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Faculty

Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
John L. Bixby, Ph.D.

John L. Bixby, Ph.D.

Professor
Director of University of Miami Neuroscience Center

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-4874
Location: Lois Pope LIFE CEnter 4-17

Affiliations: Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Hussman Institute for Human Genomics

Graduate Programs: Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology 
Neuroscience

Research Summary: Research Program: Axonal regeneration after nervous system injury. For the past 18 years our lab has focused on mechanisms underlying the restoration of function after injury to the central nervous system (CNS), and on data standards and ontologies in regeneration research. Recent work has emphasized, in addition to high content screening and bioinformatics/machine learning, in vivo approaches to regeneration mechanisms involving both optic nerve injury models and three different rodent models of spinal cord injury. Our lab has also worked on RNA-Seq analysis and various bioinformatic approaches to screening and regeneration-related data.

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Richard Bookman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

Email

Peter Buchwald, Ph.D.

Peter Buchwald, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-9657
Location: DRI 5012

Affiliations: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Diabetes Research Institute

Graduate ProgramsMolecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Research SummaryCurrent research within our drug discovery program at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) is mainly focused on immune-modulatory therapies intended to prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes (T1D) or to benefit islet cell transplant recipients. Most important areas of interest include (i) identification of small-molecule modulators for costimulatory protein-protein interactions within the TNF superfamily (such as CD40-CD154), (ii) localized inflammatory and immune modulation, (iii) modeling of islet and beta-cell function (GSIS) and identification of early biomarkers of their degradation (omics approaches), and (iv) quantitative modeling of ligand-receptor interactions and concentration-response functions in general.

Kerry Burnstein

Kerry Burnstein, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-3299 (Office), 305-243-5732 (Lab)
Location: RMSB 6085 (Office), RMSB 6155 (Lab)

Affiliations: Associate Director for Education and Training, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Research Health Scientist, Miami Veterans Affairs 

Graduate Programs: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Cancer Biology

Research SummaryDr. Burnstein’s lab studies androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathways that may be exploited therapeutically for the incurable stage of prostate cancer, castration-resistance. They seek to understand the mechanisms by which AR and its constitutively active variants regulate genes and gene networks that contribute to cancer progression. The Burnstein lab identifies therapeutic targets that may be inhibited pharmacologically in robust preclinical models that faithfully recapitulate features of human PC from androgen dependence to metastatic castration resistance.

Gennaro D’urso, Ph.D.

Gennaro D’Urso, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

Email
Phone: 305-243-3105
Location: Rosenstiel Medical Sciences Building, 7151A

Research Summary: We are interested in using the yeast S. pombe as a model to explore the function of human genetic variants. We take advantage of the genetic tractability of yeast and vast set of genomic tools available to investigate gene-gene and gene-drug interactions in this organism. This information is then used to guide experiments in mammalian cells.

Yangbo Feng, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-5578

Location: MRSB 6025

 

Affiliations: Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Center for Therapeutic Innovation

 

Research SummaryMy research is focused on small molecule drug discovery and probe development. We aim to design, identify, and develop proprietary small molecule modulators for protein targets such as kinases, epigenetics, and GPCR, etc. Our goal is to discover novel medicines for unmet medical conditions, such as cancers and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Daniel Isom, Ph.D.

Daniel Isom, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-1508
LocationRMSB 6078A

Affiliations: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Institute for Data Science and Computing

Graduate Programs: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Cancer Biology

Research SummaryOur ambitious research program is aimed at illuminating the molecular and cellular basis of proton sensing, creating new technologies for ligand and drug discovery, and developing novel algorithms for data science in areas related to genomics, proteomics, and cellular imaging.

Rosemiere Kanashiro-Takeuchi, Ph.D.

Rosemiere Kanashiro-Takeuchi, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Publications | Email
Phone305-243-2187

Location: BRB 832

 

AffiliationsInterdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI)

 

Research Summary:My research interests involve understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive cardiac remodeling and the development of strategies to prevent or reverse cardiac disease by using in vitro and in vivo murine models of cardiovascular diseases.
Zhipeng Meng, Ph.D.

Zhipeng Meng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

 

LabPublications | Email
Phone305-243-7303
Location: RMSB 6088

Affiliations: Tumor Biology Program, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Graduate ProgramsMolecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Research Summary: The main interest of my lab is in how biochemical signals and mechanical cues work in concert to control tissue regeneration and carcinogenesis. We currently focus on the novel Hippo kinases MAP4Ks and their roles in integrating stress and mechanical cues to control liver injury repair and carcinogenesis, using a combination of genetics, biochemistry, bioengineering, and bioinformatics approaches. My lab is also interested in how cancer driver mutations alter cellular responses to biophysical microenvironments to promote tumor initiation and progression.

Claudia de Olivera Rodrigues, Ph.D.

Claudia De Olivera Rodrigues, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Email
Phone: 305-243-1003
Loaction: Biomedical Research Building 828

Research Summary: Molecular mechanisms involved in endothelial dysfunction, vascular remodeling and angiocrine signaling in tissue homeostasis and regeneration in the context of aging as well as acute and chronic injury.

Viraj Sanghvi

Viraj R. Sanghvi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Member of the Tumor Biology Program

 

Publications | Email
Phone:305-243-5588

Location: RMSB 6140

 

Affiliations: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

 

Graduate Programs: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Cancer Biology

 

Research Summary: Our lab pursues basic discovery and translational research in cancer biology. Specifically, our research programs fall in one of the following related areas: 1) understanding the pathological and clinical implications of non-enzymatic protein modifications, such as glycation, 2) investigating aberrant redox and metabolic signaling in cancer, and 3) deciphering “druggable” molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive oncogenesis. To accomplish this, we leverage a variety of genetically engineered mouse models, functional genomics and proteomics approaches, genome editing technology, and innovative screening platforms. We are on a constant look out for highly motivated postdocs, clinical fellows, and graduate students - informal inquiries are always welcome.
Stephan Schürer, Ph.D.

Stephan Schürer, Ph.D.

Professor

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-6552
Location: RMSB 6112B

Affiliations: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Institute for Data Science and Computing

Graduate Programs: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Human Genetics and Genomics
Cancer Biology

Research SummaryThe Schürer Systems Drug Discovery Research Group develops and applies data science approaches to chemistry and biology with a focus on developing small molecules with specific biological functions and mechanisms.  Our research programs interface data science, cheminformatics, computational biology, and medicinal chemistry.  To utilize diverse and large datasets, generate predictive models, and enable others we develop data standards, ontologies, and full stack software applications.

Vladlen Z. Slepak, Ph.D.

Vladlen Z. Slepak, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-3430
Loaction: RMSB 6008

Affiliations: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Graduate Programs: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Neuroscience

Research SummaryWe are studying regulation of metabolism (obesity and diabetes) concentrating on the mechanisms that link G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to hormone secretion.  The research involves investigation of localization and function of GPCRs, imaging, biosensors and genetically modified mice. A new project studies the role of some novel GPCR pathways in cancerous cell death.

Danuta Szczesna-Cordary, PhD

Danuta Szczesna-Cordary, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-2908
Location: RMSB 6113

Affiliations: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Graduate ProgramsMolecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Research SummaryUsing transgenic mouse models of human hypertrophic (HCM), dilated (DCM), or restrictive (RCM) cardiomyopathy, the Szczesna-Cordary Lab is studying the biomechanics of heart muscle from the organ down to the molecular level employing a combination of physiological, hemodynamic, and molecular approaches. The research work has predominantly focused on identifying novel mechanisms and validating new targets and/or treatments to battle cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Fulvia Verde, Ph.D.

Fulvia Verde, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Lab | Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-7587
Location: RMSB 6130A

AffiliationsSylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Graduate ProgramsMolecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Research SummaryWe study the emergence of spatial self-organization, growth control and stress response in fission yeast and human cells. Currently, my laboratory focuses on the regulation of Cdc42 GTPase dynamics during cell morphogenesis and in response to stress. Other projects address the role of mRNA granule assembly, phase separation of macromolecular structures, and changes in the biophysical properties of the cytoplasm, in the control of cell growth and chronological lifespan. Further, we have recently started a collaborative project with NASA, investigating the molecular underpinnings of cell resilience to stressors such as cosmic radiation and microgravitational forces.

R. Grace Zhai, Ph.D.

R. Grace Zhai, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Director, DREAM Scholarship Program

Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-6316
Location: RMSB 6069

Graduate Programs: Human Genetics and Genomics (HGG)
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (MCP)
Neuroscience (NEU)

Research Summary: Dr. Zhai’s research is focused on understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of neural degeneration and protection in the context of both common and rare neurological disorders.  Her group uses a ‘Drosophila - mammalian two-model’ systems, to identify genetic components in Drosophila and characterize the cellular mechanisms in mammalian cells.  Her group discovered and characterized one of the most robust neuroprotective factors that has broad therapeutic potential against several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. At the same time, her group has established numerous genetic models for rare diseases and carried out mechanistic analysis of neurological phenotypes that have led to successful therapies in human patients.

Fangliang Zhang

Fangliang Zhang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Publications | Email
Phone: 305-243-0159
Location: RMSB 6048

Affiliations: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Tumor Biology Group

Graduate Programs: Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology (MCP)
Cancer Biology (CAB)

Research Summary: My laboratory is one among the few research groups in the world with demonstrated expertise working on posttranslational N-terminal arginylation, which changes the primary sequence and surface charge of the substrate protein. Our main research focus is to explore the role of protein arginylation in the cellular stress response, metabolic reprogramming, and cytoskeletal rearrangements. We are passionate about applying our findings to better understand the pathological significance of arginylation dysregulation in cancer, injury, and aging-related diseases. In addition, we aim to develop new techniques/tools to address novel questions in arginylation-relevant studies.