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Department of Emergency Medicine

Lauren Graham

Education:

  • BA: Duke University, Chemistry (2003)
  • PhD: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Molecular and Cellular Pathology (2010)
  • MD: University of Alabama at Birmingham (2011)

Research Interests:

My graduate work was in the laboratory of Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, PhD, who concentrated on the role of the extracellular matrix on fibrosis and wound healing. My work was focused on the molecular regulation of fibrillar collagens and their interactions with a chaperone protein called calreticulin. We found that calreticulin levels positively correlate with transcription and processing of fibrillar collagens in a cell culture model. Here at Northwestern, I have joined John Varga's laboratory in Rheumatology. His lab investigates pathways and molecular expression patterns in scleroderma. My research focus will be on morphea, a fibrotic skin disease that is thought to have a similar pathogenesis to scleroderma, although little is known. In the future, I am also interested in wound healing of the skin and the pathogenesis behind the increased risk of malignant transformation in the setting of chronic inflammation.

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

Mazen Albaghdadi

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Chicago, Bioengineering (2002)
  • MD: University of Iowa, Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow (2008)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I conducted my undergraduate research in tissue and bone regeneration in the lab of Dr. Jeremy Mao at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In medical school, as a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow, I worked in the labs of Drs. Francois Abboud, William Haynes, and Allyn Mark at the University of Iowa examining the autonomic control of blood pressure in animal models and humans. Currently, I am exploring the use of biomaterials (nitric oxide releasing citrate polymers) for use as arterial stents and endovascular drug delivery vehicles using novel endovascular devices, and the development of targeted nanotherapeutics for atherosclerosis regression in the labs of Drs. Melina Kibbe and Guillermo Ameer. My ultimate goal is to become an interventional cardiologist specializing in the development and application of novel biomaterials and devices for the treatment of a range of cardiovascular diseases.

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.

Michael Burke

Education:

  • BS: Villanova University, Comprehensive (1999)
  • MD: Thomas Jefferson University (2004)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

During college and graduate school, I performed research in molecular and cellular biology. In addition, I gained an appreciation for the intricacies and importance of research to the fields of biology and medicine. During medical school, I again performed research in molecular biology, this time, molecular cardiology. This experience though was different. I was interacting with patients and subsequently performing research in the lab. This is the essence of the newly evolving field of translational medicine: to be able to move from bench to bedside and back with the goal of more rapidly integrating the rapid advances in the basic sciences with clinical advances for our patients. I plan on performing research in molecular cardiology with the ultimate goal of establishing a career in translational medicine.

Maxfield Flynn

Education:

  • BS: Tulane University, Cell and Molecular Biology/Physics (2001)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Cell and Molecular Biology (2007)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Endocrinology

Research Interests:

My dissertation research was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Mary Hunzicker-Dunn at Northwestern University. In her lab, I studied the actions of luteinizing hormone (LH) to induce ovulation and luteinization of ovarian follicles. Particularly, I characterized LH receptor signal transduction in a rat primary granulosa cell culture model. My work described a rapid and targeted phospho-regulation of the AKAP microtubule-associated protein (MAP)2D via the cAMP/PKA pathway in granulosa cells. I found that the MAP2D protein performs a critical scaffolding function for signaling and regulation by kinases and phosphatases in this pathway. Through this research, I developed a strong background in cell culture and signal transduction which I hope to use in my future research endeavors.

 

Andrew Gawron

Education:

  • BS: Truman State University, Chemistry (1996)
  • PhD: University of Kansas, Pharmaceutical Chemistry (2001)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interests: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Hematology/Oncology

Research Interests:

Prior to medical school I completed a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and a short post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Biology. During medical school, my interest in clinical epidemiology grew and I worked on various projects within the Department of Preventive Medicine. Although I was no longer doing basic science, the cognitive and writing skills I developed during my graduate and post-doc work proved invaluable. I am currently a Gastroenterology Fellow within the Department of Medicine and also a Fellow in the Institute for Health Care Studies, Integrated Fellowship in Health Services and Outcomes Research. My research interests are currently focused on patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Specific research projects include a telephone nursing intervention in patients referred to Northwestern for refractory GERD symptoms, the determination of PPI prescribing patterns in Veterans with GERD, and the incorporation of web based tools (in collaboration with NUBIC) within the Esophageal Center to develop an infrastructure to meet the challenges associated with patient enrollment, data collection, and tracking for comparative effectiveness research.

 

Beixin He

Education:

  • BS: University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MD/PhD: University of Iowa
  • Subspecialty Interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my PhD studies in Molecular Physiology at Iowa under the supervision of Dr. Mark E. Anderson. The Anderson laboratory studies cellular signaling mechanisms in heart with a principle focus on the multifunctional Ca2+ and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). CaMKII mediates excitation-contraction coupling in cardiomyocytes and launches pro-arrhythmic and cardiomyopathic cellular responses. My research focused on the interplay between CaMKII and aldosterone. Aldosterone is elevated in patients after myocardial infarction (MI), and aldosterone receptor antagonist drugs are clinically valuable for the treatment of patients with heart failure. I studied CaMKII oxidation and activation in mice models following MI and with elevated aldosterone levels. I have a clinical interest in treating patients with heart failure, in particular to identify patients most at risk to develop heart failure, before the onset of decompensation. In the future, I hope integrate my research and clinical interests by investigating the molecular signals that manifest in subclinical disease. I’m excited to become a member of the PSTP community at Northwestern and look forward to the next phase of training.

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.

Wenyu Huang

Education:

  • MD: Beijing Medical University (1998)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Neuroscience (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Endocrinology

Research Interests:

My PhD dissertation research was investigating the role of the hypothalamic glucose-sensing ATP sensitive (KATP) channels in the regulation of GnRH secretion by ovarian steroids and negative energy balance. I found out that estrogen and progesterone up-regulate KATP channel expression in the mediobasal hypothalamus, and central inhibition of these channels restore the GnRH pulses, thus providing a novel mechanism for the negative feedback actions of the ovarian steroids on GnRH secretion likely by hyperpolarizing the GnRH neurons. I also found out that although the hypothalamic KATP channels can serve as central glucose sensor, they are not involved in the inhibition of GnRH pulsatile secretion by fasting. Currently, I am interested in the regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis by circadian rhythm. Recent studies have shown that disruption of the molecular clocks leads to hyperglycemia, hyperleptinemia, obesity and hypertriglyceridemia, reminiscent of the so called metabolic syndrome. Since the molecular clocks are present in almost all tissues, my current research is to pinpoint the tissue specificity and the molecular mechanisms underlying the adverse metabolic effects resulting from disruption of the molecular clock system.

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.

Nils Johnson

Education:

  • BSc: University of British Columbia, Physics and Computer Science (2000)
  • MD: Columbia University (2004)
  • MS: Northwestern University (2009), Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Subspecialty Interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I joined the PSTP program at Northwestern in 2004-2005 as an intern, completing two years of internal medicine followed by three years of general cardiology, one year of interventional cardiology training, and one year of dedicated cardiac PET research. During my residency and fellowship, I also completed a master's degree from the Department of Preventive Medicine. Overall I enjoy applying my background in physics, mathematics, and computer science to medical problems.

My academic focus is clinical non-acute atherosclerotic coronary disease, from patient to pill to perfusion to PCI. This year I joined my long-term mentor Lance Gould as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Weatherhead PET Center of the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. The PSTP program at Northwestern gave me complete and rigorous training for a career in academic cardiology.

Sadiya Khan

Education:

  • BS: Northwestern University
  • MD: Northwestern University (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

I completed my undergraduate studies from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. I subsequently completed my graduate medical education at the Feinberg School of Medicine as part of the Honors Program in Medical Education. My current research interests are focused on the protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and its potential role in obesity and cardiometabolic diseases (eg. coronary artery disease, heart failure). Plasma PAI-1 levels significantly increase with increasing weight and burden of cardiovascular disease. In addition to its prognostic value, the accumulation of PAI-1 in human arterial walls of patients with diabetes and atherosclerotic plaques suggest the biologic plausibility of PAI-1 as a fundamental contributor to the development of cardiovascular disease, particularly in the obese. In addition, animal data have demonstrated that inhibition of PAI-1 with a small molecule antagonist prevents the development of obesity and associated vascular aging suggesting that this may be a promising novel preventive strategy to modulate and protect against aging-related cardiometabolic diseases. As part of the PSTP program, I have been very fortunate to develop this research project with the mentorship of Douglas E. Vaughan, MD, Chair, Department of Medicine, an international expert in vascular biology and PAI-1, and Donald Lloyd-Jones MD, ScM, Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, a thought-leader in cardiovascular epidemiology. In addition, to help support my research endeavors, I have successfully competed for and received funding through career development awards from the Heart Failure Society of America and the Northwestern Woman’s Board.

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.

Ben Korman

Education:

  • BS: Ohio State University, Biology (2004)
  • MD: Ohio State University College of Medicine (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Rheumatology

Research Interests:

I have a longstanding interest in immunity and autoimmunity. My research has focused on trying to better understand the mechanisms by which the immune system attacks the body, most recently through investigating the genetic basis of autoimmunity in the laboratory of Dr Daniel Kastner at the National Institutes of Health. I hope eventually to do clinical and translational research which will help make these types of studies more clinically relevant. As a scientist, I want to continue to do work which will provide fundamental insights into the etiology of complex rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, as a physician, I hope to utilize this new knowledge to elucidate novel treatments and individually tailor treatment regimens that will maximize efficacy and minimize potential side effects.

Brian Layden

Education:

  • BS: Loyola University
  • PhD: Loyola University
  • MD: University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Current Position: Instructor of Medicine in Endocrinology

Research Interests:

My research focuses on identifying and exploring novel drug targets for type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the insulin resistance observed in the setting of obesity leads to pancreatic islets adapting by increasing insulin secretion and production. Identifying the pathways that mediate the response of islets to insulin resistance is needed. Because of the importance of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as major drug targets and their known role in islet function, research during my fellowship focused on identifying novel GPCRs that may mediate this response in islets. From this research, we observed two novel GPCRs, free fatty acid receptor-2 and -3 (FFAR2 and FFAR3) that may have a role in this process. Importantly, little is known about the biology of these receptors. Because of this, the focus of my research now is to explore the role of these receptors in diabetes.

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.

 

David Montgomery

Education:

  • BS: Morehouse College, Biology (1996)
  • PhD: University of Illinois, Physiology & Biophysics (2001)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2005)

Research Interests:

My previous work sought to enlarge our understanding of the role of the cardiac troponin regulatory complex in physiologic myocardial function (with Dr. R. John Solaro), in hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathies, as well as in the eventual progression to end-stage pump failure (with Dr. Peter M. Buttrick).   Now, my research interests have been broadened to include investigation of the cardiovascular system as a whole, with particular focus on translational questions.  Under the tutelage of Dr. Douglas Vaughan, I will study the role of the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1), a key regulator of the fibrinolytic system, and its role in ischemic cardiovascular disease.  In particular, I plan to contribute to our understanding of how PAI-1 modulates the vascular and myocardial housekeeping processes (i.e., myocardial scar formation) that occur after ischemic injury.

My overall goal for training in cardiology is to merge my clinical and research interests.  To this end, I will focus my clinical cardiology fellowship on the cardiac patient with atherosclerotic coronary and peripheral artery disease.  As a clinical cardiologist, I will specialize in percutaneous, as well as novel medical approaches to this common disease entity.  Ultimately, my career goal is to help advance our state of thinking on critical issues in cardiovascular medicine through innovative patient care and translational research.

R. Kannan Mutharasan

Education:

  • BS: Northwestern University, Biomedical Engineering (1999)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2003)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Cardiology

Research Interests:

My long-term research goal is to better understand the mechanisms that lead to heart failure.  Heart failure's prevalence makes it an important problem; its growing prevalence makes it an urgent one.  This all appeals to the clinician in me. The scientist in me is fascinated by the complexity of the biology—a failing heart evokes hypertrophy, fibrosis, apoptosis, and myriad other events we have only begun to piece together. How does the heart fail, and how much of that failure can we undo so that our patients may live long, healthy lives? These are the types of "big picture" questions I want to spend my career investigating.

Egon Ozer

Education:

  • BS: St. Cloud State University, Biotechnology (2000)
  • MD/PhD: University of Iowa, Molecular Biology (2006

Research Interests:

I conducted my graduate research in the laboratory of Dr Joseph Zabner, MD. The primary focus of my research was the prevention of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. I directed my efforts at blocking Pseudomonas quorum sensing, a process whereby Pseudomonas and other bacteria regulate their gene expression in response to chemical signaling molecules, acyl-homoserine lactones secreted and detected by the bacteria. In P. aeruginosa, quorum sensing controls the expression of genes necessary for effective biofilm formation. Pseudomonas biofilms are colonies of bacteria within a self-secreted polysaccharide matrix that are highly resistant to biocides and antibiotics. Pseudomonas biofilms are medically relevant as they are shown to form in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients and contribute to significant morbidity and mortality in this population. My hypothesis was that degradation of P. aeruginosa acyl-homoserine lactones by mammalian tissues would interrupt quorum sensing and prevent biofilm formation. During my research I discovered that human airway epithelia and other mammalian tissues possess an innate ability to degrade acyl-homoserine lactones. I further characterized this as an enzymatic activity and traced the activity to a family of proteins, the paraoxonases. I further found that mammalian paraoxonase activity was both necessary and sufficient to both degrade quorum sensing molecules as well as prevent Pseudomonas biofilm formation and that common polymorphisms within one member of this family, paraoxonase 2, had significant effects on the ability of the enzyme to block quorum sensing. My future research goals include further study into interactions between hosts and pathogens, as well as molecular mechanisms by which humans are able to protect themselves from infection.

Shawn Rose

Education:

  • BS: University of Miami, Psychology (1999)
  • PhD: University of Miami, Immunology (2005)
  • MD: University of Miami (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Rheumatology

Research Interests:

The burden of cardiovascular disease amongst patients with rheumatic diseases is striking. I am interested in modeling atherosclerosis in transgenic mice that are predisposed toward autoimmunity.

The logical next step will be to use molecular profiling to validate our animal specimens against samples from human patients. Ultimately, I hope to identify new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for reducing atherosclerosis in humans.

Whitney Stevens

Education:

  • BS: Johns Hopkins University, Biology (2002)
  • MS: Johns Hopkins University, Cellular and Molecular Biology (2002)
  • PhD: University of Virginia, Microbiology/Immunology (2008)
  • MD: University of Virginia (2010)

Research Interests:

I am interested in the clinical application of basic immunology, particularly with regards to asthma and allergic disease.  My undergraduate and master’s training analyzed the distribution of histamine receptors on inflammatory and structural cells.  My doctorate dissertation examined memory CD8+ T cell regulation of Respiratory Syncytial Virus vaccine-enhanced disease.  Currently, my research focuses on investigating the clinical characteristics as well as the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease.

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.


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Department of Neurology

Danny Bega

Education:

  • BA: University of Pennsylvania, Biology & Psychology
  • MD: Rush University Medical College
  • Neurology Residency: Harvard Medical School, Mass General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital
  • Associate Director, Neurology Residency Program
  • Subspecialty interests: Neurology, Movement Disorders

Research Interests:

I earned my medical degree at Rush University Medical College in 2009. I then completed residency in Neurology through Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital). I now see patients with movement disorders as part of a 2-year clinical fellowship at Northwestern. My primary research interest is the study of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (exercise, meditation, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and other modalities) for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. With quality-of-life as a major end-point, I expect to find new and innovative ways of improving the health and daily lives of my patients.  I hope to expand the field of neurology beyond the boundaries of Western science, and I am confident that significant progress with regards to disability can be achieved through integration of philosophical principals found in many alternative medicine modalities. Through my pursuit of a Master's of Science in Clinical Investigations I plan to approach these modalities with scientific rigor and improve the quality of life of patients with movement disorders in measurable ways.

Deepak Kalra

Education:

  • MBBS: Maulana Azad Medical College, University of Delhi, India (2003)
  • MPH: Harvard School of Public Health (2004)
  • PhD: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2014)

Research Interests:

I did medical school at the University of Delhi (Maulana Azad Medical College), India. During medical school I did research work in tuberculosis (TB), studying health seeking delay by patients as well as delay in correctly diagnosing TB by physicians. Interestingly we found this delay varies based on the site of TB i.e. pulmonary Vs extrapulmonary as well as the fact whether it is a private clinic or a city hospital. This small study helped me realize that an in-depth knowledge of evidence based medicine will be essential if I hope to contribute in finding better treatments. I came to US to do an MPH at Harvard School of Public Health where I concentrated in quantitative methods. This involved an in-depth study of epidemiology, biostatistics and clinical trials.

This was also the time when I learnt about the MD-PhD programs and wished I was part of one but they are non-existent in my country. I felt that the rigorous curriculum and the depth of focus of a PhD would provide me with a strong foundation in neuroscience research. My doctoral research with Professor Craig Montell focused on using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a genetic model to elucidate mechanisms of phototransduction. We identified a novel pathway through which Rhodopsin couples with a small G-protein Rac2 to mediate arrestin translocation. This pathway assists in photoreceptor adaptation when an organism moves from a dimly-lit to brightly-lit environment. I later studied the visual pigment metabolic pathway by creating gene knockouts in two novel retinal dehydrogenases mutations of which have been found in hereditary forms of retinal degeneration. In addition, I conducted a very productive genetic screen using RNA interference (RNAi) to identify novel genes involved in retinal- and neuro-degeneration.

I remain interested in continuing basic science research in a neurological disease area during my residency and one of the reasons why I decided to come to Northwestern was the Physician-Scientist Training Program that nurtures physicians to help them transition into independent investigators as well as academic physicians. This dual track of a physician and scientist is longer than a conventional MD track and has its unique challenges. I am confident that the structured and supported environment that the program offers will be crucial for my success.

Daniela Menichella

Education:

  • MD: University of Milan (1994)
  • PhD: University of Milan, Neuroscience (2003)

Research Interests:

The basic question that has driven my career as a clinician scientist is the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying hereditary demyelinating and acquired peripheral neuropathies. I had several years of experience in basic science research, at Wayne State University and at Harvard Medical School, studying the biology of myelin and the pathogenesis of demyelinating disease in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System.

In order to be able to pursue translational research, I started the Neurology Residency Program at Northwestern University. During this time, I acquired the clinical skills and the knowledge required to become a Neurologist. I had particular interest in Neuromuscular Diseases and Peripheral Neuropathies including Painful Peripheral Neuropathies. In the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy Comprehensive Care Clinic at Northwestern University, I had the possibility to see many patients affected by painful diabetic neuropathy and I realized how little I could help with the current therapies. Given my background in molecular biology of peripheral nerve it was evident that only a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain in diabetes can lead to a potential treatment for this prevalent affliction.

In the rich academic environment of Northwestern University, I cultivated my interest in chemokine and neuropathic pain in diabetes. I learned about the role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of pain, when listening to a seminar of Dr. Richard Miller, a pioneer in the field. The extremely supportive Neurology Department Chairman, Dr. Kessler and Neurology Residency Program Director, Dr. Simuni, allowed me to start to investigate these questions during my residency program. In fact the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recognized the importance of physician scientist education and Northwestern Memorial Hospital ’s leadership in this area by awarding the Department of Neurology the highly competitive NINDS Neuroscience Research Education Program at Northwestern (R25 grant) for 5 years. The R25 grant is designed to foster the development of clinician neuroscientists in the Departments of Neurology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (NUFSM) to ensure that highly trained scientists will make future advances that lead to a reduction in the burden of neurological disease.

I was the first R25 grant awardees and in the PGY-3 of my Neurology Residency program I started to work in Prof. Richard Miller’s  laboratory. My interest in painful diabetic neuropathy, inspired me to explore the role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in diabetes.

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the USA and neuropathic pain is present in 3 of 10 individuals with diabetes with a substantial impact on the quality of life. Despite this significant impact and prevalence, current therapies for neuropathic pain are only partially effective in diabetic patients. Moreover, the pathogenesis and the molecular mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain associated with diabetes are not well understood.

We hypothesized that chemokine and in particular stromal-derived-factor-1 (SDF-1) and its receptor (CXCR4) signaling has a role in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in diabetes. In our preliminary results, we demonstrated that intra-peritoneal administration of the specific CXCR4 antagonist, AMD3100, reverses neuropathic pain in a mouse model of diabetes type-II, the High-Fat-Diet (HFD)-induced diabetic mouse demonstrating that SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling is necessary for induction and maintenance of neuropathic pain in this animal model of diabetes. Following these observations we were interested to investigate the consequences of CXCR4/SDF-1 signaling on HFD-induced diabetic DRG sensory neurons excitability.

Dr Miller’s laboratory and others have already shown that activation of chemokine receptors CXCR4 by its ligand chemokine SDF-1 results in excitation of DRG sensory neurons and in an increase in intracellular calcium concentration in animal models of neuropathic pain. Therefore we, acutely isolated DRG sensory neurons from HFD-induced diabetic mice and performed calcium imaging studies as previously described. We were able to show that application of SDF-1 chemokine increases intracellular calcium concentration in HFD-induced diabetic DRG sensory neurons, demonstrating the functional significance of CXCR4 receptor expression in DRG sensory neurons in neuropathic pain in diabetes.

My experience as R25 fellow and PTSD scholar was extremely important as it allowed me to obtain these exciting preliminary results, which I have presented at international meetings and will provide the basis for a publication but also for the application for independent mentored research awards (K08 grant). This will facilitate my transition from resident to clinician-scientist.  Most importantly, the results which I found in these years of research fellowship will shed light on the molecular mechanisms of neuropathic pain and open interesting avenues for translational research.

Marc Slutzky

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Electrical Engineering
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Biomedical Engineering (2000)
  • MD: Northwestern University Medical School (2002)

Research Interests:

This is my 18th year at Northwestern. My first eight years here were spent in the Medical Scientist Training Program. My dissertation research with David Mogul, PhD, examined the application of nonlinear dynamical systems theory to characterization and control of epileptiform activity in the rat hippocampus. The ultimate goal of this research was to investigate whether more sophisticated stimulation paradigms might allow us to stop epileptic seizures via electrical stimulation of the seizure focus. I showed first that in vitro epileptiform bursting had both deterministic and stochastic (random) features. I also showed that application of small, precisely-timed electrical stimuli to the hippocampus could modify the bursting pattern from a chaotic one to a (nearly) periodic one. In doing this, I implemented a novel technique for adaptively tracking the system’s “fixed point” in state space, and also developed two novel methods (state-point forcing and short time expansion) to assess for determinism in time-series data.

I chose to stay at Northwestern for my neurology residency in large part because of the support and flexibility the program provided to do research during residency. Although neurology was not affiliated with the PSTP during my residency training, I benefited greatly from the flexible scheduling and advice from our program director and chairman. During my residency training, I worked with Dr. Lee Miller for a total of eight months, and I have continued to work in his lab as an Instructor and now an Assistant Professor in Neurology. We are interested in the field of neural engineering, specifically in brain-machine interface (BMI). The ultimate goal of this research is to enable locked-in or tetraplegic patients to communicate and interact with their environment. Cortical signals are recorded, decoded using various signal processing techniques, and then used to control a computer cursor, and eventually will be used to electrically stimulate muscles so that patients can use their own arms again. The large amount of research time I spent during residency enabled me to successfully apply for an NIH K08 award for this work. Ultimately I plan to transition this bench research into translational work, and I hope it will vastly improve the quality of life of motor impaired individuals. It is gratifying to finally achieve my aspirations of a combined career in clinical medicine and research. I am grateful to the neurology department at Northwestern for facilitating my career path to physician-scientist.

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.

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

Peng Ji

Education:

  • BS/MD: Peking University (2000)
  • PhD: Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2006)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Hematopathology

Research Interests:

I am a MD/PhD tenure track assistant professor of pathology. I have extensive training in molecular and cell biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, as well as clinical hematopathology training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I started my independent research career in January 2011 after I finished my postdoctoral training in Dr. Harvey Lodish's laboratory at the Whitehead Institute. The research in my laboratory focuses on the characterizations of novel genes in the regulation of mammalian erythropoiesis; and studies of mDia formin proteins in the engraftment and homing of the hematopoietic stem cells. Our major focuses are erythroid cell terminal differentiation and hematopoietic stem cell biology using various genetic, molecular and cell biology techniques.

Kristina A. Matkowskyj

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Specialized Chemistry (1997)
  • PhD: University of Illinois at Chicago, Pathology (2002)
  • MD: University of Illinois at Chicago (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interest: GI Oncology

Research Interests:

I conducted my graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Richard V. Benya, MD. The major research focus of the laboratory concerns the processing and regulation of heptaspanning, G protein-coupled receptors; specifically, the receptors for gastrin-releasing peptide and galanin.

Prior to the start of graduate and medical school, my investigations focused on the gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRP-R). My efforts focused on developing a novel algorithm for true quantitative immunohistochemistry (Q-IHC) based on calculating the cumulative signal strength, or energy, of the digital file encoding an image and to determine the absolute amount of chromogen present per pixel. Our efforts enabled us to use Q-IHC to accurately determine the amount of peptide hormone receptor in archived tissues. To this end, we set out to determine the expression and role of the GRPR protein in the gastrointestinal tract. This receptor is known to cause the proliferation of many, but not all cells in which it is expressed. Our studies identified that this receptor is not normally expressed by epithelial cells lining the GI tract, but is aberrantly expressed by many GI malignancies. Additional studies support GRPR acting as a mitogen, and recent data supports that in vivo it may behave as a morphogen.

The primary focus of my graduate research work was investigating the role of the galanin-1 receptor (Gal1R) in the context of infectious diarrhea. It is known that galanin is widely expressed in the central nervous system and in the GI tract by enteric nerves. In in the GI tract, galanin receptors are expressed by smooth muscle cells which when activated modulate intestinal transit. We have shown that epithelial cells lining the human GI tract express only GalR1 and when activated results in chloride secretion from these cells. Gal1R expression is transcriptionally regulated by the inflammation-associated transcription factor NF-kappa B, a factor activated in a number of inflammatory states. We have shown that an increase in Gal1R expression is observed in various infalmmatory conditions such as Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, and infectious colitis. It is thus hypothesized that Gal1R expression and activation represents a common, unifying pathway accounting for the diarrhea associated with inflammatory conditions affecting the colon.

My current research interests focus on the chemoprevention of inflammation-associated malignancies of the gastrointestinal and pancreatico-biliary systems.

Pawel Mroz

Education:

  • BS/MD: Medical University of Warsaw
  • PhD: Medical University of Warsaw
  • Subspecialty interest: Pathology

Research Interests:

I received my MD and PhD degrees from the Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. I joined the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr Michael R. Hamblin in 2005. In 2008 I was appointed as an Instructor at HMS and Assistant in Immunology at MGH and Wellman Center. I have been investigating a variety of anti-tumor immune responses after photodynamic therapy; in particular I have been investigating the role of T regulatory cells and tumor antigens in this process. Additionally, I have been involved in several projects evaluating the applications of new photosensitizers for PDT of cancer. I have been fortunate to receive two independent research grants and several awards for my research.

Since the beginning of my medical training, my professional life has been characterized by a rich balance of clinical and scientific interests. My significant research experience allowed me to familiarize myself with majority of current laboratory techniques used nowadays in Pathology while my clinical rotations helped me to better understand the profound role of Pathology in contemporary medical practice. These experiences have offered me insight into the responsibilities, challenges, joys and fulfillment ahead as a pathologist. I strongly believe that the ultimate goal of the Physician-Scientist Training Program is to train academic pathologists to become subspecialist pathologists and independently-funded principal investigators in biomedical research. I believe that with my versatile research and clinical background I perfectly fit that role and my goal is to excel in furthering the mission of this extraordinary specialty.

Kristy Wolnaik

Education:

  • BS: Iowa State University, Biology (1997)
  • MD/PhD: University of Iowa (2005)

Research Interests:

My research during graduate school focused on the regulation of the germinal center B cell response in an autoimmune setting. Currently, my clinical interest is in hematopathology and my main research interest is to begin to understand the link between autoimmune disease and the development of hematopoietic malignancies. I am starting to approach my research questions from both a clinical and basic science perspective. I am beginning projects which identify the signaling molecules involved in the development and regulation of malignant cells as well as projects focused on the dysregulation of the immune system during the development of autoimmunity.


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Department of Pediatrics

Travis Gayles

Education:

  • BS: Duke University (2001)
  • MD: University of Illinois (2009)
  • Subspecialty interest: Pediatrics

Research Interests:

I conducted my undergraduate research in federal and state children's health insurance programs under the direction of Dr. Kate Whetten at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke. After graduating, I spent two years working in Washington, DC. During the first year, I was a research assistant at the Institute of Medicine, working with the Committee for Improving Palliative and End of Life Care for Children and Their Families. I spent the remaining year as a research analyst with the Advisory Board Company, a health care consulting firm, working primarily with the Cardiovascular Roundtable and Physician Leadership Council.

While at Illinois, I worked with Dr. Reginald Alston in the Department of Community Health. My research focuses included health disparities in health care outcomes, and federal legislation targeted towards the uninsured. I completed a post-doctoral internship at the National Cancer Institute following completion of graduate studies; my project investigated serum HDL as a protective marker for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I plan on continuing research on health care policy as it relates to children's health insurance programs, and expand to study the impact of bullying on children.

Tracy Gertler

Education:

  • BS: Princeton University, Molecular Biology and Neuroscience (2004)
  • MD/PhD: Northwestern University, Neurophysiology (2011)
  • Subspecialty interest: Pediatrics

Research Interests:

As an undergraduate at Princeton, I collaborated with Dr. Robert Ring at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now Pfizer) on a study using transcriptional profiling and microarray techniques to identify novel targets for anxiety and depression. As a graduate student in the lab of Dr. D. James Surmeier, I studied the effects of dopamine modulation in neurons of the basal ganglia. Using electrophysiologic and anatomic techniques, I investigated how neurons of the caudate-putamen adapt to the loss of dopamine signaling in both mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and in chronic treatment with antipsychotic medications.

Moving forward, I hope to answer circuit-level questions in pediatric neurology by incorporating my experiences in molecular biology, electrophysiology, and anatomy. I am interested in continuing to investigate the role of neuromodulators such as dopamine in diseases like ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome, which are prevalent in pediatric populations.

Christina Grant

Education:

  • BS: Elizabethtown College (2004)
  • MD/PhD: University of Connecticut (2012)

Research Interests:

I did my undergraduate research with Dr Jane Cavender, investigating the reactivation of previously silenced genes in the nucleolar organizing region by SV40 T-Antigen. I completed my PhD under Dr Linda Shapiro. Her lab investigates the role of two transmembrane peptidases in various disease processes, including inflammation, angiogenesis and cancer. I focused on a protein called Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA), a transmembrane peptidase which is virtually absent on normal prostate epithelium and on low grade prostate tumors, but highly up-regulated on metastatic and high grade prostate cancer, where its expression is correlated with poor prognosis. In addition, it has also been shown to be present on the vasculature of virtually all solid human tumors, but absent on normal and quiescent vessels. I investigated the relative contribution of tumor vs. endothelial PSMA expression to prostate tumor angiogenesis, and showed that PSMA expression on endothelial cells is necessary for tumor angiogenesis and that it’s absence cannot be compensated for by tumor expressed PSMA. PSMA contribution to pathologic angiogenesis is not restricted to tumor angiogenesis; inhibiting PSMA in a mouse model of retinopathy of prematurity nearly abrogates the pathologic neovascularization and allows a more normal vascularization of the retina. Interestingly, PSMA plays a VEGF-independent role in pathologic retinal angiogenesis; combined, these findings indicate that the inhibition of PSMA may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of angiogenesis-based ocular diseases.

Rebecca Harris

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois, Biology and Biochemistry (2005)
  • PhD: Northwestern University, Endocrinology (2011)
  • MD/PhD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2013)
  • MA: Northwestern University, Medical Humanities and Bioethics (in progress)

Research Interests:

I conducted my graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Jameson and focused on the genetics of male infertility. Infertility is a pervasive issue, with male infertility affecting approximately 40 million men worldwide. While some of the underlying processes involved in spermatogenesis are known, many of the key genes remain a mystery. Using ENU mutagenesis and a forward genetic screen in mice, I searched for mutations in genes that resulted in defective spermatogenesis. Several phenotypes were produced including ones with cryptorchidism (undescended testes), hypogonadism (small testes), and germ cell loss. Through genomic mapping and sequencing, I identified the mutated genes and completed a detailed characterization of each line. The affected gene in the cryptorchidism line was relaxin/insulin-like family peptide receptor 2 (Rxfp2). The missense mutation resulted in a novel finding of abnormal RXFP2 protein localization. In the germ cell loss line, I identified a mutation in polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4), a cell-cycle gene with a previously unknown role in mammalian spermatogenesis. The ENU mutagenesis screen provided new information on male reproductive biology and has significant translational implications as a Plk4 mutation was recently found to cause infertility in humans. In the future, I hope to continue my work in reproductive endocrinology and am excited to participate in the PSTP as a Pediatrics Resident at Lurie Children’s.


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Department of Radiation Oncology

Tarita Thomas

Education:

  • BS: University of Texas at Austin (1997)
  • MD/PhD: Northwestern University, Neurophysiology (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Radiation Oncology

Research Interests:

During college I conducted research on a potassium activated calcium channel in Drosophila which is required for the proper function of the nervous system in the laboratory of Dr. Nigel Atkinson. I identified the structural elements of the gene fundamental for expression of the gene during Drosophila development. My graduate research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Heidi Hamm. I studied the mechanism of how thrombin mediates changes in endothelial cell function through activation of the protease activated receptor-1 using novel small molecule peptide inhibitors of the G protein-receptor interface developed in our laboratory.  In this phase of my training as a resident physician in radiation oncology; I have been looking at the clinical outcomes of treating patients with later stage mycosis fungoides with palliative radiation. We have developed a unique schedule for treating these patients which limits overall treatment time. In the long term I am interested to find ways to impact the types of treatment available for patients suffering from cancer with radiation.


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Department of Radiology

Samdeep Mouli

Education:

  • BA: Northwestern University (2002)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2006)
  • MS: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2011)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Interventional Oncology

Research Interests:

Under the direction of Drs. Robert Lewandowski and Andrew Larson, I am investigating novel loco-regional image-guided approaches to treating unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the majority of patients, HCC remains confined to the liver, deriving its blood supply from the hepatic artery. Healthy liver tissue is predominantly supplied by the portal vein. My research involves minimally invasive image-guided techniques that exploit this anatomy. The goals of my research involve developing catheter-based and ablative techniques to: 1) increase intratumoral therapeutic delivery, 2) reduce off-target effects to healthy tissues, and 3) provide real-time feedback of treatment success. Utilizing animal models of HCC, I am developing novel high-resolution imaging and therapeutic strategies to treat this disease.

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

Brian Le

Education:

  • Harvard College
  • Stanford University School of Medicine

Chris Davis

Education:

  • BA: University of Colorado (2002)
  • MD: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (2007)
  • MPH: University of Illinois at Chicago (2011)

Research Interests:

Dr. Davis completed his research in Loyola University Chicago's Alcohol Research program. His main research was the inflammatory effects of alcohol intoxication and smoke inhalation injury in the burn patient.

Brett Duncan

Education:

  • BA: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • MD: University of Nebraska Medical Center

Research Interests:

My current research clinical cardiovascular research with the Department of Cardiac Surgery through the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.  Working with Dr. Patrick McCarthy, current projects focus on valvular heart disease, atrial fibrillation, surgical outcomes for patients with preoperative pulmonary HTN and 4D Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Cardiovascular Flow Imaging. Also, I am currently working on a Master’s of Science in Health Services and Outcomes Research through the Graduate School at Northwestern University.

Swami Gnanashanmugam

Education:

  • BS: Stanford University (2004)
  • MS: Stanford University, Chemical Engineering (2004)
  • MD: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (2008)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Biodesign and Innovation

Research Interests:

Dr. Gnanashanmugam founded and developed the highly successful NUvention program for medical innovation, modeled in large part after his experiences in undergrad and medical school at Stanford University. During this time, he co-founded a medical device company in cardiac surgery and developed a device in the laparoscopic and image based surgical space.

Mark Knab

Education:

  • BS: Penn State University, Electrical Engineering (2005)
  • MD: Georgetown University School of Medicine (2009)

Research Interests:

Dr. Knab will be focusing on pancreatic cancer and the microenvironment created by the dense fibrotic reaction it creates. Specifically, one project will be looking at the effect of pancreatic inflammation in mice on cell signaling pathways and transcription factors which ultimately affect tumorogenesis. Dr. Knab will also be looking at the interaction of the immune system (T-cells) with pancreatic cancer and look at how these subpopulations of T-cells change pre and post-op and perhaps predict prognosis. The cytokine milieu of the pancreatic tumor microenvironment will also be examined to determine the significance, if any, of these markers of inflammation and immune function on pancreatic cancer prognosis.

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.

Dan McCarthy

Education:

  • BS: Duke University (2003)
  • MD: Northwestern University (2008)
  • MBA & MEM: Northwestern University (2013)

Research Interests:

My research is focused on understanding the complex scientific, social, and economic factors that govern the translation of clinical ideas into novel medical technologies. Working with Dr. David Mahvi, we created a curriculum in surgical innovation. The curriculum was shaped to provide the skills necessary to lead multidisciplinary teams in the invention, design, and commercialization of medical technologies. The training began with an industry immersion experience to learn how a major medical device company manages their innovation process. At Cook Medical I participated in business development, regulatory strategy, reimbursement analysis, and clinical assessments of active device design projects. After this internship I worked with faculty within our department to identify unmet clinical needs. The immersive, real-world activities were supplemented by formal coursework through a dual-degree program in management and design. My research culminated in the submission of several patents and the formation of a startup company to develop and commercialize a unique radiofrequency ablation probe.  Our company was founded by a team of students and faculty involving the Northwestern schools of medicine, business, law, and engineering.  We have successfully obtained funding through multiple grants as well as angel investments and competition winnings. Follow our progress on Twitter (@innoblative).

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.

Courtney (Daly) Morgan

Education:

  • BS: University of Pennsylvania (2003)
  • MD: University of Pennsylvania (2010)

Research Interests:

Dr. Morgan’s primary research objective is to develop a novel targeted approach to stop non-compressible hemorrhage following injury. Under the guidance of her mentor Dr. Melina Kibbe, Courtney will work with a multidisciplinary team of materials scientists and vascular biologist from the Institute for BioNanotechnology (IBNAM) to develop a self-assembling nanofiber that will deliver a hemostatic agent to the site of bleeding using a specific targeting binding protein. This nanotechnology will be delivered through a single intravenous injection to stop hemorrhage. Courtney will be working to develop, characterize, and evaluate the efficacy of this novel therapy.

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).

Jessica Naiditch

Education:

  • BS: Carnegie Mellon University (2003)
  • MD: University of Pittsburgh (2007)
  • Subspecialty Interests: General Surgery, Pediatric Surgery

Research Interests:

Neuroblastoma (NB) is a common pediatric tumor that often presents at a late stage, with only a 20-35% survival in this group. Although most high-risk neuroblastomas show an initial response to chemotherapy, the majority of such patients eventually develop progressive disease that is refractory to chemotherapy. Therefore, drug resistance poses a major obstacle in the clinical treatment of NB. Our lab has discovered a novel mechanism of drug resistance involving a molecule known as midkine. Midkine is a cytokine that was found to be expressed in doxorubicin resistant neuroblastoma cell lines and whose directed inhibition results in loss of drug resistance. The goal of our current line of research is to confirm the function of midkine in neuroblastoma cells, investigate whether midkine is active in allowing drug resistance in other cancers, such as Wilms’ tumor, osteosarcoma and breast cancer, and to identify the receptor(s) for midkine that are important for drug resistance. As midkine has been shown to be expressed in other cancers such as Wilms’ tumor, esophageal, pancreatic lung, breast, and prostate cancer, the results of these studies have the potential for broad implications in cancer care and in understanding the deadly mechanisms behind drug resistance.

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.

Joseph Philips

Education:

  • Subspecialty Interest: Surgery

Research Interests:

My research focuses on lung cancer and the growth and dissemination of cancer cells, specifically inflammation and the immune response to cancer by mast cells and regulatory T-cells (Treg). Mast cells have been observed to infiltrate a variety of human tumors and recently have been shown to be an independent predictor of poor prognosis in prostate cancer.  However, there are conflicting findings regarding their significance in lung cancer.  The interaction of mast cells and Treg in the tumor microenvironment is a burgeoning area of research.  In the lab, I am working to further characterize human lung cancer infiltrating mast cells and Tregs and their clinicopathological significance.  Specifically, I am investigating the density of mast cells and Tregs, mast cell expression profiles, Treg expression profiles, and the cytokine milieu of the human non-small cell lung cancer microenvironment and correlating this information with recurrence and survival in an effort to generate a novel prognostic tool, and possibly a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of lung cancer.

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.

Ravi Rajaram

Education:

  • BA: Washington University in St. Louis (2005)
  • MD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (2010)
  • Subspecialty interest: General Thoracic Surgery

Research Interests:

My current research interest focuses on surgical quality improvement and outcomes research pertaining to oncology. Specifically, I am interested in thoracic oncology and in particular lung cancer. I am currently studying the factors associated with readmission in patients who undergo pulmonary resection as well as researching adherence to nationally recommended guidelines in the management and staging of lung cancer. In addition, I will be examining the utility of a clinically validated, patient specific surgical risk calculator in the perioperative setting and how it may affect patient understanding, informed consent, and decision making between patients and physicians. I am working as an American College of Surgeons Clinical Research Scholar as well as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at the Centers for Healthcare Studies. As a part of my fellowship I am currently working on a Master’s Degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research at Northwestern University.

Akhil Seth

Education:

  • BS: Johns Hopkins University, Biomedical Engineering (2003)
  • MD: Johns Hopkins University (2007)
  • Subspecialty interest: Surgery

Research Interests:

Chronic wounds are a complex, burdensome disease process that often requires intervention by a plastic surgeon. Along with common conditions such as ischemia-reperfusion injury, diabetes, and venous insufficiency, bacterial biofilm, defined by bacteria embedded within a self-secreted matrix, has been implicated as a significant part of the development and maintenance of non-healing wounds. Biofilm bacteria, possessing protective mechanisms that make treatment difficult, have to date been studied mostly within synthetic, in vitro models, providing useful knowledge but with little clinical applicability. Meanwhile, published in vivo, animal models remain limited in their capabilities. Our group has developed a novel biofilm model that utilizes our established, FDA-recognized rabbit ear dermal wound healing model. Through rigorous testing, we have created a model that is both reproducible and highly quantitative. However, the majority of wound biofilms involve multiple bacterial species, a critical aspect that has never been studied in an in vivo setting. To address this deficiency, we aim to adapt our current work into a polybacterial biofilm wound healing model. We plan to initially inoculate wounds with equal amounts of fluorescent protein-labeled Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, verifying the presence of a mixed-species biofilm with wound bacterial counts, as well as fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy. Following model validation, we will quantify both wound healing parameters and genetic expression of host inflammatory mediators, which will be compared to data previously generated from their single-species counterparts. In addition, utilizing well-characterized biofilm-mutants, we will work towards identifying molecular mechanisms important to biofilm pathogenesis. Through our proposed experiments, we hope to develop new avenues for plastic surgery research, with potential to improve our understanding and management of chronic wounds.

Karen Sherman

Education:

  • BA: Kalamazoo College (2003)
  • MD: Loyola University (2008)
  • MS: Health Services and Outcomes Research, Northwestern University (2013)
  • Subspecialty Interest: Surgery

Research Interests:

Dr. Sherman’s research focuses on surgical outcomes in oncology and patient safety and quality improvement.  Her research is primarily focused on identifying predictors of deviation from guideline-recommended oncologic treatment in gastric adenocarcinoma.  In addition, she is defining predictors of overtreatment in stage IV gastric cancer and under treatment in stage I gastric adenocarcinoma.  Additional projects include redefining the classification system for complications following pancreatic resection and a review of key drivers for postoperative mortality at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Jill (Richman) Streams

Education:

  • BA: Colgate University, Cellular Neuroscience (2004)
  • MD: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (2009)

Research Interests:

Dr. Streams' primary research objective is the regulation of development of neointimal hyperplasia after vascular injury. Under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Melina Kibbe, Jill is investigating the roles of nitric oxide and diabetes on neointimal hyperplasia. Specifically, Dr. Streams is looking at the role of Sca1+ stem cells in the vessel wall and how they contribute to neointimal hyperplasia after injury and how nitric oxide and diabetic environments affect Sca1+ cells.

Ezra Teitelbaum

Education:

  • BA: University of Chicago
  • MD: Mt. Sinai School of Medicine

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the development and evaluation of novel, minimally invasive surgical techniques including peroral esophageal myotomy (POEM) and other natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) procedures. Under the guidance of Dr. Eric Hungness, I am also examining the real-time effect of operations for achalasia on esophageal physiology, using a functional lumen imaging probe (FLIP), which may be useful as an intraoperative measurement tool to make these operations more effective and efficient. With Dr. Anne-Marie Boller, I am evaluating novel techniques for colorectal surgery, including transanal NOTES colon resection and specimen extraction. I am also working with Dr. Debra DaRosa on implementing a novel system for teaching and evaluating resident performance in the operating room, and on the development of a multimodal curriculum for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I am completing a Master’s Degree in Medical Education through the University of Cincinnati.

Kyle Zanocco

Education:

  • BS: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Finance (2004)
  • MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine (2008)
  • Subspecialty interest: Surgery

Research Interests:

My primary research objective is to investigate treatment options and outcomes in endocrine surgery under the guidance of Dr. Cord Sturgeon, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of Endocrine Surgery at Northwestern University. We are actively investigating techniques for resolving clinical decision-making controversies in the areas of thyroid cancer, hyperparathyroidism, and Graves’ disease through the use of decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis. I am expanding my knowledge base in clinical research by completing a Master of Science in Health Services and Outcomes Research through the Graduate School at Northwestern University. I seek to expand my focus to the acquisition of primary data in measuring the quality of life for various health states of the endocrine disorders that I am researching. To that end, I am working with Drs. Zeeshan Butt and David Cella at the Northwestern Institute for Healthcare Studies to develop quality of life metrics for administration to endocrinology and endocrine surgery clinic patients.


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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.

Matthias Hofer

Education:

  • MD/PhD: University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany (2002)
  • Post-doctoral research fellowship at the Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School
  • Residency in Anatomic Pathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital

Research Interests:

After graduating from medical school in 2002 I started my residency in Urology at the University Hospital of Ulm in Ulm, Germany, and transferred to Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School for a post-doctoral fellowship focused on biomarkers of aggressive prostate cancer. Combining tissue-based and patient cohort-based approaches, I was working on finding biomarkers at the DNA and protein level to identify those patients that were at risk of rapid progression. After 4 years of fellowship I joined the Department of Pathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital for my residency in Anatomic Pathology from which I graduated in 2009. Wanting to return to my original field, Urology, I started my Urology residency at Northwestern University in 2009. My research interests remain in biomarkers of prostate cancer progression, technological and research advancement over the past decade and further insights in the heterogeneity of prostate cancer making research in this field ever more challenging.


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Participating Institutions: