MSTP Faculty

Participating Faculty

Members of the participating faculty are Duke faculty members who are currently mentoring MSTP students, who previously mentored (within the last year) MSTP students, or who are on Duke MSTP committees. 

Students may choose mentors from among the many Duke faculty members with appointments to the Graduate Faculty. Training in a wide range of areas is available to MSTP students, and interdisciplinary collaboration across department lines occurs frequently. When faculty members are chosen as mentors by MSTP students, they are added to the membership of the Duke MSTP participating faculty.

A-B   C-D   E-F   G-H   I-J   K-L   M-N   O-P   Q-R   S-T   U-V   W-X   Y-Z

Faculty    Role
R. Alison Adcock, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
To understand how brain systems for motivation support learning and to use mechanistic understanding of how behavior changes biology to meet the challenge of developing new therapies appropriate for early interventions for mental illness
alison.adcock at
  Steering Committee


Hashim M Al-Hashimi, PhD
James B Duke Professor, Biochemistry
The theoretical design and implementation of new NMR experiments for probing the physicochemical properties of biomolecules, with particular interest in RNA and DNA and the proteins and small molecules that bind to them
  Current mentee:
Megan Kelly


Vann Bennett, MD, PhD
George B. Geller Professor, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Neurobiology
Functional organization of membrane-spanning proteins in vertebrate tissues

Steering Committee






Gerard Blobe, MD, PhD
Professor, Medicine (Oncology), and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
The role of transforming growth factor beta in cancer biology and vascular biology

Admissions Committee
Steering Committee

Recent mentee:
Jennifer Huang


Diego Bohorquez, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine (Pathology)
Unveiling how the brain perceives what the gut feels, how food in the intestine is sensed by our body, and how a sensory signal from a nutrient is transformed into
an electrical signal that alters behavior

  Current mentee:
Winston Liu


Nicolas Brunel, PhD
Professor, Neurobiology and Physics
Uses theoretical models of brain systems to investigate how they process and learn information from their inputs

Current mentee:
Alex Vaz





Daniel Buckland, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Development of medical devices for the diagnosis and treatment of medical issues that develop in remote environments ranging from outer space to rural America
  Admissions Committee

Lawrence Carin, PhD
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Applied statistics and machine learning


Current mentee:
Rachel Ballantyne Draelos


Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Genomic approaches to analyze biological systems and disease
  Admissions Committee





Ashutosh Chilkoti, PhD
Alan L. Koganov Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering
Biomolecular materials, genetically encoded synthesis, biotechnology, drug delivery, biological surface science, micropatterning of proteins and peptides, nanostructured materials and surfaces
Steering Committee
Recent mentee:
Daniel Joh




Jorn Coers, PhD
Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Cytokine-induced cell-autonomous immunity and its role in infectious and autoimmune diseases
  Current mentee:
Jacob Dockterman


Christopher Counter, PhD
Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
The study of the molecular mechanisms of cell immortalization and transformation of cancer cells
  Recent mentee:
MengMeng Xu





Lawrence David, PhD
Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Seeks to understand, predict, and manipulate how human microbiota behave over time
  Current mentee:
Brianna Petrone
Justin Silverman




Colin S. Duckett, PhD
Vice Dean for Basic Science
Molecular mechanisms of cellular transformation of Hodgkin’s disease and anaplastic large cell lymphoma, regulation of apoptotic cell death and proliferation in cancer, characterization of the canonical and noncanonical NF-kappaB signaling pathways in normal and malignant cells and homeostatic regulation of intracellular copper in mammalian cells.
   Steering Committee




Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
How neuropsychiatric risk genes interact with environmental stress to modify neural circuits that underlie normal emotional and cognitive function
  Current mentee:
Dalton Hughes




Peter Fecci, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pathology
Brain Tumor Immunotherapy

  Current mentee:
Karolina Woroniecka




Scott Floyd, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology, and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Mechanisms of DNA damage signaling and repair in human and other mammalian cells

Admissions Committee

Current mentee:
Drake Edwards




Charles Gersbach, PhD
Rooney Family Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Research interests are in gene therapy, biomolecular and cellular engineering, regenerative medicine, and synthetic biology

Recent mentee:
Shaunak Adkar



Geoffrey S Ginsburg, MD, PhD
Professor, Medicine and Pathology
The development of novel paradigms for developing and translating genomic information into medical practice and the integration of personalized medicine into health care
  Steering Committee




Farshid Guilak, PhD
Professor, Orthopedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering
Tissue Repair, Tissue Engineering

Recent mentee:
Shaunk Adkar
Shannon O'Connor





Barton Haynes, MD
Frederic M. Hanes Professor, Medicine, Global Health and Immunology
Host innate and adaptive immune responses to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), and influenza in order to find the enabling technology to make preventive vaccines against these three major infectious diseases
  Recent mentee:
Ryan Meyerhoff




Caroline Haynes, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Outpatient treatment of mood, anxiety, and personality disorders in adults; medication management; individual psychotherapy

Steering Committee






You-Wen He, MD, PhD
Professor, Immunology
Regulation of T-cell development and the role of innate immunity in bacterial infections
  Admissions Committee




Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD
James B. Duke Professor and Chair, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Mechanisms of fungal pathogenesis
Steering Committee
Current mentee:
Zanetta Chang




Christopher Holley, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine (Cardiology)
Focses on the role of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) in cardiovascular health and disease, with a special emphais on snoRNA (small nucleolar RNA)

  Admissions Committee




Shiaowen Hsu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor in Cancer Genomics, Medicine(Oncology)
Research focuses on the application of high-throughput technologies including microarrays to match the individual patient with the most optimal therapy to improve clinical outcomes in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

  Admissions Committee




Erich Huang, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
Breast cancer; research interest in solid-tumor gene-expression analysis; oncogenic pathway analysis; computational and systems biology

  Admissions Committee


Joseph Izatt, PhD
Michael J. Fitzpatrick Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Application of optical technologies for non-invasive, high-resolution imaging and sensing in living biological tissues

  Current mentee:
Mark Draelos




Ru-Rong Ji, PhD
Distinguished Professor and Chief of Pain Research, Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Identifying novel molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain

  Recent mentee:
Alexander Chamessian




Michael Kastan, MD, PhD
Executive Director, Duke Cancer Institute
William and Jane Shingleton Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, Pediatrics
Elucidating molecular mechanisms involved in cellular responses to DNA damage and other stresses

  Steering Committee




David G Kirsch, MD, PhD
Barbara Levine Professor, Radiation Oncology
Study of cancer and radiation biology in order to develop new cancer therapies in the pre-clinical setting


Current mentee:
Mark Chen
Warren Floyd
Amy Wisdom




Mary Klotman, MD
R.J. Reynolds Professor and Dean of Medicine
Molecular pathogenesis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1) infection
  Dean, School of Medicine




Dennis Ko, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Human genetic variation regulating infection and inflammation

  Current mentee:
Alejandro Antonia



Christopher Kontos, MD
Professor, Medicine (Cardiology)
Regulation of angiogenesis

MSTP Director
Admissions Committee
Steering Committee





Priya Kishnani, MD
Professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
A multidisciplinary approach to care of individuals with genetic disorders in conjunction with clinical and bench research that contributes
  Current mentee:
Rebecca Gibson




Cynthia Kuhn, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Adolescent onset of addiction, depression and eating disorders: the interaction of the development of monoamine systems, hormonal status and genetic sex.

  Current mentee:
Alyssa Bernanke





Chay Kuo, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Cell Biology
Regulation of postnatal neural stem cells and how they modify brain homeostasis in health and disease
  Admissions Committee


Andrew Landstrom, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Exploring the genetic and molecular causes of sudden cardiac death in children and young adults

Admissions Committee



Robert Lefkowitz, MD
James B. Duke Professor, Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine), Biochemistry
Signaling of G protein-coupled receptors

Steering Committee

Current mentee:
Anthony Nguyen





Stephen Lisberger, PhD
George Barth Geller Professor and Chair, Neurobiology
Understanding the general principles of brain operation, through analysis of a relatively simple sensory-motor system in a complex animal
  Current mentee:
Timothy Darlington


Xunrong Luo, MD, PhD
Instructor, Medicine (Nephrology)
Focuses on the induction and mechanisms of transplantation tolerance, using innovative donor-specific negative vaccination strategies to target the host machineries involved in clearance of cellular apoptotic debris in an immunotolerogenic manner.

  Admissions Committee




David MacAlpine, PhD
Associate Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Understanding the mechanisms by which the molecular architecture of the chromosome regulates fundamental biological processes such as replication and transcription
  Current mentee:
Vinay Tripuraneni




Nancie MacIver, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Pediatrics (Endocrinology)
Interested in how large changes in nutritional status (e.g. malnutrition or obesity) influence T cell immunity

  Admissions Committee


Amanda MacLeod, MD
Assistant Professor, Immunology and Dermatology
Investigates surveillance and repair functions in the skin. Within this broad research area, with a focus on immune regulation and modulation during skin injury, infection, and cancer

Admissions Committee

Current mentee:
Stephen Kirchner


Douglas Marchuk, PhD
James B. Duke Professor and Vice Chair, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Studies the genetics of cardiovascular disease using both the human and the mouse as a model system
  Current mentee:
Matthew Detter



Donald McDonnell, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Chair, Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
The research is focused on the development and application of mechanism based approaches to identify novel therapeutics for use in the treatment and prevention of hormonally responsive cancers.
Current mentee:
Patrick Juras


James McNamara, MD
Carl R. Deane Professor, Neurobiology
Cellular and molecular basis of epilepsy
  Recent mentee:
Kamesh Krishnamurthy



Francis Miller, MD
Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that contribute to the generation of reactive oxygen species and pathophysiology of vascular disease
  Admissions Committee



Richard Mooney, PhD
George Barth Geller Professor, Neurobiology
Understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie imitative vocal learning in songbirds
  Current mentee:
Matthew Kearney




Deborah Muoio, PhD
Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Expertise lies in the areas of intermediary metabolism, lipid biochemistry, metabolic disease, exercise physiology and mitochondrial bioenergetics
  Current mentee:
Michael Davidson




Christopher Nicchitta, PhD
Associate Dean, Research Training
Professor, Cell Biology
Protein secretion, mRNA localization, and molecular chaperone function

Steering Committee






Candice Odgers, PhD
Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy
Research focuses on how social inequalities and early adversity influence children’s future health and well-being, with an emphasis on how new technologies, including mobile phones and web-based tools, can be used to understand and improve the lives of young people
  Current mentee:
Joshua Rivenbark




Mark Palmeri, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Ultrasonic imaging, specifically using acoustic radiation force to characterize tissue properties, and finite element analysis of soft tissue response to impulsive radiation force excitation

Steering Committee
Admissions Committee 

Current mentee:
Ouwen Huang
Felix Jin




Ann Marie Pendergast, PhD
Anthony R. Means Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Regulation of cellular signaling pathways by tyrosine kinases and adaptor proteins in normal development and pathological conditions, including cancer, immune deficiencies and neurological disorders

Steering Committee

Recent mentee:
Aaditya Khatri





Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD
Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Development
Prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections; prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in immunosuppressed pediatric patients


Steering Committee

Current mentee:
Jennifer Jenks
Cody Nelson

Eleanor Semmes




Angel Peterchev, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Direct the Brain Stimulation Engineering Lab (BSEL) which focuses on the development and modeling of devices and application paradigms for transcranial brain stimulation.

  Admissions Committee




Geoffrey Pitt, MD, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Medicine (Cardiology)
How intracellular Ca2+, the ultimate signal of membrane excitability, regulates membrane excitability and the consequent function of excitable cells
  Recent mentee:
Daniel Sinden





Sudarshan Rajagopal, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine (Cardiology), Biochemistry
Pulmonary hypertension; right heart failure

Admissions Committee
Recent mentee:
Jeffrey Smith

Current mentee:
Dylan Eiger




John Sampson, MD, PhD
Robert H. Wilkins and Gloria Wilkins Professor, Neurosurgery
Immunotherapeutic targeting of a tumor-specific mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor
  Recent mentee:
Patrick Gedeon





Stephanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy
  Admissions Committee




Kenneth Matt Scaglione, PhD
Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Focuses on understanding how protein quality control pathways counteract protein aggregation to maintain neuronal health.

  Admissions Committee




Dorothy Sipkins, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Studies the molecular characteristics of tissue microenvironments, or “niches,” that regulate the migration, survival and regeneration of cancerous cells.

  Admissions Committee




Mari Shinohara, PhD
Associate Professor, Immunology
Uses mouse models for infectious and autoimmune diseases to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of; pathogen recognition by PRRs in macrophages and DCs, initiation of inflammatory responses in the innate immune system, and the impact of innate immune inflammation on the development and regulation of T cell-mediated adaptive immune responses
  Current mentee:
Elizabeth Deerhake




Scott Soderling, PhD
Chair, Cell Biology
Synaptic signaling underlying complex brain disorders

  Current mentee:
Jamie Courtland




Bruce Sullenger, PhD
Joseph W. and Dorothy W. Beard Professor, Surgery, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Ribozymes (RNA enzymes) and RNA ligands (aptamers) in gene therapy

Current mentee:
Lyra Olson




Neeraj K. Surana (Neil), MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Immunology
Research innovatively integrates gnotobiotic murine models, immunology, microbiology, and characterization of the microbiota with the ultimate aim of identifying specific commensal bacteria with immunomodulatory potential and subsequent characterization of their biologic effects.

  Admissions Committee




Purushothama Tata, PhD
Assistant Professor, Cell Biology
Understanding the ensemble properties of tissues in the context of development, homeostasis, regeneration and tumorigenesis in diverse epithelial tissues including lung
  Current mentee:
Arvind Konkimalla




David Tobin, PhD
Associate Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Tuberculosis: mycobacterial pathogenesis and host susceptibility
  Current mentee:
Colleen McClean




Peter Ubel, MD
Madge and Dennis T. McLawhorn Professor, Marketing and Public Policy
Research and writing explore the quirks in human nature that influence our lives -- the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect our health, our happiness, and the way our society functions

  Steering Committee





Fan Wang, PhD
Professor, Neurobiology
Neural circuit basis of sensory perception and motor action


Current mentee:
Carolyn Diaz
Paul Thompson




Warren Warren, PhD
James B. Duke Professor, Chemistry
Focuses on the design and application of what might best be called novel pulsed techniques, using controlled radiation fields to alter dynamics.

  Current mentee:
Shannon Eriksson




Anne West, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Neurobiology
Molecular mechanisms of activity-dependent synapse development
  MSTP Associate Director
Admissions Committee
Steering Committee




Kathryn Whetten, PhD
Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy
Focuses on the understanding of health disparities in the US and around the globe, and on life course events and social/environmental factors that influence health related behaviors and wellbeing
  Current mentee:
Joshua Rivenbark




Kris Wood, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Develops state-of-the-art tools for large-scale, efficient, and information-rich mammalian functional genomics experiments


Current mentee:
Moiez Ali
Christopher Bassil
Christian Cerda-Smith
Kevin Lin




Colleen Wu, PhD
Assistant Research Professor, Cell Biology and Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Studies how low oxygen tension (hypoxia), in the bone microenvironment influences bone homeostasis, hematopoietic development, and metastatic bone colonization.

  Admissions Committee




Hai Yan, MD, PhD
Henry S. Friedman Professor, Pathology
Molecular genetics of cancer with a focus on the identification, characterization and therapeutic targeting of novel genetic alterations involved in genesis and progression of cancer

Recent mentee:
Bill Diplas
Landon Hansen



Yiping Yang, MD, PhD
Professor, Medicine (Medical Oncology)
Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to the generation of potent and long-lasting anti-tumor immunity, and to develop effective gene immunotherapeutic strategies for treating cancer


Current mentee:
Rui Dai
Amy Petty




Kenichi Yokoyama, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biochemistry
Enzyme Mechanisms, Radical Reactions, EPR spectroscopy, Natural Product Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  Current mentee:
Matthew Draelos