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Post-Doctoral Researchers

Postdoctoral Researchers and Research Associates in Molecular Biosciences founded and are very active in the campus-wide KU Postdoctoral Association.  This group holds monthly meetings devoted to enhancing professional development, building interdisciplinary collaborations, and supporting a community of 300+ postdoctoral researchers on campus.  Please visit the KU Postdoctoral Association's webpage for details about upcoming events.
Saida Benomar

Name:  Saida Benomar
Mentor:  Josephine Chandler
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Microbiology and Biotechnology, Aix-Marseille Universities, France, 2012
Hometown:  Tetouan, Morocco
Email:  sbenomar@ku.edu

Quorum sensing is widely distributed in bacteria and involves cell density-dependent regulation of processes such as biofilm formation, virulence, competence, and antibiotic production. I am working on understanding the role of quorum sensing in interspecies competition. Specifically, we are interested in how bacteria use quorum sensing to protect themselves from attack from other bacteria. This may be an important process during survival in multispecies soil communities or infections.

Name:  Joanne Chapman
Mentor:  Rob Unckless
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Balliol College, University of Oxford, 2009
Hometown:  New Zealand
Email:  joanne.chapman@ku.edu

Name:  Supratim Dey
Mentor:  Roberto N. De Guzman
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Calcutta, 2014
Hometown:  Kolkata, India

Gram(-) bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas and Burkholderia infects host cells through a nanoinjector mechanism known as Type II Secretion System (T3SS).  Amongst the large number of proteins involved in T3SS, my research focuses on biophysical characterization of Tip and Translocon proteins that are essential for T3SS assembly and transmitting virulence into the host cell. This will help us in better understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for bacterial pathogenesis.

Ruth A. Entwistle

Name:  Ruth A. Entwistle
Mentor:  Berl Oakley
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Tumor Cell Biology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL  1985
Hometown:  University City, Missouri
Email:  raentw@ku.edu

In order to decrease their competitors and gain a survival advantage, organisms produce secondary metabolites. The model organism Aspergillus nidulans makes a number of complex secondary metabolite compounds that are toxic to their competitors, but useful for humans in medicinal therapies and agricultural applications. We are using molecular biology, analytical chemistry and bioassay tests to find and express new secondary metabolites.  In addition to the novel compounds we find, we are also learning important paradigms for the control of gene expression.

Shuang Han

Name:  Shuang Han
Mentor:  Liang Xu
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., M.D. in Gastroenterology, University of The Fourth Military Medical University, 2007
Hometown:  Yangquan, Shanxi, China
Email:  shuanghamy2014@ku.edu

My research is focused on anti-cancer potential of a novel inhibitor of RNA binding protein and the mechanism it is involved.

Name:  Tom Hill
Mentor:  Rob Unckless
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology and Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna, Austria, 2016
Hometown:  Oxford, England
Email:  tom.hill@ku.edu

Since Drosophila's establishment as a biomedical model in the 1950s, natural pathogens have surfaced as effective models of bacterial, fungal and RNA viral infections. However, there is no natural model for DNA viruses in Drosophila. I am working to establish the recently discovered Drosophila innubila nudivirus (DiNV) as the DNA virus model for Drosophila. Specifically, we are interested in identifying how the virus interacts with Drosophila to establish an infection and the host immune response. We are also interested in natural variation in immune response to infection by a DNA virus and will examine this by mapping variation in resistance to infection in infected Drosophila. This work will help us better understand the immune response to infection by DNA viruses, including in humans.
Lorne Jordan

Name:  Lorne Jordan
Mentor Lynn Hancock
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Kansas State University, 2015
Hometown:  Toledo, Ohio
Email: lornejordan@ku.edu

My interests include infectious disease research, specifically, that involving the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis. In general, the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains has made treatment of bacterial infections increasingly difficult; spurring an accelerated effort to develop new methodologies and technologies, aimed at addressing the emerging threat posed to human and animal health. My current work centers on understanding how intercellular communication, through small molecules, confers greater resistance to traditional therapeutic treatments.

Lan Lan


Name:  Lan Lan 
Mentor:  Liang Xu
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2010
Hometown:  Enshi, China
Email:  lan@ku.edu

My research is focused on identifying cancer therapeutics.   To this end I am using high throughput chemical screens to identify small molecules that disrupt the RNA- and protein-binding activities of known oncoproteins.

Won Suk Lee

Name:  Won Suk Lee
Mentor:  Erik Lundquist
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Rutgers University, 2014
Hometown:  Seoul, South Korea
Email:  wnskl@ku.edu

I am interested in studying guidance and receptor localization in growth cones of C. elegans axons.

Name:  Clinton Rice
Mentor:  Robert Ward
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., University of Iowa, 2016
Hometown:  West Des Moines, Iowa
Email clinton-rice@ku.edu

Septate junctions (SJs) maintain epithelial integrity in invertebrates by acting as a diffusion barrier between the apical and basal regions of these tissues. Recent studies have demonstrated that the component proteins of SJs play key roles in certain morphogenetic processes prior to the assembly of mature SJs. My research focuses on the role of these proteins in Drosophila melanogaster morphogenesis, particularly how these proteins affect the biomechanical properties of membranes during dorsal closure.

Name:  Catie Shelton
Mentor:  Audrey Lamb
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry & Microbiology, U. Cincinnati College of Medicine, 2016
Hometown:  Ohio
Email:  catie.shelton@ku.edu

My research interest is in using structural biology and biochemistry to better understand the mechanisms of bacterial pathogenicity and to use this knowledge to help explore new treatments for infectious diseases.
Pinakin Sukthankar

Name:  Pinakin Sukthankar
Mentor:  Joanna Slusky
Degree, Institution, Year:  Ph.D., Kansas State University, 2014
Hometown:  Bombay, India
Email:  pinakin@ku.edu  

Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) are an important and diverse class of β-barrel proteins that are found in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria as well as mitochondria and chloroplasts. These proteins play crucial roles in numerous cellular processes both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, including: membrane biogenesis, transport of toxins and metabolites, siderophore reception, enzyme translocation and mediators for bacterial infections. My research is focused on developing a tractable model system to study the biophysical forces that govern and direct polymeric β-barrel assembly, folding and insertion into lipid membranes. A determination of the principles of β-ligand design would enable the efficient targeting of engineered ligands to OMPs such as the VDAC-1 whose inability to induce apoptosis in tumorigenic mitochondria plays a contributing role in cancer metastasis.   

Xiaoqing Wu

Name:  Xiaoqing Wu
Mentor:  Liang Xu
Degree:  Ph.D. Southeast University, 2010
Hometown:  Rugao, Jiangsu, China
Email:  wuxq@ku.edu

I am working on drug discovery for novel small molecule cancer therapeutics targeting cell death pathways, especially for cancer cell radiosensitization and chemosensitization by molecular modulation of apoptosis and autophagy.


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