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2021 Faculty Research Mentors

  • Associate Professor Tenure; Associate Professor, Neuroscience; Member, Kavli Institute for Neuroscience

    Research Interests
    • Amygdala
    • Neurophysiology
    • Social Behavior
    • Prefrontal Cortex
    Steve Chang is an Associate Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience at Yale University. He is also a member of the Wu Tsai Institute and the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale. He is also the co-Director of Undergraduate Studies of Yale's Neuroscience (NSCI) major. His research investigates the neural mechanisms of social cognition and social decision-making. He has been at the forefront of using live social interaction paradigms for studying the neural mechanisms underlying social decision-making and social gaze interactions. The ultimate goal of his research is to elucidate the neurophysiological and neuropharmacological mechanisms underlying social cognition and how these processes may be disrupted in psychiatric conditions with social deficits.
  • Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology

    Research Interests
    • Behavior
    • Brain
    • Cell Biology
    • Neurons
    Daniel Colón-Ramos was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He completed his B.A. at Harvard University, his PhD in the lab of Dr. Sally Kornbluth at Duke University and was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Kang Shen at Stanford University. The Colón-Ramos lab is interested in how synapses are precisely assembled to build the neuronal architecture that underlies behavior. To address this, they developed tools in the thermotaxis circuit of C. elegans. Their system enables unbiased genetic screens to identify novel pathways that instruct synaptogenesis in vivo, and single-cell manipulation of these pathways to understand how they influence behavior. As mechanisms underlying synapse structure and function are conserved, the research program seeks to enhance our understanding of synaptic cell biology in higher organisms, which may be important for disease.
  • Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

    Research Interests
    • Biochemistry
    • Gene Expression Regulation
    • Molecular Biology
    • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
    • Protein Biosynthesis
    • Genomics
    • Transcriptome
    Wendy Gilbert is a Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Her work focuses on regulatory elements in messenger RNA that control the cellular expression of the information stored in the genetic code. She earned her PhD at UCSF with Christine Guthrie, studying mRNA export and being fascinated by the exquisite mechanisms that couple export-competence to completion of RNA processing. As a postdoc in Jennifer Doudna’s lab at UC Berkeley, she uncovered a non-canonical mechanism of translation initiation. Her lab’s current work ranges widely across RNA biology with the unifying theme of elucidating the molecular mechanisms of RNA regulatory elements controlling mRNA biogenesis, translation and decay. Most recently, this has been in the area of RNA base modification. Notable awards include the RNA Society’s Early Career Award (2017) for her “paradigm-altering contributions to the field of post-transcriptional gene regulation” and the RNA Society Award for Excellence in Inclusive Leadership (2023) for her efforts to promote the training and professional development of underrepresented scientists.
  • Carolyn Walch Slayman Professor of Genetics

    Research Interests
    • Cell Biology
    • Dermatology
    • Genetics
    • Neoplasms by Histologic Type
    • Regeneration
    • Stem Cells
    • Stem Cell Niche
    Valentina Greco was born in Palermo, Italy and earned her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Palermo, Italy (1996). She earned her PhD at the EMBL/MPI-CBG, Germany (1998-2002), her post-doc at the Rockefeller University (2003-2009) and is currently a Professor in the Genetics, Cell Biology and Dermatology Departments, and a member of the Yale Stem Cell Center and Yale Cancer Center at Yale University (2009-present). The Greco lab aims to define how tissues maintain themselves throughout the course of our lives in the face of continuous cellular turnover, frequent injuries, and spontaneous mutations. To do so, the Greco lab developed novel tools that integrate imaging of stem cells in their niche in live mice with both genetic and cell biological approaches that empower a better understanding of the complex orchestration of tissue regeneration using the skin as a model system. This has led to a number of discoveries, including but not limited to 1) stem cell position dictates their fate in the hair follicle, 2) a stem cell-mediated phagocytic clearance mechanism regulates the size of the hair follicle stem cell pool and 3) tissue correction preserves skin epithelial homeostasis. These scientific discoveries are driven by the lab's desire to create a stimulating academic environment where the focus is on doing good, collaborative science while promoting inclusivity within the scientific community, prioritizing mentoring of the lab's trainees’ scientific growth, and striving to make science accessible to everyone.Dr. Greco has been the recipient of many awards over her career, most recently the 2021 International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Momentum Award, the 2019 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the 2019 Yale Postdoctoral Mentoring Award, the 2018 Yale Graduate Mentor Award in the Natural Sciences, and in 2018 was named the Inaugural Holder of the Carolyn Slayman Endowed Professorship.
  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience and of Psychiatry; Director Of Graduate Admissions, Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program; Member, Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair (CNNR); Member, Kavli Institute for Neuroscience; Associate Director, MD-PhD Program

    Research Interests
    • Autistic Disorder
    • Behavior
    • Dendrites
    • Electrophysiology
    • Neurobiology
    • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
    Dr. Higley studied behavioral neuroscience at Cornell University. He then completed his MD and PhD in the MSTP Program and the laboratory of Dr. Diego Contreras at the University of Pennsylvania. He continued his scientific training as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Bernardo Sabatini at Harvard Medical School.   In 2010, Dr. Higley joined the faculty of the Yale Department of Neuroscience and the Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, and Repair (CNNR).  He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2020.  He has received numerous honors for his research, including a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Klingenstein Fellowship, and most recently the NIH Director's Pioneer Award.  Dr. Higley has a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and is a member of the Wu Tsai Institute.  He also serves as Associate Director for the Yale MD-PhD Program and is the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program.
  • Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and Professor of Neuroscience

    Research Interests
    • Endocrinology
    • Mitochondria
    • Nervous System
    • Synaptic Transmission
    • Neurobiology
    • Apoptosis
    Elizabeth Jonas received training in Neurology and Internal Medicine. She developed an interest in Neuroscience while studying as a medical student with Dr. Rodolfo Llinas at N.Y.U. and at the Marine Biological Laboratory. With Dr. Llinas she developed an interest in calcium control of synaptic transmission. She pursued this interest as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Leonard Kaczmarek, Yale Pharmacology. Dr. Jonas developed a technique for recording from ion channels on intracellular membranes and has used this and other techniques to study mitochondria. Mitochondria are necessary for life and death of neurons and other cells. Regulation of mitochondrial metabolism is also key to energy efficiency in the nervous system. Dr. Jonas is now studying the role of mitochondria and energy efficiency in neurodegenerative disease states and in learning and memory formation in healthy brain. Her lab has recently characterized the molecular identity of the cell death channel known as the mitochondrial permeability transition pore and is now studying how inhibiting gating of the pore may ameliorate stroke, neurodegenerative and developmental brain diseases.
  • Associate Professor of Cell Biology and of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology; Co-Leader, Radiobiology and Genome Integrity, Yale Cancer Center; Associate Cancer Center Director, Basic Science

    Research Interests
    • Cell Nucleus
    • Cell Biology
    • DNA Repair
    • Microtubules
    • Nuclear Envelope
    • Telomere
    Megan received her B.A. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University working with Dr. Susan Lowey and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania working with Dr. Mark Lemmon. During her postdoctoral training with Dr. Günter Blobel at Rockefeller University, she discovered new mechanisms for the targeting and function of integral inner nuclear membrane proteins. Since founding her own group in 2009, Megan has continued to investigate the broad array of biological functions that are integrated at the nuclear envelope, from impacts on DNA repair to nuclear and cellular mechanics. Megan was named a Searle Scholar in 2011, is a recipient of the NIH New Innovator Award and is currently an Allen Distinguished Investigator.
  • Professor of Pathology; Director, Graduate Programs, Pathology

    Research Interests
    • Cell Fusion
    • Education, Medical
    • Extracellular Matrix
    • Foreign Bodies
    • Inflammation
    • Pathology
    • Wound Healing
    • Animal Experimentation
    • Nanomedicine
    • Translational Research, Biomedical
    Dr. Kyriakides completed a PhD at Washington State University in 1993. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington and has expertise in the areas of extracellular matrix, inflammation, angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in relation to tissue repair. The Kyriakides lab is investigating the regulation and function of matricellular proteins that modulate cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Our overall goal is to create novel engineering strategies based on biological observations to enhance tissue repair. Dr. Kyriakides is Director of Graduate Studies for the Experimental Pathology PhD program. He also serves as a mentor for students from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
  • Associate Professor of Immunobiology

    Research Interests
    • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes
    • Immunoproliferative Disorders
    • Inflammation
    • T-Lymphocytes
    • Signal Transduction
    • Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases
    Dr. Carrie L. Lucas received her PhD from Harvard Medical School and her postdoctoral training from the National Institutes of Health, NIAID. Her laboratory discovers single-gene defects underlying severe immune disorders in humans and dissects new biology and mechanisms revealed by these gene mutations using patient cells and genetically engineered mouse models.
  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Medical Oncology; Co-Leader, Cancer Signaling Networks, Yale Cancer Center

    Research Interests
    • Inflammation
    • Neoplasm Metastasis
    • Pathology
    • Genomics
    • Epigenomics
    • Tumor Microenvironment
    • Neoplasm Micrometastasis
    Don X. Nguyen was born in Montreal, Québec, Canada and obtained his B.Sc. from McGill University in 1998. He then received his Ph.D. degree in 2004 from the University of Rochester, NY, before pursuing his post-doctoral training at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute, New York, NY (2004-2009). Don is currently an Associate Professor (tenured) in the Department of Pathology and Medicine (Medical Oncology). He is also the Co-leader of the Cancer Signaling Networks program at the Yale Cancer Center. Don’s laboratory is focused on studying the biological and molecular determinants of lung tumor progression, drug resistance, and cancer metastasis.
  • Associate Professor of Immunobiology

    Research Interests
    • Allergy and Immunology
    • Gastrointestinal Diseases
    • Homeostasis
    • Humans
    • Inflammation
    • Microbiology
    • Microbiota
    Noah W. Palm is an Assistant Professor of Immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. His laboratory focuses on illuminating the myriad interactions between the immune system and the gut microbiota in health and disease. Dr. Palm performed his doctoral work with Ruslan Medzhitov and his postdoctoral work with Richard Flavell, both at Yale University.
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and of Cellular and Molecular Physiology

    Research Interests
    • Hyperglycemia
    • Hyperinsulinism
    • Insulin Resistance
    • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
    Dr. Rachel Perry is an Assistant Professor in Medicine/Endocrinology and Cellular & Molecular Physiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Rachel's background is in the use of hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and stable isotope infusions to assess insulin sensitivity, having earned her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D. (with Distinction) in Cellular & Molecular Physiology, and performed her postdoctoral training in Medicine/Endocrinology, all in the laboratory of Dr. Gerald Shulman. She opened her independent laboratory with K99/R00 funding in 2018. The Perry laboratory focuses on applying stable isotope tracer methods to understand obesity- and insulin-associated alterations in metabolic flux pathways. Dr. Perry and her colleagues have recently identified hyperinsulinemia-induced increases in tumor glucose uptake and oxidation as a critical driver of colon cancer in two mouse models of the disease, and mitochondrial uncoupling as a potential therapeutic strategy against the disease, and went on to show that responsiveness to insulin is a metabolic signature of obesity-associated tumor types in vitro. Current work in the Perry lab expands upon these themes to study the intersection between systemic metabolism and immunometabolism in cancer as well as in sepsis and exercise. We are currently funded by the NIH (R37, R21), the Melanoma Research Alliance, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Current projects in the Perry lab include: 1. What is the molecular mechanism by which obesity and hyperinsulinemia promote tumor growth? How does insulin alter rates of glycolytic, oxidative, and anaplerotic metabolism? Can we invent better tracer methods than currently exist, allowing us to reliably measure rates of these pathways in vivo? 2. What is the impact of exercise, a classic insulin-sensitizing intervention, on obesity-associated tumor growth - and what is the mechanism? 3. Are alterations in tumor immunometabolism permissive for tumor progression? How does cancer therapy alter substrate preference in immune cells? Can we exploit systemic metabolic changes to enhance anti-cancer immunity? 4. How do tumor metabolism and immunometabolism differ - in rate and regulation - in metastases as compared to primary tumor? 5. What drives the changes in glucose metabolism commonly observed in inflammation that occurs following various stimuli? In addition, Dr. Perry places great value on mentorship and has completed multiple trainings to help her hone these skills. The Perry lab is honored to have trainees at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level from around the world working with us both remotely and in person.
  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Digestive Diseases) and of Pathology; Associate Director, Yale MD-PhD Program; Director, Internal Medicine Physician Scientist Training Program

    Research Interests
    • Consanguinity
    • Genotype
    • Liver
    • Liver Diseases
    • Phenotype
    • Genetic Variation
    Silvia Vilarinho is a physician-scientist who uses genetics, genomics and human samples to investigate the molecular basis of various liver diseases of unknown etiology. Using these approaches, we have identified five novel genetic liver diseases. Our research goal is to continue to discover new genes important in liver function both in health and disease and to use cell biology and animal models to determine the specific mechanism(s) linking mutant gene to disease as a roadmap to further understand and treat rare and common liver diseases. This research approach provides new knowledge with direct impact in improving patient care and creates an outstanding scientific environment to train future physician-scientists and trainees with particular interest in human disease. Furthermore, I am very committed to make ‘genomic medicine for liver disease’ a reality in clinical practice worldwide.