Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Department of Emergency Medicine

Andrew Moore

Education:

  • BS: University of Washington
  • MS: Drexel University College of Medicine
  • MD: Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Specialty: Emergency Medicine

Research Interests:

I am interested in health services research. My current projects focus on reduction of provider variation with use of costly resources in the emergency department and patient interactions with the health care system following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.


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Department of Medicine

Imo Akpan

Education:

  • BS: Swarthmore College
  • MD: University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Subspecialty interest: Hematology-Oncology

Research Interests:

I did research in Dr. Nancy C. Andrews' lab at Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School (her lab is now at Duke), where I assisted Dr. Cindy N. Roy a postdoctoral fellow at the time (currently at Johns Hopkins) in making a mouse model for Anemia of Inflammation. We studied the role of hepcidin (hepc), a regulator of iron transport in iron homeostasis. ACI is caused by inflammatory diseases like cancer or rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation may increase the level of hepc in the body. Hepc blocks iron absorption by the intestine, thereby contributing to the anemia seen in these patients. We successfully created a mouse with an extra copy of hepc. The transgenic mice anemia is associated with iron deficiency and iron-restricted erythropoiesis. The mice serve as a useful model by reiterating key features of anemia of inflammation seen in human patients.

While in medical school, as an American Society of Hematology Scholar and a UIC Craig Research Fellow in Dr. Joseph DeSimone’s lab, I studied the relative roles of transcription and translation in the mechanism responsible for increased fetal hemoglobin levels following decitabine (a DNA methyl transferase inhibitor) administration in the baboon model and investigated whether decitabine requires erythropoietic stress in order to increase HbF in vivo. We concluded that decitabine increases fetal Hb in vivo by transcriptional activation of the gamma globin gene and that decitabine does not require erythropoietic stress in order to induce a substantial increase in fetal hb levels. The findings in this study are interesting because the mechanism of decitabine’s ability to increase HbF has remained controversial so understanding the mechanism that DMNT inhibitors reactivate HbF is critical for the design of future pharmacological drugs for patients with sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia.

I remain interested in epigenetic mechanism of gene expression, clinical trials and improving the treatment for various cancers/blood disorders. I’m very excited about the PSTP at Northwestern and look forward to doing more research here because it will enable me to gain insight into some difficult clinical cases. I will make diagnoses not only based on familiar symptoms but also based on a solid grasp of concrete scientific concepts.

Ansel Amaral

Education:

  • BS: University of Miami, Neuroscience (2007)
  • PhD: University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology (2012)
  • MD: University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Cardiology, Nephrology

Research Interests:

My long-term research interest is the development of a comprehensive understanding of key pathways in the heart and kidney that are activated as a pathophysiological response to chronic kidney disease (CKD). I have had the opportunity to work in a number of labs within the fields of cardiology and nephrology. Prior to entering college, I was able to partake in research at Temple University under Dr. Steven Houser that involved pharmacologic interventions that affect the parameters of cardiac output, blood pressure and flow. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, I managed a research initiative with Dr. R. John Solaro to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying changes in cardiac contractile proteins following acquired heart failure. As an undergraduate student, I worked with Dr. James Potter at the University of Miami to elucidate the effects of troponin mutations on molecular motors in congenital heart disease. As a visiting research scientist, I conducted research with Dr. Bruce McManus at the University of British Colombia to determine the role of integrin-linked kinase in coxsackie virus B3 infection and replication. I also participated in a study with Dr. Maggie Alonso-Galicia at Merck Pharmaceuticals to characterize a novel thiazide diuretic.

As a graduate student with Drs. Christian Faul and Myles Wolf, my research focused on defining the effects of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) on target organs (i.e., the heart and kidney). FGF23 levels are strongly linked to mortality and cardiovascular disease in all stages of CKD; we sought to define a potential underlying mechanism of this relationship. Our work was the first to establish a direct effect of FGF23 on cardiac myocytes via a novel signaling pathway. We demonstrated that FGF23 directly activates pro-hypertrophic signaling pathways in cardiac myocytes and induces left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in animal models. Furthermore, we confirmed that circulating FGF23 levels are increased in CKD and are independently associated with LVH and that elevated FGF23 is associated with increased risk of new-onset LVH. I am excited to join the PSTP at Northwestern and enhance my training experience by working with experts in multiple medical disciplines and contribute to dynamic research efforts that will continue to alter the course of disease progression and translate into manageable practices that improve patient health outcomes.

Noah Birch

Education:

  • BS: Illinois Institute of Technology, Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics (2006)
  • MD: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine
  • PhD: Loyola University Chicago, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry (2013)
  • Subspecialty interest: Hematology-Oncology

Research Interests:

As an undergraduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), I undertook research projects studying fundamental aspects of muscle physiology, studying the role of the androgen receptor in prostate cancer and synthesizing bifunctional compounds for targeted cancer therapies. In the laboratory of Hyun-soon Chong, PhD, I worked in the areas of organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry generating bimodal compounds for antibody-targeted radiation therapy, for MRI contrast enhancement and for metal chelation. In the laboratory of Nancy Zeleznik-Le, PhD, at the Loyola University Medical Center, I conducted dissertation work studying molecular aspects of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) and evaluated novel therapeutics. My research aimed to understand how specific amino acids within a DNA-binding domain of MLL contribute to the leukemogenic capacity of MLL fusion proteins. Retroviral constructs expressing point mutations were generated to study the roles of specific residues in cell proliferation, colony formation, cell morphology, gene expression and in vitro protin binding.  Additional studies focused on post-translational modification of and novel epigenetic therapies for MLL-associated leukemias.

I have been drawn to the field of Hematology-Oncology through complementary research and clinical experiences at IIT and in Loyola’s MD/PhD program. The clinical experiences have demonstrated how our current knowledge of modern medicine can be effectively applied to the skills of diagnosis, treatment and prevention to alleviate patient suffering while the research experiences have demonstrated how we can advance this current understanding to address unanswered clinical questions and ultimately improve human health. During fellowship training, I look forward to acquiring specialized knowledge of human malignancies and to exploring the biochemical and epigenetic mechanisms of cancer while trying to identify new drug targets and developing novel cancer therapeutics. Through participation in the Physician-Scientist Training Program in the Department of Internal Medicine with subspecialty training in Hematology-Oncology, I will be prepared to transition into a successful career as an academic physician-scientist.

Michael Burns

Education:

  • BS: University of Notre Dame
  • PhD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • MD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Hematology/Onc

Research Interests:

My career interests focus on the use of interdisciplinary methodologies to develop novel therapeutics for cancer. Early in my career, I investigated everything from the use of quantum dots as molecular sensors to the role of the nervous system in bone remodeling.  My interest in precision medicine led me to the laboratory of Stephen Fesik, PhD, where I worked to discover novel protein-protein interaction inhibitors targeting the Ras-signaling pathway for the treatment of cancer.

Ras is a small-GTPase that functions as a molecular switch to drive cell proliferation and survival, ultimately leading to cancer. Despite its clinical significance, the scientific community has been unable to develop a clinically efficacious Ras inhibitor since the discovery of Ras as one of the first oncogenes over 30 years ago. Within this context, I sought to apply novel methodologies to identify unique, functionally active small-molecules to provide a path forward for the discovery of Ras-targeted therapeutics. As part of an interdisciplinary team, I was able to show that by employing fragment-based approaches and structure-based drug design it was possible to target Ras with molecules that bind directly to Ras and inhibit Son of Sevenless (SOS)-catalyzed nucleotide exchange in a competitive manner. While conducting this work, I also made the observation that a specific set of small molecules had the ability to modulate the Ras-SOS protein-protein interaction in an unexpected manner. This led to the discovery that it was possible to target the Ras:SOS:Ras complex, an intermediate of nucleotide exchange, with small molecules. I worked to characterize this functionally important small molecule binding site on the Ras:SOS:Ras complex and showed that molecules that bound to it were capable of inhibiting MAPK and PI3K signaling downstream of Ras. These findings revealed a new approach to inhibit this highly validated oncology target and these molecules represent promising starting points for the discovery of compounds capable of inhibiting Ras-driven tumors.

I am excited to be a part of the Northwestern PSTP program, which combines high-quality clinical training with multidisciplinary research opportunities. I plan to pursue a career in hematology and oncology. By focusing on precision medicine, immuno-oncology and understanding the mechanisms that drive cancer, I hope to discover novel treatments and provide new therapeutic options to my patients with cancer not responsive to standard chemotherapy.

Michael Chen

Education:

  • BS: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Microbiology and Immunology (2006)
  • PhD: Loyola University Chicago, Cell Biology (2015)
  • MD: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine (2017)
  • Subspecialty interests: Allergy & Immunology, Rheumatology

Research Interests:

My long-term research interests lie within the realm of immunology. As a field, it has exciting potential. Our ever-increasing understanding of immunologic pathways are constantly changing clinical management of diseases that span every organ system. During graduate school, I studied innate immune dysfunction after severe burn injury and how being intoxicated at the time of injury leads to a detrimental immune response, which has both immediate sequelae and long-term consequences in both animal models and humans. Furthermore, specifically targeting signaling pathways altered by alcohol and burn can reverse the increased morbidity and mortality of the dual insult. As a part of Northwestern’s Physician-Scientist Training Program, I look forward to excellent clinical training and the many opportunities for immunologic research across the institution.

Melanie Dispenza

Education:

  • BS: University of Virginia, Biochemisty (2005)
  • PhD: Penn State, Immunology (2011)
  • MD: Penn State (2013)
  • Subspecialty interest: Allergy/Immunology

Research Interests:

Throughout my medical education, I have always been interested in immunology and its role in the pathogenesis of disease. I completed my PhD training at Penn State in the lab of Dr. Diane Thiboutot. My dissertation research focused on the mechanism of action of isotretinoin (13-cisretinoic acid; brand name Accutane) in inducing long-term remissions of acne. I designed a clinical study investigating the effects of isotretinoin therapy on acne patients’ peripheral immune cells and found that isotretinoin normalizes exaggerated immune responses to the commensal organism P. acnes through down-regulation of TLR-2 on monocytes. After completion of my PhD, I continued to do research during medical school on hereditary angioedema and asthma. My research experiences have cemented my desire to pursue a fellowship in Allergy/Immunology. I am very excited to join the PSTP program and look forward to the opportunity to work with some of the exceptional clinicians and scientists at Northwestern.

Matthew Feinstein

Education:

  • BS: Princeton University
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I have long been interested in the full spectrum of cardiovascular disease as well as the seemingly endless opportunities within cardiology to advance the field through original research and its translational applications. As an undergraduate studying the relationship between behavior patterns and health status, I conducted independent research toward a thesis in a large, multinational database and found that more religious people may be less likely to seek preventive health care. During medical school, I continued to explore the complex relationship between religion and cardiovascular disease with the guidance of my research mentor, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones. Using data collected from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we found that highly religious older adults are significantly more likely to be obese than their non-religious counterparts, even after adjustment for demographics and baseline cardiovascular risk factors. Subsequently, we used data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study and found that frequent religious participants in young adulthood are particularly likely to become obese between young adulthood and middle age, even after adjustment for demographics and baseline cardiovascular risk factors. In light of these results, I collaborated on developing and piloting a cardiovascular risk education and prevention model at a local African-American church that has initially proven effective at decreasing BMI, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure. I have now begun working with Dr. Lloyd-Jones on various projects that use a relatively novel statistical application to examine competing risks for first occurring cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular events. The first project, in which we examined racial disparities in first incident cardiovascular disease in three large multi-center cohorts, revealed that our competing risks framework yields estimates of cardiovascular risk that may differ from those of traditional statistical models. This is potentially significant for clinicians and patients because we can simultaneously estimate risks for cardiovascular events and potential superceding non-cardiovascular events (i.e. cancer death), and may therefore obtain a "real life" contextual assessment of one's risk for cardiovascular events. We have also begun to examine competing risks for next events following different first cardiovascular events (e.g., most likely subsequent event following a stroke versus MI) and, in a separate project, are re-analyzing clinical trials of statins in populations with significant co-morbidities (systolic heart failure, end-stage renal disease) to determine if accounting for competing risks stemming from these substantial co-morbidities alters the estimated benefit of statins in preventing coronary events. I consider myself fortunate to have had such stimulating clinical and research experiences at Northwestern and am thrilled to be able to continue to do population-based cardiovascular epidemiology research here with the support of the PSTP program.

Sarah Fenton

Education:

  • BS: Saint Louis University
  • PhD: Loyola University, Deptartment of Pathology, Molecular Biology
  • MD: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interest: Hematology-Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my thesis work in Molecular Biology at Loyola University under the direction of Dr. Mitchell Denning. I am interested in studying the epithelial to mesenchymal transition and developing novel therapies that target this process. To this end, I studied the tyrosine kinase Fyn, a member of the Src family kinases. Fyn is an oncogene in murine epidermis and is upregulated in multiple tumor types, including human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). Increased Fyn expression levels following either the transduction of active Ras (HaCaT-Ras) or Fyn (HaCaT-Fyn) into HaCaT cells induced an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and inhibition of this protein using the clinical SFK inhibitor Dasatinib blocked this process by increasing the stability of cell-cell adhesions at the adherens junction through stabilization of F-actin. This inhibition blocked the keratinocyte's ability to migrate in culture, as well as undergo malignant transformation in a mouse model studying UV-induced skin damage. I look forward to continuing my clinical and research training at Northwestern University as it has a strong tradition of supporting physician-scientists and advancing the field of medicine.

Panagiotis (Peter) Flevaris

Education:

  • BS: Northwestern University, Biomedical Engineering (2001)
  • PhD: University of Illinois at Chicago, Pharmacology (2008)
  • MD: University of Illinois at Chicago (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my graduate training in Pharmacology at UIC under the supervision of Dr. Xiaoping Du. In our lab, we investigated many of the signaling mechanisms involved in platelet activation and thrombosis. My work focused on several of the molecular aspects integrins signaling, specifically, the major platelet integrin, αIIbβ3. We sought to elucidate how integrins are activated by different agonists and determine the role of integrin signaling in platelet aggregation, secretion, spreading and clot retraction Study of the latter functions (spreading and retraction) also led us to investigate how integrin signaling controls and regulates the directions of cell membrane movement not only in platelets, but other cell types as well. As a physician, I am most interested in the pathophysiology and clinical aspects of cardiovascular disease, as well as the growing area of therapeutic interventions. Though my research interests will evolve throughout my training, I would like to investigate the role of platelets in multiple aspects of cardiovascular disease and explore novel anti platelet agents for the prevention and treatment of acute coronary syndromes. Other areas of scientific interest include vascular endothelial function, myocardial viability, angiogenesis and oxidative signaling in atherosclerosis.

Dominic Fullenkamp

Education:

  • BS: Boston University, Biomedical Engineering (2005)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Biomedical Engineering (2012)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2014)

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University in the laboratory of Dr. Phillip Messersmith. The main objective of my dissertation was to investigate the role that sacrificial coordination bonds could have on hydrogel mechanical properties. This work was motivated by the lack of biocompatible soft synthetic materials that can stand up to long-term cyclic strains for applications such as small vessel grafts or heart valve replacements. To address this need, we took inspiration from the chemistry that the marine mussel employs to produce tough, self-healing threads that anchor the mussel to coastal rocks. Specifically, by studying different metal-ligand hydrogel systems, we were able to show how small molecule kinetic and thermodynamic properties connect to bulk material properties. With these insights, we were able to toughen hydrogels by incorporation of sacrificial coordination bonds. I came to the Northwestern PSTP because of the strength of its clinical cardiology and the research opportunities available. During the research phase of this experience, I plan to develop new skills in cell and stem cell biology. I ultimately hope to connect this experience with my biomaterials background.

Antony Hsieh

Education:

  • BS: University of Arizona, Molecular Biology (2008)
  • MD: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Hepatology, Oncology

Research Interests:

As an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, I conducted research in several different areas of biochemistry ranging from the biosynthesis of deazapurine metabolites to the mechanism of signal transduction in the FGF23/VitD pathway. After college, I spent a year in South Korea at Seoul National University, where I elucidated the mechanism of Hepatitis B virus activation of the Wnt signaling pathway and how this contributed to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. During medical school at Johns Hopkins University, I worked with Joshua Mendell to study how miRNAs, a class of ~22 nt RNA molecules that regulate messenger RNAs (mRNA), are regulated in human diseases. My work undercovered a previously underappreciated role of the miRNA biogenesis machinery at the chromatin in cancer cells and embryonic stem cells. Being part of the PTSP program is a crucial step in my medical training to build upon the necessary skillset required for me to become both an excellent clinician and independent investigator. Although I intend to continue seeing patients throughout my career, research will ultimately forward the understanding of our patients' diseases and open the doors for future therapies. Currently, I am interested in both the fields of Hepatology and Oncology and look forward to being able to apply my experiences in basic research to patient-oriented problems.

 

Arif Jivan

Education:

  • BS: Duke University, Biomedical Engineering (2004)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Cell Signaling/Pharmacology (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in cell signaling and pharmacology at UT Southwestern in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Cobb. My dissertation research focused on how scaffolding proteins facilitate cross-talk between MAP kinase and PKA pathways and how these signaling cascades elicited site-specific action within the cell, specifically in the context of cilia-related diseases (e.g., polycystic kidney disease, Kartagener, Bardet-Biedl syndromes). I became interested in cardiology during medical school, through didactic and clinical experiences in heart failure and interventional cardiology as well as through research examining stroke events after atrial fibrillation surgery under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Lee. Within cardiology, I am interested in examining the pathogenesis of heart failure through the myriad of underlying molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that lead to the onset and progression of the disease. Given its significant clinical burden, there exists a burgeoning potential in developing therapeutics to not only reverse myocardial changes and damage that lead to decompensation in heart failure, but also to prevent the disease at its onset. Other areas of interest in cardiology include examining vascular endothelial function and repair, particularly after thromboembolic events. I am excited to begin my career as a physician-scientist in the vibrant clinical and research environment at Northwestern.

Josh Levine

Education:

  • BS: Columbia University (2007)
  • PhD: Columbia University, Genetics and Development (2012)
  • MD: Columbia University (2014)
  • Subspecialty interest: Endocrinology

Research Interests:

I completed my thesis work in Genetics and Development at Columbia in the lab of Dr. Lori Sussel. Her lab is focused on understanding the transcriptional regulation of the development of the islets of Langherhan in the pancreas. I focused on one of the major transcription factors of islet cell development, Nkx2.2. I discovered that one of the conserved regions of the protein, the SD domain, was required for differentiating a single islet endocrine progenitor cell into five distinct monohormonal islet cell types. By knocking in a mutant SD domain into the native Nkx2.2 gene in mice, we showed that the iselts of these mice contained fewer insulin producing beta cells as well as many polyhormonal cells. We also showed that the SD domain interacts with a dna methyltransferance, DNMT1, and through this interaction, successfully regulates gene expression via methylation, to differentiate progenitor cells into single hormonal islet cells. As a result, mutation of the SD domain, leads to loss of this interaction and production of polyhormonal cells. I am excited to continue my research and clinical studies at Northwestern and look forward to many new exciting opportunities here.

Adam Lin

Education:

  • BS: University of California, Irvine
  • PhD: Rice University
  • MD: Baylor College of Medicine
  • Subspecialty Interests: Hematology/Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in the department of Bioengineering at Rice University with Dr. Rebekah Drezek and worked on several inter-departmental and inter-institutional collaborative projects. Part of my thesis work was to design and engineer gold nanoparticles for photothermal therapy in combination with magnetic resonance or fluorescence imaging to improve satellite cancer detection and real-time tumor margin detection. In addition, I have investigated other potential medical uses of gold nanoparticles for delivery of cancer vaccines, adjuvants, plasmids and chemotherapeutic agents. My overall goal is to utilize my nanoengineering knowledge to improve cancer treatment, including immunotherapy and intra-op diagnoses technologies.

Luisa Morales Nebreda

Education:

  • BS: University of Central Venezuela
  • MD: University of Central Venezuela
  • Subspecialty interests: Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine

Research Interests:

During my research fellowship, I worked in the labs of Dr. Scott Budinger and Dr. Gokhan Mutlu in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Northwestern. My research focused in understanding the role played by bone marrow-derived macrophages in response to lung injury and their contribution to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. We found that mice with a tissue-specific deletion of caspase-8 in lung macrophages are resistant to both bleomycin and TGF-β-induced fibrosis. More specifically, we showed that caspase-8 is required for the differentiation of bone marrow-derived monocytes into alveolar macrophages. Despite being phenotypically similar, both bone marrow-derived macrophages and tissue-resident macrophages, exhibit a very different inflammatory and fibrotic response during lung injury and fibrosis. Thus, potentially targeting recruited macrophages represents a novel approach in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.

Also, with Dr. Mutlu I extended on our previous published work, which showed that stimulation by β2-adrenergic agonists contribute to the development of a prothrombotic state in response to particulate matter air pollution. It is widely known that despite their beneficial effects on alveolar fluid clearance, the administration of β2-agonists to patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome failed to demonstrate a beneficial effect in randomized clinical trials. Recently, we have shown that the loss of β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) specifically in the macrophages improves survival in a murine model of influenza A infection. Mechanistically, signaling through β2AR on monocytes and macrophages negatively regulates the recruitment of monocytes to the lung during influenza A infection and worsens survival. We think that strategies that act independently of the β2AR to enhance alveolar fluid clearance without the unwanted effects on monocyte-derive macrophage recruitment to the lung may prove effective for the treatment of patients with ARDS.

Taylor Poor

Education:

  • BA: Wabash College, Chemistry
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Molecular Biology
  • MD: Northwestern University
  • Subspecialty interests: Infectious Disease and Critical Care

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lamb, PhD, on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. My work in Dr. Lamb’s lab focused primarily on biophysical studies of the mechanics behind viral protein refolding in Paramyxoviruses, a family of enveloped, negative-stranded RNA viruses. Specifically, I worked with the fusion (F) protein of Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5). PIV5 F is a large timeric glycoprotein that sits on the surface of the viral membrane in a metastable conformation. When the virus particle binds to a target host cell, F is triggered to undergo a large-scale, ATP-independent, irreversible conformational rearrangement that physically fuses the viral membrane to that of the target cell. This allows the viral genetic material to infect the cell. My research interests primarily revolve around the intersection of biophysical and structural understanding of infectious diseases.

Jennifer Regan

Education:

  • BS: University of Michigan
  • MD/PhD: Northwestern University
  • Subspecialty interests: Hematology-Oncology, Immunology

Research Interests:

During my PhD training, I worked with Dr. Lou Laimins and focused on studying the role of the E5 protein in Human Papillomavirus pathogenesis. Human papillomaviruses have been shown to be the causative agent of cervical cancer with over 99.7 percent of cases showing the presence of the viral sequence. My studies focused on elucidating the role of E5, which is poorly understood at this time. Using yeast two hybrid analysis, I identified B-cell associated protein 31 (Bap31) and differentiation dependent A4 protein (A4) as novel binding partners of the HPV16 and HPV31 E5 proteins and performed mutational analysis to identify the domains necessary for the interaction. Using siRNAs to reduce the levels of Bap31, the proliferative ability of HPV-positive keratinocytes upon differentiation was also reduced implicating Bap31 as a regulator of this process. I continue to be very interested in hematology/oncology and immunology research.

Konrad Sawicki

Education:

  • BS: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (2010)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Molecular Biology (2015)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2017)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I conducted my graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Hossein Ardehali, MD, PhD, in cardiac iron metabolism. My work focused on the regulation of heme iron in cardiac ischemic injury and identified delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase (ALAS)-2 induction with resultant heme accumulation as novel pathologic features of failing hearts. I also worked on projects investigating the role of mitochondrial non-heme iron in cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury, sirtuin proteins in cellular iron homeostasis and RNA-binding proteins in lipid metabolism. My long-term research interests involve understanding how alterations in genetic regulatory programs affect cellular metabolism and mitochondrial function in the developing, normal and diseased heart and developing methods to target these metabolic pathways as novel therapeutic agents. My overall career goal is to be a productive physician-scientist in academic cardiology by contributing to the advancement of cardiovascular research, facilitating the translation of research from the bench to bedside and using precision medicine approaches to provide the best possible clinical care for my patients. Northwestern has a strong tradition of supporting physician-scientists and being a national leader in cardiology, and I am excited to continue my career here as part of the PSTP.

Michael Schieber

Education:

  • BS: Northwestern University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Hematology/Oncology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Cell Biology at Northwestern University in the laboratory of Dr. Navdeep Chandel. My research focused on hypoxia signaling responses and used the nematode C. elegans as a genetic model organism. Specifically, we identified a novel hypoxia signaling response that, when activated, extended lifespan in C. elegans. This response was tissue-specific and was mediated by an intestinal transcription factor that was activated by increased reactive oxygen species generated under hypoxia. I chose to stay at Northwestern and enroll in the PSTP because of the University’s continued focus on physician-scientist training and the continued growth of the hematology/oncology program. My current research interests include studying the metabolic mechanisms of carcinogenesis and developing therapeutic strategies to target these pathways in human cancer.

Adam Schuldt

Education:

  • BA: Bowdoin College, Biology (2000)
  • PhD: Stony Brook University, Biomedical Engineering (2008)
  • MD: University of Michigan (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University under the mentorship of Dr. Ira Cohen. My work focused on cellular therapies for cardiac disease, specifically regeneration of contractile cardiomyocytes. The heart is estimated to have lost over one billion cardiomyocytes by the time it goes into heart failure. A growing body of evidence suggests that the heart is capable of replacing lost myocytes, but at a rate inadequate to reverse the damage from an insult such as myocardial infarction. Working with adult cardiac tissue, we investigated the origins of resident cardiac progenitor cells and produced quantitative evidence of differentiation along cardiac and other lineages in vitro. In addition, acellular extracellular matrix patches were used in a full thickness cardiac defect model to demonstrate native regeneration of contractile function specifically within the patch area. Furthermore, augmentation of this recovery was accomplished when human mesenchymal stem cells committed to a cardiac lineage were seeded on the patch. Other work focused on efforts to stimulate adult cardiomyocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and proliferate as another means of replacing myocytes. I am interested in continuing to work in the advancing field of cardiac regeneration and repair, including approaches utilizing cellular, genetic and deliverable pharmaceutical technologies.

Keith Summa

Education:

  • BS: Georgetown University, 2003, Biology and English
  • PhD: Northwestern University, 2013, Neurobiology
  • MD: Northwestern University, 2016
  • Subspecialty interest: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

My interest in research began as an undergraduate student in the laboratory of Peter Armbruster at Georgetown University. I studied circadian rhythms in the invasive species of mosquito Aedes albopictus, a vector for several diseases, including dengue fever, to better understand how this tropical organism adapts to temperate climates as it spreads. After graduation, I enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. For my doctoral thesis in the laboratory of Fred Turek, I examined how disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms impacts gastrointestinal function and contributes to inflammation and damage to the intestinal epithelial barrier in mouse models of colitis and alcoholic liver disease. My long-term interest as a member of the Physician-Scientist Training Program in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University is to combine my passion for research in circadian biology with clinical medicine in the field of Gastroenterology. This affords the opportunity to conduct procedures as well as establish and maintain long-lasting relationships with patients. I look forward to this next phase in my career at Northwestern University, where I continue to benefit from working with excellent colleagues and mentors.

Joseph Triggs

Education:

  • BS: University of Pennsylvania, Biology (2005)
  • MD: University of Chicago
  • PhD: University of Chicago, Immunology (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

During my dissertation work with Harinder Singh, PhD, I used the immune system as a tool to investigate gene regulatory networks that control cell fate choice. These networks are comprised of interconnected signaling molecules and transcription factors that regulate the developmental transitions that are critical for lineage determination. Using genetic, molecular and mathematical modeling approaches, I was able to demonstrate a novel molecular mechanism whereby lineage specific transcription factors feedback to alter the epigenetic DNA binding landscape of non-specific transcriptional regulators leading to cell specification and commitment. These efforts were aimed at being able to manipulate these regulatory networks to engineer stem cells to adopt particular immune cell fates in the future.

After completing my PhD and returning to medical school, I combined my scientific background in next generation sequencing, immunology and molecular biology with my clinical interests in gastroenterology. I joined Dr. Eugene Chang’s lab at the University of Chicago, which focuses on host microbe interactions in the gastrointestinal tract. My work focused on the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. I look forward to being able to continue pursuing my interests in molecular biology and immunology within the field of gastroenterology during my training as a physician-scientist at Northwestern.

Lowie Van Asche

Education:

  • BS: Maastricht University, Medicine (2007)
  • MD: Maastricht University Medical School (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

After completing medical school at Maastricht University School of Medicine in the Netherlands, I decided to join the Duke Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Center (DCMRC) as a post-doctoral research fellow from July 2010 until July 2013. Under the mentorship of Raymond J. Kim, MD (co-director of the DCMRC), I focused on using cardiovascular MRI as a tool to study the physiology of coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndromes. 

My research has focused on three specific projects. The first focuses on physiologic processes in a large animal model of ischemic myocardial injury. Specifically, I am studying the time course and size change of myocardial edema after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). In the same animal model, I developed a new MRI protocol to investigate the three-dimensional characteristics of the area at risk and myocardial salvage during AMI. The main goal was to create three distinct myocardial contrast concentrations delineating viable area at risk (AAR), infarcted AAR and remote myocardium. This technique can be used to more accurately assess the effect of new therapies aimed at reducing infarct size. My second project focuses on the clinical and imaging predictors of microvascular obstruction (MO), a marker of poor prognosis in AMI. In a population of over 300 patients, I correlated infarct age with a decrease in MO prevalence and found that characteristics of infarct morphology were important predictors of MO. Finally, I am studying patients with AMI to ascertain the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging characteristics associated with LV thrombus. 

Joshua Waitzman

Education:

  • BS: Brown University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interests: Nephrology

Research Interests:

I performed my PhD research in the laboratory of Dr. Sarah Rice, studying how the molecular motor kinesin-5 provides the pushing force required to separate dividing cells in mitosis. By determining the structural steps that allow kinesin-5 to push on the microtubule-based mitotic spindle, we identified key differences between the first and subsequent steps of the motor, illustrating an example of molecular memory. We also found that phosphorylation of kinesin-5 substantially alters its affinity for a small molecule inhibitor. This novel regulatory mechanism opens doors to new therapeutic strategies to inhibit not only kinesin-5 in particular, but protein-based drug targets in general. 

I was fascinated by kidney physiology in medical school. Nephrology as a specialty combines the basic science of disease mechanism and the applied physiology of engineered kidney replacement therapies with long-term physician-patient relationships focused on preventative care. I hope to apply my background in biochemistry and biophysics to develop improved in vitro systems to model kidney function and better understand the cytoskeleton of glomerular cells. The supportive environment within Northwestern’s Physician-Scientist Training Program is allowing me to lay the groundwork of a career at the intersection of basic science and clinical care.

Jonathan Xia

Education:

  • BA: Washington University in St. Louis (2010)
  • MD/PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (2017)
  • Subspecialty interests: Gastroenterology

Research Interests:

For my PhD, I studied obesity and metabolic syndrome, joining the lab of Philipp Scherer, the director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at UT Southwestern. For my thesis research, I investigated the function of ceramides, a type of signaling lipid, and their role in the development of hepatic insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I developed acute, genetic means to modulate ceramide levels in the adult mouse that revealed novel insights into the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms linking nutrient sensing to metabolic regulation.

​My research interests focus on understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes and obesity-associated comorbidities. Lipotoxicity, which results from the accumulation of lipids in non-adipose tissues, is a common cause of obesity-related complications. I plan to investigate the mechanism of lipotoxicity-induced organ dysfunction, which ultimately results in the metabolic syndrome that complicates diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, I also intend to identify and study key lipid mediators of insulin resistance in different tissues, ranging from adipose tissue to the liver and heart. I plan to do this through both disease- and patient-oriented research.


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Department of Neurology

Yara Mikhaeil-Demo

Education:

  • BS: University of California, Los Angeles, Neuroscience (2007)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2012)
  • Subspecialty interest: Neurology

Research Interests:

Investigating predictors of stroke after cardiac surgery and the long-term outcomes, including quality of life.

Neil Nadkarni

Education:

  • BA: Cornell University, Biological Sciences (2009)
  • Medical Student Fellowship: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2012-2013)
  • MD: Boston University (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Epilepsy, Cognitive Disorders, Gender Differences in Neurology

Research Interests:

My interest in further understanding mechanisms of disease etiology with long-term hopes of improving outcomes makes the PSTP a vital outlet for channeling my long-term aspirations of being a clinician-scientist. I was first interested in research by doing a program at Boston University with Dr. Andrew Budson at the Boston VA, where we looked at reducing false alarms using metacognitive cues in the Mild Cognitive Impairment/Alzheimers Disease population. During my third year, while witnessing an adverse patient outcome, I found myself intrigued by mechanisms of disease in preeclampsia. I received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Student Fellowship for 2012-2013, where I further fleshed out my research interest under the guidance of Dr. Ananth Karumanchi and Dr. Augustine Rajakumar in limiting pathologic phenomena of this condition of pregnancy. This experience convinced me to enter science, as I felt no better intellectual exhilaration than discovering mechanisms of disease and to translating these observations to potential patient therapies. Lastly, I also did work under the guidance of Dr. Georgia Montouris in medical school looking at major congenital malformations in children of pregnant women on antiepileptic drugs. I hope to further contribute to our understanding of neurologic disease over my time in the PSTP and beyond.

Bill Nobis

Education:

  • BS: Michigan State University (2004)
  • PhD: Vanderbilt University, Neuroscience (2009)
  • MD: Vanderbilt University (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Neurology

Research Interests:

My interest is in elucidating mechanisms of epileptogenesis. Many cases of temporal lobe epilepsy are refractory to medical treatment, highlighting the need for further study in order to develop novel treatments. Both human pathology and various animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy are marked by hippocampal dentate granule cell hyperexcitability and extensive loss of dentate hilar mossy cells. I am interested in the network formed between hippocampal granule neurons and hilar mossy cells in epileptic states. I also maintain an interest in the role of psychological factors, namely stress and anxiety, in epilepsy and seizures.


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Department of Pathology

Ryan Jones

Education:

  • MD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
  • PhD: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Kate Poropatich

Education:

  • MHS: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (2009)
  • PhD: The George Washington University School of Medicine (2014)
  • Subspecialty interests: Surgical Pathology, Immunology and Carcinogenesis

Research Interests:

Over the course of several laboratory internships at places that include the NIH and a year-out of basic science laboratory research in between third and fourth years of medical school, I am excited to be on the physician-scientist career path. My past research experience has specifically focused on the role of the host’s immunologic and genetic makeup in the context of HIV-susceptbility, disease progression and the response to HIV vaccine regimens. Most recently, I have studied the HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell clonal subpopulations in human subjects that were part of Phase II HIV-1 vaccine trials in Thailand. This work also included measuring immunoglobin subtype recognition of HIV envelope antigens, specifically to variable region 2 that is part of the virus' gp120 antigen. With a grant from the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2010, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to study the neutralizing antibody response to Dengue virus-infected dendritic cells in patients that were at various clinical stages of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. In 2009, I worked in a lab at the NIAID looking at the immunophenotyping of CD8+ T cells from HIV-infected Long-Term Non-Progressors, an area I have published as part of my master's thesis in Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. As a PSTP resident in the Department of Pathology, my focus is on surgical pathology and how host immunology and genetic factors contribute to solid tumor development and metastasis. I will bridge the lessons I have learned from lentiviral pathogenesis to solid tumor development, with particular interests in adenocarcinomas in organs of the gastrointestinal tract and other systems.


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Department of Pediatrics

Kyle MacQuarrie

Education:

  • BS: University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Psychology (2003)
  • PhD: University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Molecular and Cellular Biology (2011)
  • MD/PhD: University of Washington, School of Medicine (2014)

Research Interests:

My graduate work was is in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Tapscott at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, working on the pediatric tumor rhabdomyosarcoma. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a pediatric tumor of skeletal muscle that fails to undergo the normal process of skeletal muscle development, a failure that permits the tumor cells to continue to grow. My doctoral work demonstrated that multiple proteins that help regulate normal muscle development can be utilized in the tumor cells to promote their development and stop their growth. My work also demonstrated that the proteins affect each other and integrate their effects through a microRNA that serves as an important single point of control that functions to "lock in" the process of development. I extended my work to examine the genomic landscape in the tumor cells and show it is highly similar to what is seen in normal muscle cells, but with a relatively small number of key differences that help explain the ability of the tumors to continue to grow. Taken together, this suggests 1) there are multiple potential cancer therapy targets in rhabdomyosarcoma that would function not by killing pediatric tumor cells, but by forcing development in those cells and halting their growth, and 2) that studying the biology of normal muscle cells can help identify such targets. In the future, I plan to continue to focus my research efforts on understanding the biological underpinnings of pediatric tumors, as well as looking for novel treatment approaches.

Divakar Mithal

Education:

  • BS: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MD: Northwestern University
  • PhD: Northwestern University
  • Specialty: Neurophysiology

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Department of Radiology

Bradley Allen

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mechanical Engineering (2007)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2011)

Research Interests:

My research interests include novel applications of clinical and pre-clinical cardiovascular MRI, quantitative hemodynamic assessment of cardiovascular disease and MRI acceleration techniques. I was first introduced to cardiovascular MRI as a medical student and pursued research with Dr. James Carr. Following an internship in Internal Medicine at Northwestern, I worked for two years as a Clinical Research Associate under the mentorship of Dr. Carr and Dr. Michael Markl. A large majority of my work has focused on using three-dimensional time resolved phase contrast (4D flow) MRI to evaluate quantitative and qualitative hemodynamic changes in the aorta that result from cardiac or valvular disease. We have studied patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as well as adult and pediatric patients with bicuspid aortic valve using this imaging sequence. Additionally, I have evaluated the impact on image quality, quantitative performance and scan time of iterative reconstruction acceleration approaches in clinical cardiac MRI. My most recent project focuses on using MRI myocardial tissue characterization to improve diagnosis and risk-stratification in patients at risk for developing chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity during the course of cancer treatment. I am also currently a student in the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program here at Northwestern.


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Department of Surgery

Christina Minami

Education:

  • BA: Harvard University, English and American Literature and Language (2004)
  • MFA: University of Iowa, Fiction Writing (2010)
  • MD: David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2011)
  • Subspecialty interests: Surgical Quality Improvement and Outcomes

Research Interests:

I'm currently working as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at the Centers for Healthcare Studies and primarily working with Dr. Karl Bilimoria, studying surgical quality improvement and outcomes, focusing on soft tissue tumors (breast, melanoma, sarcoma). I'm also studying the effects of state malpractice environments on surgical outcomes, working to address issues with public reporting and contributing to the startup of the Illinois State Quality Improvement Collaborative. I'm also currently working toward a master's degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research here at Northwestern.

Richard Rink

Education:

  • BS: Vanderbilt University, Biomedical Engineering (2005)
  • MD: Indiana University School of Medicine (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Medtech Innovation

Research Interests:

I completed my research at Stanford and am interested in combining medical device innovation with improving patient care. I have co-founded a company with an MBA candidate where we developed and validated a web-based application to evaluate novel medical technology. My main focus is medtech innovation. I co-invented and licensed a novel extraperitoneal hernia plug to Morris Innovative, Inc., now known as the PerQPlug. I am also developing a device that stimulates intra-abdominal fluoroscopic imaging.

Joel Sternbach

Education:

  • BA: University of Wisconsin, Madison (2006)
  • MD/MBA: Tufts University School of Medicine (2011)

Research Interests:

My research focuses on disorders of esophageal physiology and outcomes following interventions for benign esophageal disease. As the Bechily-Hodes Fellow in Esophagology, I am working under the mentorship of Dr. Malcolm DeCamp and Dr. John Pandolfino. Additional projects include evaluation of novel endoscopic surgical techniques (Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy) with Dr. Eric Hungness, as well as surgical education and general thoracic research with Dr. Shari Meyerson (error avoidance curriculum in a minimally invasive thoracic surgery simulator).

Mike Wandling

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2006)
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (2011)
  • Subspecialty interests: Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care

Research Interests:

My research interests focus on trauma and emergency surgery, improving surgical outcomes and optimizing the delivery of surgical care. I am currently studying the pre-hospital transport of gunshot wound and stab wound victims, the impact that pre-hospital transport has on their morbidity and mortality and identifying ways their pre-hospital care can be optimized. I am also working on a project examining the impact of public reporting on clinical outcomes and quality improvement, a project for which I received a three-year NIGMS/NIH F32 award to complete. In addition to these projects, I am also helping to lead a 15-hospital Emergency General Surgery National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pilot Study through the American College of Surgeons aimed at analyzing 30-day outcomes for the management of common emergency surgery pathologies. My other ongoing research projects include examining various outcomes following hip fracture, spinal cord injury and traumatic amputation. I am working as a Clinical Research Scholar at the American College of Surgeons and as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Healthcare Studies in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Northwestern University. I am currently working on a master’s of Science in Health Services and Outcomes Research at Northwestern University.

Molly A. Wasserman

Education:

  • BA: Williams College
  • MD: University of Vermont, College of Medicine
  • Subspecialty interest: Surgery

Research Interests:

My primary research objective is to develop a novel biomimetic nanoparticle that will target to the site of vascular arterial injury and prevent arterial restenosis. Under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Melina Kibbe, I am working in a multidisciplinary team with materials scientists from the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine to engineer a novel and highly innovative targeted, biocompatible nanoparticle that, when systemically administered, is capable of targeting to the site of arterial injury and delivering a therapeutic payload to that site. Additionally, this bio-inspired therapeutic delivery vehicle will be a high density lipoprotein mimetic that will efflux cholesterol similar to native HDL, thus providing a molecular platform that combines multiple therapeutic approaches into one delivery vehicle.


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Department of Urology

Diana Bowen

Education:

  • BS: Harvard University (2004)
  • MD: University of Michigan Medical School (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Pediatric Urology

Research Interests:

In medical school, I worked with Dr. David Bloom and Dr. John Park on clinical outcomes of high-risk myelomeningocele patients, specifically focusing on their bladder pressures and potential interventions to delay the need for major reconstructive surgery to protect kidney function. I am now in my urology residency and have joined the laboratory of Dr. Edward M. Gong to focus on bladder dysfunction from obstruction, the cause of kidney failure in many pediatric patients. To this end, I am using a mouse model of obstruction to determine the mechanisms behind pathologic bladder degeneration and the role of androgens in this process, with the goal of developing therapeutic agents to prevent loss of bladder function and promote regeneration of healthy bladder tissue in children affected by posterior urethral valves or neurogenic bladder.

Amanda C. Chi

Education:

  • AB: Princeton University, Chemistry (2006)
  • MD: David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: Reconstructive Urology

Research Interests:

My primary interest during my research year is to learn the skills to be able to identify unmet medical needs, invent, design and commercialize medical devices. As an Innovation Fellow at Center for Device Development at Northwestern University, we are using curriculum developed by Dr. Dan McCarthy (another PSTP scholar) and Dr. David Mahvi. This year, with a group of engineers and clinicians from different specialties, we are working toward a new device in dermatology. In urologic research, I am working on understanding the risk factors for infectious complications of patients who present with symptomatic ureteral stones and undergo primary stone treatments.

Daniel J. Mazur

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Molecular and Cellular Biology (2007)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Urology

Research Interests:

As an undergraduate, I worked with Dr. Richard Tapping studying the sensing of microbial cell wall components by Toll-like receptors. This resulted in a senior thesis that won the best undergraduate thesis in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. My interests shifted toward genitourinary disease during medical school, and I matched at the Urology residency program at Northwestern. I am currently interested in examining the importance of prostatic fibrosis for the development of lower urinary tract symptoms seen in both benign prostatic hyperplasia and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome with Dr. Praveen Thumbikat. We are currently examining this in a mouse model. Additionally, I am interested in assessing the ability of ultrasound elastography to assist in the diagnosis and management of urinary tract obstruction and erectile dysfunction.


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