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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Track Faculty

 

The primary department of each Biochemistry and Molecular Biology track faculty member is listed.

*not accepting students as a major advisor

Karen Abbott, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Our lab is interested in the study of glycans (sugars) that are involved in cellular differentiation and cancer progression in a field of study known as glycomics. The post-translational modification of proteins with glycans changes significantly during development and in the presence of diseases such as cancer. These glycan modifications play important roles in establishing the functions of proteins. We are applying glycoproteomic techniques to identify glycoproteins with tumor-specific glycosylation changes in a variety of human cancers. These glycoprotein biomarkers can be evaluated for use as diagnostic and/or therapeutic targets.

Sean Adams, PhD
Pediatrics
Web profile 
Our lab conducts studies that span from the sub-cellular to the whole body, to characterize the mechanisms by which nutrition and physical activity alter metabolic physiology, obesity and type 2 diabetes risk.

Syed Ali, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
My laboratory is studying the effects of nanomaterials on the central nervous system.We have demonstrated that NPs are capable of generating oxidative stress and free radicals, which may in turn produce neurotoxicity.  Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphenes are considered to have revolutionized the field of nanotechnology because of their light weight. However, this property can be potentially hazardous if it allows CNTs or graphenes to reach the lung and blood stream after environmental exposure.  Using in vitro and in vivo approaches,We plans to investigate the potential of CNTs to produce adverse effects on cellular systems due to their ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB). In addition, we are also investigating the effects of cell phone radiation on BBB integrity using both cell culture models and whole animal approach.     In addiction,my research focused also on the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms of oxidative stress and free radical-induced neurodegeneration and potential neuroprotective mechanisms of antioxidants. DWe have demonstrated that selective CNS-acting drugs, drugs of abuse, dietary supplements, environmental agents, pesticides, and organometals induce neurotoxicity by generating free radicals. Using different pharmacological and genetic approaches We have also demonstrated that peroxynitrite is responsible in methamphetamine (METH)-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity and compromises BBB integrity.  We have s l utilizes the MPTP-mouse model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to examine the neuroprotective role of nitric oxide inhibitors, protease inhibitors and selective dopaminergic agonists and antagonists.

Giulia Baldini, MD, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
The lab studies Melanocortin-4 receptor, a G-protein coupled receptor involved in appetite control

Alexei Basnakian, MD, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Role of DNases in tissue injury and cell death

Helen Benes, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
I have two (2) major areas of research, which at present are focused on the mosquito as a vector of a number of human infectious diseases (malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, etc.):  1) sex-specific regulation of gene expression in the immature female mosquito in order to develop novel strategies for control of mosquito populations, hence the spread of infectious diseases by female mosquitoes to humans.  My lab focuses on making transgenic mosquitoes to drive certain types of sex-specific gene expression including of cell death genes.  We are also interested in the basic molecular mechanisms underlying sex-specific gene activity in mosquitoes. 2) Inspired by work done in our lab in Drosophila and the mouse, we have undertaken the first study of the transcription factor, Nrf2, in the malaria mosquito.  We are characterizing Nrf2 activity at the transcriptional and post-translational level and exploring the role of Nrf2 in the regulation of detoxification genes whose expression is needed in following a blood meal in female mosquitoes.

Gunnar Boysen, PhD
Environmental and Occupational Health
Web profile
My research focuses on how environmental and occupational exposure, nutrition, and genetic diversity influence cancer initiation, promotion and progress.

Stephanie Byrum, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
My research focuses on developing technologies for the high-resolution analysis of chromatin and histone post-translational modifications at specific genomic loci. Therefore, I analyze both the genomic, epigenomic, and proteomic data associated with the chromatin biology. I have formal training in bioinformatics and mass spectrometry. I recently successfully developed the ChAP-MS technology in yeast for proteomic study of a specific single genomic locus. I am also involved in many projects involving the analysis of next generation sequencing data, such as RNA-seq and ChIP-seq, as well as proteomic data.

Timothy Chambers, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
My lab is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of anticancer drugs, in particular microtubule inhibitors such as Taxol, and agents which directly engage the cell death apparatus such as Bcl-2 inhibitors.  Our interest is on determining the signaling events that link drug induced damage to destructive or protective cellular processes.  We use cell lines, primary cell cultures, and clinically derived specimens, and utilize a broad array of biochemical, cellular and molecular techniques.

Parimal Chowdhury, PhD*
Cellular Physiology & Molecular Biophysics
Web profile
We study the effects of nicotine on gastrointestinal peptides to understand the mechanism of action of nicotine/cigarette smoking on the pancreas. In separate collaborative studies we are involved in research areas designed to identify the mechanisms by which microgravity and radiation interact to adversely impact whole organism physiology. In particular,we are interested in the effects of radiation and spaceflight on the physiological alterations as encountered during pre and post-flight conditions. We are interested in the characterization of the simulated response of pancreas to the insults of radiation and microgravity.

Mari Davidson, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular BIology
Web profile
Chromosome dynamics in meiosis

Alan Diekman, PhD
Biochemistry and Moleuclar Biology
Web profile
Structure and function of carbohydrate binding proteins in prostate cancer and reproduction

Robert Eoff, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
DNA replication and DNA damage tolerance: mechanisms and roles in cancer

Robert Griffin, PhD
Radiation Oncology
Web profile
Radiation and Cancer biology,  exosomes and cell to cell crosstalk in stem  cell differentiation and activity, nanomedicine applications

Gur Kaushal, PhD
Internal Medicine
Web profile
Dr. Kaushal’s research focuses on studying the role of metalloproteinases, cell death proteases and autophagy-lysosomal degradation pathways usinf models of renal diseases. The regulation of protein turnover and degradation of proteins by proteases is of vital importance in a number of clinical disorders including the pathogenesis of acute kidney injury (AKI). Since AKI is an independent risk factor for mortality and morbidity, studies on elucidation of the molecular events in AKI are important at finding therapeutic interventions that can prevent AKI. Dr. Kaushal’s studies have used mouse models of AKI including ischemia-reperfusion and cisplatin nephrotoxicity.  One of the Dr. Kaushal’s research projects is to examine the role of meprins in AKI. Dr. Kaushal originally discovered the previously unrecognized role of kidney meprins as matrix-degrading enzymes and, following systematic work, he showed the role of meprin A in ischemic, sepsis, and toxic AKI. Inhibition of meprin A provided protection from AKI. Dr. Kaushal’s findings that meprins degrades extracellular matrix components, and produce biologically active interleukin-1β from its inactive preform, have clinical significance not only in AKI, inflammation and leukocyte infiltration but also has impact in the process of cancer cell metastasis. Dr. Kaushal’s lab has identified ADAM10 as the protease involved in the shedding of meprin A from the brush-border membranes and currently he is investigating the role of ADAM10 in AKI.  Dr. Kaushal has also been working on the research project related to the mechanisms of cell death and survival signaling during AKI.  Dr. Kaushal’s lab has recently demonstrated that the executioner caspases, caspase-6 and -7 are direct transcriptional targets of p53 and showed the functional significance of this transactivation during cisplatin nephrotoxicity.  Another area of Dr. Kaushal’s research focuses on the role of autophagy in AKI as well as in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Dr. Kaushal’s studies demonstrate that induction of autophagy mounts an adaptive response, suppresses cisplatin-induced apoptosis, and prolongs survival of renal tubular epithelial cells.  We are further exploring the cross-talk between autophagy and apoptosis in AKI. Since autophagy is involved in the degradation of long-lived proteins such as ECM protein we are also investigating the role of autophagy in progressive accumulation of fibrosis in CKD.

Thomas Kelly, PhD
Pathology
Web profile
My lab is interested in tumor biology.  Our work has focused on extracellular matrix degrading proteases and their roles in facilitating tumor growth and metatstasis.

Samantha Kendrick, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Our overall research goal is to identify the molecular mechanisms behind the genomic instability at critical oncogenes in lymphoma and the role DNA secondary structures may play in facilitating these genomic alterations. We are also interested in the impact of HIV infection on the molecular oncogenesis of lymphoma. To address these important questions we integrate basic and translational science using in silico, ex vivo, cell-based and tissue-based genomic and proteomic approaches.

Mahmoud Kiaei, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
Investigating the mechanism(s) of motor neuron degeneration in ALS, development of efficacious therapeutic strategy for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Development of transgenic mouse model for ALS carrying profilin1 mutation. Investigation of mutant profilin1 toxicity.

Fusun Kilic, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Serotonin and serotonin transporter in:  1- placenta and their role for growing embryo;  2-hypertension and thrombosis.

Vladimir Lupashin, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile
My laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the generation and maintenance of intra-cellular membrane-bounded compartments. In all eukaryotic cells intracellular membrane trafficking is critical for a range of important cellular functions including protein secretion, post-translational modifications, cell signalling, cell polarization, and cell maintenance. Defects in membrane trafficking can underline, or even exacerbate, a number of human diseases including cancer, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome and Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation.

Samuel Mackintosh, PhD*
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
My primary responsibility is the day-to-day management of the UAMS Proteomics Core.

Stewart MacLeod, PhD*
Pediatrics
Web profile 
My main focus is to determine the genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to the risk of structural birth defects.

Angus MacNicol, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
Cell cycle control, stem cells, cancer stem cells, drug discovery, mRNA translation, vertebrate development

Mugimane Manjanatha, PhD
NCTR
Web profile
My work involves development and application of transgenic mutational mouse models for identifying and characterizing hazards, expecially, genotoxicity and epigenetic modifications for risk assessment using “mode of action” type analysis.

Grover P Miller, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
My research group investigates the role of enzymes, especially cytochromes P450 (CYP), in the activation and processing of xenobiotic chemicals, such as drugs, pollutants, and dietary compounds, from a chemist’s perspective. We specialize in the identification and validation of biochemical mechanisms through experimental approaches and often develop analytical tools along the way. Nevertheless, our projects are often multi-disciplinary and collaborative to effectively tackle complex challenges by recruiting experts in computational, analytical, and clinical research.

Roy Morello, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile 
We utilize genetically modified mouse models to understand the function of poorly characterized genes that have a function in skeletal development, homeostasis or disease. A special interest is in proteins that post-translationally modify collagens and in osteogenesis imperfecta.

Intawat Nookaew, PhD
Biomedical Informatics
My research focuses on the area of applied bioinformatics/computational biology and systems biology for biomedical research. I have developed novel advanced algorithms and frameworks to accelerate the utilization and mining for biological interpretation of omics data (genome, transcriptome, proteome and metabolome) for biomedical research translation (cancer, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, metabolic dysfunction, etc.). In addition, I also focus on the impact of human gut microbiome on diseases progression and development.

Paul Prather, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile 
I am a cellular/molecular pharmacologist whose research interests involve understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the addictive states produced by drugs of abuse. Specifically, for over 20 years I have been investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of signal transduction mediated by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) with which drugs of abuse interact, specifically opioids and cannabinoids.

Peter Price, PhD
Internal Medicine
Web profile 
Our long-term aim is to determine the mechanisms of acute and chronic injuries to the kidney. We were the first to report that the Cdk inhibitory p21WAF1/CIP1 protein is up-regulated in kidney cells after stress. We were also the first to report that p21 expression ameliorates acute kidney injury, and the first to report that p21 expression and cell cycle inhibition is deleterious in a chronic kidney injury model. We have used wild-type and p21 knock-out mice extensively for our studies and have developed transgenic mouse strains in which either p21 or dominant negative  Cdk2 can be induced specifically in kidney proximal tubules. We found that p21 expression in the proximal tubules induces paracrine factor(s) resulting in fibrotic changes after unilateral ureteral obstruction with release. We reported that p21 KO mice are protected from interstitial fibrosis, glomerulosclerosis and hypertension caused by 5/6 nephrectomy. Using p21 wild-type mice with the same genetic background (129Sv), we found that 5/6 nephrectomy caused decreased inulin clearance, increased mean arterial pressure, histologic pathologic changes including severe focal and global glomerulosclerosis, mesangial expansion, and interstitial fibrosis. These mice will be used to confirm our hypotheses in this proposal. We are also identifying substrates kinased by Cdk2 that participate in cell death pathways using analogue-sensitive Cdk2 and site-directed mutagenesis. I am trained in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and molecular cloning and have published extensively in these fields.

Anna Radominska-Pandya, MD, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Dr. Radominska-Pandya’s research interests include, but are not limited to: Structure-function relationship studies of human UGTs; Regulation of human UGTs; Roles of UGTs and lipids as anti-proliferation agents in various cancer models; Suppression of human UGTs in cancer cells; Interactions between UGTs and Cannabinoid Receptors and their combined role in cancer prevention and treatment; Delivering UGT genes, siRNA, and/or drugs into cancer cells using nanomaterial as delivery agents; and Roles of UGTs in the biotransformation of drugs including Coumadin (warfarin), resveratrols, and drugs of abuse such as Marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids.

Kevin Raney, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Protein-nucleic acid interations

Robert Reis, PhD
Geriatrics
Web profile 
My research focuses on the molecular genetics of longevity and age-associated diseases. I was trained in genetics, and turned to C. elegans as a model system in which to define and characterize genes that govern longevity. Using novel gene-mapping methods we developed, we discovered over 27 highly-significant loci for lifespan, resistance to stresses, and Darwinian fitness.  Using chromosomal fine-mapping, we identified one longevity gene as REC-8, a meiotic cohesin that helps hold tetrads together and was thought to be silent in mitotic cells.  However, we showed that it actually makes somatic tissues more vulnerable to diverse stresses, while stabilizing the meiotic genome, and its depletion in C. elegans or knockout in haploid yeast increases lifespan.  My group was the first to identify the Pirin gene on the human X chromosome as a regulator of post-menopausal bone loss in women, a discovery confirmed in a Chinese population.  We also pioneered the role of homologous recombination in the development and progression of myeloma, prostate, and breast cancers. We were the first to note that cells from many different cancer types feature very high levels of homologous recombination, and high expression of the Rad51 recombinase complex that mediates it.  We are now working chiefly on genetic factors that regulate lifespan, and that contribute to protein aggregates — key toxic intermediates in neurodegenerative diseases.  We have identified proteins in specific aggregate types that are highly enriched in Alzheimer’s cortex, and many of them play functional roles in aggregate formation in C. elegans models. Their toxic effects turn out to be mediated in large part by blockage of proteasomes and autophagosomes.  We are combining exploratory proteomics and immunochemistry in human cortex and cultured neurons, with the facile genetics of nematodes, to better understand how aggregates begin, grow, and ultimately disrupt proteostasis.

Sung Rhee, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile 
Calcium and potassium channels on the surface membrane of vascular muscle cells control calcium influx and potassium efflux, respectively, and thereby regulate arterial diameters. My research interests are 1) using ion channel genes as therapeutic agents to normalize blood pressure, and 2) understanding molecular mechanisms that regulate traffic and expression of ion channels in vascular muscle cells during hypertension and related conditions. We use a wide range of techniques including molecular biology, biochemistry, viral gene transduction, patch clamp, vessel perfusion, confocal and super-resolution imaging, and in vivo microscopy.

Kartik Shankar, PhD
Pediatrics, Section of Developmental Nutrition
Web profile 
Research in my group is focused on understanding the developmental origins of obesity and metabolic disease, including the transmission of obesity from mother to child. We employ of range of cellular, whole-animals (in mice) and translational (using clinical studies) approaches and leverage high-dimensional OMIC methodologies. In addition, to strong exposure to metabolism, obesity and reproductive endocrine research, opportunities in the lab combine learning of both wet-bench and bioinformatics related to these techniques.

Sharda Singh, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile 
Age-associated mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage are primary causes for multiple health problems including sarcopenia and cardiovascular disease (CVD). My research is focused on the study of animal models of sarcopenia and CVD associated with aging. Our primary interests are in understanding the development of oxidant stress caused by reactive oxygen as mediators of myopathy and evaluating new therapeutic approaches to prevent CVD and sarcopenia. In addition, we are examining the therapeutic potential of several agents to prevent doxorubicin-induced cardiac injury using rat breast cancer model.

Brian Storrie, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile 
Research focuses on organelles of the secretory pathway using HeLa cells as an easy cell for molecular manipulations of the Golgi apparatus and plalelets as structure/function example of a stored secretory granules.

Alan Tackett, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
My laboratory focuses on histone epigenetic mechanisms that regulate gene transcription and that are coupled to melanoma progression. We utilize a suite of techniques in our studies including proteomics of human biopsies, immunohistochemistry, cell culture, tumorigenicity assays, ChIPseq, biochemical and proteomic approaches for analyses of protein complexes, and cutting-edge mass spectrometry for the analysis of histone post-translational modifications.

David Ussery, PhD
Biomedical Informatics
We are using ‘third generation sequencing technology’ (such as Oxford Nanopore flow cells) to do metagenomics of clinical isolates and environmental samples.

Wayne Wahls, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile 
Chromosome dynamics, epigenetics, cellular growth controls

Jerry Ware, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile
The role of circulating blood platelets, in thrombosis, inflammation, and cancer.

Patricia Wight, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile 
The focus of research in my laboratory is centered on CNS development, particularly with regard to the formation and maintenance of myelin. Myelin is the tightly compacted multilamellar sheath, which surrounds axons and promotes saltatory conduction of nerve impulses. The myelin proteolipid protein gene (PLP1) encodes the most abundant protein found in mature myelin from the CNS. Expression of the gene is regulated spatiotemporally, with maximal expression occurring in oligodendrocytes during the myelination period of CNS development. PLP1 expression is tightly controlled; misregulation of the gene in humans can result in the X-linked dysmyelinating disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), and in transgenic mice carrying a null mutation or extra copies of the gene can result in a variety of conditions from late onset demyelination and axonopathy to severe early onset dysmyelination. With the use of transgenic and transfection paradigms, we have been able to show that the first intron of the PLP1 contains an enhancer region that is required for expression in oligodendrocytes as well as in other cell types that express PLP1. This region also overlaps a couple of recently discovered, alternatively spliced exons that are primarily restricted to the human species. Current efforts in the laboratory are focused on: identifying the transcription factors/architectural proteins that mediate enhancer function in PLP1 intron 1; test whether critical mutations in the enhancer could be the cause of PMD in patients with unaltered PLP1 coding sequence and gene dosage; understand the and spatiotemporal expression and function of intron 1-dervied splice isoforms in man. We are also using our PLP1-lacZ transgenic mice as a tool to screen for small molecules that stimulate myelination as a possible therapeutic for demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Laxmi Yeruva, PhD
Pediatrics
Web profile 
Our lab focus on two aspects 1. Role of Chlamydia variants in host pathogenesis. 2. Role of infant diet in gastrointestinal tract development and immune function.

Donghoon Yoon, PhD
Myeloma Institute
Web profile 
We are interested in the pathophysiology of multiple myeloma (MM), a B cell cancer characterized by proliferation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow, presence of a monoclonal serum immunoglobulin, and osteolytic lesions. We are investigating roles/mechanisms of PTH axis (PTH signal transduction) in MM development and therapeutic agents that target this axis. Additionally we are exploring the roles of Hypoxia (low oxygen tension) and microRNA (miRNA) in MM.

Haibo Zhao, MD, PhD
Internal Medicine/Endocrinology
Osteoclast cell biology and metabolic bone diseases

Boris Zybaylov
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
I am interested in the role of non-canonical DNA structures and long non-coding RNAs in human disease. I am also interested in clinical applications of microbiome-derived protein biomarkers