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Non Independent Faculty

Non-Independent Non-Tenure Track faculty carry out research under the direction of an MCCB faculty

  • Minggang Fang

    Minggang Fang, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Assistant Professor (PI: Michael Green)

    Transcriptional Upregulation as a Therapeutic Approach for Rare Monogenic Disorders Caused by Aberrant Epigenetic Silencing
    My research interests are focused on understanding epigenetic and transcriptional dysregulation in 13 human disease. Mis-regulated expression of a specific gene is the underlying cause of several monogenic rare genetic disorders. In some instances, the mis-regulated gene is transcriptionally repressed through a process called epigenetic silencing. In these cases, reactivation of the epigenetically silenced gene represents a potential therapeutic approach. As a first step toward developing therapeutics that can reactivate expression of an epigenetically silenced gene, I have developed experimental approaches to first identify the factors responsible for transcriptional repression, and then based upon this information, find small molecule inhibitors of these factors that can reactivate expression of the silenced gene. I have used this general approach to identify small molecule inhibitors that can reactivate specific genes whose silencing underlie neurodevelopmental diseases including Fragile X Syndrome and Friedreich ataxia.

  • Hira Goel

    Hira Goel, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Assistant Professor (PI: Arthur Mercurio)

    Identifying novel therapeutic strategies to target cancer stem cells
    Cancer therapies often fail because of the presence of a group of highly resistant and pluripotent cells, termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). My research focus is to characterize the mechanisms that contribute to the pluripotency of CSCs and to design new therapeutic strategies based on these mechanisms.  My current work involves the VEGF co-receptor neuropilin-2 (NRP2) that is essential for CSC function.  My studies have shown that NRP2 could be an effective therapeutic target for breast and prostate cancer because its inhibition sensitizes these cancers to chemo- and radiation therapy.  This hypothesis is currently being tested in pre-clinical models in conjunction with studies aimed at investigating the mechanisms that contribute to this therapeutic strategy.

  • Sunyoung Hwang

    Sunyoung Hwang, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Eduardo Torres)

    Investigating the Molecular Mechanisms by which Aneuploidy Alters Lipid Metabolism and Morphology of the Nucleus
    My research focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of aneuploidy (an abnormal number of chromosomes). Recently, I discovered that aneuploid cells have altered sphingolipid metabolism and this effect is linked to serine metabolism. In addition, I found abnormal nuclear morphologies of aneuploid cells that can be improved by the up-regulation of long-chain bases, a type of sphingolipids. My current goals are to understand how lipid synthesis regulates nuclear morphology and cellular fitness, and to understand how the third copy of chromosome 21 causes Down Syndrome in order to develop novel approaches to improve the health of individuals with this condition.

  • Sunil Malonia

    Sunil Malonia, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Michael Green)

    Understanding the Basis of Aberrant Gene Regulation in Human Disease
    My research focuses on understanding the mechanistic and functional basis of aberrant gene regulation in human cancers and certain rare genetic disorders. The major goal of my research program is to identify new factors and regulatory pathway(s) that contribute to the disease state, and modulate gene expression as a therapeutic approach.

  • Laam (Magnolia) Pak

    Laam (Magnolia) Pak, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Michael Green)

    Identification of Epigenetic Regulators that Modulate Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
    My research focuses on investigating the epigenetic and transcriptional regulatory mechanisms underlying the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) using breast cancer as a model system. Using a candidate-based RNAi screening strategy, I have identified the histone acetyltransferase EP300 as a suppressor of EMT in human breast epithelial cells and shown that it suppresses EMT by repressing expression of TGFB1, a known key EMT inducer. My work has provided insight into the epigenetic regulation of gene expression during EMT.

  • Paul Peters

    Paul Peters, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Heinrich Göttlinger)

    The Roles of SERINCs and Nef Function in Combatting HIV/AIDS
    SERINC3 and SERINC5 are novel anti-viral host proteins that inhibit HIV-1 infectivity and are counteracted by the accessory HIV-1 protein Nef. My research examines how SERINCs affect HIV-1 virus particles, and how Nef downregulates them to prevent their uptake into HIV-1 particles. This research is relevant to public health, because inhibiting the downregulation of SERINCs by Nef is a potential strategy to combat HIV/AIDS.

  • Masahiro Shin

    Masahiro Shin, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Assistant Professor (PI: Nathan Lawson)

    Dissecting Lymphatic Valve Development 
    My research program focuses on studying how lymphatic valve development is controlled. To accomplish this goal, I analyze scRNAseq data sets to identify novel lymphatic valve markers and genes, and innovate genetic tools for further functional analyses of the genes.

  • Yoshiko Usami

    Yoshiko Usami, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Heinrich Göttlinger)

    Discovering Antiviral Host Proteins that Restrict HIV-1 Infectivity
    My research program focuses on the discovery of antiviral host proteins that restrict HIV-1 infectivity. Through my work I have discovered two host cell proteins, SERINC3 and SERINC5, that are counteracted by the HIV-1 protein Nef. Furthermore, I have shown that an intracellular loop region of SERINC5 plays an important role in its sensitivity to Nef.

  • Panagiotis Velentzas

    Panagiotis Velentzas, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Eric Baehrecke)

    Solute Carriers and their Role in Autophagy
    My research focuses on the relationship between metabolism and autophagy in model organismsSpecifically, I am aiming to elucidate the role of solute carriers (SLCs), a superfamily of proteins that transport nutrients across membranes, in the regulation of autophagy, with the use of Drosophila genetic models.

  • Anastassiia Vertii

    Anastassiia Vertii, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Paul Kaufman)

    Role of p38 MAPK in Heterochromatin Organization in Response to Inflammatory Stresses
    Febrile condition and inflammation are evolutionarily conserved responses against harmful pathogens. My research program aims to uncover the connectivity between inflammation and three-dimensional heterochromatin organization and to compare the consequences of inflammation on genome organization in immune and non-immune cells.

  • Yuanfei Wu

    Yuanfei Wu, Ph.D.

    Academic Role: Instructor (PI: Heinrich Göttlinger)

    Control of HIV Spreading by the Cell Polarity Regulator CDC42
    HIV-1 induces the formation of stable conjugates between infected and non-infected T cells, which is thought to facilitate HIV-1 cell-to-cell transmission. I have found that the RHO family GTPase CDC42, a molecular switch that plays a key role in the establishment of polarity in eukaryotic cells, is critical for efficient HIV-1 spreading in T cell lines and in primary cells. In addition, I have identified the formin-related protein FMNL1, which has been implicated in cell polarity, as an important partner of CDC42 in HIV-1 cell-to-cell transmission.