Logo for University of Iowa Health Care This logo represents the University of Iowa Health Care

Current Mentors


Below is a list of current thesis mentors.  Click here for a list of rotation mentors for the past two years.

The MSTP is no longer maintaining an official MSTP Faculty list.  We invite all faculty to become involved in the MSTP.

Photo Name Department or Graduate Program Research Description (taken from their page or lab website) MSTP Student
E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Endocrinology & Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for cardiac failure in diabetes; Elucidating the molecular signals that coordinate the mitochondrial and metabolic adaptations to cardiac growth; Elucidating the mechanisms by which insulin and growth factor signaling regulate cardiac mitochondrial function and the adaptation of the heart to stress; Elucidating the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, diabetes and its complications.

Rebecca Autenried
(Molecular & Cellular Biology)

Christopher Adams, MD, PhD

Currently at Mayo Clinic

  • Internal Medicine - Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism & Nutrition
  • Genetics
Chris Adams has taken a
Molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle atrophy Therapeutic interventions for skeletal muscle atrophy, obesity and type 2 diabetes

Matthew Miller (at Mayo)
(Genetics)

Christopher Ahern, PhD
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
Function and pharmacology voltage-gated sodium channels that drive the rapid upstroke of the action-potential throughout the body.

Colin Clark
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)

Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
Congenital defects of the nervous system, especially neural tube defects, familial epilepsy, neurogenetics, neural stem cell biology Our laboratory is interested in understanding the basic mechanisms underlying both normal and disordered development of the nervous system. Our approach to these issues includes investigating the genetics of human neural tube defects (NTDs) and familial epilepsies, and elucidating the biology regulating neural stem cell development.

Lucy Evans
(Molecular Medicine)

Saul Rodriguez
(Neuroscience)

Gail Bishop, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
Our particular areas of current focus are in lymphocyte signaling and interactions between innate and adaptive immune receptors. The following is a summary of key projects ongoing in the lab – 1) How does TRAF3 regulate survival uniquely in B lymphocytes? How can this information be used to select more effective treatments for B cell malignancies?; 2) What is the role of TRAF3 in signaling and function of T cells?; 3) B lymphocytes as immunotherapeutic cancer vaccines.

Tina Arkee
(Immunology)

Amy Whillock
(Immunology)

Aaron Boes, MD, PhD
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Our laboratory is interested in the link between brain structure and function across the lifespan, particularly network-based localization of neurological and psychiatric symptoms. We approach this topic using multi-modal neuroimaging methods that include lesion mapping, resting state functional connectivity MRI, and structural MRI.

Ossama Abu-Halawa (co-mentor)
(Biomedical Engineering)

Hassan Ahamed
(Neuroscience)

Gordon Buchanan, MD, PhD

  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Research efforts in the Buchanan laboratory are focused on understanding basic mechanisms of epilepsy and sleep-wake regulation. We are particularly interested in the effects of seizures and vigilance state on cardio-respiratory control and how these may interact to lead to death following a seizure, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Our goal is to understand factors that render a given seizure fatal in an effort to help prevent SUDEP.

Fillan Grady (co-mentor)
(Neuroscience)

Ben Kreitlow
(Neuroscience)

Joseph Cavanaugh, PhD

  • Biostatistics
  • Informatics
Model selection, time series analysis & modeling diagnostics

Elliot Burghardt (co-mentor)
(Biostatistics)

Mary Charlton, PhD
  • Epidemiology
  • Cancer Biology
Health services epidemiology, Cancer surveillance and epidemiology, Assessment of differences in access and health services use between rural and urban populations related to the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer

Kristin Weeks (co-mentor)
(Epidemiology)

Rebecca Dodd, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Heme/Onc
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cancer Biology
The Dodd lab studies soft-tissue sarcomas, a type of cancer that develops in connective tissue such as muscle, nerves, fat, or tendons. Specific areas of research include 1) the genetics of sarcoma, 2) the tumor microenvironment, 3) preclinical platform applications, and 4) novel genome editing tools.

Wade Gutierrez
(Cancer Biology)

Adam Dupuy, PhD
  • Anatomy & Cell Biology
  • Pathology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
The goal of my current research is to understand the role that somatic mutation plays in all aspects of tumor biology. Much of our work has made use of the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system to engineer mouse cancer models in which somatic mutations are generated by transposon insertions. The current work in my laboratory focuses on the genetics of hepatocellular carcinoma and T-cell leukemia.

Eliot Zhu
(Cancer Biology)

Joel Geerling, MD, PhD
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Identifying and deciphering previously unknown connections between neurons in the brainstem and other subcortical brain region

Fillan Grady (co-mentored)
(Neuroscience)

Pamela Geyer, PhD
  • Biochemistry
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
The Geyer laboratory is interested in understanding mechanisms involved in genome organization and gene regulation. Studies include determination of the molecular mechanisms used by insulators to prevent interactions between enhancers, silencers and promoters and the identification of novel insulators. MSTP Co-Director
C. Allan Guymon, PhD
  • Chemical & Biochemical Engineering
Current research projects: 1) Photopolymerization of Lyotropic Liquid Crystalline Systems; 2) Improving 3D Photocured Systems; 3) Improving Neural Interfaces by Directing Nerve Growth with Photopolymerized Micropatterns; 4) Directed Network Structure Through Controlled Radical Photopolymerization; 5) Nano/MicroStructured Materials Obtained Using Photopolymerization-Induced Phase Separation (PhIPS)

Ryan Horne (co-mentored)
(Chemical & Biochemical Engineering)

Marlan Hansen, MD
  • Otolaryngology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Cancer Biology
  • Informatics
Auditory neurobiology and response of the auditory nerve to injury, its regenerative capacity, and methods to ameliorate damage using in vitro and in vivo animal models and human subjects.

Ryan Horne (co-mentored)
(Chemical & Biochemical Engineering)

Joseph Vecchi
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)

John Harty, PhD
  • Pathology
  • Cancer Biology
Current projects in the lab: Basic immunology and imaging of CD8 T cell immunity to liver-stage malaria; CD4 T cell and antibody mediated immunity to blood-stage malaria; Basic immunology and imaging of cerebral malaria; Tissue resident memory CD8 T cell dynamics and protection from influenza virus infection of the lung; Impact of repetitive influenza exposure on generation and persistence of protective CD8 T cells; Regulating memory CD8 T cell differentiation through inflammatory cytokines.

Mitchell LeFebvre
(Immunology)

Maddie Mix
(Immunology)

Jon Houtman, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
T cell activation is critical for the ability of the human immune system to properly fight an infection by a pathogen. However, inappropriate or aberrant T cell induction drives the initiation and progression of numerous human diseases, including T cell lymphoma/leukemia, human malignancies, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and transplant rejection. The goal of my laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanism of the formation of the multiprotein signaling complexes that occur after TCR and to investigate the ability of therapeutic agents to alter TCR signaling.

Aline Sandouk
(Immunology)

Julia Klesney-Tait, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Pulmonary
  • Immunology Graduate Program
Dr. Klesney-Tait’s research focuses on the role of the innate immune system in the regulation of inflammation as it impacts on the evolution of sepsis and the development of bronchiolitis obliterans following lung transplantation.

Jayden Bowen
(Immunology)

Amy Lee, PhD

Currently at U of Texas at Austin

  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Neurology
She is broadly interested in the structure/function relationships of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, and the roles that these channels play in orchestrating the development and mature function of the nervous system.

Joseph Vecchi (co-mentor)
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)

Steven Lentz, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Heme/Onc
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cancer Biology
Endothelial function in vascular diseases and tissue injury. Current areas of investigation include vascular function in hyperhomocysteinemia and atherosclerosis. MSTP Director
Barry London, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Genetics Graduate Program
My laboratory studies the molecular and genetic basis of sudden cardiac death in animal models, human families with inherited rhythm disorders, and populations at increased risk for sudden death. Pioneering studies in my laboratory engineered the first mouse models of long QT syndrome.

Alex Greiner
(Genetics)

Charles Lynch, PhD
  • Epidemiology
Cancer Epidemiology & Population Science (CEPS) - cancer etiology (exploring genetic and/or environmental risk factors for cancer at the population level); cancer prevention and control; and cancer health services and outcomes. The goal of the CEPS program is to conduct population-based research that improves our understanding of what causes cancer, how cancer can be prevented and, if not prevented, how it can be detected early in its course, and to increase quantity and quality of life for cancer survivors. Kristin Weeks (co-mentor)
(Epidemiology)
Vinit Mahajan, MD, PhD

Currently at Stanford

  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
Currently at Stanford. Development of personalized medicine for eye diseases through translation of our discoveries in proteomics, genomics, and phenomics in humans, mice and tissue culture models.

Marcus Toral
(Molecular & Cellular Biology)

Gabe Velez
(Molecular Medicine)

Wendy Maury, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
The goal of our research is to understand interactions between enveloped viruses and the host. We currently focus on two main areas of research: enveloped virus entry and innate host immune responses to virus infection. Using filoviruses and flaviviruses, we have identified a novel set of cell surface receptors and continue to explore the cellular biology of these interactions as well as the pathological consequences.

Hannah Van Ert
(Immunology)

Paul McCray, PhD
  • Pediatrics - Pulmonary Allergy & Immunology
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Human Toxicology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Informatics
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
Our research interests include airway epithelial cell biology and the pathogenesis and treatment of the recessive disease cystic fibrosis. We are using large scale gene expression and genomics approaches to study epithelial cell mRNA and microRNA gene networks regulating biologic processes involved in health and disease.

Laura Marquez Loza
(Molecular Medicine)

Jacob Michaelson, PhD
  • Psychiatry - Computational & Molecular Psychiatry Division
  • Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Informatics
We are interested in the use of computing to improve the understanding, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions. 1) Genetics & comorbidities in Autism, 2) Genetics of language impairment, 3) Predictions of top autism gene candidates, 4) Genetics of twice-exceptionality.

Leo Brueggeman
(Genetics)

Nicholas Mohr, MD
  • Anesthesia
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Epidemiology
The effect of telemedicine in emergency response and door-to-provider time.

Morgan Swanson (co-mentor)
Epidemiology

Robert Mullins, MD
  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics Graduate Program
Biology and pathology of the choroidal microvasculature in aging and macular disease; Mechanisms involved in the development of drusen; Structural and compositional changes in Bruch's membrane in aging and disease, and their effects on ocular physiology; Animal and in vitro models of age-related macular degeneration; Cell biology of inherited retinal diseases.

Drew Voigt (co-mentor)
(Genetics)

Nate Mullin (co-mentor)
(Genetics)

Jacob Oleson, PhD
  • Biostatistics
Research interests include: Cochlear implant research; Speech and language learning; Infectious disease modeling; Air quality mapping; Small area estimation.

Andres Dajles
(Biostatistics)

Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD
  • Epidemiology
Dr. Petersen is also the principal investigator and last author in studies that follow the immunopathology of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and tick-borne diseases, including Borreliosis (LD) in a canine natural disease model. We have ongoing studies of dogs infected with visceralizing Leishmania spp in the US, Brazil and India and in people in Brazil and Ethiopia.

Sahaana Arumugam
(Immunology)

Matthew Potthoff, MD, PhD
  • Neuroscience & Pharmacology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics Graduate Program
Liver-derived hormones signal nutrient availability to other tissues and control substrate utilization to maintain energy balance. My lab is interested in unraveling these hepatic pathways that govern systemic energy balance by focusing on known and novel hepatokines.

Sheps King-McAlpin
(Molecular Medicine)

Joseph Reinhardt, PhD
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biostatistics
  • Informatics
  • Radiology

Structural and functional evaluation of the normal and abnormal lung; lung tissue functional assessment to guide radiation therapy; analysis of breathing sounds to predict sputum accumulation during mechanical ventilation; segmentation, measurement, and network analysis of the retinal vasculature; pediatric airway segmentation, measurement, and shape modeling

Qi Wang (co-mentor)
(Biomedical Engineering

George Richerson, MD, PhD
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Molecular Medicine
Sudden death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and infants (SIDS), GABA mechanisms in epilepsy, Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, Control of breathing, Sleep, Serotonin, Brainstem mechanisms.

Frida Teran
(Neuroscience)

Todd Scheetz, PhD
  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Informatics
  • Cancer Biology
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
A major focus of my lab is the utilization and analysis of next-generation sequencing technology. We have identified two novel disease-causing genes to date, and are currently pursing validation in several additional families.

Drew Voigt (co-mentor)
(Genetics)

Daniel Sewell, PhD
  • Biostatistics
  • Informatics
His primary area of research is in statistical models and inference for network data, and in particular the statistical analysis of dynamic social networks. He has also contributed to other subfields of statistics, such as clustering and particle filtering, and holds interest in broad research topic areas such as Bayesian statistics and statistical computation. He has worked collaboratively in the areas of infectious disease, exposure assessment, physical activity accelerometry data, analysis of large health claims databases, and in the area of healthcare team communication

Elliot Burghardt (co-mentor)
(Biostatistics)

Val Sheffield, MD, PhD
  • Pediatrics - Medical Genetics & Genomics
  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Informatics
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Complex genetic disorders currently under investigation in the laboratory include hypertension, obesity, congenital heart disease and autism. In addition, we have worked on developing and improving techniques for disease mapping, positional cloning, and mutation detection. We have also had an active role in the human genome project and the rat genome project.

Sunny Huang
(Molecular & Cellular Biology)

Thomas Pak
(Neuroscience)

Richard Smith, MD, PhD
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pediatrics
  • Internal Medicine
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Informatics
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
My laboratory focuses on inherited hearing impairment and complement-related renal diseases like membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type II (MPGN II; also known as Dense Deposit Disease) and atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Inherited hearing impairment can occur with other co-inherited clinical features to form a recognized phenotype (syndromic hearing loss) or appear in isolation (non-syndromic hearing loss). We are using RNAi to develop novel methods to correct hearing loss.

Joseph Chin
(Molecular Medicine)

David Stoltz, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Pulmonary
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
Dr. Stoltz's research focuses on the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis related airway disease with a particular emphasis on studying airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells, the role of paraoxonases (PONs) on Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum-sensing regulation, mucociliary clearance, and advanced airway imaging modalities and analysis.

Guillermo Romano Ibarra
(Molecular Medicine)

Keyan Zarei
(Biomedical Engineering)

Eric Taylor, PhD
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Informatics
The Taylor Lab investigates the molecular mechanisms regulating mitochondrial function and their relationship to disease. We employ diverse experimental models as necessary to solve fundamental problems in metabolism. We have specific expertise in molecular genetics and metabolomics. We have ongoing projects on diabetes, cancer, and neuroscience.

Jane Buchanan
(Molecular Medicine)

Daniel Pape
(Molecular Medicine)

James Torner, PhD
  • Epidemiology
  • Informatics
Dr. Torner has conducted research in clinical trials, women’s health and disability related to injuries. He has been teaching, designing and conducting clinical trials for four decades. He has directed the Iowa Trauma Registry and has evaluated effective triage and critical care.

Morgan Swanson (co-mentor)
(Epidemiology)

Budd Tucker, PhD

  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Dr. Tucker’s Laboratory is focused on combining state-of-the-art patient-specific stem cell, gene therapeutic and human retinal engineering technologies to study and treat inherited retinal degenerative blindness.

Nate Mullin (co-mentor)
(Genetics)

George Weiner, MD, PhD
  • Internal Medicine - Heme/Onc
  • Pharmacy - Pharmaceutical Sciences & Experimental Therapeutics Dept (PSET)
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Informatics
  • Cancer Biology
Dr. Weiner’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of action of anti-cancer monoclonal antibodies, and on development of novel approaches to immunotherapy of lymphoma.

Shakoora Sabree
(Immunology)
 

Michael Welsh, MD
  • Internal Medicine - Pulmonary
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Informatics
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
The Welsh laboratory emphasizes research in two main areas. The first is understanding the biology of cystic fibrosis, and developing new treatments. Cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene that encodes the CFTR anion channel. Welsh and his colleagues are learning how the CFTR anion channel is regulated and how mutations disrupt its function. They also focus on the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis lung disease, learning how the loss of CFTR causes the bacterial airway infections and inflammation that destroy the lung.

Akansha Jain
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)

Andrew Kalenkiewicz
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)
 

John Wemmie, MD, PhD
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
We recently found that the Acid Sensing Ion Channel, ASIC contributes to synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. Our current research focuses on identifying the mechanism for ASIC activation in vivo, understanding the role of ASIC in synaptic plasticity, and establishing an uninterrupted link between ASIC channel activity and its behavioral impact.

Margaret Fuller
(Molecular Physiology & Biophysics)

Jan Wessel, PhD
  • Neurology
  • Psychology & Brain Sciences
  • Neuroscience
Our research examines the neural mechanisms that underlie flexible behavior and cognition. We are interested in how humans carry out and maintain goal-directed behaviors; specifically, how the cognitive system resolves challenges to this goal. Common examples of such challenges are unexpected events and action errors.

Ossama Abu-Halawa (co-mentor)
(Neuroscience)

Kristan Worthington, PhD
  • Biomedical Engineering

In our lab, 1) we utilize a method of high resolution 3D printing called two-photon polymerization (TPP). This technique has successfully created 3D structures from both synthetic and biological polymers. 2) Utilizing two-photon polymerization for creating degradable 3D structures which release drugs targeting a specific disease. 3) Implementing photo-polymerization of various polymers and combining the polymerized structure with cells to restore and maintain normal physiological function. 4) The samples created within the lab are tested to determine their viscosity and elastic modulus as well as observing microscopic topography through use of a rheometer and atomic force microscope (AFM).

Qi Wang (co-mentor)
(Biomedical Engineering)