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SRTP Mentoring Faculty

Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases

Martha L. Daviglus, MD, PhD is Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Director of the Institute of Minority Health, and Professor of Medicine and Public Health. She is a cardiovascular epidemiologist and has long-standing collaboration with CKD researchers at UIC on studies focusing on CKD and cardiovascular outcomes in minority populations. As the UIC PI for the HCHS/SOL and All of Us Research Program, Dr. Daviglus will offer students rich opportunities for research related to health disparities. Dr. Daviglus has an impressive track record in mentoring pre- and postdoctoral trainees who continued in a research-related career.

Michael Fischer, MD, MSPH is Professor in the Division of Nephrology. His research focuses on health economics, depression, quality of life among patients with CKD and end-stage kidney disease, and evaluating strategies to reduce pain and opioid use in adults on hemodialysis.

Victor Gordeuk, MD is Professor in the Division Hematology and Director of the Sickle Cell Center. He leads a portfolio of clinical, translational and basic research in sickle cell disease and has a successful track record of mentoring medical students throughout his career.

Rosalba Hernandez, PhD is Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the UIC College of Nursing. Dr. Hernandez’s research focuses on psychological well-being, optimism, and cardiovascular health in patients with kidney disease.

Lewis Hsu, MD is Professor in the Division of Pediatric Hematology. His research centers on improving treatments and education for children with sickle cell disease.

Tamara Isakova, MD, MMSc is a Professor of Medicine and a Clinical Nephrologist with experience in patient-oriented and epidemiological research of disordered mineral metabolism in chronic kidney disease. Dr. Isakova is the interim Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at Northwestern University and a Principal Investigator of the Training Core for the Chicago Kidney Urology Hematology network FOR city-Wide reseArch tRaining and career Development (Chicago KUH FORWARD).

Tanika Kelly, PhD is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology. The overarching objective of Dr. Kelly’s research is to advance precision health strategies for the prevention and treatment of chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease through cutting-edge multi-omics research.

James Lash, MD is Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Nephrology, and Associate Head of Research for the Department of Medicine. Dr. Lash’s research focuses on the epidemiology of CKD and interventional trials in the treatment of kidney disease, particularly in racial/ethnic minority populations in the United States.

Donald Lavelle, PhD is Research Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology. His research tests therapeutics for sickle cell disease. He uses a baboon model to investigate mechanisms of erythroid differentiation and developmental globin gene switching, and to test new therapies to increase fetal hemoglobin.

Jerrold Levine, MD is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology. The focus of his research is the role of dead or dying cells in health and disease, especially that within the kidney and the immune system. Dr. Levine has significant experience mentoring medical students interested in research and educating fellows.

Nadim Mahmud, MD, PhD is Professor in the Division of Hematology. His work focuses on studies of hematopoietic stem cell biology and blood cell regeneration in human and animal models. Recently, his lab has explored approaches to augmenting the number of transplantable hematopoietic stem cells in a single umbilical cord blood unit.

Robert Molokie, MD is Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology. He conducts basic and clinical/translational research in sickle cell disease including, phase I drug studies for adults with sickle cell disease and investigating chronic pain in sickle cell disease. Dr. Molokie is a highly sought out mentor for medical students.

Carol Podlasek, PhD is Associate Professor of Urology. Her research examines the role of nerve injury in the development of erectile dysfunction. Specifically, her laboratory focuses on how signaling is altered between penile smooth muscle/endothelium and the nerve/smooth muscle interface.

Ana Ricardo, MD, MPH is a Professor in the Division of Nephrology. She is studying the effects of poor sleep quality, short sleep duration and sleep-disordered breathing on the progressive loss of kidney function in patients with CKD. She has over 80 publications, and is a highly sought out mentor, particularly among URM students. Dr. Ricardo is a member of the COM Medical Scientist Training Program Advisory Committee and teaches the CKD unit for the first year medical student pathophysiology course.

Santosh Saraf, MD is an Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology. He investigates the genetic and molecular mechanisms for sickle-cell nephropathy and stem cell transplantation for sickle-cell disease. He collaborates closely with nephrology faculty at UIC. Dr. Saraf is an exceptionally popular medical student research mentor.

Anand Srivastava, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Division of Nephrology. Dr. Srivastava is a clinician-scientist who is strongly committed to cross-disciplinary patient-oriented research focused on the discovery and validation of novel non-invasive biomarkers that will identify high-risk patients with kidney diseases to optimize conduct of clinical trials and serve as tools for drug development. He serves as principal investigator and co-investigator on multiple projects funded by the NIH.

Donald Vander Griend, PhD is Associate Professor of Pathology. His research focuses on transcription factors important for prostate development, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), with the ultimate goal of developing effective tools for optimizing the treatment of BPH.

Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Mentors

Waddah A. Alrefai, MD is Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and an Associate Head of Research for the Department of Medicine. His research primarily focuses on studying the regulation of intestinal bile acid absorption with special emphasis on its role in maintenance of cholesterol homeostasis.

Judith Behnsen, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Microbiology/ImmunologyDr. Behnsen’s research focuses on the role of commensal fungi and its interactions with the gastrointestinal pathogen Salmonella typhimurium. Her laboratory offers ample training opportunities to study host-microbial interactions and the roles of gut microbiota in the protection against pathogens.

Pradeep K. Dudeja, PhD is Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Dudeja’s research focuses on investigating molecular mechanisms of NaCl and short chain fatty acid absorption in the human intestine in health and disease. His studies provide rich training opportunities in the areas of epithelial ion and nutrient absorption, host-microbe interactions and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Dudeja has an outstanding track record of mentoring and several of his former trainees (Drs. Gill, and Saksena) are currently pursuing independent academic careers as funded investigators and are program mentors.

Nancy Freitag, PhD is a Professor in Microbiology/Immunology. Dr. Freitag studies pathogenic mechanisms of bacteria and host responses to infection. Her laboratory is investigating the mechanisms of gastroenteritis due to Listeria monocytogenes. This research will provide the opportunity for trainees to acquire the expertise in the area of host-microbial interactions and how to utilize Listeria monocytogenes as a powerful model system for deciphering host responses to microbial infection and elucidating new paradigms of innate and adaptive immunity. Dr. Freitag is an advisor for several MSTP students.

Ravinder K. Gill, PhD is Associate Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Gill’s group primarily focuses on investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating the serotonin reuptake transporter in the intestine. Dr. Gill is an advisor for MSTP students.

Salman R. Khetani PhD is Associate Professor in Bioengineering. His expertise is in the development of in- vitro and long-lasting cultures of human liver cells using microfabrication tools adapted from the semiconductor industry to investigate mechanisms of key liver diseases. The focus of his work may be of particular interest to students with a bioengineering background.

Alan McLachlan, PhD is Professor in Microbiology/Immunology. Research in Dr. McLachlan’s laboratory is centered on investigating hepatitis B virus (HBV) gene regulation and its relationship to HBV replication. The current focus of the laboratory is to utilize unique reagents and approaches to understand the role of the liver enriched FoxA/HNF3 transcription factors in governing HBV biosynthesis. This work provides strong training opportunities in hepatitis B related host microbe interactions.

Ece Mutlu, MD, MS, MBA is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She is nationally and internationally known for her patient-oriented research studying nutrition and the intestinal microbiome. Her work has been supported by foundations and federal agencies. She serves on multiple advisory panels, conducts clinical trials, teaches, lectures, and publishes in the same fields.

Natalia Nieto, PhD is Professor in Pathology. Dr. Nieto has had a long-standing interest in understanding the pathophysiology of alcoholic liver disease and liver fibrosis. Her laboratory investigates the pathological role of a circulating immunostimulatory complex of hepatic origin as an inducer of tumor necrosis factor-α and injury in alcoholic liver disease. A high proportion of Dr. Nieto’s trainees have continued on in research-related careers.

Seema Saksena, PhD is Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Saksena studies cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of P-glycoprotein in the human intestine. She leads studies utilizing both cell culture and mouse (colitis) models, aimed at investigating the regulation of P-glycoprotein/MDR1 expression and function by probiotics and potential pro-absorptive agents.

Jun Sun, PhD is Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Sun’s research interests are host-microbiome interactions in inflammation, vitamin D receptor regulation of gut microbiome in intestinal homeostasis; and the role of bacteria in regulating intestinal stem cells. She is currently a primary mentor for a NIH Diversity Supplement and for two career development awards recipients. She is actively involved in mentorship programs for the American Gastrointestinal Association and the American Physiological Society.

Cemal Yazici, MD is Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Dr. Yazici is studying the contribution of diet and microbiome to the severity of acute pancreatitis. In collaboration with colleagues in the Division of Endocrinology, a main focus of research is the study of risks for and mechanisms of diabetes due to pancreatitis. As a rising physician-scientist, he is highly sought out as mentor.

Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Disease Mentors

Jose Cordoba-Chacon, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and is a K01 award recipient. During his postdoctoral training at UIC, he published 21 research manuscripts, setting the stage for ongoing studies regarding the regulation of hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism by PPAR gamma in mouse models of diabetes and obesity.

Rhonda Kineman, PhD is Associate Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. She is internationally recognized for her research in metabolic effects of growth hormone (GH) and its downstream effector, STAT5B, including studies focused on how GH/STAT5B suppresses hepatic lipogenesis and protects the liver from the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In her career, she has trained over 45 students and post-doctoral trainees and many of her trainees have continued in biomedical research careers.

Brian Layden, MD, PhD is Professor and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. The major focus of his research is to investigate pathways involved in the development of diabetes. Through genetic knockout models largely generated by his group, his laboratory is investigating different genes and pathways involved in blood glucose regulation. Dr. Layden has been responsible for the significant growth of research program in Endocrinology and has an exceptional record as a mentor.

Jun Ma, MD, PhD is Professor in the Division of Academic Internal Medicine. Dr. Ma has extensive expertise in preventive medicine, translational behavioral medicine, and experimental and implementation studies of lifestyle interventions for the prevention and control of chronic conditions, including obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. She has secured more than 25 million dollars of funding by NIH, AHRQ and other agencies as principal investigator since 2008 and has led 11 randomized clinical trials of innovative lifestyle interventionsShe has an outstanding track record as a mentor for both medical and postdoctoral fellows.

Pamela Ann Martyn-Nemeth, PhD is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing. Dr. Martyn-Nemeth is studying critical behavioral parameters impacting the quality of life and metabolic health in people with type 1 diabetes, including fear of hypoglycemia, cardiovascular risk, and sleep quality.

Abeer Mohamed, MD, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Her work focuses on investigating molecular and epigenetic determinants of vascular dysfunction in the context of hyperinsulinemia that accompanies obesity and type 2 diabetes. She is also examining the effects of exercise training on epigenetic signatures and vascular function.

Bellur Prabhakar, PhD is Professor of Microbiology/Immunology and the Associate Dean for Technological Innovation and Training. A major focus of his lab has been to develop different modalities of tolerance induction in experimental models of autoimmune diseases. Additionally, he is investigating the underlying mechanism of action of OX40 and Notch3 mediated co-signaling in the Treg expansion and to optimize methods for expanding Tregs of therapeutic value and test their efficacy in the NOD model of type 1 diabetes. His studies also have implications in pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease and hepatitis C infection.

Sirimon Reutrakul, MD is a Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Dr. Reutrakul’s research focuses on sleep and circadian rhythms in relation to metabolic homeostasis and the assessment of interventions to improve sleep quality and metabolism in patients with diabetes.

Robert Sargis, MD, PhD is Associate Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. His research examines the impact of environmental factors on metabolism in whole animal models, adipocytes and islets. He is also Group Leader for the Endocrine and Metabolic Disease Focus Group for the newly NIH-funded Chicago Center for Health and Environment. He is the Director of the Physician Scientist track for the Department of Medicine and is an important resource for recruiting talented and highly motivated trainees.

Papasani V. Subbaiah, PhD is Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and has extensive experience in research on lipid biochemistry which has been continuously supported by NIH and other agencies for the past 35 years. His current research centers on the role of conjugated linoleic acid isomers in insulin resistance and liver metabolism, and nutraceutical approaches to improve the delivery of DHA and reduce inflammation. In his career, he has mentored over 20 pre- and post-doctoral fellows.

Terry Unterman, MD is Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Dr. Unterman’s laboratory is focused on the regulation of metabolism by insulin and growth factors. Dr. Unterman’s lab utilizes transgenic, knockout and cell culture models to identify novel targets and mechanisms mediating effects of FoxO proteins on nutrient sensing and insulin signaling pathways, gene regulation and glucose and lipid metabolism in the liver. His research program provides rich training opportunities in the areas of liver metabolism and role of FoxO proteins in both liver and gut and their implications in diabetes.

Pingwen Xu, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Xu’s research was focused on the central regulation of energy balance and glucose homeostasis. In addition, he is examining how testosterone and estrogen signaling pathways in the medial amygdala interact to control energy homeostasis.