Research

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The research efforts of the department faculty members provide significant contributions to the field of medicine. Faculty members also support master of medical physiology candidates as thesis mentors.

Research Focuses

Robert H. Chow, MD, PhD

Chow’s research aims to advance our understanding of how hormone and neuronal secretion is controlled in normal and pathological states and then to translate this knowledge to improve human health. In the last decade, neuroscience has benefited tremendously from the molecular biology revolution. Dozens of synaptic proteins have been cloned. One of the most exciting goals today is to figure out how these proteins orchestrate the complex life cycle of the secretory vesicle.

Robert A. Farley, PhD

Farley’s research focuses on structures of membrane transport proteins, mechanisms of ion and solute transport across cell membranes, diseases of ion transport, membrane-protein interactions, and molecular dynamics simulations.

Harvey R. Kaslow, PhD

Kaslow’s research focuses on cancer immunotherapy and the regulation of immune responses.

Austin K. Mircheff, PhD

Mircheff’s research focuses on immune cell – parenchymal cell networks in chronic inflammatory disease phenotypes.

Steven Mittelman, MD, PhD

Obese children with high-risk leukemia have a 50 percent higher chance of relapsing than those who are lean. Using a murine leukemia model system, our laboratory is investigating how obesity alters the cancer microenvironment by causing adipocytes to produce metabolic fuels and survival factors, which protect cancer cells from chemotherapies.

Janos Peti-Peterdi, MD, PhD

Peti-Peterdi’s research focuses on renal (patho)physiology, the role of kidneys in maintaining body fluid and electrolyte hemostasis and blood pressure in health and diseases, including chronic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy and hypertension; kidney tissue remodeling and nephron regeneration; function of macula densa cells of the juxtaglomerular apparatus (JGA); and the role of podocytes in the maintenance and pathology of the glomerular filtration barrier.

Joyce Richey, PhD

Richey’s research focuses on understanding the mechanistic links between insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases in dietary models of obesity.

Terrence Town, PhD

The laboratory’s efforts are focused on modulating immune responses in the brain to better understand and treat Alzheimer’s disease. The laboratory has generated the first rat model of Alzheimer’s disease that manifests all of the clinico-pathological hallmarks of the human syndrome. Both rat and mouse transgenic models develop ‘senile’ plaques but mouse models fail to manifest ‘tangles’ and frank neuronal loss. Because the rat model develops the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s pathologies, it is an invaluable tool to study Alzheimer’s disease etiology and test therapeutics.

Jang-Hyun Youn, PhD

The brain regulates energy balance and metabolism. A crucial component of this regulation is sensing of dietary nutrients, especially fat. Understanding nutrient sensing is of utmost importance because any impairment to it would alter one’s energy balance and metabolism, contributing to the pathogenesis of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Our recent studies showed that circulating free fatty acids (FFAs) play major roles in energy homeostasis in vivo and that different species of FFAs play distinct roles in the regulation of energy intake and energy storage/mobilization. We found that oleate, a monounsaturated FFA, may signal food intake for the brain to subsequently reduce food intake, whereas palmitate, a saturated FFA, may signal the amount of available fuels for the brain to regulate the mobilization of stored fat. We are currently evaluating physiological and pathological roles of oleate and palmitate sensing and elucidating the underlying neural and molecular mechanisms. Our laboratory is equipped to carry out whole body metabolic studies in rats and to perform various neural or molecular biological procedures.

Li Zhang, PhD

Zhang’s research focuses on representation and processing in sensory cortex, development of cortical organizations, formation and plasticity of cortical microcircuitry and neural basis for cortical pathologies.

Berislav Zlokovic, MD, PhD

Zlokovic’s laboratory focuses on the blood-brain barrier and neurovascular regulations, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and stroke. Using animal models and studying human brain, his laboratory has shown that dysfunction in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and brain microcirculation can accumulate before neuronal dysfunction and contribute to the onset and progression of different neurological phenotypes and symptoms including cognitive impairment.