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MCDB&G faculty

Advising Faculty

NameResearch focusEmailPhone

Adamala, Kate

We are combining top-down and bottom-up approaches to synthetic biology; we use tools of protein engineering and molecular biology, together with novel synthetic cell technologies, to understand and modulate biological processes in complex systems.


Albert, Frank

We study the genetics of complex traits: how variation in genome sequences influences individual molecular, cellular and organismal features. We also seek to understand the evolutionary forces that shape genomic diversity.


Alejandro, Emilyn

T2D is the most common chronic disease affecting human health, affecting more than 347 million individuals worldwide. T2D is a complex disease characterized by pancreatic β-cell failure to make sufficient amounts of insulin in the setting of obesity and insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. The risk for T2D is determined by many factors. Our genetic makeup can predispose us for T2D, and lifestyle can also reduce or exacerbate health risks. But in recent years, our studies and those of others have shown the importance of babies' time in the womb for influencing health over our lifespan. We and others have shown that poor uterine environments can increase the risk of many diseases in adulthood, including diabetes. Therefore, the long-term goal of the Alejandro Lab is to stop the vicious cycle of diabetes by launching a two-pronged research program for both intervention and prevention of this disease: 

  1. Research program in the pancreas to promote healthy β-cell: The role of OGT in pancreatic β-cell development and function 
  2. Research program in the placenta to identify modifiable risk factors for T2D: Role of placental nutrient sensor proteins in the developmental programming of pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and susceptibility to T2D.


Bardwell, Vivian 

Transcriptional regulation in cancer and development


Blazar, Bruce

Transplant immune responses/therapy and use of induced pluripotent stem cells


Blekhman, Ran

Population, evolutionary, and medical genomics; understanding how human genetic variation affects phenotypic diversity and complex disease; computational genomics and metagenomics


Cetera, Maureen

We investigate mechanisms that coordinate cell behaviors across great distances during tissue morphogenesis.


Chen, Lihsia 

Cell adhesion, signal transduction, cytoskeleton, and C. elegans.


Clarke, Duncan 

Yeast and Human Cell Cycle Control


Conner, Sean 

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis; mammalian intracellular membrane trafficking.


Courtemanche, Naomi

Structure, assembly and dynamics of actin-based cytoskeletal network


Dehm, Scott

Focuses on the role of the androgen receptor (AR) and alterations in AR signaling in prostate cancer development and progressiondehm@umn.edu612-625-1504
Dong, Xiao

We focus on testing the mutation theory of aging: if accumulation of DNA mutations in normal somatic cells is a causal mechanism to age-related functional decline. We approach this by developing and applying state-of-the-art single-cell multi-omics technologies and machine learning algorithms.


Engelhart, Aaron

The research in the Engelhart laboratory is directed towards better understanding nucleic acid folding and function in order to advance two broad themes: 1) the development of novel nucleic acid-based imaging, analytical, and diagnostic technologies and 2) the elucidation of unanticipated roles for nucleic acids in vivo.


Ervasti, James

Molecular Basis of Muscular Dystrophy; Role of Actin in Cell Polarity


Farrar, Michael 

Signal transduction and lymphocyte development


Gammill, Laura

Cytoskeleton and Cell Motility, developmental mechanisms, neuroscience, and regulation of gene expression


Gardner, Melissa

Chromatin mechanics and dynamics; Quantitative fluorescence microscopy


Garry, Daniel

Regenerative medicine, cardiogenesis, and stem-cell biology.


Gill, Matthew

We are interested in discovering novel signaling pathways and mechanisms that affect development and aging in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans using a combination of genetic, drug screening and biochemical approaches.  


Greenstein, David 

Fundamental and fascinating developmental processes of meiosis and fertilization using C. elegans


Hallstrom, Timothy

How Rb/E2F1 mediated apoptosis is regulated in normal and cancer cells


Harris, Reuben 

The causes and consequences of programmed mutagenesis


Hays, Thomas

Cytoskeleton and cell motility, developmental mechanisms


Hogquist, Kristin 

Molecular mechanism of cell-fate determination in T cells


Igarashi, Peter

Kidney development, transcriptional regulation, microRNAs, primary cilia, polycystic kidney disease (PKD)


Jameson, Stephen

Development, homeostasis and trafficking of T lymphocytes


Junge, HaraldRetina, neurovascular interactions, wnt signalingjunge@umn.edu612-624-6017

Kawakami, Yasuhiko

Understanding the molecular and genetic mechanisms of vertebrate limb development and apply the study to elucidate the mechanisms of congenital limb in human and limb regeneration


Kikyo, Nobuaki 

Nuclear reprogramming in somatic cell nuclear cloning and stem cells


Knights, Dan

Our computational microbiology lab develops methods that bring precision medicine to the microbiome. We apply those methods to find patterns in microbial communities that predict and diagnose human diseases, and we use those patterns to develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics.


Koepp, Deanna

Cell cycle regulation, Ubiquitination and proteolysis, Genetic mechanisms of tumorigenesis


Kyba, Michael

Stem Cell Biology: regulatory pathways, diseases and therapies Transcriptional control of mesoderm development


Lange, Carol

The Lange lab studies how steroid hormone receptor (SR) positive and hormone-influenced cancers escape molecular targeted therapies. Signal transduction is an essential role of SRs. Indeed, all SRs can rapidly activate cytoplasmic protein kinases and act as “growth factor sensors”. In this role, SRs are heavily phosphorylated by mitogenic protein kinases (MAPKs, AKT, CDKs) that are frequently elevated and activated in SR+ (breast and reproductive tract) cancers. Phosphorylation of SRs alters their binding partners and promoter selection and influences cancer cell fate/plasticity by regulating genes that specify proliferative, pro-survival, metabolic, and cancer stem cell programs. Identifying the required kinases and co-activator partners of phospho-SRs will enable the targeting of multiple signaling molecules in addition to SRs, which is predicted to halt cancer metastasis, prevent recurrence, and increase patient survival.


Largaespada, David 

Identification and understanding of genes involved in cancer development


Mansky, Kim

Focus on signaling and transcriptional mechanisms that regulate osteoclast differentiation


Mansky, Lou

Cell and molecular biology of HIV and HTLV


McIvor, R Scott 

Gene therapy for genetic disease and cancer using viral and non-viral vectors


McLoon, Linda 

Craniofacial muscles in health and disease


Metzger, Joseph

Integrative systems biology of cardiovascular function; Cardiac gene therapy; Transgenic models of heart disease; Molecular mechanisms of sarcomere function; Human iPS cell cardiac myocytes


Moriarity, Branden

My lab works on pediatric cancer genetics, immunotherapy, and gene therapy using cutting edge technologies, including DNA transposons, TALENs, and CRISPR/Cas9.


Myers, Chad

Computational biology and functional genomics - Machine learning for integrating diverse genomic data to make inferences about biological networks


Nakato, Hiroshi 

Molecular and genetic analysis of Drosophila development


Neufeld, Thomas 

Developmental control of growth and cell proliferation in Drosophila


O'Connor, Michael 

Cell-cell interactions in growth, differentiation, and development


Perlingeiro, Rita

Mechanisms controlling lineage decision and reprogramming, and application to regenerative medicine


Porter, Mary 

Regulation of dynein-based motility


Schmidt, Daniel

Our group invents and applies protein engineering technologies to study fundamental functional principles of natural and artificial living systems at a cellular level.


Shimizu, Yoji 

Lymphocyte and tumor cell adhesion, migration and signal transduction


Simon, Jeffrey 

Animal development; control of gene expression; chromatin mechanisms


Sivaramakrishnan, Sivaraj (Shiv)

Protein acrobatics - Study of protein function via protein engineering; Focus on cell signaling and motor proteins


Somia, Nikunj 

My laboratory is interested in understanding the lifecycle of retroviruses and use this information 1) to identify new drug targets for HIV, 2) to develop better vectors for gene therapy and 3) to use these vectors for gene discovery.


Song, Guisheng

My research focuses mainly on the roles of microRNAs in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity, insulin resistance and liver cancer, with the goal to develop novel therapeutic approaches for these disorders.


Starr, Tim

Understanding the genetics of cancer in order to develop individualized, targeted therapies


Titus, Margaret

Molecular genetic analysis of unconventional myosin function


Tolar, Jakub

Stem cell gene therapy


Van Berlo, Jop

Role of cardiac progenitor cells in vivo during cardiac development


Van Ness, Brian 

Cancer transgenic mouse models and pharmacogenomics


Voytas, Daniel 

Plant genome engineering through homologous recombination; Retrotransposable elements and genome organization


Whitley, Chester

Evaluate retroviral-mediated gene transfer in hematopoietic cells and reversal of the disease process in vitro thus providing the impetus to initiate clinical trials of gene therapy


Yamamoto, Masato

Cancer gene-therapy and virotherapy


Zarkower, David

Molecular genetics of sexual differentiation, germ cell development, and testis cancer


Academic faculty





Research focus



Brooker, Robert

Structure and function of membrane-bound transport proteins


Davis, Dana

C. albicans genetics and pathogenesis


Hackett, Perry

Transposons, human gene therapy, vertebrate gene expression, mouse, zebrafish


Hirsch, Betsy

Cytogenetic techniques to elucidate constitutional and acquired chromosome abnormalities


Kirkpatrick, David 

The role of DNA repair and recombination in maintaining genome stability


Koob, Michael

Human Genetics


Lanier, Lorene 

Axon guidance and growth cone motility


Marahrens, York 

Chromatin, Genome Instability, DNA Repair, Repetitive DNA Sequences, Bioinformatics


McLoon, Steven 

Stem cells for therapeutic retinal cell replacement and progenitor cell maturation in retinal development


Nakagawa, Yasushi 

Mammalian brain development, cell type specification and establishment of neuronal connectivity


Odde, David 

Mechanisms by which cells grow and divide


Olszewski, Neil 

Function of O-GlcNAc protein modification in growth and development, molecular genetics of plant DNA viruses


Rougvie, Ann 

Developmental timing in C. elegans: from microRNAs to nutritional cues


Schottel, Janet

Desiccation stress, viable but non-culturable cells, biofilms, mRNA stability, plant-pathogen interactions


Shima, Naoko 

Uses the laboratory mouse as a model to understand a causative link between chromosome instability and cancer


Skubitz, Amy

Discovery and validation of biomarkers for ovarian cancer


Steer, Clifford 

Non-viral gene therapy using nanocapsules and the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon; antiapoptosis of neurodegenerative disorders using ursodeoxycholic acid as a therapeutic drug; genomic methylation changes associated with transposition of SB; and induced by microRNAs