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.

Ahmed, Shamim

Ahmed, Shamim

Headshot of Shamim AhmedShamim Ahmed

Degree
BS from Minnesota State University Mankato

Advisor
Dr. Alon Herschhorn

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.

Awards and Honors 
Comparative and Molecular Biosciences Travel Grant, Recipient, 2021
T-32 Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Grant, Recipient, 2021
Society of Toxicologic Pathology Scholarship, Recipient, 2021
T-32 Musculoskeletal Training Grant, Recipient, 2020

Arnold, Susan

Arnold, Susan

Susan Arnold

Susan Arnold

saarnol[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Liz Pluhar

Degrees
DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)

Research
My general area of research is in immunotherapy-based cures for primary brain tumors. I focus
on high grade gliomas in dogs, which share many important features with glioblastoma in
people. Our goal is to optimize multimodal immunotherapy-based treatment, consisting of tumor
lysate vaccines and immune checkpoint inhibition, in dogs so that this work can be translated
into human clinical trials. My thesis project is focused on determining why French bulldogs with
high grade gliomas have a uniformly poor response to immunotherapy, which will help to
optimize the treatment and predict outcome in people with similar tumor features.

Asmus, Aaron

Asmus, Aaron

Headshot of Aaron AsmusAaron Asmus

Degree
BS from Iowa State University

Advisor
Dr. Noelle Noyes

Auerbach, Ashley

Auerbach, Ashley

1582322286634.jpeg Ashley Auerbach

[email protected]

Degrees
B.S. Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Washington 
 
Adviser
Dr. Reuben Harris
 
 
 
Research

My research aim is to understand the mechanisms of APOBEC3B activity. APOBEC3B (A3B) is a restriction factor known for its innate immune function, introducing mutations to viral genomes through its single-stranded DNA cytosine deaminase activity. A3B has been implicated in restricting a number of DNA-based viruses, with the most compelling evidence in herpesvirus restriction. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) binds and re-localizes endogenous A3B from the nucleus to the cytoplasm in order to protect viral DNA lytic replication intermediates. This suggests that A3B nuclear localization may be important for restriction of EBV, but the exact mechanisms of A3B nuclear localization and antiviral activity for DNA viruses is not well understood. My research goal is to better understand how A3B localizes in the nucleus and its role in restricting DNA viruses, such as herpesviruses like EBV.

Baker, Julia

Baker, Julia

baker-julia-c350.jpg Julia Baker

[email protected]

Degree
B.S. Biochemistry, Vassar College
 
Adviser
Currently completing requirements of the DVM program
 
Research
I am a DVM/PhD student interested in molecular pathogenesis of infectious diseases. 

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.

Blanco, Cristina

Blanco, Cristina

Cristina Blanco headshotCristina Blanco

[email protected]

Degrees
B.S., Biology, Unviersity of South Flordia
M.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Arkansas Tech University 

Adviser
Currently completing requirements of the DVM program

Research
I am a DVM/PhD student interested in ecosystem health sciences, zoonoses, and infectious disease ecology.

Bohm, Ellie

Bohm, Ellie

Headshot of Ellie BohmEllie Bohm

Degree
BS from University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Advisor
Dr. Matthew Aliota

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

Research
(-)ssRNA virus encodes its own RDRP(RNA dependent RNA polymerase) for viral mRNA
transcription and genome replication. But the RDRP of these viruses cannot function alone. for
non-segmented (-)ssRNA virus like rabies virus, it requires accessories protein including P and
N, for segmented virus like influenza, it requires N protein. I am interested in the structural basis
for arenavirus polymerase and its complex with nucleoprotein. I am trying to get protein samples
for cryo-EM study and structural determination. Also, due to the outbreak of SARS-COV2, I am
developing a diagnostic assay based on SARS-COV2 nucleocapsid protein and establishing a
drug screen platform for SARS-COV2 and host protein interactions.

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.

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

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.

 

Frank, Lexi

Frank, Lexi

Headshot of Lexi FrankLexi Frank

Degree
MPH from University of Michigan, BS from University of Michigan

Advisor
Dr. Peter Larsen

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. 

Jaeger, Anna

Jaeger, Anna

Anna Jaeger

Anna Jaeger

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Matthew Aliota

Research
My research is broadly investigating determinants of arboviral emergence and pathogenesis. I am looking at this in terms of both host and virus genetic determinants. I have so far characterized an obscure flavivirus, Spondweni virus to determine its pathogenic potential using mouse models of pregnancy, mosquito transmission assays, and non-human primate models. We are now looking to identify flavivirus species specific host restriction factors using invitro cell culture models. To investigate viral genetic determinants of pathogenesis and emergence, I am characterizing changes in pathogenesis and transmission of mammalian adapted Zika viruses. Using reverse genetic systems, I will be analyzing the role of single amino acid changes in the Zika virus genome that may enhance virulence and transmission.

Awards and Honors
Institute of Molecular Virology Training Program T-32 Fellowship, Recipient, 2020

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 dissertation research focuses on the commensal rodent pest (rats and mice) and agricultural interface, particularly food animal farm and environment. Rodents are well known carrier of many zoonotic pathogens and the role they in the transmission, amplification and/or maintenance of these pathogens are less explored, specifically in the USA. In my research, I aim to describe the farm dwelling rodent fecal microbiota, phenotypically characterize putative foodborne pathogens and antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, I will conduct comparative genomics analysis to describe the rodent associated bacterial pathogens recovered in my study.

Publications
Jahan, N. A., Lindsey, L. L., & Larsen, P. A. (2020). The Role of Peridomestic Rodents as Reservoirs for Zoonotic Foodborne Pathogens. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 21(3), 133-148.

Jahan, N. A., Godden, S. M., Royster, E., Schoenfuss, T. C., Gebhart, C., Timmerman, J., & Fink, R. C. (2021). Evaluation of the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) system in the detection of mastitis pathogens from bovine milk samples. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 182, 106168.

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 and Honors
USDA National Needs Fellowship in Poultry Health and Production 2018-2021
MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures Fellowship, Recipient, 2021
Pomeroy Legacy Scholarship, Recipient, 2020

Publications

Azam M, Mohsin M, Johnson TJ, Smith EA, Johnson A, Umair M, Saleemi MK, Sajjad-Ur-Rahman. Genomic landscape of multi-drug resistant avian pathogenic Escherichia coli recovered from broilers. Vet Microbiol. 2020 Aug;247:108766. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2020.108766. Epub 2020 Jun 27. PMID: 32768218.

Boll EJ, Overballe-Petersen S, Hasman H, Roer L, Ng K, Scheutz F, Hammerum AM, Dungu A, Hansen F, Johannesen TB, Johnson A, Nair DT, Lilje B, Hansen DS, Krogfelt KA, Johnson TJ, Price LB, Johnson JR, Struve C, Olesen B, Stegger M. Emergence of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli within the ST131 Lineage as a Cause of Extraintestinal Infections. mBio. 2020 May 19;11(3):e00353-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00353-20. PMID: 32430467; PMCID: PMC7240153.

Hwang, Haejin; Miller, Elizabeth A.; Johnson, Abigail; Valeris-Chacin, Robert; Nault, Andre J.; Singer, Randall S.; Johnson, Timothy J.. (2020). Efficacy of prebiotics and probiotics on growth performance in poultry: A protocol for a systematic review. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/216461.

Student Research Report: Abigail Johnson Johnson, Abigail Gobbles Magazine, MN Turkey Growers Assoc. 2021. In press.

Khaw, Melissa

Khaw, Melissa

Headshot of Melissa KhawMelissa Khaw

Degree
BS from University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Advisor
Dr. Jeff Miller

Kirk, Natalie

Kirk, Natalie

1598453605259.jpeg Natalie Kirk

[email protected]

Degrees
B.S., Biology, Colorado State University
DVM, Colorado State University
M.S., Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Univ. of IL
 
Adviser
Dr. Hinh Ly
 
Research
Host-pathogens interactions and immunopathology of infectious agents. My research includes developing a surrogate small animal mouse model for SARS-CoV-2 using mouse hepatitis virus and studying the immunogenicity and immune responses to a novel virus vectored tuberculosis vaccine in mice.
 
Publications
Brisse M, Vrba SM, Kirk N, Liang Y, Ly H. Emerging Concepts and Technologies in Vaccine Development. Front Immunol. 2020;11:583077. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.583077. eCollection 2020. Review. PubMed PMID:33101309; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7554600.
 
Kirk NM, Vieson MD, Selting KA, Reinhart, JM. Cytotoxicity of Cultured Canine Primary Hepatocytes Exposed to Itraconazole Is Decreased by Pretreatment With Glutathione. Front Vet Sci. 2021 Feb 18;8:621732. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.621732. eCollection 2021.
 
Vrba SM, Kirk NM, Brisse ME, Liang Y, Ly H. Development and Applications of Viral Vectored Vaccines to Combat Zoonotic and Emerging Public Health Threats. Vaccines (Basel). 2020 Nov 13;8(4). doi: 10.3390/vaccines8040680. Review. PubMed PMID: 33202961.

Li, Manci

Li, Manci

Manci Li

Manci Li

[email protected]

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

Adviser
Dr. Peter Larsen

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). 

Publications
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
K.V. Nagaraja Tuition Fellowship, Recipient, 2021
MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures Fellowship, Recipient, 2021

Marlowe, Jillian

Marlowe, Jillian

Headshot of Jillian MarloweJillian Marlowe

Degree
BS from Clemson University

Advisors
Dr. Sian Durward-Akhurst
Dr. Molly McCue

Matson, Anders

Matson, Anders

Anders MatsonAnders Matson

[email protected]

Degree
B.S., Biology, Augsburg College

Adviser
Dr. Bruce Walcheck

Research
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.

Publications
Hosny, N, Matson, AW, Kumbha, R, et al. 3′UTR enhances hCD47 cell surface expression, self‐signal function, and reduces ER stress in porcine fibroblasts. Xenotransplantation. 2021; 28:e12641. https://doi.org/10.1111/xen.12641.

Rao, JS, Matson, AW, Taylor, RT, Burlak, C, Xenotransplantation Literature Update 2020-2021. Xenotransplantation. 2021; 00:e12685. https://doi.org/10.1111/xen.12685

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

Screen%20Shot%202020-12-28%20at%2012.57.41%20PM.png 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

Adviser
Dr. Melanie Graham

Research
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.

Awards and Honors
Office of Graduate Programs Professional Development Travel Award, Recipient, 2020

Oram, Marissa

Oram, Marissa

Marissa OramMarissa Oram

[email protected]

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

Adviser
Dr. Anja-Katrin Bielinsky

Research
Negative genetic interactions are therapeutically exploited to develop novel targeted treatments for cancer. Previously, we performed a synthetic genetic array screen in budding yeast which revealed a strong negative genetic interaction between the essential replication factor minichromosome maintenance protein 10 (Mcm10) and the E3 ubiquitin ligase synthetically lethal with sgs1 (Slx5/Slx8). Under conditions of mild replication stress caused by the hypomorphic mcm10-1 mutation, Slx5/Slx8 promotes passage through mitosis with under-replicated DNA by evading the spindle assembly checkpoint (Thu et al., 2016). Whether the mammalian ortholog of Slx5/Slx8, RING finger protein 4 (RNF4), has a similar function in humans is currently unknown. To explore this question, we have generated MCM10+/-, RNF4-/-, and MCM10+/-RNF4-/- mutants in HCT116 cells. MCM10+/-RNF4-/- double mutants exhibit a drastic growth defect, elevated levels of apoptosis, and extremely short telomeres compared to either single mutant. We utilized chromatin flow cytometry to assess cell cycle profiles and unlike the yeast double mutants which arrested in G2/M, human MCM10+/-RNF4-/- mutants struggle to transition from G1 to S-phase. Preliminary data demonstrate a dramatic increase in 53BP1-nuclear bodies in MCM10+/-RNF4-/- cells indicating an accumulation of under-replicated DNA and causing a G1 arrest. Taken together, MCM10 and RNF4 display a negative genetic interaction in human cells where they protect against under-replicated DNA.

Publications
Baxley, R.M., Leung, W., Schmit, M.M., Matson, J.P., Yin, L., Oram, M.K., Wang, L., Taylor, J., Hedberg, J., Rogers, C.B., Harvey, A.J., Basu, D., Taylor, J., Pagnamenta, A., Dreau, H., Craft, J., Ormondroyd, E., Watkins, H., Hedrickson, E.A., Mace, E.M., Orange, J.S., Aihara, H., Stewart, G.S., Blair, E., Cook, J.G., & Bielinsky, A.K. (2021). Bi-allelic MCM10 variants associated with immune dysfunction and cardiomyopathy cause telomere shortening. Nature Communications, 12, 1626. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21878-x.

Chang, Y.C.*, Oram, M.K.*, and Bielinsky, A.K. (2021, April). SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligases and their functions in maintaining genome stability. Manuscript submitted to International Journal of Molecular Sciences. *These authors contributed equally

Peterson, L., Oram, M.K., Flavin, M., Seabloom, D., Smith, W., O'Sullivan, M. G., Vevang, K., Upadhyaya, P., Stornetta, A., Floeder, A., Ho, Y., Zhang, L., Hecht, S., Balbo, S., & Wiedmann, T. (2021) Co-exposure to inhaled aldehydes or carbon dioxide enhances the carcinogenic properties of the tobacco specific nitrosamine 4-methylnitrosamino-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) in the A/J mouse lung. Manuscript accepted for publication in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Park Lang, Haeree

Park Lang, Haeree

Haeree Park LangHaeree Park Lang

[email protected] 

Degrees
B.S. Pre-veterinary Studies, University MA-Amherst
DVM/PhD in progress, University of Minnesota

Advisor
Dr. Steven Friedenberg
Dr. Marc Jenkins 
 
Research
Autoimmune Addison's Disease (AAD) is a life-threatening endocrinopathy that naturally develops in humans and dogs and is characterized by the immune-mediated destruction of the adrenal cortex. To understand the immunological causes of AAD autoreactivity, we are creating a canine model for AAD to identify and characterize the autoantigen(s) and the autoreactive CD4+ T cell population involved in disease onset. To study these autoimmune triggers, we will utilize canine-specific peptide MHC II tetramers and T cell activation marker assays that we have developed. With a more informed understanding of AAD, we hope to bring the standard of treatment into a new era of antigen-specific therapeutics for the benefit of humans and dogs alike.

Awards
JoAnne Schmidt O'Brien/Bee Hanlon Research Fellow, 2021-2022
NIH T35 Summer Training Grant, 2019
AKC Canine Health Foundation National Parent Club Conference Travel Grant, 2019
The Eisenberg Family Scholarship, 2019
The Cleaver Scholarship, 2019
The Ray and Lee Janssen Memorial Endowment Scholarship, 2018

Phung, Gwen

Phung, Gwen

Gwen Phung

Gwen Phung

[email protected]

Adviser
Dr. Jeffrey Miller

Research
I am interested in studying the interactions between natural killer cells (NK cells) and
suppressive immune cells in the tumor microenvironment which include myeloid-derived
suppressor cells (MDSCs) and regulatory T cells (Tregs). More specifically, my current project
examines the reciprocal interactions between induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived NK
cell (iNK) that are currently being tested clinically (NCT03841110), with MDSCs and Tregs, in
order to investigate if the lack of in vivo persistence of the iNKs is due to suppressive immune
cells. With better understanding, we hope to improve the efficacy of iNKs as a cancer
immunotherapy.

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 and Honors

  • 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.

Sanchez, Shania

Sanchez, Shania

1554012733916.jpeg Shania Sanchez

[email protected]

Degree
B.S. Biology, University of New Mexico

Advisers
Dr. Yuying Liang and Dr. Hinh Ly

Research
Host-pathogen interactions focusing on vaccine development for zoonotic viruses. 

Springer, Kelsey

Springer, Kelsey

6cUhYzOM_400x400.jpg Kelsey Springer

[email protected]

Degrees
B.S. Biology and Chemistry 
 
Adviser
Currently completing requirements of the DVM program
 
Research
I am a DVM/PhD student interested in translating research to medicine. I will be studying comparative models of spontaneous and infectious disease. 

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

Research
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.

Publications 

Kumbha, R, Hosny, N, Matson, AW, Steinhoff, M, Hering, BJ, & Burlak, C. (2020). Efficient production of GGTA1 knockout porcine embryos using a modified handmade cloning (HMC) method. Research in veterinary science, 128, 59-68. https://www-sciencedirectcom.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/science/article/pii/S00345....

Hosny, N, Matson, AW, Kumbha, R, Steinhoff, M, Rao, JS, El-Abaseri, TB, Sabek, NA, Mahmoud, MA, Hering, BJ, Burlak, C. 3’UTR enhances hCD47 cell surface expression, self-signal function, and reduces ER stress in porcine fibroblasts. Xenotransplantation. 2020; 00:e12641. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/xen.12641casa_token=1Ogn....

Strell, Phoebe

Strell, Phoebe

Phoebe Strell headshotDegree 
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
Winner, 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®), CVM Points of Pride Research Day 2020  - judged competition
Winner, 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®), CVM Points of Pride Research Day 2020 - People's Choice Award
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

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

Research
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. 

Awards and Honors
University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Residents and Graduate Student Research Grant, Recipient, 2020

Publications
Colwell, M., Wanner, N. M., Drown, C., Drown, M., Dolinoy, D. C., & Faulk, C. (2020). Paradoxical whole genome DNA methylation dynamics of 5’aza-deoxycytidine in chronic low-dose exposure in mice. Epigenetics: Official Journal of the DNA Methylation Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/15592294.2020.1790951.

Wanner, N. M., Colwell, M., Drown, C., & Faulk, C. (2021). Developmental cannabidiol exposure increases anxiety and modifies genome-wide brain DNA methylation in adult female mice. Clinical Epigenetics. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13148-020-00993-4.

Wanner, N. M., Colwell, M., Drown, C., & Faulk, C. (2020). Subacute cannabidiol alters genome-wide DNA methylation in adult mouse hippocampus. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. https://doi.org/10.1002/em.22396.

Wenthe, Sophia

Wenthe, Sophia

Sophia Wenthe

Degree
BA from University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Advisor
Dr. Hinh Ly

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.