Precision Environmental Health and Exposome RIG Members

Carolyn M. Klinge, Ph.D.

Precision Environmental Health and Exposome Research Interest Group Leader
Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Dr. Klinge’s research interests include mechanisms of resistance to endocrine therapies targeting estrogen receptor in breast cancer and the impact of environmental contaminants on the epitranscriptome and how these changes relate to NAFLD
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Jun Cai, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics
The goal of Dr. Jun Cai’s laboratory is to explore molecular, genetic and epigenetic regulations of neural development in the CNS as well as mechanisms and therapeutic interventions in neurodevelopmental or neurological disorders. Dr. Jun Cai has a broad background in medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience, with specific training and expertise in gene targeting manipulation, electroporation in embryo or tissue explants, stereotactic focal injection with drugs, viruses, cells, or neurospheres, neurobehavioral tests, neural conductive evaluation, and generation of rodent models including transgenic mice, hypoxia models, EAE models, drug-induced demyelination-remyelination models, spinal cord and brain traumatic models, and rodent models of glioma etc. The current research focuses on the following three groundbreaking aspects: 1) Developing of therapeutic interventions in neurotrauma; 2) Glial response and neuroinflammation in demyelinating diseases; 3) Parent-offspring and gene-environment interactions (e.g. prenatal opioid exposure, perinatal hypoxia exposure, and whole-life cadmium exposure) in neurodevelopmental and/or neurological disorders.

Matt Cave, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Director, Translational Research Support 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 Translational Research Support 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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Natalie DuPré, ScD

Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
As a cancer epidemiologist, I investigate the role of environmental factors and their biological mechanisms that influence carcinogenesis and cancer progression in humans by combining expertise across cancer, environmental and molecular epidemiology. My particular research interests are in exposures to ambient pollutants, natural vegetation, radon and environmental chemicals and variation in breast cancer incidence, breast cancer survival, mammographic density, and gene expression.
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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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Haixun Guo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Center for Predictive Medicine
Department of Radiology
University of Louisville School of Medicine
Dr. Guo's lab focuses on the theranostic applications of radiopharmaceuticals. For diagnosis, we focus on the development of novel non-invasive PET (positron emission tomography) imaging biomarkers for early diagnosis and management of cancer and infection. For therapy, we focus on developing novel targeted radiotherapy and radioimmunotherapy for melanoma, lung cancer, and pediatric brain tumor.
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David W. Hein, Ph.D.

Professor and Chairman
Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Peter K. Knoefel Endowed Chair of Pharmacology
Distinguished University Scholar
Research program includes studies of the molecular epidemiology of cancer susceptibility, pharmacogenetics, genomics, personalized medicine, and functional genomics. I serve as leader in four National Institutes of Health-funded training programs: University of Louisville Cancer Education Program funded by the National Cancer Institute; University of Louisville pre- and post-doctoral training program in environmental health sciences funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); University of Louisville Superfund Research Center Training Core funded by NIEHS; and University of Louisville Hepatobiology and Toxicology COBRE Faculty Career Development Program funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
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Jae Yeon Hwang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Division of Medical Oncology & Hematology
One of my research topics is to identify a mechanism of active translation of circular RNAs in cancer or environmental exposure-related diseases. As a bioinformatics researcher, I am interested in developing analysis pipelines and computational tools while working with various collaborators, providing genomic data analysis related to cancer and environmentally related diseases. 

Sandy Kavalukas, MD, FACS

Assistant Professor, Division of Colorectal Surgery
Associate Program Director, Colorectal Surgery Fellowship
Director, 3rd year Surgery Clerkship
Director, National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer
Dr. Kavalukas’s research involves investigating possible environmental causes for the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in young individuals. She also is focusing on elevated CRC incidence in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods and the role of the exposome in the development of colorectal cancer.
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Maiying Kong, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics
Dr. Kong’s research has been oriented in two areas: developing statistical methods to analyze data resulting from medical research, and applying the methods to analyze data to help clinicians and basic scientists to investigate their scientific questions. Dr. Kong’s research areas include comparing effectiveness of different treatments and procedures based on observational data; developing analytic methods for longitudinal studies and spatiotemporal data; and designing statistical methods for clinical studies. Dr. Kong is interested in investigating the impact of different environmental exposures on health outcomes.
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Michael L Merchant, Ph.D

Professor
Department of Medicine
Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Secondary Appointment
Director of the Omics & Exposure Facility Core (OEFC)
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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Juw Won Park, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
KY INBRE Bioinformatics Core
Dr. Park’s research focuses on the analysis of alternative mRNA splicing and its regulation in eukaryotic cells using high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and related genomic technologies, including their biological applications. He also develops novel computational and statistical methods for analysis of massive genome and transcriptome data.

Lonnie Sears, Ph.D.

Professor
Psychologist
Department of Pediatrics
Dr. Sears is a developmental psychologist in Pediatrics studying the effects of environmental exposures on child development and behavior. His current research is looking at potential neurobehavioral effects for children living near coal ash storage sites.

Ted R. Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine and Pharmacology/Toxicology
Dr. Smith’s research program is focused on novel clinical environmental exposure measurement methods, which include mobile devices for measuring the effects of inhaled pollutants and wastewater surveillance for exposure to pathogens and toxins.
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J. Christopher States, Ph.D.

Professor
Distinguished University Scholar
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Vice Chair for Research
Associate Dean for Research
Director, Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences
Dr. States research interest are concentrated on arsenic toxicology, with a current focus on dysregulation of RNA metabolism in arsenic-induced skin cancer. Previously investigated DNA damage and mutagenesis by metabolically activated chemical carcinogens, and characterized molecular genetics of nucleotide excision repair in humans.
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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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Xiang Zhang, PhD

Professor and University Scholar
Department of Chemistry
Director, Center for Regulatory and Environmental Analytical Metabolomics (CREAM)
University of Louisville
Dr. Zhang’s bioanalytical research exploits practical and efficient high-throughput technologies to analyze complex mixtures derived from living systems. Dr. Zhang’s bioinformatics research develops algorithms for molecular identification, quantification, molecular network elucidation, and knowledge assembly. Dr. Zhang’s Center has built a comprehensive infrastructure for metabolomics, lipidomics, and epitranscriptomics. A suite of sample processing methods has been developed and refined into standard protocols for various biomedical specimens, including biofluids (plasma, urine, CSF, BALF, lymph), tissues (heart, brain, liver, lung, kidney, muscle), feces, hair, and cell extracts.
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