Current Graduate Students in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences

PhD students in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) are engaged in research in biomedical sciences at the intersection of animal and human health. Our students study infectious and zoonotic diseases, genetics and genomics, molecular mechanisms of health and disease, virology and bacteriology, among other areas of research.

Armstrong, Alexandra

Armstrong, Alexandra

Alexandria ArmstrongAlexandra Armstrong

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
B.A., Biology, Kenyon College

Adviser
Dr. Cathy Carlson

Research
My area of research interest is bone and cartilage pathology, including developmental diseases such as osteochondrosis, degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, and novel techniques for cartilage repair utilizing stem cell-derived tissue. I am interested in translational research using animal models that furthers our understanding of both human and animal diseases.

Arnold, Susan

Arnold, Susan

Susan Arnold

Susan Arnold

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Liz Pluhar

Becklin, Kelsie

Becklin, Kelsie

Kelsie BecklinKelsie Becklin

[email protected]

Degree
B.S. Biology, University of MInnesota Twin Cities

Adviser
Dr. Branden Moriarity

Areas of research interest
My research focuses on generating new models of Ewing sarcoma (ES), an aggressive type of pediatric cancer, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and genetic engineering strategies. iPSCs provide a unique opportunity to address some fundamental questions surrounding ES etiology, such as the role genomic context (ancestry) plays on the susceptibility of ES and identifying the cell-of-origin through the development of a novel system, inducing the native translocation.

Coffey, Emily

Coffey, Emily

Emily Coffey

Emily Coffey

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Eva Furrow

Research
The urobiome refers to the diverse array of microorganisms that inhabit the urinary tract, which has substantial implications for the host in both health and disease. The urobiome of dogs and cats remains largely unexplored. My research investigates the microbial populations of the urinary tract in dogs and cats, both in health and in the context of various disease states.

Publications (selected)

  • Coffey EL, Little K, Seelig DM, Rendahl AK, Granick JL. Comparison of immediate versus delayed streak plate inoculation on urine bacterial culture and susceptibility testing in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2020; 1–7.
  • Moore AR, Medrano E, Coffey E, Powers B. Clinicopathological Correlation and Prevalence of Increased Copper in Canine Hepatic Cytology. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2019; 55(1): 8-13.
  • Moore AR, Coffey E, Leavell SE, Krafsur G, Duncan C, Dowers K, Santangelo KS. Canine bicavitary carcinomatosis with transient needle tract metastasis diagnosed by multiplex immunocytochemistry. Vet Clin Pathol. 2016 Sep; 45(3): 495-500. 

Honors/Awards

  • Scholarship for Summer Institute in Statistics and Modeling in Infectious Disease, 2020
  • NIH NIDDK Urobiome Travel Award, 2020
  • UMN Council of Graduate Students Career Development Award, 2019
  • Comparative and Molecular Biosciences Graduate Student Travel Award, 2019
  • NIH T32 Research Training Grant in Comparative Medicine and Pathology, 2019-2021 ACVIM Advanced Research Training Fellowship Grant, 2018-2019
  • ISCAID-IDEXX Research Award, ACVIM Forum, 2018
  • Education Research Committee ACVIM Forum Travel Award, 2018
  • Resident Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching, 2018

Demos-Davies, Kimberly

Demos-Davies, Kimberly

Kim Demos-DaviesKimberly Demos-Davies

[email protected]

Dual D.V.M./Ph.D. student

Degree

D.V.M., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities 

B.A., Biological Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder

Adviser
Dr. Davis Seelig

Research
Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause deficits in cancer patients years after treatment is completed. In particular, I am interested in the mechanism behind cognitive deficits including memory loss and impairment of concentration in cancer patients post non brain directed radiation treatment. I am working through a mouse model to explore cognitive and neuroinflammatory effects of target radiation exposure

Awards

CVM Resident & Graduate Student Research Grant, 2020

MVMA Academy Pomeroy DVM/PhD Scholarship, 2020

NIH T32 Fellowship in Comparative Medicine and Pathology, 2020-present  

UMN CVM Class of 1961 Scholarship, 2019

UMN CVM Marcella Melby Scholarship, 2018

Publications
Blakeslee, W.W., Demos-Davies K.M., Lemon, D.D., Lutter, K.M., Cavasin, M.A., Payne, S., Long, C.S., McKinsey, T.A., and Miyamoto, S.D. Histone Deacetylase Adaptation in Single Ventricle Heart Disease and a Young Animal Model of Right Ventricular Hypertrophy. Pediatric Res. 82(4): doi:10.1038/pr.2017.126, 2017.

Jeong, M.Y., Lin, T.H., Wennersten, S.A., Demos-Davies, K.M, Cavasin, M.A., Mahaffey, J.H., Monzani, V., Saripalli, C., Mascagni, P., Reece, T.B., Ambardecker, A.V., Granzier, H.L., Dinarello, C.A. and McKinsey, T.A. Histone Deacetylase Activity Governs Diastolic Dysfunction Through a Non- Genomic Mechanism. Science Transl Med. 10 (427): eaao0144, 2018

Di, Da

Di, Da

Da DiDa Di

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Biopharmaceutics, Wuhan University, China

Adviser
Dr. Hinh Ly

Draper, Garrett

Draper, Garrett

Garrett DraperGarrett Draper

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Genetics, Cell Biology, & Development, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Adviser
Dr. David Largaespada

Research
The genetic tumor predisposition syndrome Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) results from the inheritance of a mutated copy of NF1, a Ras-GAP tumor suppressor gene. Subsequent loss of the remaining wild-type allele in Schwann lineage cells leads to hyperactive Ras signaling, cell proliferation, and the formation of benign plexiform neurofibromas. These benign tumors can progress to lethal malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Although NF1 and other mutations have been associated with MPNST formation, their temporal dependence during Schwann cell development using a human cell model has not been studied. I aim to utilize a model of induced MPNSTs (iMPNSTs) for a better understanding of the timing at which these mutations occur during Schwann cell development to result in MPNSTs.

Durward-Akhurst, Sian

Durward-Akhurst, Sian

Sian Durward-AkhurstSian Durward-Akhurst

[email protected]

Degrees
B.V.M.S., Glasgow University
M.S., Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota

Adviser
Dr. Molly McCue

Research
Genetic variation is a key contributor to both health and disease in all species. The focus of my research is to use next-generation sequencing technology to evaluate genetic variation across the equine population and to use this information to assist in the identification of putative functional alleles present in horses with rare but important diseases.

Publications
Finno CJ, Gianino G, Perumbakkam S, Williams Z, Bordbari MH, Gardner KL, Burns E, Peng S, Durward-Akhurst SA, Valberg SJ (2018) A mutation in MYH1 is associated with susceptibility to immune-mediated myositis in Quarter Horses. Skeletal Musclehttps://doi.org/10.1186/s13395-018-0155-0

Durward-Akhurst SA and Valberg S. Immune-mediated muscle diseases in the horse. Vet. Pathol. 2017. doi: 1177?0300985816688755.

Durward-Akhurst SA, Finno CJ, Barnes N, Shivers J, Guo LT, Shelton GD, Valberg SJ. Major Histocompatibility Complex I and II Expression and Lymphocytic Subtypes in Muscle of Horses with Immune-Mediated Myositis. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 30:1313-1231.

Durward-Akhurst SA, Mair TS, Boston R, Dunkel B. Comparison of two antimicrobial regimens on the prevalence of incisional infections after colic surgery. Vet Rec. 2013 Mar 16;172(11):287

Naylor RJ, Durward-Akhurst SA. Use of the Accutrend Plus point-of-care monitor for blood triglyceride measurement in horses. Vet Rec. 2012 Mar 3;170(9):228.

Awards
University of Washington Summer Institute Scholarship, 2017
Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute Travel Award, 2017
University of Minnesota Council of Graduate Students Career Development Award, 2017
Vaughn Larson Award, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2016
NIH Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Fellowship, 2016-2019
Morris Animal Foundation Travel Award, 2016
University of Minnesota Council of Graduate Students Travel Scholarship, 2016
NRSP8 Horse Coordinator Fund Travel Award, 2016, 2017
ACVIM Foundation Advanced Clinical Research Training Fellowship, 2015-2016
Veterinary Medicine Travel Award, 2015
Resident Award for Excellence in Clinical and Diagnostic Education, 2013

Emmitt, Nicole

Emmitt, Nicole

Nicole EmmittNicole Emmitt

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M. in progress, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
M.S., Clinical Embryology & Andrology, Eastern Virginia Medical School
B.S., Animal Science, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Adviser
Dr. Maxim Cheeran

Area(s) of research interest
My areas of research interest are traumatic brain injury (TBI) and addiction behavior. Mild TBI often has long-term sequela, like an increased risk of depression, PTSD, Alzheimer's Disease, and substance use disorder. In our animal models, we have identified long-term learning deficits after mild TBI that is linked to the inflammatory response to injury. My goal is to understand how a history of TBI alters the response to opiate use, and if the increased vulnerability to addiction can be reversed by altering the inflammatory response in the brain. 

Publications
Martinez, L. A., Gross, K. S., Himmler, B. T., Emmitt, N. L., Peterson, B. M., Zlebnik, N. E., . . . Mermelstein, P. G. (2016). Estradiol facilitation of cocaine self-administration in female rats requires activation of mGluR5. doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0140-16.2016

Estrada, April

Estrada, April

Estrada, AprilApril Estrada

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Animal Science, California State Polytechnic University

Adviser
Dr. Connie Gebhart

Research
Streptococcus suis is associated with meningitis, arthritis, endocarditis, polyserositis, and septicemia in pigs. My major research objective is to investigate the emergence and increased pathogenesis of S. suis, beginning with a transdisciplinary approach to characterize the diversity of S. suis in the U.S. This approach includes the genomic characterization of potential virulence factors involved in S. suis pathogenicity. 

Feser, Colby

Feser, Colby

Colby FeserColby Feser

[email protected]

CMB Council of Graduate Students Representative

Degree
B.S., Animal Science, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Adviser
Dr. Mark Osborn

Research
My area of interest is in manipulation of CRIPSR-Cas9 systems to drive targeted gene regulation. I am making use of the exceptional targeting ability of the CRIPSR nuclease to co-localize effector domains to target loci thereby modulating downstream gene expression. Collectively, this approach is structured to address unmet needs in the fields of cellular engineering, mammalian cell protein production, and genome editing.

Publications
McDonald-Hyman et al. (2018). The vimentin intermediate filament network restrains regulatory T cell suppression of graft-versus-host disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 128(10), 4604-4621. doi: 10.1172/JCI95713. Epub 2018 Aug 14.

Osborn et al. (2018). CRISPR/Cas9-Based Cellular Engineering for Targeted Gene Overexpression. International Journal of Molecular Sciences,19(4), 946. doi:10.3390/ijms19040946

Du et al. Invariant natural killer T cells ameliorate murine chronic GVHD by expanding donor regulatory T cells. Blood. 2017 Jun 8;129(23):3121-3125. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-11-752444. Epub 2017 Apr 17. PMID: 28416503

Matta et al. Peri-alloHCT IL-33 administration expands recipient T-regulatory cells that protect mice against acute GVHD. Blood. 2016 Jul 21;128(3):427-39. doi: 10.1182/blood-2015-12-684142. Epub 2016 May 24. PMID: 27222477

Govindarajan Thangavelu et al. (2019). Dendritic Cell Expression of Retinal Aldehyde Dehydrogenase-2 Controls Graft-versus-Host Disease Lethality. J. Immunol., 202(9), 2795-2805. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1800899. Epub 2019 Mar 18.

 Paz et al. (2019). Targeting PI3Kδ Function for Amelioration of Murine Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease. American J. Transplant., 19(6):1820-1830. doi: 10.1111/ajt.15305. Epub 2019 Mar 19.

 Saha et al. (2019) Donor and Host B7-H4 Expression Negatively Regulates Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease Lethality. JCI Insight, 4(19) doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.127716.

 

Garwood, Tyler

Garwood, Tyler

Tyler GarwoodTyler Garwood

[email protected]

Degrees
M.S., Wildlife & Fisheries Science, South Dakota State University
B.S., Wildlife Ecology & English, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Adviser
Dr. Tiffany Wolf

Research
To inform management strategies aimed at boosting moose populations, I am utilizing data from RADseq and ddPCR analyses to associate meningeal worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenius) transmission sites with landscape features. I also use metabarcoding techniques to identify immediate gastropod hosts of the meningeal worm. I collaborate extensively with the Grand Portage Indian Reservation biologist, where my samples are collected. 

Geng, Qibin

Geng, Qibin

Qibin GengQibin Geng

[email protected]

Degrees
M.S., Microbiology & Virology, Wuhan University, China
B.S., Biotechnology & Biopharmaceutics, Southern Medical Univeristy, China

Adviser
Dr. Fang Li

Research
Currently, I am investigating the structures and functions of coronavirus-surface proteins that mediate receptor recognition and cell entry of viruses. 

Isakson, Sara

Isakson, Sara

Sara IsaksonSara Isakson

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Minnesota
B.S., Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

Adviser
Dr. David Largaespada

Research
Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1) is a common tumor predisposition syndrome characterized by a variety of debilitating clinical manifestations. Many mouse models have been developed to better understand the disease, but none of these models display the complexity of disease seen in humans. In partnership with the biotechnology company Recombinetics, Inc., we have developed a novel swine model of NF1 that fully recapitulates the human disease. I am working to characterize the disease phenotype in these genetically engineered pigs with the goal of using them as a preclinical model to better inform treatment strategies for human NF1 patients. I am also using genetically engineered human Schwann cell lines to elucidate the precise cell signaling aberrations associated with peripheral nerve tumors in NF1 patients. This research will ideally lead to the development of novel therapies to be further tested in our preclinical models.

Publications
Isakson, S. H., Katzman, S. D., & Hoyer, K. K. (2012). Spontaneous Autoimmunity in the Absence of IL-2 Is Driven by Uncontrolled Dendritic Cells. The Journal of Immunology, 189(4), 1585 LP-1593.

Katzman, S. D., Hoyer, K. K., Dooms, H., Gratz, I. K., Rosenblum, M. D., Paw, J. S., Isakson, S.H., Abbas, A. K. (2011). Opposing functions of IL-2 and IL-7 in the regulation of immune responses. Cytokine, 56(1), 116–121.

Presentations
Isakson, SH, Coutts, A, William, K, et al. A porcine model of neurofibromatosis type I-associated nervous system tumors. Soc. Neuro-Oncology Annual Scientific Meeting, San Francisco, CA. Nov. 2017

Isakson SH, Malhotra D, Jenkins, MK. Qualitative effects of thymic atrophy on self-reactive CD4+ T cells. UMN CVM Research Days, St. Paul, MN. October 2014.

Isakson SH, Malhotra D, Jenkins, MK. Qualitative effects of thymic atrophy on self-reactive CD4+ T cells. Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium, Ithaca, NY. August 2014.

Awards
Brain Tumor Program Travel Award, 2017
CMB Student Travel Award, 2017
NIH Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Fellowship, 2017
First Place Poster Presentation Points of Pride Research Day October 2014
Merial-NIH Summer Scholars Award 2014

Jaeger, Anna

Jaeger, Anna

Anna Jaeger

Anna Jaeger

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Matthew Aliota

Jahan, Nusrat

Jahan, Nusrat

JahanNusrat Jahan

[email protected]

Degrees
M.S., Cell and Molecular Biology, St. Cloud State University
B.S., Microbiology, North South University, Bangladesh

Adviser
Dr. Peter Larsen

Research
My research explores the molecular epidemiology of zoonotic foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the rodent pests from food animal operations and urban premises.

Johnson, Abigail

Johnson, Abigail

Abigail JohnsonAbigail Johnson

[email protected]

Degrees
M.S., Immunology, University of Cincinnati
B.S., Animal Science, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Adviser
Dr. Tim Johnson

Research
My research focuses on identifying potential probiotics that can combat/prevent colonization of pathogens associated with commercial turkey production, pathogen inhibition performance in probiotic bacteria which will aid in faster screening of future probiotic candidates and the development of a commercial.

Awards
USDA National Needs Fellowship in Poultry Health and Production 2018-2021

Larson, Christina

Larson, Christina

Larson, ChristinaChristina Larson

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Minnesota
B.A., Biology, University of Minnesota-Morris

Adviser
Dr. Carolyn Fairbanks

Research
Acute pain arises with injury, illness, and surgery, and may transform into chronic pain if it is not appropriately treated. Pain is undertreated in some species due to lack of appropriate and safe analgesics. The focus of my research is developing new animal models in support of evaluating novel analgesics for efficacy vs. side effects in mice, rats, pigs, and cats. Aspects of this work will provide data supporting future clinical trials in humans.

Publications

Larson CM, Peterson C, Kitto K, Wilcox GL, and Fairbanks CA. Sustained-release buprenorphine causes acute tolerance in the mouse. E J Pharmacol. 2020[in press]

Larson CM, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Defining and Managing Pain in Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Research. Comp Med. 2019; 69(6):510-519. doi:10.30802/AALAS-CM-19-000099

Larson CM, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. The Study of Pain in Rats and Mice. Comp Med. 2019;69(6):555-570. doi:10.30802/AALAS-CM-19-000062

Whitten TV, Brayshaw G, Patnayak D, Alvarez J, Larson CM, Root Kustritz M, Holzbauer SM, Torrison J, Scheftel JM. Seroprevalence of Brucella canis antibodies in dogs entering a Minnesota humane society, Minnesota, 2016-2017. Prev Vet Med. 2019;168:90-94. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.04.015

Larson CM, Peterson C, Bruce D, Kitto K, Wilcox G, and Fairbanks C. (2018). Peripherally restricted opioid combination therapy reduces pain behavior in mouse and pig. J Pain. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2017.12.188    

Awards
William and Deanna Pritchard Scholarship, 2020  
NIH T32 Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Fellowship, 2017 – 2020
Speaking Science Conference registration award, 2019, 2020
Comparative and Molecular Biosciences travel award, 2018, 2019
3rd International Conference on One Medicine, One Science registration award, 2018
American Veterinary Medical Association Future Leaders Program, 2016 – 2017
Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association Power of Ten Leadership Program, 2016

 

 

Li, Manci

Li, Manci

Manci Li

Manci Li

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Peter Larsen

Degrees
B.S., Biomedical Sciences, Microbiology, Colorado State University

Research
My research interest revolves around Alu retrotransposons—a primate-specific mobile genetic element that act as regulators of gene expression, playing a wide variety of roles in human health and disease. Currently, I am working on the roles of retrotransposons in circadian rhythm and neuroepigenetics and Alu polymorphisms and the outcome and clinical manifestations of COVID-19.  I also work on detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) prions deer using real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). 

Publication

  • Tennant, J. M., Li, M., Henderson, D. M., Tyer, M. L., Denkers, N. D., Haley, N. J., Mathiason, C. K., & Hoover, E. A. (2020). Shedding and stability of CWD prion seeding activity in cervid feces. PloS one, 15(3), e0227094. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227094

Awards

  • COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant (2020)

Luong, Nhungoc

Luong, Nhungoc

Nhungoc Ti LuongNhungoc Luong

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Biology, Concordia University, Saint Paul

Adviser
Dr. Julie Olson & Dr. Michael Murtaugh

Research
Exosomes are nanovesicles secreted from most cell types and constantly taken up by other cells, thus mediating intercellular communication. Exosomes can contain a wide range of materials including mRNAs, miRNAs, and proteins. My research focuses on the exosomes secreted from microglia during viral infection of the central nervous system (CNS) and how they might contribute to the pathogenesis of demyelinating disease such as human multiple sclerosis.

Publications
Singh, A., Mor , S.K., Jindal, N., Patnayak, D., Sobhy, N.M., Luong, N., Goyal, S.M. (2016). Detection and molecular characterization of astroviruses in turkeys. Archives of Virology 

Aboubakr, HA., Nauertz, A., Luong, N., Agrawal, S., El-Sohaimy, S.A., Youssef, M.M., Goyal, S.M. (2016). In vitro antiviral activity of clove and ginger aqueous extracts against feline calicivirus, a surrogate to human norovirus. Journal of Food Protection.

Presentations
Luong, N. and Olson, JK. (2018) Exosomes secreted by microglia during virus-induced demyelinating disease contribute to viral persistence and neuroinflammation. ASV Meeting, Bethesda, MD (Oral)

Luong, N. and Olson, JK. (2018) Exosomes secreted by microglia during virus-induced demyelinating disease contribute to neuroinflammation. Institute of Molecular Virology Symposium, Minneapolis, MN (Oral)

Luong, N. and Olson, JK. (2017). Role of exosomes secreted from microglia in demyelinating disease. Wis-e-sota, Lacrosse, WI. (Oral)

Luong, N. and Olson, JK. (2017). Role of exosomes from microglia secreted by microglia in virus-induced demyelinating disease. PNI retreat, Saint Paul, MN. (Oral)

Luong, N. and Olson, JK. (2017). Exosomes secreted from virus- infected microglia can activate an inflammatory response in the central nervous system. CVM Point of Research, Saint Paul, MN. (Poster)

Luong, N and Olson, JK (2017). Exosomes from virus-infected microglia can activate an inflammatory response in the central nervous system. Amer. Assn. for Immunol. Conference, Washington, D.C.

Luong, N and Olson, JK (2017). Exosomes from virus-infected microglia can activate an inflammatory response in the central nervous system. Amer. Assn. for Virol. Meeting, Madison, WI. 

Luong, N., Penm, S., and Olson, JK. (2016). Exosomes can transfer viral components between cells. iCOMOS 2nd Conference, Minnesota

Luong, N., Trudeau, M.,Verma, H., Mor, S.K., Erber, J., Goyal, S.M. (2014). Cultivation and molecular characterization of U.S. strains of porcine sapelovirus. Leman Swine Conference

Awards
American Society for Virology Student Travel Award, 2018
Development Initiative Grant sponsored by Coca-Cola, 2018
Student Service Fees Event Grant, 2018
Amer. Soc. for Virol. Student Travel Award, 2017
Amer. Assn. of Immunol. Laboratory Travel Grant, 2017
NIDA PharmacoNeuroImmunology Fellowship, 2016-2018

Matson, Anders

Matson, Anders

Anders MatsonAnders Matson

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Biology, Augsburg College

Adviser
Dr. Chris Burlak

Area(s) of research interest
My research interests are genetic engineering and transplant immunology.  My research is currently focused on the use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to create a porcine organ donor that elicits a lower immune response from humans as compared to non-genetically engineered donors.   This research allows me to explore the efficiency of the CRISPR Cas9 system and the potential for off target mutations.  This work has resulted in the ability to characterize and optimize CRIPSR efficiency at gene-targeting sites.  Characterization of the genetically engineered porcine donors involves pre-transplant immunologic screening that determines the potential for immune rejection between the non-human primate recipient and porcine donor.  My research also includes post-transplant immunologic monitoring of the xenograft recipients.  While we have made great progress in genetic engineering, the islet cells we transplant still under go an eventual immune assault.  I work with our immune monitoring team to unravel the complexities of B and T cell activation in response to xenografts.

Munsey, Anna

Munsey, Anna

Munsey, AnnaAnna Munsey

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., Biology, University of Virginia

Advisers
Dr. Andres Perez & Dr. Kim VanderWaal

Research
My research is focused on understanding the epidemiology of foot-and-mouth disease in endemic countries.

Murphy, Hannah

Murphy, Hannah

Hannah Murphy

Hannah Murphy

[email protected]

Advisers
Dr. Yuying Liang and Dr. Hinh Ly 

Research
My research focuses on the gene expression of arenaviruses, specifically Lassa fever virus. Lassa fever virus causes severe to fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and has no vaccine or effective drug treatment. I am also involved in the research of using trisegmented arenavirus (Pichinde virus) vector to develop vaccines against various animal and human diseases.

Oppler, Scott

Oppler, Scott

Scott Hunter Oppler

[email protected]

Dual D.V.M./Ph.D. student, currently in D.V.M. curriculum

Degree
B.S., Biology & Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Areas of research interest
My area of research interest is metabolic diseases, especially Type 1 diabetes, and the refinement of animal models used in the transitional research to study them. I am interested in translational research that helps advance the development of novel and optimization of current therapies for these diseases.

Oram, Marissa

Oram, Marissa

Marissa OramMarissa Oram

[email protected]

Degree
B.A., Chemistry, College of St. Benedict

Adviser
Dr. Anja-Katrin Bielinsky

Research
Genome instability is a major driver of cancer genome evolution. Replication stress is the primary source of genome instability when stalled replication forks are processed into DNA double strand breaks. Cancer cells live under chronic replication stress and, therefore, they must have adopted replication stress tolerance pathways. We hypothesize that replication stress tolerance can also lead to drug resistance making effective cancer therapies unattainable. We have shown that the yeast ubiquitin ligase, Slx5/8, promotes replication stress tolerance by allowing cells to enter mitosis with under replicated DNA. Now, we want to understand the role of the mammalian ortholog, RING finger protein 4 (RNF4), in response to replication stress. This research will lead to a better mechanistic understanding of replication stress tolerance and chemoresistance which could reveal potential anti-cancer drug targets.

Phung, Gwen

Phung, Gwen

Gwen Phung

Gwen Phung

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Jeffrey Miller

Pope, Emily

Pope, Emily

Emily PopeEmily Pope

[email protected] 

Dual D.V.M./Ph.D. student

Degree
B.S., Animal Science, University of Minnesota

Adviser
Dr. David Largaespada

Research
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor in humans and dogs.  When a patient presents with macrometastases, long term survival drops precipitously to less than 20%.  We hypothesize that this may trigger extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling in a subset of metastatic cells that prevents chemotherapy and immune cells from penetrating into the tumor.  My research focuses on characterizing adaptations in the ECM and tumor microenvironment in response to chemotherapy.

Presentations

  • Razzoli, M., Nuyuyki-Dufe, K., Gurney, A., Erickson, C., McCallum, J., Spielman, N., Marzullo, M., Patricelli, J., Kurata, M., Pope, E., Touma, C., Palme, R., Largaespada, D., Allison, D., Bartolomucci, A.  Social stress regulates lifespan in mice.  Aging Cell, e12778. doi: 10.1111/acel.12778.
  • Shu, J., Li, L., Sarver, A., Pope, E., Varshney, J., Thayanithi, V., Spector, L., Largaespada, D., Steer, C., Subramanian, S.  Imprinting defects at human 14q32 locus alters gene expression and is associated with the pathobiology of osteosarcoma.  Oncotarget 7(16):21298-314. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6965.  

Awards

  • NIH Musculoskeletal T32 Training Grant, 2020
  • Vaughn Larson Memorial Scholarship, 2020
  • Dr. Jack Walther Leadership Award, 2019
  • Auxiliary to the AVMA Legacy Scholarship, 2019
  • Nestle Purina Leadership Award, 2018

Quintana, Ruth

Quintana, Ruth

Ruth Quintana

Ruth Quintana

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Biology, University of Puerto Rico Piedras

Adviser
Dr. Alonso Guedes

Area of research interest
My current research focuses on neuro-immune interactions relevant for chronic pain and opioid mechanisms. Specifically, we study the role of calcium signaling in glia and its involvement in nociception, opioid antinociception and opioid tolerance using mouse models of chronic pain. 

Robbins, Gabrielle

Robbins, Gabrielle

Gabrielle RobbinsGabrielle Robbins

[email protected]

Dual D.V.M./Ph.D. student, currently in D.V.M. curriculum

Degree
B.S., Animal Science, North Carolina State University Raleigh

Adviser
Branden Moriarity and Bruce Walcheck

Research
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignancy of bone diagnosed in children and adolescents. Patient outcome and treatment options have not improved over the last four decades and continue to focus on tumor resection and combination chemotherapy. Immunotherapy has shown promise in other cancer types but remains relatively unexplored for osteosarcoma. My research aims to utilize cutting-edge genome engineering tools to modify NK cells by knocking out inhibitory genes and integrating novel NK cell Chimeric Antigen Receptors to improve their potential as an effective osteosarcoma treatment.

Smith, Emily

Smith, Emily

Emily SmithEmily Smith

[email protected]

Degrees
M.P.H., Epidemiology, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
B.A., Biology & History, University of Missouri Columbia

Adviser
Dr. Tim Johnson

Research
My research focuses on the ecology, evolution, and epidemiology of Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) in turkeys. I use comparative genomics to identify similarities and differences across ORT strains that will allow us to develop more effective autogenous vaccines.

Steinhoff, Magie

Steinhoff, Magie

Maggie SteinhoffMagie Steinhoff

[email protected]

Degrees
M.B.S., Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
B.S., Animal Sciences, University of Missouri - Columbia

Adviser
Dr. Chris Burlak

Areas of research interest
My research at the Schulze Diabetes Institute is focused on altering surface glycan expression of porcine cells through genetic engineering. Our goal is to produce a donor organ that is less immunoreactive when used in xenotransplantation. Specifically, my goal is to increase the level of ɑ2,6 sialylation on pig cells to inhibit activation of human B cells in response to porcine cells.  

Strell, Phoebe

Strell, Phoebe

Degree 
BA, Biology and Neuroscience, Augustana College
 
Seeking
DVM/PhD, currently completing DVM requirements
 

Treeful, Amy

Treeful, Amy

Amy TreefulAmy Treeful

[email protected]

Degrees
M.S., Comparative and Molecular Biosciences, University of Minnesota
B.S., Biology, University of Minnesota
B.A., East Asian Studies, University of Minnesota

Adviser
Dr. Steven Friedenberg

Research
Hypoadrenocorticism, also known as Autoimmune Addison's Disease (AAD), is a life-threatening endocrinopathy that occurs spontaneously in both humans and dogs.  AAD is rare in humans but as much as 100X more common in high risk dog breeds.  Human medicine has benefitted from the identification of an autoantibody biomarker for the disease, which can be detected prior to advanced disease stage. Such a biomarker has yet to be identified for the canine counterpart of the disease. My thesis research seeks to fill this gap by identifying an autoantibody biomarker for canine AAD and to develop it into an early screening tool. 

Publications
Treeful, A.E., Rendahl, A.K., Friedenberg, S.G., DLA class II haplotypes show sex-specific associations with primary hypoadrenocorticism in Standard Poodle dogs.  Immunogenetics.  On-line 09 April 2019.  Doi: 10.1007/s00251-019-01113-0

Steven G. Friedenberg, Daniella Vansteenkiste, Oriana Yost, Amy E. Treeful, Kathryn M. Meurs, Debra A. Tokarz, Natasha J. Olby. A de novo mutation in the EXT2 gene associated with osteochondromatosis in a litter of American Staffordshire Terriers. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. (2018). Feb 27.

Cummings, C., Walder, J., Treeful, A., Jemmerson, R., (2006). Serum leucine-rich alpha-2 glycoprotein 1 binds cytochrome c and inhibits antibody detection of the apoptotic marker in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Apoptosis. 11 (7), 1121-9.

McNiel, EA., Madrill, NJ., Treeful, AE., Buoen, LC., Weber, AF. (2006). Comparison of cytogenetics and polymerase chain reaction based detection of the amelogenin gene polymorphism for the diagnosis of freemartinism in cattle. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 18(5), 469-72.

Jemmerson, R., LaPlante, B., Treeful, A., (2002). The Release of Intact Monomeric Cytochrome c from Apoptotic and Necrotic Cells. Cell Death and Differentiation. 9(5), 538-48.

Posters

Treeful, AE, Friedenberg SG. (2020 May). Identifying autoantibody biomarkers for canine autoimmune Addison's disease. Accepted at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunologists, Immunology 2020™. Honolulu, HI.

Treeful, AE, Friedenberg SG. (2019 October). Identifying autoantibody biomarkers for canine autoimmune Addison's disease. Presented at Points of Pride Research Days, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.

Treeful, AE, Rendahl, AK, Friedenberg, SG. Sex-specific DLA Class II haplotypes are associated with primary hypoadrenocorticism in Standard Poodle dogs.  2019 American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Annual Meeting, San Diego, California.
 
Treeful, AE, Rendahl, AK, Friedenberg, SG. Sex-specific DLA Class II haplotypes are associated with primary hypoadrenocorticism in Standard Poodle dogs.  2018 University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine Points of Pride Research Day.
 
Awards
NIH T32 Trainee Fellowship, PharmacoNeuroImmunology (PNI), May 2020 - 2022
Immunology 2020™ Trainee Poster Award, American Association of Immunologists, 2020
Nominee, Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, CMB Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, 2020
Joanne Schmidt O'Brien/Bee Hanlon Research Fellow, 2019-2020
Member, AAAS/Science Program for Excellence in Science, 2019
Comparative and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) Travel Award, 2019

Truckenbrod, Emily

Truckenbrod, Emily

Emily TruckenbrodEmily Truckenbrod

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., Cornell University
B.S., Biology, Iowa State University

Adviser
Dr. Stephen Jameson

Research
I am interested in understanding the mechanisms governing peripheral immune tolerance to self. Defining these mechanisms is critical for optimal prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease and for safely and effectively triggering a directed autoimmune response against tumor-associated self-antigens. To clarify these mechanisms, we are using a mouse model to examine the CD8+ T cell response to a melanocyte/melanoma-associated enzyme.

Awards
NIH Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Fellowship
WTS Thorp Memorial Scholarship

Wanner, Nicole

Wanner, Nicole

Nicole WannerNicole Wanner

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
B.A., Biology, Lawrence University

Adviser
Dr. Chris Faulk

Area of research interest
My area of research interest is epigenetic gene regulation, including epigenetic biomarkers of health and disease and how the epigenome changes in response to environmental input. Epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation can affect gene expression in ways that are both responsive to the environment and, in some cases, heritable between generations. My thesis work is focused on understanding the epigenetic actions of cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive component of cannabis, using the Agouti viable yellow (Avy) environmental biosensor mouse model. 

Witschen, Patrice

Witschen, Patrice

Patrice WitschenPatrice Witschen

[email protected]

Degrees
D.V.M., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
B.S., Biology, University of Minnesota - Duluth

Adviser
Dr. Kaylee Schwertfeger

Research 
My research seeks to understand how breast cancer cells interact with and alter their environment to ultimately support disease progression. Currently my work focuses on hyaluronan (HA), which is a primary component of the extracellular matrix present within tumor tissues. By understanding HA signaling associated with inflammation, new therapeutic approaches can be developed for the treatment of breast cancer. 

Awards
First Place Poster Presentation Points of Pride Research Day October, 2019
NIH COmparative MEdicine and Pathology T32 Training Grant, 2019
Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellowship- Renewal, 2016
Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellowship-Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2015 
Merial-NIH T35 Summer Training Program, 2014 

Publications
Witschen, PM, Sharkey, LC, Seelig, DM, et al. (2020). Diagnosis of canine renal lymphoma by cytology and flow cytometry of the urine. Vet Clinic Pathol, 00: 1-6.

Bohrer LR, Chaffee TS, Chuntova P, Brady NJ, Witschen PM, Kemp SE, … Schwertfeger KL (2016). ADAM17 in tumor associated leukocytes regulates inflammatory mediators and promotes mammary tumor formation. Genes & Cancer, 7(7-8), 240-253

Yang, Huixin

Yang, Huixin

Huixin YangHuixin Yang

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Veterinary Medicine, Nanjing Agricultural University

Adviser
Dr. Lou Mansky

Research
My research mainly focuses on the molecular and structural nature of HIV particle assembly. I am interested in virus particle biogenesis and use a combination of traditional and sophisticated state-of-the-art experimental approaches.  This work will reveal potential new targets for developing antiviral compounds.