Current TBBS Students

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<h4>Andrew Caceres</p>
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Andrew Caceres

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Fenfei Leng’s Lab

Recent advancements in new-target antibiotics have been slow, and essentially non-existent. As bacteria continue to develop antibiotic- and multidrug-resistance, the world requires new ways to treat infections. Andrew’s research will focus on new antibacterial targets for bacteria such as Helicobacter Pylori, and the Enterobacteriaceae family.

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<h4>Nicole Fernandez Tejero</p>
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Nicole Fernandez Tejero

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Bruce McCord’s Lab

Nicole is a Ph.D. student in Forensic Chemistry and is currently developing a DNA methylation marker capable of approximating an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) as well as give insight in to the individual’s diet. DNA methylation, one of several epigenetic modifications, has been studied extensively for the determination of body fluids, age, and various lifestyle traits such as alcohol consumption and tobacco and drug use. Determination of both BMI and diet of an individual will allow us to get a better understanding of the lifestyle and create a more detailed profile of a person. The development of a marker that can predict an individual’s BMI could be added to the ever-growing list of phenotypic markers that help investigators to create a representation of an unknown subject.

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<h4>Victoria Godieva</p>
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Victoria Godieva

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Jeremy Chambers’ Lab

Translocator protein 18kDa (TSPO) levels increase rapidly during brain injury, neuroinflammation, and in neurodegenerative disorders concurrent to the proliferation of microglia; however, the molecular function of TSPO in microglia has yet to be determined. TSPO is a transmembrane protein that spans the outer mitochondrial membrane, and mutations in TSPO are linked to mitochondrial metabolic deficiencies, including neurosteroid production. Recent studies suggest that TSPO can also affect the heme metabolism, and our bioinformatic analyses of TSPO structure reveal critical elements for heme binding are present in TSPO. Thus, the goal of Victoria’s research is to analyze heme metabolism and transport in wild type and TSPO-deficient microglia using metabolomic, proteomic, and established biochemical approaches to define the relationship between TSPO and heme metabolism and to provide insight into the functional significance of TSPO upregulation in human neurological disease.

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<h4>Mayson Lin</p>
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Mayson Lin

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Matthew DeGennaro’s Lab

Postmortem interval (PMI) is a common method to estimate time period of death in forensic science. Carrion insects such as blowflies are applied to predict PMI based on the age of immature stages (from eggs to pupae). However, insect developmental rate in a human corpse has never been measured. In Mayson’s research, transgenic blowflies would be made to accurately recognize age of carrion insects based on the detection of fluorescent protein in maggots.

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<h4>Marissa Perry</p>
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Marissa Perry

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Nazira El-Hage’s Lab

Over 50% of HIV infected patients also suffer from chronic pain conditions. Despite evidence suggesting that opioids enhance their chronic pain and leads to increased neuronal damage, Opioids are still the predominant prescribed analgesic. Marissa’s research aims to further elucidate how opioids increase the neuronal damage and search for alternative pain management approaches.

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<h4>Alex Rodichkin</p>
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Alex Rodichkin

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Tomás Guilarte’s Lab

Manganese is an essential nutrient, but excess accumulation in the brain from occupational exposures results in a form of Parkinsonism with dystonia that is not responsive to L-dopa, the standard therapeutic treatment for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. Genetic mutations of SLC39A14, a Mn influx transporter, have been recently described with a clinical presentation of Parkinsonism with dystonia and increased blood and brain Mn. Humans with mutations in the SLC39A14 gene exhibit Parkinsonism that is not responsive to L-dopa therapy. Alex’s research project uses SLC39A14 knock-out mice to investigate the behavioral and neurochemical phenotypes resulting from increased systemic and brain Mn concentrations.

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<h4>Elizabeth Stewart</p>
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Elizabeth Stewart

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Yi Xiao’s Lab

Aptamers are single-stranded oligonucleotides that are isolated in vitro to bind specific targets through systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Elizabeth’s focus is to isolate a DNA aptamer via SELEX to bind a DNA repair enzyme termed flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) and inhibit its activity in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), resulting in cancer cell apoptosis. The aptamer will then be engineered into a prodrug form and immobilized on gold nanoparticles for selective delivery and activation of the aptamer-drug in cancer cells. Prodrug activation will be achieved by the enzyme apurinic endonuclease 1 (APE1), which has been shown to be highly overexpressed in NSCLC cells but not in normal cells. This will ensure minimal impact on healthy cells during the treatment of lung cancer.

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<h4>Jonathan Tabares</p>
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Jonathan Tabares

TBBS Fellow in Dr. Jin He’s Lab

Jonathan currently conducts research in Dr. Jin He’s Laboratory where he focuses on single molecule cellular biophysics. Jonathan investigates high-resolution multimodal imaging and sensing to explore biochemical changes associated with cell function. For example, using scanning ion conductance microscopy to image several cell activities on the cell membrane.