CBS Research


Cancer Biology


Shisheng Li, PhD

(University of Wales Swansea, UK)

Cell and Molecular Biology of DNA Damage/Repair Mechanisms

DNA, the genetic material of most living organisms, is under constant assault by endogenous and exogenous agents.  A plethora of genotoxic agents exist, from oxidizing chemicals produced naturally in the cell to a different type of radiation present in our environment. The DNA damage caused by these agents may interfere with normal cell processes, and if left unattended, the DNA damage may kill the organism or give rise to heritable mutations. To contend with DNA damage, all living organisms use multiple, highly conserved DNA repair pathways. Genetic and biochemical approaches are being used to elucidate the mechanisms of different DNA repair pathways, especially nucleotide excision repair and base excision repair. 


J. Michael Mathis, PhD

(University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

Adenovirus-Based Cancer Therapeutics

As the limits of existing cancer treatments are recognized, it has become clear that novel approaches must be considered, and adenovirus-based therapies are a promising strategy. Our major areas of research are (1) targeted oncolytic virotherapy for cancer and (2) multifunctional targeted delivery and non-invasive imaging of adenoviral vectors. 


Sonika Patial, DVM, PhD

(Michigan State University and The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

Post-transcriptional regulation in innate immunity, inflammation, and cancer

 Innate immunity is a highly conserved response that quickly detects and attempts to clear pathogens and harmful environmental stimuli by inducing inflammatory responses. These responses are orchestrated via temporal and highly coordinated regulation of a number of genes. In addition to regulation at the transcriptional level, a majority of these genes are also regulated by post-transcriptional mechanisms that modify mRNA stability and/or translation. The focus of our research is to understand the association between environmental stimuli, post-transcriptional mechanisms of gene expression, and disease pathogenesis. We are specifically interested in: 1) understanding how environmental exposures affect post-transcriptional mechanisms, in order to cause inflammation and immune-mediated disease; 2) understanding how post-transcriptional mechanisms induce changes in gene expression that confer competitive advantage to cancerous cells and contribute to tumor development.



Cardiovascular Disease


Joseph Francis, DVM, PhD

(Madras Veterinary College, Madras, India and Kansas State University)

Pathophysiology of Congestive Heart Failure

Dr.  Francis’s research focuses on the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure.  The overall objective of his research is to understand the neurohumoral influence on the progression of heart failure in rodents.  Currently, the laboratory is involved in three primary projects. The goal of the first project is to understand the forebrain mechanism regulating gene expression in specific sympathoexcitatory neurons after myocardial infarction. The second project examines the neurohumoral mechanism of cytokine signaling from the heart to the brain in heart failure. The third area of investigation focuses on the hypothalamic mechanisms regulating the myocardial protective effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and statins in heart failure. These studies will help in elucidating the role played by the central nervous system in the progression of heart failure and ultimately target the brain for the treatment of heart failure. 



Cell Signaling Pathways


Henrique Cheng, DVM, PhD

(Iowa State University)

Diabetes Research

Increases in intracellular calcium concentration are a ubiquitous signaling mechanism that is essential for physiological responses, including secretion, contraction, gene transcription, differentiation, and apoptosis. So the question of how calcium is regulated within cells is fundamentally an important one. Our research is focused on the cellular and molecular pathways involving calcium signals in both excitable and non-excitable cells. One project examines the regulatory mechanisms controlling insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells and their impact on diabetes. A second project examines the regulatory mechanisms controlling stem cell differentiation. Our laboratory utilizes fluorescent imaging, electrophysiology, and molecular biology to investigate the properties of ion channels and calcium-mediated events. 


Ji-Ming Feng, PhD

(Beijing Medical University, China)

Calcium Signaling

My research is focused on the molecular regulation of calcium signaling in T cells and their roles in autoimmune diseases, especially multiple sclerosis (MS) - an autoimmune-mediated demyelination disease in humans.  In addition, I am also interested in searching the molecular mechanism of lymphoma formation. 


Masami Yoshimura, DSc

(Kyoto University)

Cyclic AMP Signaling Pathways

The long-term goal of my research is threefold: 1) To elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying regulation of the cAMP signaling pathway in the central nervous system, 2) To determine the role that the cAMP signaling pathway plays in the physiological and behavioral responses of an animal, and 3) To elucidate the pathways that transduce change in cAMP signaling into the physiological and behavioral manifestations.  In particular, I am interested in the effects of ethanol on the cAMP signaling system and the role that this signaling pathway has in an animal’s responses to ethanol. My research program will be interdisciplinary covering molecular biology and pharmacology of the cAMP signaling system, generation of transgenic and gene-targeted animals, electrophysiology of neuronal activity, behavioral analysis of model animals, and gene expression study. 



Developmental Biology and Anatomy


Fakhri K. Al-Bagdadi, PhD

(University of Illinois)

Veterinary anatomy


Hermann H. Bragulla, DVM, PhD

(University of Munich, Germany)

Developmental Biology

Development of skin and skin modifications in scales, hairs, feathers, claws, hooves, and beaks; bone development, ossification, and fracture healing. 


Martha A. Littlefield, DVM

(Louisiana State University and A&M College)

Veterinary anatomy


Michelle Osborn, PhD

(Louisiana State University and A&M College)

Dr. Osborn's teaching interests are in veterinary anatomy, comparative vertebrate anatomy, histology and zoology, evolution. Her research interests are in functional and evolutionary anatomy, biomechanics, 2D and 3D imaging andevolutionary theory.


Shaomian Yao, PhD

(Louisiana State University and A&M College)

Molecular Biology of Tooth Eruption and Stem Cell Research

Research in Dr. Yao’s laboratory focuses on the molecular regulation of bone resorption and bone formation, especially bone remodeling for tooth eruption. Bone resorption is required to form a pathway before a tooth can erupt. Concurrently, bone formation at the base of the tooth crypt serves as a motive force to push the tooth out of the crypt. The study of bone formation and bone resorption is also significant in understanding many bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and periodontitis. In addition, the laboratory also conducts research in purifying and culturing stem cells from dental tissues and differentiating them into various specialized cell types for potential uses in regenerative medicine. Various techniques including cell culture, transfection, RT-PCR, Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, ELISA, siRNA/RNAi, microarray, TRAP assays and chemotactic assays are used in the research. 





Charles C. Lee, PhD

(University of California, Berkeley)

Neural Systems Research

The laboratory is interested in understanding the neural principles underlying the sensory and cognitive functions of the brain using the central auditory system as a model. We study the anatomical circuits and the physiological properties of auditory synapses in the midbrain, thalamus, and cortex, utilizing in vitro slice preparations to record from neurons in response to pharmacological activation, electrical stimulation, photostimulation by uncaging of glutamate or optogentically targeted expression of channelrhodopsin. Morphological correlates are sought using neuroanatomical methods, such as anterograde and retrograde tract-tracing, immunohistochemical labeling, and intracellular filling of recorded neurons. From our studies, we wish to derive the rules governing the emergent properties of neuronal ensembles and their role in governing behavior. 


Olalekan Michael Ogundele, PhD

(College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Nigeria)

Synapse Biology

Our work is focused on the synaptic mechanism of developmental neuropsychiatric disorders that are characterized by an abnormal socio-cognitive function. This is to elucidate disease mechanism and identify therapeutic synaptic targets using transgenic animals that show deficiencies that is similar to some attributes of human schizophrenia and autism. Specifically, we are interested in hippocampal synaptic switch systems governed by calcium-calmodulin-dependent kinase II alpha (CaMKIIα), and their role in the modulation of synaptic plasticity associated with socio-cognitive learning. Currently, we are developing techniques to directly quantify the extent of phosphorylation of CaMKIIα in hippocampal (CA1) dendritic spines when various discrete neural circuits (inputs) are being activated or inhibited in the developing and adult brain. The goal of our research is to understand the turnover of CaMKIIα from its phosphorylated to non-phosphorylated forms during synaptic development and neuronal activation in normal and diseased brain systems.


George M. Strain, PhD

(Iowa State University)

Deafness and Experimental Neurology

Electrophysiological and molecular genetic approaches are being taken to identify the causes of deafness that affect as many as 30% within certain dog breeds, with a goal of developing a DNA marker usable for identifying gene carriers. A recent focus of research has been on age-related hearing loss and anesthesia-associated deafness. Electrodiagnostic methods are used in the study of other neurologic disorders of domestic animal species, including epilepsy, narcolepsy, and spongiform encephalopathies. 





Stephania A. Cormier, PhD

(Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans)

 Respiratory Immunology & Toxicology

 The main goal of my laboratory is to determine if exposure during early life to environmental factors (i.e. allergens, pollutants, and respiratory viruses) leads to predisposition, development of, or exacerbation of respiratory disease in the adult. We believe that adult respiratory diseases result, in part, from environmental impacts that occur during a critical phase of immuno-maturation. In the short term, we seek: (1) to define the cellular and molecular changes in the pulmonary microenvironment following gestational and/or neonatal exposure; (2) to determine if urban pollutants (e.g. particulates such as diesel exhaust particles), initiate cellular/molecular events in the developing lung which lead to increased susceptibility to airways disease later in life; (3) to define the impact of respiratory viral infection on pulmonary pathophysiology of the infant; and (4) to understand how urban pollutants impact host defense resulting in enhanced morbidity and increased mortality from respiratory infections.

 The long-term objective of my laboratory is to realize the initiators of the immune and pathophysiological changes that occur during the early stages of pulmonary airways disease and ultimately to develop effective interventions and therapies. 


Levent Dirikolu, DVM, MSc, PhD

(University of Kentucky)

Dr. Dirikolu received his DVM degree from Ankara University, College of Veterinary Medicine in Turkey and Master and PhD degrees from the University of Kentucky in veterinary pharmacology. His teaching interests are in Clinical Pharmacology Rotations Pharmacology/Toxicology/Pharmacy (evidence based medicine and applied clinical pharmacology) Comparative Dispositions of Xenobiotics Veterinary Pharmacology Analytical Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology Basic Toxicology Comparative Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Clinical Pharmacology. His research interests are in Pharmacokinetics Pharmacodynamics Toxicokinetics Molecular, clinical and analytical pharmacology/toxicology and Drug metabolism.


Tammy R. Dugas, PhD

(Louisiana State University and A&M College)

Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Toxicology

Our toxicological research focuses on the role of the environment and environmental factors in the induction or exacerbation of vascular diseases including atherosclerosis and pulmonary hypertension. In particular, we are investigating the vascular toxicity of aromatic amines, compounds used industrially in the production of polyurethanes, and of HIV antiretroviral drug therapies. Mechanistic studies aimed at elucidating these toxicities explore drug/toxicant metabolism, endothelial cell injury (including mitochondrial oxidant stress), and stimulation of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation. We furthermore explore the role of gender in determining the outcome of these vascular toxicities. In other toxicological studies, we are examining the potential for combustion-generated ultrafine particulate matter (PM) to produce reactive oxygen species and induce oxidative stress in rodents exposed by inhalation. Finally, in our pharmacological studies, we are elucidating pathways by which red wine polyphenols might act on the estrogen receptor so as to promote vascular homeostasis and prevent the development of vascular diseases including atherosclerosis and restenosis.


Kevin M. Kleinow, DVM, PhD

(University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Aquatic Animal Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Physiology

This mechanistic research involves examining the relationship between xenobiotic biotransformation, multidrug resistance transporter function and bioavailability in aquatic and mammalian species. Current studies are directed towards characterization of these processes as related to drugs, carcinogens, and contaminants. 


Alexandra Noël, MSc, PhD

(Université de Montréal, QC, Canada)

Inhalation & Developmental Toxicology

 The focus of our research is production and characterization of aerosols, composed of engineered nanoparticles, ultrafine or fine particles, as well as inhalation and developmental toxicology. We seek to investigate the fundamental mechanisms at the epigenetic, molecular and cellular levels that underlie the developmental origins of health and disease, with respect to respiratory effects caused by distinct emerging inhaled environmental pollutants. We use a multidisciplinary approach bridging inhalation toxicology, nanotoxicology, pathology and lung biology, as well as lung disease models (asthma, emphysema, fibrosis and lung cancer), coupled with gene expression and DNA methylation analysis, allowing for an adequate exposure – effect continuum correlation. These studies also allow for the identification of the common toxicological pathways and underlying pathophysiological mechanisms related to the adverse pulmonary effects induced by airborne contaminants.


Arthur Penn, PhD

(University of Pennsylvania)

Respiratory Research; Environmental Agents in Atherosclerosis

This laboratory focuses on roles and mechanisms of action of environmental agents, especially inhaled combustion-derived toxicants (environmental tobacco smoke and petrochemical combustion products) on atherosclerosis and respiratory disease. A recent focus of research has been on the effects of in utero exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on the acceleration of asthma and atherosclerosis. A fully equipped inhalation facility is available for carrying out exposures to individual agents and complex mixtures. 


Yogesh Saini, DVM, PhD

(College of Veterinary and Animal Science, Palampur, India, and Michigan State University)

Pulmonary Immunobiology and Toxicology

This research focuses on understanding multiple aspects of lung biology and inflammatory lung diseases. Unlike traditional view, emerging evidence suggests macrophage as a highly plastic cell type with potentially critical roles in the regulation of initiation, progression, and resolution of inflammatory responses.  Broadly, the research employs murine models of pathogens- and toxicant-induced inflammation. Using these models of lung inflammation, the research aims to understand the roles of macrophages in the orchestration of inflammatory responses. Ongoing research in the laboratory has established innovative tools to characterize macrophage responses in the respiratory tract. Currently active projects include understanding macrophage number maintenance in the lung, studying macrophage activation heterogeneity, and understanding roles of macrophages in murine models of toxicant/pathogen/genetically-induced lung inflammation. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a diagnostic biomarker of lung diseases and devise therapeutic interventions to modulate inflammatory responses.