RAGE) and its ligands (AGEs, s100s and HMGB1) in these disease settings. Most recently, his laboratory has made important observations of the role RAGE and its ligand in breast cancer progression and metastasis, and that blocking RAGE signaling may be an attractive therapeutic target for reducing tumorigenesis and metastasis.
Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Associate Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy
The research in the lab focuses on: (1) Molecular pathways that regulate self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and cancer stem cells, (2) Novel multi-target immunosuppressive approaches to treat immune-mediated Aplastic Anemia and bone marrow failure, (3) Characterization and mitigation of long-term effects of cancer chemotherapy on HSC function, hematopoiesis and immune system function, (4) Characterization and mitigation of acute and delayed effects of ionizing radiation on the hematopoietic system and HSC function, and (5) Characterization of molecular and cellular pathways regulating emergency hematopoiesis in response to bacterial and viral infections.
Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, Cell Biology
My lab focuses on the molecular, cellular, proteomic, and neurophysiologic basis of glaucoma in experimental and human models. Using cutting edge experimental techniques and technologies, my lab is identifying pathways important for the development of glaucoma and retinal nerve cell death. These molecular pathways represent important new targets for the development of neuroprotective strategies to prevent blindness associated with glaucoma.
Our lab studies the molecular basis of mitochondrial defects in metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases and in normal aging, using genetically-modified mouse models. Three major funded projects are: 1) Development of genetic therapies for mitochondrial diseases. 2) Development of animal models to study the pathogenesis of mitochondrial disorders. 3) Compensating for a defect in oxidative phosphorylation by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis.
Director, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Dr. Nimer has spent several decades conducting basic science and clinical research into the genetic basis and treatment of hematological malignancies. His laboratory has been trying to decipher the normal and abnormal regulatory mechanisms that control the expression of genes implicated in hematopoiesis and the biological mechanisms that control the formation of blood cells. The ultimate goal of his research is to identify new critical, cellular mechanism implicated in leukemogenesis and develop molecularly targeted therapies.
Developmental signaling pathways, such as those driven by Hedgehog and Wnt, are constitutively active in many of the most common human cancers, where they affect the mortality and morbidity of large numbers of cancer patients. My laboratory is focused on elucidating the rate limiting steps in these signaling pathways, and then targeting them with novel small molecule inhibitors. We have identified a number of FDA approved drugs that can be quickly repurposed to treat patients harboring Hedgehog or Wnt driven cancers, one small molecule that was recently designated by the FDA for the orphan precancerous disorder familial adenomatous polyposis, and a novel small molecule Wnt inhibitor in late stage preclinical development. Currently, the lab is investigating the role constitutive Hedgehog or Wnt signaling play in pediatric brain tumors, as well as in colorectal and esophageal cancer.
Professor, Cell Biology
Our laboratory focuses on the regulation of neurotransmission via the enzyme, acetyl cholinesterase. We study: 1) The contributions of protein folding and assembly in regulating active molecules at synapses. 2) The development of novel probes for identifying cholinergic synapses. 3) RNA binding proteins that control protein translation at muscle and neuronal synapses in response to specific signals. 4) The repair of neuromuscular and CNS cholinergic synapse following acetylcholinesterase inactivation.
Research Assistant Professor
We are interested in identifying target pathways that are essential to preserve endothelial function under stress conditions for therapeutic intervention. My research interests focus on understanding the role of the transcription factor cMyc in vascular progenitors and endothelial cells, and its contribution to endothelial dysfunction and disease. Although cMyc has been widely studied in cancer, its role in vascular function has not been fully explored. Recent findings from our group have shown that cMyc plays an essential role in vascular homeostasis, and is a central regulator of vascular inflammation. We currently have two main undergoing research projects in the laboratory.
Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
Research in the Stevenson lab is aimed at understanding how HIV-1 persists in the face of antiretroviral suppression. While antivirals can control viral replication, they don’t eliminate the virus and identifying how the virus persists is key to developing strategies to cure the infection. The lab is also trying to harness the antiviral activity of cellular factors known as antiviral restrictions. Several host proteins have been identified that potently suppress HIV-1 replication. However, the virus has evolved counter defenses that neutralize these antiviral restrictions. We are developing small molecules that neutralize viral defenses so as to allow the antiviral restrictions to neutralize the virus.
Assistant Professor, Cell Biology
The mission of Dr. Thomas’s program is to develop integrated, multidisciplinary approaches to the study of liver cancer / liver diseases and to bridge clinical medicine and basic science with translation of fundamental knowledge to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of liver diseases. The laboratory mainly focuses on viral hepatitis (Hepatitis B and C) and has developed models to study interactions between these viruses and cells in the liver including hepatocytes and macrophages. Cellular pathways studied include innate antiviral responses and the contribution ofthese pathways in oncogenesis.
Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
Our research focuses on development of the nervous system, neurotrophin signaling, and repair of the CNS after spinal cord injury. Using live fluorescent imaging techniques, we examine how mitogenic factors influence cell numbers and how cell fates are linked to specific transcriptional networks, We also are exploring spinal cord injury repair strategies utilize neurotrophins and grafting of CNS-derived cells.