Multi-Organ Toxicology Research Interest Group

Lu Cai, M.D, Ph.D.

Multi-Organ Toxicology Research Interest Group Leader
Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Radiation Oncology, and Pharmacology & Toxicology,
Director of Pediatric Research Institute, Department of Pediatrics
Dr. Lu Cai’s research interests and expertise include the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diabetes-induced cardiovascular diseases, more specifically for the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy, and the roles of trace elements such as zinc and iron and related metallothionein in the development of diabetic complications as well as the health effect of environmental contamination of heavy metals such as cadmium or ionizing radiation on the victim and their offspring.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., FAHA

Professor
Department of Medicine
Smith and Lucille Gibson Professor of Medicine
Chief, Division of Environmental Medicine
Director, Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute/American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation Center
Distinguished University Scholar
The major focus of our research is to elucidate the mechanisms by which oxidative stress affects cardiovascular function. In particular, we are interested in the role of lipid peroxidation as a contributor to myocardial ischemic injury and atherosclerosis. In addition to the metabolism and detoxification of endogenous aldehydes, our research interests also include cardiovascular toxicity of environmental aldehydes. 

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Alex Carll, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Assistant Professor
Department of Physiology
Dr. Carll's research evaluates the impacts of multiple inhaled toxins (traffic-related, printer-derived, and ambient particulate matter, as well as volatile organic compounds and e-cigarette aerosols) on cardiac electrical activity, mechanical performance, and neural regulation, and the mechanisms by which they occur. 

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Matt Cave, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Director, Integrated Health Science Facility Core, Center for Integrated Environmental Health Science
Director, Animal Model and Biorepository Core, Hepatobiology and Toxicology Center
Director, NAFLD-ViCTER Environmental Health Research Consortium
University of Louisville School of Medicine
The Jewish Hospital Trager Liver Transplant Center and the Robley Rex VA Medical Center
Dr. Cave is a physician-scientist and directs the CIEHS Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core. His laboratory conducts clinical and translational research on a variety of liver diseases. The most unique aspect of this research is the focus on environmental liver disease and toxicant-associated steatohepatitis (TASH). The Cave laboratory discovered TASH in Louisville’s Rubbertown chemical workers. This research was recently featured by the NIEHS

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Barbara J. Clark, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Dr. Clarks’ research interests focus on defining the functions of the soluble lipid transporters, STARD4 and STARD5, in cholesterol and bile acid homeostasis in normal and disease states; e.g. diabetic nephropathy, NAFLD, and cancer.  Current projects focus on characterizing Stard5 knock-out mouse model for altered lipid metabolism in the liver, kidney, and small intestine, with a focus on the impact of diet and diet + environmental toxicant exposure on liver and kidney disease.

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Dwayne Compton, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Chief Diversity Officer
Associate Dean, Community Engagement & Diversity
Dr. Compton's research interests are establishing, implementing, and assessing community engagement & diversity programs throughout the school and local community. In addition, Dr. Compton is tasked with serving as an advocate and resource for all populations at the School of Medicine with particular focus on issues that impact: women, members of minoritized ethnic/racial groups, members of the LGBT community, and members of underserved populations specific to medicine in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Medicine
University Scholar
Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute
Dr. Conklin’s research interests include: environmental cardiology, obesity, diabetes, tobacco products, animal models of human disease, air pollution, cardiovascular toxicology, aldehyde metabolism

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Natasha DeJarnett, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine, Division of Environmental Medicine
Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute
Dr. DeJarnett (she/her) has research interests including the cardiovascular health burden of extreme heat exposure, air quality, and environmental health disparities. In addition, Dr. DeJarnett is passionate about environmental health research that informs policies, empowering communities through research engagement, and advancing environmental justice.

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Xiao-An Fu, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering
Dr. Fu’s current research interests include chemical microsensors, microreactors, breath analysis for development of a noninvasive diagnostic tool for detection of early lung cancer, trace gas detection, active tuberculosis and other pulmonary diseases, analysis of neurotransmitter, and advanced semiconductor thin films for integrated circuit and solar cell applications.

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Anna M. Gumpert, Ph.D., SMBA

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Director, Pathology & Microscopy Core
Institute of Molecular Cardiology
Dept. of Medicine/Cardiology
Dr. Gumpert’s research interests focus on studying early signaling markers of cardiovascular distress and cardiopulmonary disease, and on developing novel strategies to limit injury to heart and vasculature and promote regeneration and repair. The lab is currently studying basic mechanisms of cardiac remodeling and structural alterations during stress and injury, exploring changes in cellular and molecular signaling in a developing and regenerating myocardium, as well as elucidating the contributions of extracellular vesicles on maintenance and repair of vasculature.

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Petra Haberzettl, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine
Diabetes & Obesity Center

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Vicki P. Hines-Martin PhD, PMHCNS, RN, FAAN

Professor
Associate Dean
Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Inclusion
School of Nursing
Director, Community Outreach
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Health Sciences Center
Commonwealth Scholar
The Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky
School of Public Health and Information Sciences
Associate Director, Community Engagement Core
Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences [P30ES030283]
National Institute for Environmental Health Science -NIH
Martin’s research and scholarship has focused on diverse populations, health equity mental health and community engagement. Her most recent publications have discussed global mental health nursing, interprofessional collaboration and community engagement, and social determinants of health.

Jiapeng Huang, MD, PhD, FASA, FASE

Academic Advisory Dean
Tenured Professor & Vice Chairman
Medical Director of Operating Rooms
Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
Professor of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery
Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Professor of Medicine
University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Associate Editor, Journal of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Anesthesia
Associate Editor, Seminars in Cardiothoracic & Vascular Anesthesia
Associate Editor, Frontiers in Medicine
Dr. Huang research interest are environmental factors for pulmonary hypertension and heart failure, molecular mechanisms of heart failure, COVID-19 and immune dysregulation, clinical and translational research

Luz Huntingon- Moskos, Ph.D., R.N., C.P.N.

Assistant Professor
School of Nursing
My program of research is focused on adolescent health and the interplay among health behaviors, environmental exposures, and genomics. Using biobehavioral methods and environmental home testing, my long-term goal is to develop an independent program of research focused on the implementation of report-back strategies with adolescents to prevent asthma exacerbations and support asthma self-management

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Loretta Jophlin, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
A comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms regulating fibrosis in toxicant associated steatohepatitis (TASH) is critical for the development of therapeutics aimed at treating the clinically significant endpoints of TASH, e.g. advanced hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. I am currently performing exploratory research in models of liver fibrosis aimed at identifying druggable anti-fibrotic targets in patients with TASH.

Amanda Jo LeBlanc, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology
Cardiovascular Innovation Institute
Department of Pharmacology
LeBlanc Laboratory
Dr. LeBlanc’s research focus is primarily on myocardial and microvascular regenerative medicine in a model of advanced age. Specific topics of current projects and interests include sex-specific coronary physiology, adipose-derived cell-based therapeutics, and cardiovascular toxicology related to nanoparticle inhalation.

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Craig J McClain, M.D., AGAF, FACG, FAASLD, FACN

Professor
Department of Medicine and Pharmacology & Toxicology 
Chief of Research Affairs, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition 
Associate Vice President for Health Affairs/Research
Associate Vice President for Translational Research
Director, Clinical Trials Unit / Liver Research Program
Distinguished University Scholar
Dr. McClain's research interests include Alcoholic Liver Disease, Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis and Nutrition.

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Michael L Merchant, Ph.D

Professor
Department of Medicine
Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Secondary Appointment
Director of the Integrated Toxicomics & Environmental Measurement Facility Core (ITEMFC)
Center for Integrative Environmental Health Science (CIEHS)
Co-director, University of Louisville Core and Clinical Proteomics Laboratories (ULPL)
Co-leader, Omics Core, Hepatobiology & Toxicology Center of Biomedical Excellence (COBRE, P20 GM113226) and for the University of Louisville Alcohol Research Center (ULARC, P50 AA024337)
Nephrology Fellowship Research Director
Co-director, Summer Endocrine Research Training Program (T35 DK072923)
Dr. Merchant conducts investigator initiated research into development and progression of kidney disease and as well as mass spectrometry-based efforts for the discovery and confirmation of biomarkers for human disease (R01-AA028436 Biomarkers of Alcoholic Hepatitis).

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Rachel Neal, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Dr. Neal's research of interest consist of fetal basis of adult disease, adverse health effects of maternal smoking/vaping, health effects of gut microbiome.

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Timothy Edward O’Toole, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
Core Director, Metabolism and Toxicity Core, Louisville Superfund Research Center
The goal of studies are to develop a mechanistic understanding whereby environmental exposure adversely impact cardiovascular function.

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Russell A. Prough, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus/Adjunct Professor (Gratis)
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Dr.Prough's research interests relate to the molecular regulation of hepatic nuclear receptors and their role in liver toxicity and steatosis. I work closely with Matt Cave on his studies on PCBs and fatty liver disease and work with his researchers and trainees, evaluating how these receptors are involved in hepatotoxicity of chlorinated compounds. Currently, we are addressing the role of the arylhydrocarbon receptor and epidermal growth factor receptor in PCB mediated toxicity and fibrosis.

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Madhavi Rane, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Division of Nephrology and Hypertension

Sanjay Srivastava, Ph.D., FAHA

Professor of Medicine
Distinguished University Scholar
Core Director, Pathology and Bioanalytics
Dr. Srivastava research interest consists of Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Atherosclerosis; Effects of New and Emerging Tobacco Products on Vascular Toxicity and Inflammation; Cardiometabolic Toxicity of Volatile Organic Compounds.

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Kira C. Taylor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
School of Public Health and Information Sciences 
Dr. Taylor's research interests include Reproductive Epidemiology, Genetic epidemiology of cardiovascular disease-related traits, Gene-environment interactions, Examination of genetic influences across populations, Women's health and Science education. 

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Click here for a link to a description of my tear gas study


Banrida Wahlang, Ph.D.

Lecturer
Department of Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Dr. Wahlang specializes in environmental health research; her current work focuses on understanding how environmental toxicants such as organochlorine pesticides impact metabolic health, with emphasis on sex differences. Her overall career goal is to establish her research in the field of women’s health, and in particular, environmental women’s health, with emphasis on health of minorities and indigenous communities.

Walter Watson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine and Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dr. Waston's research interest consists of oxidative stress and redox signaling, alcoholic liver disease, role of environmental agents in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

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Kupper A. Wintergerst, MD, FAAP

Professor & Chief, Pediatric Endocrinology
Director, Wendy Novak Diabetes Center
University of Louisville, School of Medicine
Norton Children’s Hospital
Dr. Wintergerst’s primary research interests involve work in type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, including the study of advanced technology, therapeutics, and environmental and social factors influencing disease and health outcomes.

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John Pierce Wise, Sr. Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University Scholar
Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology
Dr. John Pierce Wise, Sr. conducts basic and translation research studying how environmental chemicals transform normal cells into tumor cells focusing on chromosomes and how chemicals alter the number and structure of chromosomes leading to chromosome instability and cancer. Research projects in the laboratory include understanding DNA damage, DNA repair, mitosis, centrosome biology, cell-cell communication, chromatin folding, the fourth dimensional genome; all in a one environmental health context. 

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Ray A. Yeager, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Dr. Yeager is an active collaborator on the Green Heart Louisville project, University of Louisville Superfund Research Center projects, and the Louisville Healthy Heart Study. The overarching goal of his research is to identify and create a better understanding of environmental factors affecting cardiovascular risk, particularly greenness and air pollutants, that enables high-impact and translatable research to further the NIH mission “to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.” Dr. Yeager oversees collection, storage, analysis, and interpretation of all geographically-linked information at the Envirome Institute. This includes geographic data analysis methods of geocoded participant records, assessment of geophysical characteristics, characterization of environmental exposures, and development of visual representations of geographic information. He has over 12 years of professional and academic experience in geographic analysis, data management, and environmental research.

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Charlie H. Zhang, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Geographic & Environmental Sciences 
Dr. Zhang is a population and health geographer with research interests in neighborhood demographics, environmental justice, and health disparities. In particular, Dr. Zhang's expertise is in applying geographic information system (GIS) and spatial statistical methods to the analysis of the linkages between environmental risk factors and public health problems. 

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