Research interests of primary and secondary faculty mentors for thesis research

Research thesis mentors conduct internationally recognized research in the biochemistry, genetics and cell biology of various human diseases including cancer, Mendelian and complex disorders.

Hooman Allayee, PhD uses integrative and systems genetics approaches in human populations and mouse models to understand complex disease traits.

Woojin An, PhD, Woojin An, PhD uses multi-disciplinary biochemical and cellular approaches to understand fundamental concepts and mechanisms of action of epigenetic histone remodeling in cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and transformation.

Ruchi Bajpai, PhD, is elucidating epigenetic mechanisms that control early human development, defects in which underlie many craniofacial and neuro-developmental disorders. Her studies using human pluripotent stem cells have given insights into defects occurring in transient developmental cell populations and generated therapeutically relevant cells for innovative therapies.

Oliver Bell, PhD, uses synthetic biology approaches in mouse embryonic stem cells to study the dynamic regulation of chromatin modifications and their contribution to epigenetic inheritance of gene silencing.

Zea Borok, MD, studies transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate differentiation of lung alveolar epithelial cells in lung injury, repair and fibrosis.

Paula Cannon, PhD Her research is devoted to studying viruses, stem cells and gene therapy, specifically entry and exit of enveloped RNS viruses (HIV and other arenaviruses) into and out of host cells.

Jianfu Chen, PhD, uses genetically modified mice and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived cells to model neurological disorders, followed by mechanistic studies at the molecular, cellular, circuit, and behavioral levels.

David Cobrinik, MD, PhD, studies how normal development is altered by oncogenic changes to give rise to cancer, using the development of retinoblastoma from cone photoreceptor
precursors as a model.

Lucio Comai, PhD, studies the molecular basis of human aging and focuses on the analysis of cellular processes that are altered in genetic diseases of premature aging diseases.

Yves A. De Clerck, MD, researches the microenvironment in cancer progressions, namely the roles of matrix metalloproteases and serine proteases and their inhibitors in extracellular matrix remodeling and tumor progression.

Peggy J. Farnham, PhD, studies the transcriptomic and epigenomic changes that occur during neoplastic transformation, using genome-wide technologies such as ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, and whole genome bisulfite-seq. She is also characterizing cancer-associated enhancers using genomic nucleases and targeted epigenetic regulators.

Baruch Frenkel, DMD, PhD, is studying steroid hormone receptors in bone and cancer cells, with a recent emphasis on high-throughput genomic approaches to decipher their locus-dependent functional interaction with RUNX transcription factors.

Mark Frey, PhD studies the molecular mechanisms of intestinal inflammation, repair, and tumorigenesis. He is interested in how signaling pathways driven by the ErbB3 and ErbB4 receptor tyrosine kinases help to orchestrate a return to homeostasis after injury, with the long-term goal of finding ways to harness these pathways as novel targets for treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases and colitis-associated cancer.

Joseph Hacia, PhD, is involved in developing targeted therapies for peroxisome biogenesis disorders, multi-systemic genetic disorders that have an especially profound impact on the neurological functions of affected children. He is also involved in large-scale drug screening, as well as gene and cell transplant therapy initiatives.

Young-Kwon Hong, MD, PhD, studies the molecular mechanisms underlying the physiological and pathological lymphangiogenesis, specifically the role of Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpes Virus in abnormal lymphangiogenesis.

Vijay Kalra, PhD, investigates mechanisms of inflammation, pulmonary hypertension and reactive airway disease in sickle cell disease.

Ite Offringa, PhD, studies lung cancer, including small cell lung cancer immunotherapy and the peripheral lung epigenome as it relates to cancer, cancer predisposition and the effects of tobacco smoke.

Ralf Langen, PhD, is interested in the folding and misfolding of membrane-associated proteins, studying fibril formation and structure in neurodegenerative diseases.

Amy Lee, PhD, seeks to better understand the response to stress in the endoplasmic reticulum and its roles in cancer and response to cancer therapy.

Michael Lieber, MD, PhD, focuses on how physiologic and pathologic gene rearrangements function in the immune system and in cancer and aging.

Ching-Ling (Ellen) Lien, PhD studies the molecular mechanisms of heart regeneration, coronary vessel development and re-vascularization using zebrafish as a model with a long-term goal of translating the findings to enhance mammalian heart regeneration.

Wange Lu, PhD, studies nuclear architecture in cell fate specification and cancer, as well as the signaling control of neural stem cell self-renewal and differentiation.

Crystal Marconett, PhD, studies the role that long non-coding RNAs play in epithelial cancers.

Amy Merrill-Brugger, PhD, investigates the etiology of congenital skeletal disorders to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular and developmental mechanisms that shape bone morphology, specify joint positioning, and coordinate attachment of skeleton to the surrounding muscles with the long-term goal of advancing innovative molecular-based therapies to treat both rare and common bone diseases.

Pragna I. Patel, PhD, strives to better understand the genetic basis of inherited human diseases, especially neurodegenerative diseases.

D. Brent Polk, MD, studies the regulation of the growth and development of the intestine as it relates to injury, inflammation, regeneration and associated cancer, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel ways to better treat or prevent childhood inflammatory bowel disease.

Sita Reddy, PhD, studies the role of the Muscleblind-like RNA binding proteins and the transcriptional regulator Sharp in the development of the neuromuscular disorder, Myotonic Dystrophy. She is developing small molecule therapeutics for this disease.

Suhn K. Rhie, PhD, investigates transcription factors and roles of regulatory elements in a 3D nucleome. By using next generation sequencing and epigenome technologies, she seeks to discover new molecular mechanisms of human diseases.

Judd C. Rice, PhD, investigates the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate stem cells and how their dysfunction causes developmental disorders and cancer.

Ansgar B. Siemer, PhD, investigates the differences between functional and pathological amyloid fibrils and the importance of intrinsic disorder for the formation and structure of amyloid fibrils.

Michael Stallcup, PhD, is leading a lab researching hormonal regulation of transcription by steroid hormone receptors and their coactivators.

Tobias Ulmer, PhD, has a research program that specializes in studying the three-dimensional structure of membrane proteins by solution NMR spectroscopy.

Daniel J. Weisenberger, PhD, works with the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, specializing in high throughput global DNA methylation analysis.

Jian Xu, PhD, focuses on how protein methylation regulates signal transduction and transcriptional reprogramming involved in cell differentiation and the role of protein methylation in cardiac and craniofacial development and disease.