CMB PhD Program Faculty

Core Faculty

Core Faculty in the CMB PhD program are those at the UTSA Main Campus in whose labs CMB students can pursue doctoral dissertation research.

Bernard Arulanandam
Bernard Arulanandam, Ph.D.
Professor of Immunology

Dr. Arulanandam's lab studies the basic mechanisms of immune defenses at mucosal sites. Mucosal surfaces form the major interface between the host and the environment and constitute the first line of defense against bacterial pathogens. (A) Using "omics" based approaches, the lab is investigating host immunity and pathogenesis associated with pulmonary and genital Chlamydia trachomatis in murine and guinea pig models of infection. (B) Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as an important nosocomial pathogen. The lab is focused on characterization of A. baumannii virulence factors using gastrointestinal (GI) and pulmonary infection models to delineate the role of these virulence factors in bacterial GI colonization and pathogenesis.

Astrid Cardona
Astrid Cardona, Ph.D.
Professor of Immunology

Dr. Cardona's research is focused in understanding the mechanisms of tissue damage in multiple sclerosis and diabetic retinopathy. Her laboratory focuses on the functional interactions between immune cells, microglia, neurons, and blood vessels, utilizing experimental mouse models of disease, immunological assays, flow cytometry, fluorescent activated cell sorting, microscopy, and molecular biology approaches. Her research program is concentrated in translational approaches for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy and multiple sclerosis.

Melanie Carless
Melanie Carless, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Carless' research focuses on identifying genetic and epigenetic factors associated with complex diseases, and in understanding how these might contribute to disease risk, and be leveraged as potential novel therapies. She is particularly interested in how epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, DNA hydroxymethylation, and microRNAs contribute to gene regulation, and consequently risk for metabolic disorders (e.g., diabetes and obesity) and neurological and psychiatric diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder). To accomplish this, her laboratory employs a range of approaches, including cohort-based studies, post-mortem tissue analysis, animal models and cell-based systems, as well as cutting-edge technologies, including stem cells, organoids, next-generation sequencing and epigenetic editing using the CRISPR/dCas9 system.

James Chambers
James Chambers, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry

Dr. Chambers is an established biochemist of long standing with national/international recognized expertise in many aspects of the enzymology of inherited lysosomal storage diseases (i.e., Gaucher and Pompe's Disease), glyconjugate characterization, receptor mediated channel function (i.e., Ca2++Mg2+ Dependent ATPase), and biosensor sensing element development (antibody, RNA aptamer, DNA-branched chain nucleic acid, and dendrimer based formats) for detection/diagnosis of Influenza and bacterial pathogens.

Jurgen Engelberth
Jurgen Engelberth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Engelberth's research focuses on the role of so-called "green leaf volatiles" (GLV), the common "green" smell of plants, as mediators of plant stress responses. GLV are well known as compounds that prime stress responses, thereby effectively protecting plants without investing valuable metabolic resources. However, even after almost 20 years of research little is known about how GLV regulate these processes. The lab is investigating the molecular mechanisms of GLV-induced priming and how these affect the physiology of the plant during stress responses.

Mark Eppinger
Mark Eppinger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

The focus of Dr. Eppinger's research is on the application of microbial genomics to address fundamental questions in emerging infectious diseases research. His current interests are directed towards large-scale sequencing and phylogenomic studies investigating major public health threats, such as Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli and multidrug resistant (MDR) enteric bacteria of clinical importance. Experimental approaches include microbial genome sequencing, phylogenomics, microbial diversity, and pathogenicity.

Thomas Forsthuber
Thomas Forsthuber, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Immunology

Erroneous activation of the immune system can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Forsthuber's lab pursues several lines of investigation to understand how the immune system, in particular T cells, contribute to autoimmune diseases and how to modulate T cell immunity for therapeutic purposes in humans. Specifically, he studies immune mechanisms in the central nervous system in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model for MS. Moreover, Dr. Forsthuber studies human autoimmune heart disease in a model called experimental autoimmune myocarditis. His research is aimed towards direct applicability to human diseases, for example by developing novel drugs for autoimmune diseases and biomarkers to monitor the efficacy of treatments for autoimmune diseases.

Chris Gamblin, Ph.D.

The Gamblin laboratory studies the mechanisms that lead to the polymerization of the microtubule-associated protein tau. Tau is a protein that is important in neuronal function, but can misfold and aggregate into pathological structures that accumulate in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The main approach of the Gamblin lab is to use a variety of small molecules to induce the aggregation of a wide array of biological variants of the tau protein to identify conditions to produce disease-relevant strains of tau in vitro for further characterization. We use these approaches to better understand the effects of modifications of tau found in disease on tau aggregation; to identify potential therapeutics to slow, stop, or reverse tau aggregation; and to identify other biological factors that may influence tau aggregation in disease.

Gary Gaufo
Gary Gaufo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology

The long-term goal of Dr. Gaufo's laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that regulate plasticity in living organisms. In its simplest definition, plasticity is the capacity of single- or multi-celled organisms to adapt to their environment. Using the mouse as a model organism, the lab's research focuses on neural crest and preimplantation embryonic cells to study plasticity. Neural crest cells are multipotent progenitor stem cells that are unique to vertebrates. In addition to giving rise to most peripheral neurons and glial cells, neural crest cells give rise to an array of cell types that make up the head. Preimplantation embryonic cells are the ultimate in vertebrate cellular plasticity; they have the potential to differentiate into both embryonic and non-embryonic tissues, which includes the placenta. These broad categories of cell types thus provide a solid platform the dissect the molecular basis of cellular plasticity in a mammalian model organism.

Kirsten Hanson
Kirsten Hanson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Parasitology

Despite great strides in malaria control during the past decade, Plasmodium parasites still caused over 200 million clinical cases of malaria during 2015, leading to over 400,000 deaths. The parasite forms responsible for malaria exclusively infect red blood cells, but all mammalian Plasmodium infections must initiate in the liver. This liver stage of parasite development has emerged as a key target for antimalarial chemoprophylaxis, as it precedes both disease and transmission back to the mosquito vector. Successful interventions against liver stages can thus protect both individuals and populations, a key challenge for the malaria elimination agenda. Dr. Hanson's research program is dedicated to identification of the most desirable compounds for liver stage-directed chemoprotection. In addition to the lab's compound screening program, they focus on novel assay development and chemical biology approaches to interrogating the unique cell biology that supports syncytial growth during the Plasmodium liver stage and the rapid cellularization process that ends the liver stage, generating thousands of individual parasites that invade red blood cells, and cause disease.

Brian Hermann
Brian Hermann, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology

Dr. Hermann's laboratory studies the basic biology of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which are adult-tissue stem cells responsible for sperm production in the mammalian testis and which are essential for male fertility. Ongoing studies in the lab are focused on 1) how the pool of SSCs forms during development; 2) determining how SSC fate is regulated; 3) how SCC loss due to chemotherapy can be prevented; and 4) how SCCs can be used to treat male infertility. The lab's work has potential implications for basic stem cell biology, reproduction, as well as translational significance for treatment and prevention of male infertility.

Jenny Hsieh
Jenny Hsieh, Ph.D.

The Hsieh laboratory studies the cellular and molecular markers that control neural stem cells in the hippocampus ("adult neurogenesis") as well as a "disease-in-a dish" approach, which uses patient stem cells to re-create human brain disorders in the lab. They were the first group to use a transgenic mouse to ablate adult-born granule neurons, and they showed this decreased seizure development later in life. The lab also uses optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to define the critical period and circuit mechanism that govern the aberrant properties of adult-born granule neurons in the hippocampus circuitry. To translate their work to patients, the lab uses human induced pluripotent stem cells to evaluate the role of genetic mutations in epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders, ultimately for precision medicine. The lab's goal is to develop novel strategies to treat or prevent neurological disorders, such as acquired and genetic forms of epilepsy. or neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Chiung-Yu Hung
Chiung-Yu Hung, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Hung's lab studies host-pathogen interactions, specifically host immunity to fungal infections with Coccidioides species. These fungi are known to live in the soil in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico and Central and South America. An estimated 150,000 people in the United States become infected with Coccidioides annually. VF is typically transmitted by inhalation of airborne spores of Coccidioides spp. The most common clinical presentation of coccidioidomycosis is pulmonary disease while dissemination of infection to skin, bone, and central nerve system can occur. Patients who present with severe acute pneumonia, chronic pulmonary VF, and disseminated coccidioidomycosis require antifungal therapy, which is potentially life-long with currently available drugs. There is an urgent and unmet need to develop better chemotherapies and a vaccine against Coccidioides infection.

Karl Klose
Karl Klose, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology

Dr. Klose's lab is interested in bacterial pathogenesis -- how bacteria cause disease. Dr. Klose has worked most extensively with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera, and is also researching Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that causes tularemia (rabbit fever). Cholera is found only where there are widespread problems with sanitation, so improving water and food supplies would eliminate the disease. Since that is unlikely to occur, a safe, cheap, effective vaccine is needed that would protect people. To design such a vaccine, the lab is addressing questions such as: How does V. cholerae know that it is in a human body and that is the place to express genes necessary for its survival and disease potential? What are the genetic factors responsible for V. cholerae to cause disease? How does this organism persist in aquatic environments, which lead to human infection? Very little is known about F. tularensis or about tularemia. It is a highly virulent organism and can easily be aerosolized, so it is classified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a Category A select agent with the highest potential to be used as a biological weapon. The lab is working to identify genetic factors responsible for F. tularensis to cause disease and to develop suitable vaccine candidates to protect against tularemia infection.

Richard LeBaron
Richard LeBaron, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. LeBaron's research is focused on human cell interactions with molecules of the extracellular matrix (ECM) through cell surface receptors called integrins. He focuses on two ECM molecules. One is called BIGH3, a proapoptotic protein playing roles in cancer progression and promoting diabetes complications in the renal and ocular systems; the lab is dissecting the molecular signaling pathway that induces apoptosis. The other is called lubricin, a protein that is crucial for articular joint lubrication. Human temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can develop a disorder (TMD) that can be exceedingly painful and occurs more frequently in females of birth-giving years, indicating a hormonal response. Dr. LeBaron's lab discovered that estrogen blocks lubricin gene expression and are presently documenting discovery in female and male TMJ cells and how that leads to TMD.

Hyoung-gon Lee
Hyoung-gon Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Lee's research is focused on the understanding of the pathological mechanism(s) underlying the selective neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases. Multiple molecular mechanisms identified from previous research in the lab, which would lead to the development of effective therapy. Among these identified mechanisms, ongoing research in the lab is focused on: (1) Cell cycle re-entry in neurodegeneration - Aberrant cell cycle activation in neurons is now emerging as a key pathogenic mechanism in many neurodegenerative diseases, including AD and peripheral neuropathy. The current research in his lab focuses on elucidating molecular and cellular mechanism how cell cycle re-entry causes neurodegeneration. (2) Insulin signaling in AD - Defects in glucose metabolism and insulin signaling in the AD brain have been suggested as an underlying cause of neurodegeneration in AD although its causal mechanism is elusive. Dr. Lee's lab has been studying potential mechanisms causing dysregulation of neuronal insulin signaling and its pathological effect on AD.

Soo Chan Lee
Soo Chan Lee, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medical Mycology

Dr. Lee's lab studies a broad range of fungi that pose serious threats to public health. In particular, one of the research goals is to elucidate the interactions between hosts and human pathogenic fungi, which will subsequently contribute to the development of therapeutic options. His research takes advantage of the Mucor dimorphism as a tool to elucidate fungal pathogenesis and host responses against life-threatening fungal infections. Another goal is to define the roles of the enteric mycobiota (fungi in the GI tract) in eating disorders. This could provide information for better understanding of the etiology and novel factors associated with eating disorders, which would facilitate the development of innovation and improved treatment options.

Annie Lin
Chin-Hsing Annie Lin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

The general theme of research in Dr. Lin's lab is cell fate regulation in the human health and diseases with focus on the intersection of stem cells and cancer biology. The ongoing projects seek to understand what extent stem and progenitor cells become cancer-initiating cells. Thus, the lab's work has potential implications for basic stem cell and cancer biology as well as translational significance for treatment and prevention of diseases.

Jose Lopez-Ribot
Jose Lopez-Ribot, Pharm.D. Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology

Research in Dr. Lopez-Ribot's lab has provided important insights into the pathogenesis of candidiasis, the main fungal infection affecting an increasing number of immune- and medically-compromised patients. This work encompasses from the basic biology of the cell wall, biofilm formation, adhesion and morphogenetic conversions, to the use of animal models to better understand virulence and host responses, to the more clinical aspects such as antifungal drug discovery and development, drug resistance, vaccines, and nanobiotechnological approaches, with the ultimate goal of devising new strategies for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of candidiasis.

Lindsey Macpherson
Lindsey Macpherson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Macpherson's lab is interested in investigating the sense of taste and the molecules, cells, and circuits involved in chemosensation from the tongue and gut to the brain. Taste receptor cells on the tongue are specialized to be activated by only one of the five taste qualities, and signal that information to discrete populations of neurons in the gustatory ganglia through "labeled lines." This hard-wired, labeled line connectivity pattern is essential for our ability to correctly detect and discriminate tastes. The lab is interested in understanding how this gustatory circuit is organized at the cellular and molecular level. Less well understood are chemosensory cells in the gut – which have many parallels to taste receptor cells – and may signal the presence of nutrients, toxins, and microbial metabolites to peripheral sensory neurons in the vagal ganglia. We aim to identify the cells and signaling mechanisms necessary for this gut-brain communication.

John McCarrey
John McCarrey, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Research in Dr. McCarrey's lab is centered on the development, differentiation, and epigenetic regulation of mammalian germ cells and stem cells, and on the role of the epigenome as a mediator of environmental effects. Experimental systems include mice, baboons, and other mammals. The lab is interested in 1) the potential for assisted reproductive technologies (e.g. IVF), adverse lifestyles (e.g. poor diet, lack of exercise), or environmental exposures (e.g. disruptive chemicals) to induce disease-causing epimutations in the sperm that are transmitted to a male's offspring, 2) epigenetic specification and maintenance of spermatogonial stem cell fate, 3) maintenance of enhanced genetic integrity in germline and pluripotent cells, 4) regulation of gene expression in germ cells and stem cells, 5) X-chromosome activity or inactivity in germ cells, 6) epigenetic reprogramming during gametogenesis, and 7) developing the baboon as a nonhuman primate model for studies of stem cell-based therapies.

Carlos Paladini
Carlos Paladini, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience

Activity patterns in the brain establish the manner by which sensory information is perceived, salience is assigned, and motor output is performed. Transient, activity-dependent release of dopamine is critical for natural processing in the brain. Disruptions of dopamine activity result in many of the symptoms of a wide range of psychiatric diseases, drug addiction, and in the extreme case of the degeneration of these cells, to Parkinson's Disease. In vitro studies have determined that ion channel proteins drive the activity patterns of dopamine neurons. The multitude of physiological consequences of their opening and closing makes ion channels and their associated receptors highly compelling as important therapeutic targets for treating many of the symptoms of mental illnesses and neurological disorders.

George Perry
George Perry, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology

Dr. Perry's studies are focused on the mechanism of formation and physiological consequences of the cytopathology of Alzheimer disease. The lab has shown that oxidative damage is the initial cytopathology in Alzheimer disease. They are working to determine the sequence of events leading to neuronal oxidative damage and the source of the increased oxygen radicals. Current studies focus on 1) the role of redox active metals in mediating prooxidant and antioxidant properties, 2) the mechanism of phosphorylation control of oxidative damage to neurofilament proteins, and 3) the mass spectrometry analysis of protein metal binding and crosslinking.

Rahul Raghavan
Rahul Raghavan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Research in the Raghavan lab combines molecular microbiology with evolutionary genomics to investigate how changes in proteins and non-coding RNAs facilitate bacterial adaptation. Three main avenues of current research are: 1) Utilize tick-associated Coxiella and Francisella to uncover how pathogens and symbionts rewire their physiologies to thrive in disparate environments, 2) Determine the roles bacterial and human regulatory RNAs play during Coxiella burnetii infection, and 3) Discover how new regulatory RNAs originate and gain functions in bacteria. The long-term goal is to use this information to develop innovative therapies that target pathogen-specific RNAs and metabolites to control infections that are difficult to treat with currently available antibiotics.

Robert Renthal
Robert Renthal, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry

Research in Dr. Renthal's lab is focused on: 1) Biochemistry and biophysics of cell membranes - How do lipid-transfer proteins interact with membranes? 2) Chemical communication by insects and ticks - What semiochemicals and chemoreception-related proteins are involved in ant colony interaction networks, and in mate- and host-location by tick and fly disease vectors? 3) Tick immune system - Why do tick vectors harbor pathogenic bacteria, such as Lyme disease spirochetes, instead of killing or expelling them?

Stephen Saville
Stephen Saville, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology

Dr. Saville's lab conducts research on the fungal pathogen Candida albicans and specifically how it is able to cause disease in humans. The fungus forms part of the normal microbiome of humans, existing as a commensal on the mucosal surfaces of the mouth, vagina, or GI tract of 30-50% of the population. It is, however, capable of causing a wide range of diseases from superficial, generally treatable conditions such as oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC; oral thrush) and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC; "yeast" infection) to a much more serious, life-threatening disease should the fungus disseminate to the deep organs. The major cellular attribute linked to C. albicans' capacity to cause disease is its ability to alter its growth form from single celled "yeast" to an elongated form called a hypha. The lab's research is focused on unraveling the cellular machinery controlling hypha formation and developing new antifungal drugs that will inhibit this process.

Janakiram Seshu
Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology

Dr. Seshu's research focus is to study how pathogenic bacteria interact with their hosts leading to infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and Q fever. The lab has started studies on how antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria influence physiological responses critical for healing of infected wounds. They determined the role of key players in regulatory pathways that facilitate bacterial pathogens to adapt to different environmental conditions and devise strategies to interfere with the lifestyles of bacteria to prevent their infectious capabilities. The lab also focuses on developing a variety of products such as vaccines, inhibitors of critical metabolic pathways, and modulators of host response to prevent bacterial infections using a number of experimental models of infection in conjunction with state-of-the-art methods in genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics of host-pathogen interactions.

Yufeng Wang
Yufeng Wang, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Research in Dr. Wang's lab focuses on the comparative genomics, molecular evolution, and systems biology of gene families. The lab uses genomic and related data, coupled with other biochemical and microbiological information, to identify new therapeutic targets and to further study the underlying evolutionary mechanisms in diseases such as malaria. Their research has a particular emphasis on the functional divergence of duplicated genes, which are believed to provide the raw material for functional novelty. The lab is also interested in the association between sequence evolution and gene network regulation.

Guoquan Zhang
Guoquan Zhang, Ph.D.
Professor of Immunology and Vaccine Development

Dr. Zhang's research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of protective immunity against aerosolized intracellular bacterial pathogens and developing novel approaches for discovery of safe, effective vaccines and immunotherapeutic strategies against aerosol-transmitted intracellular bacterial pathogens. To accomplish these broad goals, current projects in the lab are designed to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of protective immunity against Coxiella burnetii infection and to develop a safe and effective vaccine against human Q fever. Current studies include NIH funded or pending projects: 1) Use of a humanized antibody against intracellular bacterial pathogen, 2) Understanding the role of dendritic cells in regulating vaccine-induced protective immunity against Q fever, 3) Use of mimetic peptides vaccines against aerosol-transmitted bacteria, and 4) Understand the mechanisms of B cell-mediated protective immunity against Q fever.

Adjoint Faculty - Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI)

Adjoint Faculty in the CMB PhD program are those at other institutions in whose labs CMB students can pursue doctoral dissertation research.

Timothy Anderson
Timothy Anderson, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Parasitic diseases still plague broad swaths of the world's developing countries, reducing childhood survival rates and stunting economic growth. Dr. Anderson's laboratory focuses on the genetic basis and evolution of biomedically important traits in two of the most important human groups of parasites: Malaria parasites (>400,000 deaths per year) and Parasitic blood flukes (Schistosoma spp.) responsible for schistosomiasis (~200,000 deaths per year). The lab uses population genomics methods to understand the genetics and evolution of biomedically important traits such as drug resistance and host specificity, and to explore fundamental aspects of pathogen biology and epidemiology. They combine analyses of field collected parasites from Asia, Africa, and South America, with experimental analyses of parasites maintained in the laboratory, and genomic data. Current interests include: 1) Spread of Artemisinin resistance in SE Asian malaria parasites and 2) Application of linkage mapping and exome sequencing for Schistosome parasites. Recent highlights include identification of Plasmodium genome regions involved in artemisinin resistance in malaria in SE Asia, the development of a humanized mouse model for conducting genetic crosses in P. falciparum, and characterization and functional analysis of mutations underlying Oxamniquine resistance in Schistosoma mansoni.

Ricardo Carrion, Jr.
Ricardo Carrion, Jr., Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Carrion's research program aims to develop and characterize animal models for BSL-4 hemorrhagic fever viruses and other high consequence pathogens. He has characterized a number of models of virus induced disease which he uses for advanced preclinical development of vaccines and therapies. Several filovirus vaccine platforms that were in human trials were tested by Dr. Carrion's group using cynomolgus and rhesus ebolavirus macaque models. In addition, his lab performed critical preclinical studies for the first approved Ebola antibody therapy. Currently, he is focused on developing aerosol models for arenavirus induced disease. Most recently, Dr. Carrion's lab has supported development of NHP COVID-19 models and is using these models for advanced preclinical development of several covid-19 countermeasures including: mRNA vaccines, subunit vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and Remdesivir.

Marie Claire Gauduin
Marie Claire Gauduin, Ph.D.
Adjoint Associate Professor

Dr. Gauduin has more than 25 years of experience in HIV/AIDS research and medical microbiology. She has been working extensively on HIV and the development of novel vaccine strategies using the non-human primate model for AIDS. In her work, she uses epithelial stem cells and weakened recombinant papillomavirus as vaccine-vectors to protect against multiple low-dose mucosal challenges. Dr. Gauduin is also developing a neonatal model for tuberculosis to study HIV/TB co-infection in pediatric AIDS. Her specific research interests are: 1) Early events of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) transmission in a macaque model, 2) Host immune responses to infectious diseases, 3) Early virus-specific T cell responses in neonates, and 4) Tuberculosis/SIV coinfection in pediatric AIDS.

Luis Giavedoni
Luis Giavedoni, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Giavedoni focuses his research on viral infections and the development of vaccines and therapies. He is particularly interested in understanding the immune responses to retroviral infections (e.g. HIV) in animal models. His lab works on cytokines, which are molecules that mediate communication between the immune system and the whole organism. His group has been developing technology for the identification of cytokines in nonhuman primates and also studies the potential use of cytokines: 1) AIDS vaccine development using the rhesus macaque/simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model and 2) AIDS cure using CRISPR/Cas system and nanoparticle technology. Dr. Giavedoni is the leader of the Immunology Core Laboratory at SNPRC. He contributes more than 25 years of expertise in virology and more than 20 years of experience working with nonhuman primates; his scientific contributions led to an increase in the safety of vaccines.

Luis Martinez-Sobrido
Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Martinez-Sobrido is widely recognized for his expertise in generating recombinant viruses, specifically influenza, arenaviruses, and Zika virus, using plasmid-based reverse genetic approaches. He also developed plasmid, cellular and virus based assays to identify virus-encoded interferon antagonist proteins that have helped to uncover the molecular mechanisms involved in viral pathogenesis. He has several Department of Defense and NIH grants for the study of these and other important viral pathogenes. Currently, Dr. Martinez-Sobrido's team is mainly focusing on the study of SARS-CoV-2.

Jean Patterson
Jean Patterson, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Patterson's research focuses on emerging viral infections. She has directed the BSL4 maximum containment laboratory since 2000, and has extensive experience with advanced development of vaccine and therapeutics against hemorrhagic fever viruses as well as development of new animal models for hemorrhagic fever. In addition, the Patterson lab has also served as a mentor to graduate students and continues to work with graduate students.

Larry Schlesinger
Larry Schlesinger, M.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Schlesinger studies the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and other airborne infectious agents that subvert lung immune mechanisms. The primary focus is on models of human lung macrophage biology, including phagocytosis, intracellular trafficking, inflammatory signaling pathways, non-coding RNAs and cell death mechanisms. His lab also uses functional genomics to define individual variation in innate immune responses to pathogens. Additional projects are human in vitro models of granulomas, TB and diabetes, HIV and aging.

Jordi Torrelles
Jordi Torrelles, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Torrelles' research is focused on the study of the human lung environment and its effect on the outcome of TB disease due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection. He also aims to improve the diagnosis of susceptible and drug resistant TB in high burden areas.

Joanne Turner
Joanne Turner, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Turner studies the changes that take place in the immune system during the natural aging process and how those changes can influence both innate and adaptive immune function when infected with M. tuberculosis. The primary focus of Dr. Turner's aging research is the association of inflammation with susceptibility to develop TB. She also studies immune responses that correlate with an individual's age-associated susceptibility to reactivate a previously latent infection with M. tuberculosis. An additional area of research in Dr. Turner's laboratory is focused on using different genetic mouse strains to better model immune responses in humans. By doing so, her team has defined a major role for an immune-suppressive cytokine, interleukin 10, in TB susceptibility.

Adjoint Faculty - United States Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR)

Adjoint Faculty in the CMB PhD program are those at other institutions in whose labs CMB students can pursue doctoral dissertation research.

James Bynum
James Bynum, Ph.D.
Adjoint Assistant Professor

Dr. Bynum has been working at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research since 2003 where his work has involved research in several areas including damage control resuscitation, molecular biology, and coagulation and blood. He is currently serving as principal investigator on a collaborative research grant focused on the upscale production of mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of trauma-related indications. This work will define clinical potency, dosing, and safety guidelines for future human clinical trials using cellular therapeutics. Combat injuries cause major bleeding that is often worsened by exhaustion of the blood's normal ability to clot. Blood products are vital to treating severely injured casualties, but lose function during processing, storage and transportation. The lab focuses on understanding these complex problems and on finding ways to deliver safe and effective blood products to the battlefield. Research in the lab is focused on basic and translation research in metabolic function, blood product storage, and transfusion. The overall goal of the department is to deliver novel approaches to blood product storage and treatment of coagulation disorders that ensure an adequate supply of safe and effective blood products and cellular therapies to support the care of trauma patients in military operations around the globe.

Andrew Cap
Andrew Cap, M.D., Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Research in the Department of Coagulation and Blood Research focuses on translating basic science in hematology, transfusion medicine and integrative physiology into clinical solutions for the care of traumatically injured patients. Lines of effort include blood product development and blood safety; the study of acquired coagulation disorders in trauma, sepsis and use of extracorporeal life support systems; and the study of mesenchymal stromal cells in immunomodulation and wound healing following trauma. The lab employs in silico, in vitro, and in vivo models and participate in multi-center clinical trials and other collaborative projects to make advances in these areas. The department is comprised of 35 investigators, technicians, and staff and is supported by a dedicated research blood bank, clinical instrumentation laboratory, and flow cytometry facility.

Carmen Hinojosa-Laborde
Carmen Hinojosa-Laborde, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Hinojosa-Laborde's research incorporates an integrated physiology approach to understanding how multiple organ systems contribute to the regulation of blood pressure during hemorrhage. On the battlefield, traumatic injury is usually associated with blood loss which elicits cardiovascular compensatory responses to maintain hemodynamic stability. Pain control on the battlefield may suppress these compensatory responses and compromise survival of the injured soldier. Using animal models of hemorrhage, the laboratory studies the effect of pre-hospital (on the battlefield) pain control on the compensatory responses to hemorrhage. They investigate the effect of analgesics recommended for use on the battlefield on the animal's ability to tolerate and survive blood loss. These studies will help define best practices and innovative alternatives to current medical guidelines for pre-hospital care of the wounded soldier.

Kai Leung
Kai Leung, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Leung's research centers on infections and wound healing. His earlier research focused on the physiology of macrophages and their interactions with neutrophils. To further his understanding of disease processes in wound infection, he has been studying the mechanisms by which bacteria adhere, colonize, and damage host cells and tissues. Successful adherence and colonization by microbes result in the formation of biofilms, which contribute to the development of many non-healing chronic wounds. The lab established a number of animal models including rodents, rabbits, and pigs for studying biofilm infections in wounds and for testing treatment modalities. They successfully used antimicrobial peptides and peptide mimetics as countermeasures to reduce biofilm burden in wounds. Using systems biology, they began to understand the key transcriptomic signatures essential for the fitness of some pathogens during early active and late-stage biofilmdominant infection in wounds. In the past five years, the lab has also worked on eschar stabilization and mechanisms of hypertrophic scar formation as a result of burn injury.

Kathy Ryan
Kathy Ryan, Ph.D.
Adjoint Professor

Dr. Ryan has been a Research Physiologist at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research for over 18 years, primarily working in problems of cardiovascular physiology. She lead a research team that is focused on providing knowledge, techniques and solutions for prehospital care of combat casualties. To do this, they use animal models such as rats, pigs and baboons, but also perform retrospective studies using clinical data from wounded soldiers. They currently have research programs in: 1) understanding physiological responses to airway obstruction and providing novel ways to manage airways; 2) ascertaining analgesic effects on cardiorespiratory function following hemorrhage; 3) understanding the development of acute kidney injury following hemorrhage and resuscitation; and 4) understanding how the addition of traumatic brain injury affects the ability to survive hemorrhage.

Affiliated Faculty

Affiliated Faculty serve on dissertation committees and provide consultation for dissertation research.

Edwin Barea-Rodriguez
Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Dr. Barea-Rodriguez's research interest focuses on investigating and applying the best teaching practices in STEM education. Pedagogy is defined as the method and practice of teaching. Unfortunately, many graduate programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines do not incorporate pedagogy in their training programs.

Aaron Cassill
Aaron Cassill, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Dr. Cassill is interested in issues that prevent students from successfully completing their education. He is especially interested in problems encountered by students transferring from community college to four-year institutions and increasing the number of underrepresented students entering research careers.

Neal Guentzel
Neal Guentzel, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology

Dr. Guentzel's research expertise is in microbial pathogenesis and immunology. Initially, he worked with cholera (Vibrio cholerae) and was the first to show motility as a virulence factor for any bacterial pathogen and extensively characterized an animal model for studies of cholera pathogenesis and putative vaccines for cholera. He also studied pathogenesis of the major fungal pathogen Candida albicans and developed a new animal model for candidiasis. His current research interests are on the STD agent Chlamydia trachomatis, the select agent Francisella tularensis, and the multi-drug resistant wound and nosocomial (hospital acquired) pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii.

Hans Heidner
Hans Heidner, Ph.D.
Professor of Virology

The primary focus of Dr. Heidner's research lab is the design and development of alphavirus-based vectors and vaccines. Alphaviruses are small RNA viruses that are spread to humans and other vertebrates through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Alphaviruses possess a number of properties that support their use as vectors for expressing foreign genes of interest. Therefore, these viruses have been researched extensively for use as recombinant vaccines. The lab is using Sindbis virus, the prototype alphavirus, to develop and evaluate new strategies for targeting alphavirus vectors, or alphavirus-expressed antigens to immunologically relevant cell types such as dendritic cells. An additional project focuses on the development of an alphavirus-based influenza vaccine.

Martha Lundell
Martha Lundell, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Biology

The research in Dr. Lundell's lab is primarily focused on how neurons in the central nervous system of Drosophila acquire unique cell fates during development. In particular, they are examining the genetic pathway that leads to the specification of neurons that synthesize serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter conserved throughout the animal kingdom and has been associated with locomotion, learning, memory and several human neural disorders. The Drosophila serotonin cell lineage includes six cells: two serotonin producing neurons, a neuron that produces the neuropeptide corazonin, a motor neuron, and two cells that undergo apoptosis. The lab has characterized a number of genes that are essential in specifying these different cell fates and are investigating the genetic interactions between these genes.

Clyde Phelix
Clyde Phelix, Ph.D.
Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology

Dr. Phelix's research focus is on integration of systems biology, biomarkers, biosimulations, and modelling in streamlining drug development and biological discoveries. Focus is on intellectual property and commercialization of technologies. Methods apply to all three domains of living organisms, Archae, Bacteria, and Eukarya.

David Senseman
David Senseman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Senseman's Genome Lab is currently in the process of refocusing its research efforts from neurophysiological studies of cortical processing towards the study of the genetic basis of mammalian behavior. Much of the advanced computational and visualization techniques that were developed for high-speed imaging of cortical behavior are now being reapplied to the analysis of genomic data. Of particular interest is the remarkable behavioral repertoire of the dog, Canis familiaris. There are currently more than 350 distinct breeds that have been selected largely based on morphological and/or behavioral traits. Because of selective breeding over many generations, many of these behavioral phenotypes are either fixed or close to fixation in large number of populations. This high level of fixation provides a unique and very powerful tool for identifying specific gene regions associated with breed-specific behaviors. To fully exploit these advantages, a large compute server (called "Great Dane") was constructed in the lab for genomic analysis.

Valerie Sponsel
Valerie Sponsel, Ph.D.
Professor of Plant Physiology

Dr. Sponsel's research focuses on the gibberellin class of plant hormones that regulates plant growth and development. Many different gibberellins have been identified in plants and in the fungus Gibberella fujikuroi. It was the original identification of these compounds in Gibberella that led to their unusual name. In plants, one class of hormone can control many different processes; for example, gibberellins regulate seed germination, stem growth, transition to flowering, and fruit development. In most instances this regulation involves interaction of gibberellins with other hormones. Currently, the lab is interested in cross-talk between gibberellins and two other types of plant hormones, auxin and jasmonic acid in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Defining processes and mechanisms of how growth and development are regulated in Arabidopsis can provide information that can be useful to improve growth and productivity of crop plants. Dr. Sponsel also has a long-standing interest in medicinal plants and is currently collaborating with Dr. Francis Yoshimoto in UTSA's Chemistry Department on a project to elucidate the final steps in biosynthesis of artemisinin in the plant Artemisia annua. Artemisinin is a potent drug for treating malaria.