Current and Previous NHLBI Trainees

submenu

Current Trainees

Pre-doctoral Trainees

Rony F. Arauz, MPH

Rony F. Arauz, MPH

Portrait of Rony Arauz

Mentors

  • Jeffrey Mandel, MD, MPH (University of Minnesota School of Public Health)

  • Christine Wendt, MD (University of Minnesota Medical School)

Project Title

Air Pollutants, Categories of Biomarkers and Health Outcomes in

Taconite Workers in Minnesota.

Education

  • PhD Student (2015-present) University of Minnesota--Twin Cities; Environmental Health Sciences (major) and Biostatistics (minor)

  • MPH (2013) University of Michigan--Ann Arbor; Environmental Health Sciences

  • BA (2007) Lehman College--City University of New York; Biology

Support

  • Funding Source: NIH/NHLBI; Grant #: T32 HL07741; PI: David Ingbar, MD (2017-present)

  • William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship (2016-present)

Research Interest

I am interested to acquire: 1) advanced research skills in occupational and environmental epidemiology in order to develop new exposure metrics to occupational and environmental pollutants, determine the associations between pollutants and respiratory health outcomes (including biomarkers), and understand the biological mechanisms by which pollutants induce disease; 2) essential skills in communication and leadership to communicate evidence-based knowledge that will guide policy aimed at preventing injuries and disease and to protecting public health.

Areas of Interest

Occupational, environmental and respiratory disease epidemiology, exposure assessment, health disparities, biomedical, public and global health research

Professional membership(s)

Society for Epidemiologic Research

Publications

Peer-reviewed research papers:

  • Zhang K, Arauz RF, Chen TH, Cooper SP. (2016). Heat Effects among Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers: A Case Study in Colorado. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 73: 324-328.  

  • Arauz RF, Solomon BD, Pineda-Alvarez DE, Gropman AL, Parsons JA, Roessler E, Muenke M. (2010). A Hypomorphic Allele in the FGF8 Gene Contributes to Holoprosencephaly and Is Allelic to Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Deficiency in Humans. Molecular Syndromology 1(2): 59-66.

Published abstract(s):

  • Shao Y, Ramachandran G, Mandel J, Alexander B, MacLehose R, Arauz R. (2016). O05-1 Occupational Iron Exposures and Pleural Disease among Minnesota Taconite Mining Workers. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 73(Suppl 1): A1-A250. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2016-103951.23.

Selected poster presentations:

  • Arauz RF, O’Neill M, Vadillo-Ortega, F. Evaluation of Air Pollution and Birth Outcomes in México City. The University of Michigan School of Public Health Annual Poster Day. October 26, 2012. Ann Arbor, MI.

  • Arauz RF, Roessler E, Muenke M. Analysis of FGF8 as a candidate gene and its relationship to SHH and ZIC2 in a cascade model. Eighth Annual New England Science Symposium, Harvard Medical School. April 3, 2009. Boston, MA.

  • Arauz RF, Baker MD, Stock JB. Chemoreceptor fragments inhibit in vivo Escherichia coli chemotaxis. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. November 8-11, 2006. Anaheim, CA.

  • Arauz RF, Baker MD, Stock JB. Chemoreceptor fragments inhibit in vivo Escherichia coli chemotaxis. The Leadership Alliance National Symposium. July 27-29, 2006. Chantilly, VA.

  • Arauz RF, Ambati VB, Chávez-Flores M, Cervantes-Cervantes M. Preliminary determination of the gene-copy number of ammonium/proton exchanger(s) and aquaporins in wheat (Triticum aestivum). Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. November 8-11, 2005. Atlanta, GA.

Kelsey Binder, BA

Kelsey Binder, BA

Portrait of Kelsey Binder

Mentor

Ryan Hunter, PhD

Project Title

Analyzing newly synthesized proteins to understand community dynamics within polymicrobial respiratory infections.

Education

  • B.A. in Biology (2012) Washington University, St. Louis, MO

  • Microbiology, Post-Baccalaureate (2012-2014) National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT

  • Doctoral Student (2014-Present), University of Minnesota

Support

  • Lung Sciences T32 2015-current

Research Description

Many respiratory diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma and Chronic Rhinosinusitus are characterized by chronic infections. Recent advances have advanced our understanding of the intricate microbial communities that exist within these patients however, the role the microbes play in these diseases is still largely unestablished. We hypothesize that disease state is influenced not by which microbes are present but by what they are doing. My work seeks to use Bio-orthogonal amino acid tagging (BONCAT) in order to identify actively growing bacteria and the proteins they are making. I am interested in using this technique to correlate bacterial activity with our understanding of these chronic infections.

Areas of Interest

  • Bacteriology, Host-Microbe Interactions, Microbial Communities

Professional Memberships

  • American Society of Microbiology 2016-Current

Posters

  • Binder K, Lucas S and Hunter R. Amino acid labeling, detection and characterization of respiratory pathogens. Annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. June 20, 2016, Boston, MA.

  • Binder K, Lucas S and Hunter R. Amino acid labeling, detection and characterization of respiratory pathogens. Midwest Microbial Pathogenesis Conference. September 24, 2016, Champaign, IL.

Publications

  • Lathrop, S. K., Binder, K. A., Starr, T., Cooper, K. G., Chong, A., Carmody, A. B., & Steele-Mortimer, O. (2015). Replication of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium in human monocyte-derived macrophages. Infection and immunity, 83(7), 2661-2671.

  • Sutherland, M. C., Binder, K. A., Cualing, P. Y., & Vogel, J. P. (2013). Reassessing the role of DotF in the Legionella pneumophila type IV secretion system. PloS one, 8(6), e65529.

Lisa Chesner, MS

Lisa Chesner, MS

Lisa Chesner, MSMentor

Dr. Colin Campbell

Project Title

Understanding the cellular repair mechanisms of DNA-protein crosslinks

Education

  • 2014-Present Doctoral Student, Pharmacology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities,
  • 2013-2014 MS, Pharmacology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • 2007-2011 BS, Biology, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Support

  • 2016-present Training in Lung Sciences T32

Research Description

One of the major components of chemotherapy is DNA-damaging agents. These chemotherapeutics induce DNA damage in cancer cells and interrupt the cell cycle, leading to cell death. However, many cancers become resistant, resulting in therapeutic failure and death. It is known that elevated repair pathways contribute to drug resistance. Increased expression of repair proteins has been found in malignant cancers that are unresponsive to chemotherapy. The objective of this research is to identify the cellular mechanisms that repair drug-induced DNA damage in mammalian cells. Identification of these pathways and their contribution to drug resistance and toxic side effects can ultimately lead to advancements in the field of chemotherapeutics.

Areas of Interest

  • Cancer Biology, DNA damage, DNA repair

Posters

  • Chesner, L.N., Yomtoubian, S., Sangaraju, D., Tretyakova, N., Campbell, C. "Formation and Removal of DNA-DNA Crosslinks Induced by 1,2,3,4-Diepoxybutane."
  • Chesner, L.N., Ji, S., Campbell, C., Tretyakova, N. "Generation of DNA-Protein Crosslink Substrates for DNA Repair Studies."
  • Chesner, L.N., Ji, S., Campbell, C., Tretyakova, N. "Generation of Plasmids Containing DNA-Protein Crosslinks at Specific Loci."
  • Chesner, L.N., Yakovlev, G., Yomtoubian, S., Campbell, C. "Molecular Genetics of DNA-Protein Crosslink Repair in Human Cancer Cells."
  • Chesner, L.N., Swanson, T.M., L., Casper, E. Dispirito, A.A., Semrau, J. Gallagher, W. Hartsel, S.C. "Uncovering the Mysteries of Methanobactin"
  • Chesner, L.N., Swanson, T.M., Seidel-Kollmer, L., Casper, E. Dispirito, A.A., Semrau, J. Gallagher, W. Hartsel, S.C. "Metal Reduction by Methanobactin"

Publications

  • Bandow N1, Gilles VS, Freesmeier B, Semrau JD, Krentz B, Gallagher W, McEllistrem MT, Hartsel SC, Choi DW, Hargrove MS, Heard TM, Chesner LN, Braunreiter KM, Cao BV, Gavitt MM, Hoopes JZ, Johnson JM, Polster EM, Schoenick BD, Umlauf AM, DiSpirito AA."Spectral and copper binding properties of methanobactin from the facultative methanotroph Methylocystis strain SB2." Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (2012)

Jennifer McCurtain, BS

Jennifer McCurtain, BS

Portrait of Jennifer McCurtain

Home Town

Marietta, OK

Education

  • BS Microbiology, University of Oklahoma (2011)
  • Graduate Student, University of Minnesota (2011-present)

Mentor

Ryan Hunter, PhD

Project Title

Survival advantages of Pseudomonsa aeruginosa cystic fibrosis clinical isolates with aguA deletion mutations

Support

  • 2011-2012: MICaB Training Grant
  • 2012-present: NHLBI Training Grant

Research Project

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that involves many complications from external cause. One such complication is persistent lung infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is capable of surviving in many environments. P. aeruginosa forms a biofilm as it colonizes the mucus in the CF lung, which increases its resistance to antibiotics and prevents the host immune system from killing the bacterium. It has an array of metabolic pathways it can utilize for sustenance depending on the nutrients available in its environment. Our lab studies agmatine metabolism in P. aeruginosa UCBPP-PA14 (PA14) and how it affects the host and the bacterium. This molecule is the immediate product of arginine decarboxylation and is further processed to make essential polyamines used for growth, survival and biofilm development in P. aeruginosa and other bacteria. Previous studies have shown that agmatine increases biomass when PA14 is grown as a biofilm; however, it remains unknown what this increase entails, such as more cells, a thicker biofilm, or an improved matrix. My project involves detecting PA14 agmatine metabolism in biofilms using a fluorescent reporting system and identifying the implications agmatine has on the biofilm with regards to its structure and matrix components.

Germán Vélez Reyes, BS

Germán Vélez Reyes, BS

Portrait of German Reyes Velez

Mentor

David Largaespada, PhD

Project Title

A multi-organ approach to RSPO2-drive tumors.

Education

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology; Political Sciences;
    B.S. in Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences
    University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
  • Cancer Biology, Post-Baccalaureate
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

Support

  • MSTP T32 GM008244 (1 year)
  • NF1 R01-NS086219

Research Summary

Forward genetic screening tools, such as the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system, have uncovered novel genes, that when altered have a role in malignant cell transformation, progression and invasion. From various SB mutagenesis screens, our lab found RSPO2 as a cancer gene of the intestine and peripheral nerve. We have demonstrated that RSPO2 is overexpressed in a small subset of cancers of the breast, large intestine, liver, pancreas, peripheral nerve, and most recently the lung.

Despite the associations between RSPO2 and certain malignancies, little is known about the regulation of RSPO2 expression and how RSPO2 signals to promote tumor initiation and maintenance. Our goal is to elucidate the pathways and genes activated by RSPO2 signaling and to understand how RSPO2 oncogene expression activation occurs in RSPO2-driven tumors to ultimately inform the search for novel targeted therapies. 

Areas of Interest

  • Cancer Biology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Drug Targets

Professional Memberships

  • Minnesota Medical Association
  • AACR

Posters

  • Vélez-Reyes GL, Báez A. HPV16 Infection in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Differs by Site. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Puerto Rico, June 2011.
  • Ruiz-Fullana FJ, Vélez-Reyes GL, Garcia A, Trinidad-Pinedo J, and Báez A. HPV status influences the survival of HNSCC patients: A consideration for the TNM staging system. Abstract. AACR Annual Meeting. April 2011.
  • Rios L, Aquino-Lopez A, Vélez-Reyes GL, Rivera-Pena B, Baez A. Effects of CDKN2A genetic polymorphisms on DNA methylation in head and neck cancer. Abstract. AACR Annual Meeting. April 2010.
  • Vélez-Reyes GL, Yang H, Wilson A, Henault M, Frias E, Schlabach M,  Mclaughlin M,  Ross N, Hoffman G, Chen A, Hild M, and  Jaffe A. Identifying novel therapeutic targets for cancer stem cell differentiation. Abstract. AACR Annual Meeting. April 2013.

Publications

  • Bianca Rivera-Peña, PhDc, Francisco J. Ruíz-Fullana, MD, Germán L. Vélez-Reyes, BS, Rosa J. Rodriguez-Benitez, PhD, María J. Marcos-Martinez, MD, Juan Trinidad-Pinedo, MD, and Adriana Báez, PhD. HPV-16 Infection Modifies Overall Survival of Puerto Rican HNSCC Patients. Head and Neck. Oct 2015
  • Danahay H, Torres AD, Coote J, Montgomery BE, Xia D, Wilson A, Yang H, Wang,Z, Bevan L, Thomas C, Petit S, London A, LeMotte P, Doelemeyer A, Vélez-Reyes GL, Bernasconi P, Fryer CJ, Edwards M, Capodieci P, Chen A, Hild M, Jaffe AB. Notch2 is required for inflammatory cytokine-driven goblet cell metaplasia in the lung. Cell Reports. 2015 Jan 13;10(2):239-52.

Post-doctoral Trainees

Christopher Banek, PhD

Christopher Banek, PhD

Portrait of Chris Banek

Mentor

John W. Osborn, PhD

Project Title

Targeted Sympathetic Nerve Ablation to Prevent and Treat Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

Education

  • BS (2010) University of Minnesota-Duluth, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Chemistry

  • PhD (2014) University of Oregon, Human Physiology

Support

  • 1RO1HL116476-01A1, PI: J.W. Osborn (2014-2017)

  • 2T32HL7741-21, PI: D.H. Ingbar (2014-2017)

Research Description

Recent clinical studies have shown ablation of renal sympathetic nerves may be an effective, long-term treatment for resistant hypertension; however, the mechanisms behind this effect remain elusive. Our current studies are focused on dissecting both the efferent and afferent contribution to this effect, and determining the role of brain-kidney crosstalk in the development and treatment of salt-sensitive hypertension.

Areas of Interest

  • Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension

  • Renal Physiology

  • Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension and Preeclampsia

  • Placental Insufficiency and Growth Restriction

Professional Memberships

  • American Physiological Society

  • American Heart Association

  • Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine

  • American Chemical Society

  • American Society of Nephrology

Abstracts (Recent since 2015)

  1. Banek, C.T.; Gauthier, M.; Van Helden, D.A.; Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Osborn, J.W. Unintended Consequences: Renal Denervation Attenuates Hypertension Development but Impairs Glucose Metabolism in Female Fawn-Hooded Hypertensive Rats. 2017. Oral Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, Chicago, IL.

  2. Banek, C.T.; Osborn, J.W. Opposite Arterial Pressure Responses to Renal Afferent Nerve Stimulation in Unanesthetized versus Anesthetized Rats: Implications for the Neural-Renal Axis and Hypertension. 2017. Poster Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, Chicago, IL.

  3. Collister, J.P.; Nahey, D.B.; Banek, C.T.; Osborn, J.W. Role of the OVLT in the Development of DOCA-salt Hypertension. 2017. Oral Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, Chicago, IL.

  4. Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Banek, C.T.; Gauthier, M.; Han, R.; Razzoli, M.; Bartolomucci, A.; Panoskaltsis-Mortari, A.; Osborn, J.W. Renal denervation lowers mean arterial pressure in obese female Schlager mice but adversely affects glucose metabolism. 2017. Oral Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, San Diego, CA.

  5. Banek, C.T.; Van Helden, D.A.; Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Osborn, J.W. Afferent-Targeted Renal Denervation Attenuates Established Deoxycorticosterone-Salt Hypertension: A Central Role for Renal Afferent Nerves in Hypertension. 2016. Oral Presentation. AHA Council on Hypertension, Orlando, FL.

  6. Banek, C.T.; Foss, J.D.; Van Helden, D.A.; Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Osborn, J.W. Renal nerves, renal inflammation and hypertension in deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt hypertension: Who is in the driver’s seat? 2016. Oral Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, San Diego, CA.

  7. Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Banek, C.T.; Han, R.; Razzoli, M.; Burbach, B.J.; Bartolomucci, A.; Shimizu, Y.; Osborn, J.W. Renal denervation normalizes blood pressure and improves glucose metabolism in obese genetically hypertensive Schlager mice. 2016. Oral Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, San Diego, CA.

  8. Han, R.; Banek, C.T.; Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Wang, X.; Osborn, J.W. High fat diet induced hypertension and impaired glucose handling in the Obesity-Prone Sprague Dawley rat is not affected by high salt intake. 2016. Poster Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, San Diego, CA.

  9. Banek, C.T.; Knuepfer, M.M.; Osborn, J.W. Renal inflammation and afferent renal nerves: A potential mechanism for the pathogenesis of DOCA-salt hypertension. 2015. Neural, Hormonal, and Renal Interaction in Blood Pressure Control, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India.

  10. Banek, C.T.; Osborn, J.W. Targeted ablation of afferent renal nerves by periaxonal capsaicin abolishes the reno-renal reflex. 2015. Poster Presentation. Experimental Biology National Meeting, Boston, MA.

Publications

Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  1. Banek, C.T.; Foss, J.D.; Fiege, J.K.; Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Van Helden, D.A.; Shimizu, Y.; Knuepfer, M.M; Osborn, J.W. Resting afferent renal nerve discharge and renal inflammation: Elucidating the role of afferent and efferent renal nerves in DOCA-salt hypertension. Hypertension, In Press (DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07850).

  2. Asirvatham-Jeyaraj, N.; Fiege, J.K.; Han, R.; Foss, J.; Banek, C.T.; Burbach, B.J.; Razzoli, M.; Bartolomucci, A.; Shimizu, Y.; Panoskaltsis-Mortari, A. Osborn, J.W. 2016. Renal Denervation Normalizes Arterial Pressure With No Effect on Glucose Metabolism or Renal Inflammation in Obese Hypertensive Mice. Hypertension, 68(4):929-936.

  3. Banek, C.T.; Bauer, A.J.; Needham, K.M.; Gilbert, J.S. (2013) AICAR (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-3-ribonucleotide) administration ameliorates placental ischemia-induced hypertension and angiogenic imbalance. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 304(8):H1159-65.

  4. Bauer, A.J.; Banek, C.T.; Needham, K.M.; Regal, J.; Gilbert, J.S. (2013). Pravastatin attenuates hypertension, oxidative stress and angiogenic imbalance in the reduced utero-placental perfusion pressure hypertensive rat. Hypertension, 61(5):1103-10.

  5. Gilbert, J.S.; Banek, C.T.; Babcock, S.A; Dreyer, H.C. (2013). Diabetes mellitus in early pregnancy: getting to the heart of the matter. Diabetes, 62(1): 27-8.

  6. Gilbert, J.S; Banek, C.T.; Bauer, A.J.; Gingery, A.; Needham, K.M. (2012). Exercise training attenuates placental ischemia induced hypertension and angiogenic imbalance in the rat. Hypertension, 60(6):1545-51.

  7. Gilbert, J.S.; Banek, C.T.; Katz, V.; Babcock, S.A.; Regal, J.F. (2012). Complement activation in pregnancy: Too much of a good thing? Hypertension, 60(5):1114-6.

  8. Banek, C.T.; Bauer, A.J.; Gingery, A.; Gilbert, J.S. (2012). Timing of ischemic insult alters fetal growth trajectory, maternal angiogenic balance and markers of renal oxidative stress in the pregnant rat. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, 303(6):R658-64.

  9. Gilbert, J.S; Banek, C.T.; Bauer, A.J.; Gingery, A.; Dreyer, H.C. (2012). Placental and vascular adaptations to exercise training before and during pregnancy in the rat. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 303(5):R520-6.

  10. Gilbert, J.S.; Bauer, A.J.; Gingery, A.; Banek, C.T.; Chasson, S. (2012). Circulating and utero-placental adaptations to chronic placental ischemia in the rat. Placenta, 33(2): 100-5.

  11. Gilbert, J.S.; Bauer, A.J.; Gilbert, S.A.B.; Banek, C.T. (2012). The opposing roles of anti-angiogenic factors in cancer and preeclampsia. Frontiers in Bioscience, 4: 2752-69.

  12. Banek, C.T.; Gilbert, J.S. (2011). Approaching the threshold for predicting preeclampsia: monitoring angiogenic balance during pregnancy. Hypertension, 58(5): 774-5.

  13. Yoshimura, A.; Banek, C.T.; Yusubov, M.S.; Nemykin, V.N.; Zhdankin, V.V. (2011). Preparation, X-ray structure, and reactivity of 2-Iodylpyridines: recyclable hypervalent iodine(V) reagents. Journal of Organic Chemistry, 76(10):3812-9.

  14. Zagulyaeva, A.A.; Banek, C.T.; Yusubov, M.S.; Zhdankin, V.V. (2010). Hofmann Rearrangement of Carboxamides Mediated by Hypervalent Iodine Species Generated in situ from Iodobenzene and Oxone: Reaction Scope and Limitations. Organic Letters, 12(20): 4644-7.

Book Chapters:

Gilbert, J.S. and Banek, C.T. Sex differences in the developmental programming of adult disease. Sex Hormones ISBN 978-953-307-856-4. Editor: R. K. Dubey. InTech. 2011. Print and Online.

Katharine Block, PhD

Katharine Block, PhD

Portrait of Katharine Block

Mentor

Stephen Jameson, PhD

Project Title

Testing Susceptibility of mice with normal microbial experience to induction of allergic airway disease

Education

  • PhD, University of Chicago, Immunology (2015)
  • BA, Saint Olaf College, Biology (2008)

Support

  • NIH NHLBI T32: 5T32HL007741-22 (2016-present)
  • NIH NIAID T32: 5T32AI007090-32 (2010-2013)

Areas of Interest

  • T lymphocyte differentiation, function, and maintenance
  • T cell mediated autoimmune and allergic responses, e.g. allergic asthma
  • Effects of microbial colonization and infection on pathological T cell responses

Research Description

Allergic asthma is a major health problem in the developed world, and the incidence is increasing. The hygiene hypothesis posits that improved sanitation, vaccination programs, and increased antibiotic use have limited our exposure to natural infections, leading to immune systems that are more vulnerable to pathological responses. It has been difficult to test whether the hygiene hypothesis can explain some of the increased incidence in allergic asthma, partly because laboratory mice commonly used in research are housed in a clean and highly controlled environment. Our research group has demonstrated that allowing laboratory mice to acquire natural mouse pathogens through physiological animal-to-animal transmission dramatically alters the immune system, making it more similar to that of adult humans. We are using this “dirty” mouse model to test the effect of increased microbial exposure on susceptibility to allergic airway disease. Current studies are investigating the nature of the immune response to airway allergens in the context of increased natural infections. 

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Immunologists (2010-present) 

Abstracts

  • Block, KE, Huang H. (2015) “The gut microbiota regulates K/BxN autoimmune arthritis independent of Th17 and IL-17.” Presentation and poster at AAI Immunology Conference, New Orleans, LA
  • Block, KE, Huang H. (2013) “Germinal center B cells but not TFH require T cell-derived IL21 in a model of autoimmune arthritis.” Presentation and poster at AAI Immunology Conference, Honolulu, HI
  • Block, KE, Huang H. (2013) “Germinal center B cells but not TFH require T cell-derived IL21 in a model of autoimmune arthritis.” Presentation and poster at The University of Chicago Biomedical Sciences Retreat, Geneva, WI
  • Block, KE, Huang H. (2012) “IL-21 is not an autocrine factor for Tfh in autoimmune arthritis.” Presentation and poster at Autumn Immunology Conference, Chicago, IL
  • Block, KE, Huang H. (2011) “The role of IL-21 in Tfh differentiation in autoimmunity.” Presentation and poster at Autumn Immunology Conference, Chicago, IL

Publications

  • Perera J, Zheng Z, Li S, Gudjonson H, Kalinina O, Benichou JIC, Block KE, Louzoun Y, Yin D, Chong AS, Dinner AR, Weigert M, Huang H. (2016). Self-Antigen-Driven Thymic B Cell Class Switching Promotes T Cell Central Tolerance. Cell Rep. 17(2):387-398.
  • Block KE, Zheng Z, Dent AL, Kee BL, Huang H. (2016). Gut microbiota regulates K/BxN autoimmune arthritis through follicular helper T but not Th17 cells. J. Immunol. 196(4):1550-1557.
  • Hou L*, Block KE*, Huang H. (2014). Artesunate abolishes germinal center B cells and inhibits autoimmune arthritis. PLoS One. 9(8):e104762. (* authors contributed equally to this work)
  • Block KE, Huang H. (2013). The cellular source and target of IL-21 in K/BxN autoimmune arthritis. J. Immunol. 191(6):2948-55.
  • McKinnon LR, Nyanga B, Chege D, Izulla P, Kimani M, Huibner S, Gelmon L, Block KE, Cicala C, Anzala AO, Arthos J, Kimani J, Kaul R. (2011). Characterization of a human cervical CD4+ T cell subset coexpressing multiple markers of HIV susceptibility. J. Immunol. 187(11):6032-6042.
  • Nawaz F, Cicala C, Van Ryk D, Block KE, Jelicic K, McNally JP, Ogundare O, Pascuccio M, Patel N, Wei D, Fauci AS, Arthos J. (2011). The genotype of early-transmitting HIV gp120s promotes α4β7-reactivity, revealing α4β7+/CD4+ T cells as key targets in mucosal transmission. PLoS Pathog. 7(2):e1001301.

Jessica Fiege, PhD

Jessica Fiege, PhD

Portrait of Jessica Fiege

Mentor

Ryan Langlois, PhD

Project Title

Influenza A virus tropism in hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic cells in the lung

Education

  • PhD, Immunology, University of Minnesota, 2014

  • BS, Biology, Clarke University, 2008

Support

2015-present    T32 HL0774 “Training in Lung Science” Training Grant

Research Description

My work so far as a postdoctoral associate has described valuable tools in the field of influenza A virus biology which have been used to understand and track viral tropism.  Numerous reporter influenza A viruses have been generated to identify infected cells in real time.  Additionally, a virus expressing Cre recombinase can be used in reporter mice to permanently label infected cells, allowing for the tracking of these cells after virus clearance.  Viruses expressing microRNA target sites have been generated to limit virus replication and study the role of virus infection in both immune and lung cells types.  Viruses tagged with barcodes have been used to track the spread of viruses to new organisms.  While these tools have expanded our knowledge on influenza tropism, a more complete understanding of the specific contributions of specific cell types to immune responses and lung pathology is still needed.

Professional Memberships and Service

  • 2013-    American Association of Immunologists

  • 2013-    Graduate Women in Science, Xi Chapter (Twin Cities, MN)

Local Chapter Board:  Co-VP Programs 2013-2014

        Local Chapter Board:  Historian 2015-2016

        Local Chapter Board:  President 2016-present

Publications

  • Banek CT, Knuepfer MM, Foss JD, Fiege JK, Asirvatham-Jeyaraj N, Van Helden D, Shimizu Y, Osborn JW. Resting Afferent Renal Nerve Discharge and Renal Inflammation: Elucidating the Role of Afferent and Efferent Renal Nerves in Deoxycorticosterone Acetate Salt Hypertension. Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979). 2016; 68(6):1415-1423. NIHMSID: NIHMS816156 PubMed [journal] PMID: 27698066, PMCID: PMC5159336

  • Asirvatham-Jeyaraj N, Fiege JK, Han R, Foss J, Banek CT, Burbach BJ, Razzoli M, Bartolomucci A, Shimizu Y, Panoskaltsis-Mortari A, Osborn JW. Renal Denervation Normalizes Arterial Pressure With No Effect on Glucose Metabolism or Renal Inflammation in Obese Hypertensive Mice. Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979). 2016; 68(4):929-36. NIHMSID: NIHMS807611 PubMed [journal] PMID: 27550916, PMCID:  PMC5016252

  • Fiege JK, Beura LK, Burbach BJ, Shimizu Y. Adhesion- and Degranulation-Promoting Adapter Protein Promotes CD8 T Cell Differentiation and Resident Memory Formation and Function during an Acute Infection. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2016; 197(6):2079-89. NIHMSID: NIHMS803925 PubMed [journal] PMID: 27521337, PMCID: PMC5010998

  • Fiege JK, Burbach BJ, Shimizu Y. Negative Regulation of Memory Phenotype CD8 T Cell Conversion by Adhesion and Degranulation-Promoting Adapter Protein. Journal  of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2015; 195(7):3119-28. NIHMSID: NIHMS714133 PubMed [journal] PMID: 26320248, PMCID: PMC4575867

  • Fiege JK, Langlois RA. Investigating influenza A virus infection: tools to track  infection and limit tropism. Journal of virology. 2015; 89(12):6167-70. PubMed [journal] PMID: 25855737, PMCID: PMC4474293

Jeremy Herrera, PhD

Jeremy Herrera, PhD

Portrait of Jeremy HerreraComparing Tumor Cell Interactions with Tumor Stroma and Proliferative Fibrotic Disease Stroma

Mentor

Peter Bitterman, MD

Project Title

Loss of Dicer1 mediates suppression of lung fibroblast microRNA-29 in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Education

  • 2007: BS, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2009 – Present: Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

Support

  • 2009 – 2010: Microbiology Fellowship
  • 2010 – Present: NHLBI Training Grant

Research Project

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lethal fibrotic lung disease where abnormal scarring occurs. The scarring produced by fibroblasts may become diffuse and can cause respiratory failure. My goal is to characterize fibroblasts isolated from human IPF lung samples and determine if there are similarities to cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). CAFs play an important role in promoting tumor formation. Among many functions, CAFs promote the formation of new blood vessels and they recruit other fibroblasts to the site of the tumor. We hypothesize that IPF fibroblasts are indeed similar to CAFs. To address this, we will compare fibroblasts isolated from a variety of IPF patients with cancer-associated fibroblasts to test whether they express similar biomarkers associated with CAFs and to determine if they maintain similar functional activity.

Publications

  • Li F, Herrera J, Simpson L. Trypanosome mitochondrial Hel61 RNA helicase is responsible for 3'-5' polarity of uridine insertion/deletion RNA editing, (Submitted, May 2010)

Emily Julik, PhD

Emily Julik, PhD

Emily JulikMentor

Louis M. Mansky, PhD

Project Title

HIV-1 Mutagenesis in Human Primary Cells

Education

  • PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology (2016), Arizona State University
    Dissertation: A vaccine to close the window of opportunity for measles infection
    Advisor: Jorge Reyes del Valle, MD, PhD
  • BS in Biological Sciences (2011), Arizona State University
    Honors Thesis: The forelimb musculature of the ocelot and its implications for arboreal locomotion and felid phylogenetics
    Advisor: Rebecca E. Fisher, PhD

Support

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Training Program (2016-present)
  • Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation Scholar Award (2014-2016)

Research Description

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the causative agent of AIDS, has an intrinsically high mutation rate primarily due to the error-prone nature of its reverse transcriptase enzyme, which participates in viral replication. Novel antiviral therapeutics discovered by the Mansky laboratory take advantage of and further increase this high mutation rate to the point of viral extinction by lethal mutagenesis, as the virus accumulates too many mutations to maintain its infectivity. I am applying next-generation sequencing technologies to extend studies of these viral mutagens into human primary CD4+ T cells and macrophages, which harbor HIV-1 in pulmonary and other tissues and represent more relevant hosts than the immortalized cell lines used to establish the value of this antiviral strategy. This work contributes to ongoing efforts to develop and advance new drugs to treat HIV-1 infection.

Areas of Interest

  • Biology of RNA viruses
  • Next-generation sequencing technologies
  • Antiviral drug development
  • Intelligent vaccine design

Professional Memberships

  • American Society for Virology

Presentations

  • Julik E, Jeffery A, Ceballos-Olvera I, and J Reyes-del Valle. Increasing hemagglutinin expression by measles virus improves immunogenicity (oral presentation). Annual Meeting of the American Society for Virology. 12 July 2015, London, ON.
  • Julik E, Jeffrey A, and J Reyes-del Valle. Characterization of measles virus with enhanced envelope glycoprotein expression (oral presentation). Annual Meeting of the American Society for Virology. 23 July 2013, State College, PA.
  • Julik E, Adrian B, Poole M, Starbuck A, and RE Fisher. Arboreal adaptations in the forelimb musculature of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) (poster). Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. 11-15 June 2010, Laramie, WY.
  • Julik E, Smith HF, Adrian B, Barton M, and RE Fisher. The axial musculature of the red panda (poster). American Association of Anatomists Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology. 18-22 April 2009, New Orleans, LA.

Publications

  • Ercoli MD, Álvarez A, Busker F, Morales MM, Julik E, Smith HF, Adrian B, Barton M, Bhagavatula K, Poole M, Shahsavan M, Wechsler R, and RE Fisher. Myology of the head, neck, and thoracic region of the lesser grison (Galictis cuja) in comparison with the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) and other carnivorans: phylogenetic and functional implications. J Mamm Evol In press.
  • Julik E and J Reyes-del Valle (2016). Generation of a more immunogenic measles vaccine by increasing its hemagglutinin expression. J Virol 90(11): 5270-5279.
  • Ritzman TB, Stroik LK, Julik E, Hutchins ED, Lasku E, Denardo DF, Wilson-Rawls J, Rawls JA, Kusumi K, and RE Fisher (2012). The gross anatomy of the original and regenerated tail in the green anole (Anolis carolinensis). Anat Rec 295(10): 1596-1608.
  • Julik E, Zack S, Adrian B, Maredia S, Parsa A, Poole M, Starbuck S, and RE Fisher (2012). Functional anatomy of the forelimb muscles of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). J Mamm Evol 19(4): 277-304.

Nathan Schuldt, PhD

Nathan Schuldt, PhD

Mentor

Bryce Binstadt

Project Title

A novel dual TCR T cell reporter mouse.

Education

  • University of Minnesota, BS Biology 2003

  • Michigan State University, PhD Genetics 2012

Support

  • 1 year, American Association of Immunologists Training Grant

  • 2 years, Pulmonary T32 Training Grant

Research Description

One of the defining characteristics of a T cell is that it expresses a T cell receptor (TCR) composed of one α and one β chain. The TCR allows T cells to recognize antigens (both foreign and self) and mount specific responses. While T cells possess two copies (alleles) of the genes encoding each chain, in most cases only one allele of each is expressed resulting in singular specificity for that T cell. However, dual TCRα chain-expressing T cells actually account for about 10% of all T cells in humans. Dual TCRβ expressing T cells are rarer, accounting for ~1% of all T cells. These dual TCR T cells have the potential to recognize multiple specificities and have been hypothesized to impact several different immune conditions including autoimmunity, allergy, alloreactivity, and protective immunity. However, their role in immunity is still unclear since detection and observation of dual TCR T cells has been challenging. My research aims to uncover dual TCR T cell’s role in immunity by using new tools that we have developed at the University of Minnesota that will allow us to detect and observe dual TCR T cells in multiple immune contexts.

Areas of Interest

Immunology, Autoimmunity, T cell development, T cell immunity, Dual TCR expressing T cells.

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Immunologists (AAI)

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

  • University of Minnesota Center for Immunology (CFI) Postdoc Program

Oral/Posters Presentations

  • Oral Presentation: “Dual TCRα expression poses an autoimmune hazard by limiting treg cell generation.” Immunology 2017 AAI Annual Meeting Washington D.C., May 12-16, 2017

  • Invited poster presenter: “Absence of dual TCR T cells protects NOD mice from diabetes due to an increased insulin-specific Treg:Teff ratio.” Immunology 2016 AAI Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, May 13-17, 2016

  • Invited poster presenter: “Biallelic TCR rearrangement enhances the efficiency of thymocyte development and positive selection” Immunology 2014 AAI Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, May 2-6, 2014

  • Invited Speaker and Session Co-Chair: Potent vaccine platforms can provoke Circumsporozoite (CS) protein mediated immunosuppression, a paradox overcome by CS vaccines expressing EAT-2” ASTMH 60th Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia, PA, December 4-8, 2011

Publications

  • Schuldt NJ, Auger JL, Spanier JA, Martinov T, Breed ER, Fife BT, Hogquist KA, Binstadt BA. Dual TCRα expression poses an autoimmune hazard by limiting Treg cell generation. J. Immunol., in press.

  • Schuldt NJ, Auger JL, Hogquist KA, Binstadt BA. Bi-allelic TCRα or β recombination enhances T cell development but is dispensable for antigen responses and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. PLoS One, 2015 Dec 22;10(12):e0145762

  • Schuldt NJ, Aldhamen YA, Godbehere S, Seregin SS, Kousa YA, Amalfitano A, Efficacy when utilizing Adenovirus serotype 4 and 5 vaccines expressing Circumsporozoite protein in naïve Ad5 immune mice. Malar J. 2012 Jun 21;11:209.

  • Schuldt NJ, Amalfitano A. Malaria Vaccines: Focus on Adenovirus Based Vectors. Vaccine. 2012 Jul 27;30(35):5191-8.

  • Aldhamen YA, Seregin SS, Schuldt NJ, Rastall DPW, Liu CJ, Godbehere S, Amalfitano A. Vaccines Expressing the Innate Immune Modulator EAT-2 Elicit Potent and Durable Effector Memory T Lymphocyte Responses Despite Pre-existing Vaccine Immunity. J Immunol. 2012 Aug 1;189(3):1349-59.

  • Schuldt NJ, Aldhamen YA, Appledorn DM, Seregin SS, Kousa Y, Godbehere S, Amalfitano A. Vaccine platforms combining Circumsporozoite protein and potent immune modulators, rEA or EAT-2, paradoxically result in opposing immune responses. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e24147.

  • Aldhamen, YA, Appledorn DM, Seregin SS, Liu CJ, Schuldt NJ, Godbehere S, AmalfitanoA,  Expression of the SLAM Family of Receptors Adapter EAT-2 as a Novel Strategy for Enhancing Beneficial Immune Responses to Vaccine Antigens. J Immunol. 2011 Jan 15;186(2):722-32.

  • Seregin SS, Aldhamen YA, Appledorn DM, Hartman ZC,, Schuldt NJ, Scott J, Godbehere S, Jiang H, Frank MM, Amalfitano A, Adenovirus capsid-display of the retro-oriented human complement inhibitor DAF reduces Ad-vector triggered immune responses in vitro and in vivo. Blood. 2010 Sep 9;116(10):1669-77.

  • Appledorn DM, Aldhamen YA, Depas W, Seregin SS. Liu CJ, Schuldt N, Quach D, Quiroga D, Godbehere S, Zlatkin I, Kim S, McCormick JJ, Amalfitano A. A New Adenovirus Based Vaccine Expressing an Eimeria tenella Derived TLR Agonist Improves Cellular Immune Responses to an Antigenic Target. PLoS One. 2010 Mar 8;5(3):e9579.

  • Seregin SS, Aldhamen YA, Appledorn DM, Schuldt NJ, Mcbride AJ, Bujold M, Godbehere SS, Amalfitano A, CR1/2 is an important suppressor of Adenovirus-induced innate immune responses and is required for induction of neutralizing antibodies. Gene Ther. 2009 Oct;16(10):1245-59.

  • Seregin SS, Appledorn DM, McBride AJ, Schuldt NJ, Aldhamen YA, Voss T, Wei J, Bujold M, Nance W, Godbehere S, Amalfitano A, Transient pretreatment with glucocorticoid ablates innate toxicity of systemically delivered adenoviral vectors without reducing efficacy. Mol Ther. 2009 Apr;17(4):685-96.

  • Appledorn DM, McBride A, Seregin S, Scott JM, Schuldt N, Kiang A, Godbehere S, Amalfitano A, Complex interactions with several arms of the complement system dictate innate and humoral immunity to adenoviral vectors. Gene Ther. 2008 Dec;15(24):1606-17.

Steve Skolasinski, MD

Steve Skolasinski, MD

Mentor

Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari PhD

Project Title

Novel Cell Sprayer Device for Lung Bioengineering and Directed Cell Therapy

Education

2015 - current, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Fellow, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

2015, Residency, Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

2012, MD, Michigan State University, Lansing

2006, BS, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Research Interest

As a postdoctoral fellow, my research centers on organ bioengineering to produce lungs for transplant. The primary factor preventing patients from receiving a lung transplant is the dearth of available lungs. Even when patients do receive transplants, they suffer significant morbidity and mortality from complications due to immunological changes. My research focuses on producing immunologically identical lungs for transplant by developing human or porcine lung scaffolds which can be seeded with cells from the proposed recipient. This would simultaneously increase the supply of transplantable lungs and eliminate lung rejection. In the current phase I am developing a spray device to allow seeding of cells into the large airways and developing a bioreactor to incubate the lungs as the seeded cells mature.

Posters and Publications

  • Skolasinski, S. Widespread Upper Body Pneumatosis: Benign Indicator or Pathological Process. Poster session presented at: American College of Physicians Regional Poster Competition. 2014, Oct; Minneapolis, MN.

  • Kappelman, M., Skolasinski, S. Hyperammonemia in the Intensive Care Unit: The Catastrophic Effects of Late Initial Presentation of a Urea Cycle Disorder Poster session presented at: American Thoracic Society Thematic Poster Session. 2016, May; San Francisco, CA.

  • Skolasinski, S., Arndt, P. (2017). Pleuroparenchymal Fibroelastosis following Bone Marrow Transplant: Case report, literature review, and proposed mechanism. In Preparation.

  • Skolasinski, S. Antimicrobial Properties of Epidermal Fish Mucous. Poster session presented at: Undergraduate Research Symposium, University of Minnesota. 2005 Feb; Duluth MN.

Andrew Soerens, PhD

Andrew Soerens, PhD

Mentor

David Masopust PhD

Project Title

CD8 T cell abundance and early antiviral functions

Education

University of Washington, 2015, PhD

Specific Aims

  • Test different vaccine modalities for their ability to induce CD8 T cell memory residing within the lung parenchyma

  • Test the ability of memory CD8 T cells pre-positioned in a barrier tissue to kill virus-infected cells in the initial hours after infection.

Previous Trainees

NHLBI Previous Trainees

* Transitioned from NHLBI Trainee when awarded an NIH-sponsored F31 grant