Nicole Marie Robles Matos
Mentor: Marisa Bartolomei, PhD
Nicole is a graduate student in the Pharmacology Graduate Group and a student member of the CEET’s Certificate Program in Environmental Health Sciences. She completed her BS in Chemistry in 2017 from the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus. In June 2018, she joined Marisa Bartolomei’s lab to explore in more depth gene-environment interactions in the development of diseases. She wants to investigate how an adverse early life event, like environmental exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), can lead to an increase risk to develop diseases later in life. Since the exact molecular mechanisms linking an adverse early life event to adult diseases remain unclear, she wants to explore epigenetic mechanisms which can be altered by the exposure to EDCs like BPA and DEHP. Her lab is working on the effects of maternal exposure to BPA and DEHP in metabolic, reproductive, neurological and skeletal outcomes in the offspring during adulthood. The ultimate goal of her work is to better understand the effects of prenatal EDCs exposure and the mechanisms through which they work to improve our knowledge of the risks to human health.
Mentor: Trevor Penning, PhD
Ryan came to UPenn in June 2018, where he joined the Pharmacology Graduate Group. He completed his BS in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of the Sciences in May 2018 with a double minor in mathematics and statistics. He joined Dr. Trevor Penning’s lab in April 2019, where he is researching the mechanism of excess androgen activity that is linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). He is interested in steroid metabolic pathways, and how the dysfunction particularly of aldo-keto reductase family 1member C3 (AKR1C3) may be leading to the disease state. He wants to study both androgen levels and AKR1C3 expression levels to understand how the metabolic schemes are being altered in adipose tissue. Exploring different kind of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are androgen activating may be able to help elucidate the mechanism leading to a lipotoxic profile ultimately due to excess androgen activity.
Mentor: Ian Blair, PhD
Ross Pirnie is a pharmacology doctoral candidate in lab of Dr. Ian Blair. Ross graduated from Bucknell University with a B.S. in biochemistry/cell biology in May 2017. His undergraduate thesis focused on using NMR to understand the structural dynamics and chiral properties of bile salt micelles. Ross is currently investigating post-translational protein modifications as potential biomarkers of drug induced liver injury. Specifically, he is using high-resolution mass spectrometry to detect context-specific modifications on high mobility group box 1 protein following acetaminophen-induced liver injury in model systems.
Ricardo Cruz-Acuña, PhD
Mentor: Anil Rustgi, MD
Ricardo started as a postdoctoral researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine in September 2018 under the supervision of Drs. Jason A. Burdick and Anil K. Rustgi. He completed his PhD in Bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in August 2018. His graduate research objective was to engineer synthetic hydrogel matrices that recapitulate native cellular developmental programs and have the potential to be used for cell delivery-based therapies. He is now interested in integrating aspects of biomaterials, molecular biology, and in vitro organoid models to understand the contributions of the tumor microenvironment to cancer progression in synergy with environmental carcinogens. More specifically, he is interested in characterizing the contributions of the extracellular matrix (ECM) properties to the tumorigenesis of esophageal adenocarcinoma in the presence or absence of environmental carcinogens. This work will help elucidate how cancer progresses within a dynamically evolving ECM that modulates every behavioral facet of the tumor cells.
Thea Golden, PhD
Mentor: Rebecca Simmons, MD
Thea Golden joined Dr. Rebecca Simmons’s laboratory after completing her Doctorate of Pharmacy (2011) and PhD in Toxicology (2016) at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the effect that fetal perturbations have on the developing immune system. Using Dr. Simmons’s model of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), she is identifying novel causative pathways in IUGR- associated type 2 diabetes. Thea particularly focuses on the immune system and the role of altered immune cell populations following IUGR.
Michael McQuillan, PhD
Mentor: Sarah Tishkoff, PhD
Michael McQuillan, PhD joined Sarah Tishkoff’s lab in July 2018 as a postdoc. He completed his PhD at Lehigh University in May 2018, where he studied the evolutionary mechanisms of speciation in hybridizing songbirds. Broadly, he is interested in understanding the evolutionary forces that drive adaptive phenotypic and genetic variation among individuals, populations, and species. His current project is aimed at understanding the genetic and environmental factors influencing cardiovascular trait variation in ethnically diverse Africans. Specifically, he plans to integrate genomic, epigenomic, phenotypic, and metabolomic data collected from African populations that have adapted to different dietary, climatic, and environmental contexts, in order to elucidate the factors influencing cardiovascular trait variation. This research will have implications for understanding cardiovascular disease risk across ethnic groups.
Joseph Romano, PhD
Mentor: Jason Moore, PhD
Joseph Romano is a postdoctoral researcher in the Computational Genetics Laboratory (led by Dr. Jason Moore), where he studies artificial intelligence applications in computational toxicology. He joined the CGL in June 2019, shortly after earning his PhD from Columbia University, where he developed computational tools to discover therapeutic effects from proteins found in animal venoms. At Penn, his work involves constructing information networks and graph databases that model downstream effects in the human body following specific toxic exposures, as well as developing new machine learning algorithms that identify patterns in these networks underlying mechanisms of human disease. Dr. Romano is an advocate for open science and the free software movement.