Research Faculty Seminar Series

The Office of Faculty Affairs & Faculty Development and the Medical School Office of Research have launched a Research Faculty Seminar Series (RFSS). The RFSS provides a platform to disseminate scientific findings, facilitate networking, and provide resources for research track faculty.

Please register for sessions you'd like to attend - in the event that we need to update, change, or cancel the session, you will be notified. Faculty are welcome to attend virtual sessions without registering with the caveat that you may miss important updates prior to the session.

If you are joining a virtual RFSS program on the day of the program, please use the zoom link directly - do not register via the REGISTER ONLINE button.

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December 8, 2022

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
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Investigating Single Cell Heterogeneity in Cancer

Brock Humphries, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Radiology

Tumor-initiating cells (TICs, also known as cancer stem cells (CSCs)) are a major contributor to breast tumor heterogeneity, leading to breast cancer initiation, progression, metastasis, and recurrence. Our current understanding of mechanisms that establish and maintain TIC physiology is incompletely defined. This talk will discuss our work that has shown that phosphatidylserine decarboxylase (PISD) is a novel regulator of TICs by regulating multiple facets of mitochondrial morphology, physiology, and cellular metabolism, underlining mitochondrial functions as critical drivers of TICs.

Functional Characterization of EPDR1 as Novel Osteoblast Effector Gene at the BMD-GWAS Implicated STARD3NL locus

Yadav Wagley, Ph.D.
Research Investigator
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

EPDR1 was identified by variant-to-gene mapping using genome-scale promoter focused Capture-C and ATAC-seq of differentiating human osteoblasts. Three close proxy SNPs of the BMD-GWAS sentinel SNP rs6959212 at the STARD3NL locus acts as an osteoblast specific enhancer to regulate EPDR1 expression. This presentation will highlight the role of EPDR1 protein in human mesenchymal cell differentiation fate.

Past Sessions

November 10, 2022

Exposing a Novel Role of Translation Initiation Factor SUI1a as a Critical Determinant of Toxoplasma Gondii Differentiation

Fengrong Wang, Ph.D.
Research Investigator
Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Integrative Genomics Approach to Understand Disease Progression in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

Malathi Kandarpa, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Scientist
Department of Internal Medicine 


October 13, 2022

Discovery of First-In-Class PRC1 inhibitor with in vivo Efficacy for AML treatment

Yiwu Yao, Ph.D.
Research Investigator
Department of Pathology

Sleeping for Two: Maternal Sleep and Fetal Wellbeing

Louise O’Brien, Ph.D., M.S.
Research Professor
Department of Neurology


June 9, 2022

Using participatory research methods to investigate and enhance patient safety

Sarah Krein, Ph.D., R.N.
Research Professor
Department of Internal Medicine

This presentation will discuss participatory research with a focus on video-reflexive ethnography as a participatory visual method. This includes describing the use of video-reflexive ethnography to study nurse-physician communication and its potential application in other studies to improve patient safety.


May 12, 2022

Global knockout mouse models reveal cooperative effects of thrombospondins 1 and 2 on bone physiology

Andrea Alford, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Extracellular matrix (ECM) imparts structure and regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Matricellular proteins are a class of multifunctional ECM proteins that facilitate communication between cells, growth factors, cytokines, and ECM. Thrombospondins 1 and 2 are highly homologous matricellular proteins, which facilitate collagen fibrillogenesis and modulate angiogenesis. The Alford lab studies TSPs in the contexts of mesenchymal stem cell-osteoblast lineage progression, osteoblast ECM maturation, and bone tissue quality.


April 14, 2022

Intelligent Integration of Multimodal Data for Clinical Decision Support

Jonathan Gryak, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Scientist
Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics

For many diseases and illnesses, the analysis of individual data modalities such as imaging or electronic health records alone is insufficient for accurate modeling - only through the integration and processing of all salient sources of information can a model be created that produces reliable clinical recommendations. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of multimodal data analysis along with examples where this approach was used in clinical applications including postoperative cardiac care and inflammatory bowel disease.


March 10, 2022

Investigating causes of brain malformations with induced pluripotent stem cell models

Andrew Tidball, Ph.D.
Research Investigator
Department of Neurology

Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) and neural tube defects (NTD) are two common types of brain malformations due in large part to de novo genetic mutations. For FCD, the somatic nature of these mutations makes identifying novel causative genes difficult. To circumvent these difficulties, I have developed a CRISPRi genetic screening platform in human induced pluripotent stem cells using the FCD biomarker phospho-S6 and have identified several novel genes regulators of this signaling pathway. For NTDs, proving causality of identified de novo mutations is difficult. I have developed a single rosette brain organoid platform to investigate the mechanisms of NTD. I hope to use this platform to validate potentially causative gene mutations.  


February 2022

CDK-12 is a context-specific regulator of prostate cancer

Jean Tien, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Scientist
Department of Pathology

Inactivating mutations in the gene encoding cyclin-dependent kinase 12 (CDK12) define a subclass of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) that lacks other established oncogenic driver mutations. We employed mouse models and ex vivo organoid culture to determine the impact of Cdk12 loss in prostate epithelial cells. Our findings revealed Cdk12 loss to have context-specific effects: Inducing pre-cancerous lesions in the wild-type prostate, impairing the progression of tumors driven by Pten knockout, and promoting adenocarcinoma formation in the setting of p53 ablation. The findings suggest manipulation of CDK12 function has future clinical relevance in prostate cancers harboring specific mutational profiles.  


January 2022

Development and Testing of a Novel Patient-Reported Outcome Metric for End-Stage Kidney Disease Dialysis Patients 

Claudia Dahlerus, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Scientist
Department of Internal Medicine

This talk will describe the conceptual development and preliminary validation testing of a new patient-reported outcome (PRO) survey that asks end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients on chronic dialysis about their life goals. It will highlight some of the qualitative and quantitative data collected from patients and report on results to date.  The talk will also describe how measure scores from the Patient Life Goals PRO have the potential to facilitate treatment planning that better aligns with patient life goals.  


December 2021

The December 9th session has been canceled.

Should I stay or should I go (or grow)?
Using live cell imaging to discover policies that govern single-cell decisions

Kathy Luker, Ph.D.
Associate Research Scientist
Department of Radiology

Individual cells and collections of cells make decisions of critical importance for our health, such as the decision to respond to signals governing cancer metastasis.  Cells vary widely in their responses to these signals, even cells that are genetically identical.  Recent work suggests that this variation is not random, but is regulated in individual cells by networks of signaling pathways that create and maintain diversity in the responsiveness of the population.  Using combinations of fluorescent biochemical reporters in live cell microscopy, we can watch as cells make these decisions and use this data to create predictive models of heterogeneous responsiveness.  With multiple approaches to modeling, including ODE and AI based models, we are working to understand and control the biochemical mechanisms and cellular policies that govern single-cell decisions.  


November 2021

Editing the Rabbit Genome for Translational Research

November 11  |  4 p.m. - 5 p.m.  |  Zoom

Dongshan Yang, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Internal Medicine

Gene editing has accelerated biotechnology at an unprecedented pace. This enhanced capacity to rewrite genomic information has accelerated not only scientific research, but also the translation into novel therapies. In this talk, Dr. Yang will introduce his work using gene editing technology to model human diseases in rabbits to facilitate translational research of novel therapies including the gene editing therapy.


October 2021

Patient Demographics and Disease Mechanisms

Sex and age alter immunity in ALS

October 14  |  4 p.m. - 5 p.m.  |  Zoom

Benjamin Murdock, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology

The rates and severity of numerous diseases vary based on the sex and age of affected patients, and yet the impact of patient demographics is rarely explored. In our own studies examining the impact of the immune system on amyotrphic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we find that immune responses are altered based on sex and age suggesting differening disease mechanisms among demographic groups. Our findings highlight the need to examine demographic-specific mechanisms in disease research. 


September 2021

Newly Navigated Territory
The risks, isolation, and rewards of family caregiving in the time of COVID-19

September 9  |  4 p.m. - 5 p.m.  |  Zoom

Amanda Leggett, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry

In this talk, Dr. Amanda Leggett will describe mixed-methods research findings on family caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. She will highlight both barriers and facilitators to caregiving for patients who were hospitalized and incubated with COVID-19, for persons living with dementia, and in a national poll sample of older adults. Implications for care both in and outside of pandemic contexts will be offered.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this workshop, or have questions about accessibility, please contact us at

Upcoming Sessions

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3:30 PM to 4:30 PM Thu, December 8, 2022
Zoom - Passcode: 913886