Meet the leadership and members of the ToTOL Research Group

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Meet the leadership and members of the UofL ToTOL Research Group:


Levi BeverlyLevi J. Beverly, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, ToTOL Research Group
Co-Director, Experimental Therapeutics Program


Born in rural Tennessee, I was raised most of my life in Cincinnati, OH where I attended Sycamore High School. I then began an 11 year-long journey at the University of Cincinnati for both my undergraduate degree (Biology) and my Ph.D. (Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology). In graduate school I studied Notch-induced T-cell leukemogenesis in the lab of Tony Capobianco. Mid-way through graduate school our lab moved to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia where I completed my dissertation work. I then joined the lab of Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In the lab I studied BCL2-like proteins. As I was nearing completion of my Post-Doctoral work, I once again followed a mentor during a lab move, this time to the NIH intramural research program in Bethesda, MD. In 2011 I joined the faculty at the University of Louisville as an Assistant Professor. If you can't find me in the lab (or my office) I will be either with my family or on a volleyball court (in many instances WITH my family on a volleyball court!)!

Leah SiskindLeah J. Siskind, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, ToTOL Research Group


I was born and raised my entire life in Columbia, MD, where I attended Oakland Mills High School. I then attend the University of Maryland College Park for my undergraduate years where I was also a Division I swimmer. After obtaining my B.S. in Neurobiology and Physiology (1998), I did a brief stint as a laboratory technician before starting my Ph.D. studies (2000-2003) in the laboratory of Dr. Marco Colombini where I studied membrane and ion channel biophysics. I then did a post-doctoral fellowship in mitochondrial bioenergetics also at the University of Maryland (2003-2006) before training as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Lina Obeid at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC, 2007-2009) where I studies sphingolipid biochemistry and biology. In 2009, was promoted to a research assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at MUSC and a research scientist at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, SC. I started as a tenure track Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy at MUSC in 2011. In 2013, I was recruited as an Associate Professor to the University of Louisville in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Brown Cancer Center. I now also hold positions of Associate Vice-Chair of Graduate Education and Director of Graduate Studies.In my free time (what is that?), I can usually be found with my husband and two kids or training for some sort of distance running race (half-marathon or marathon).

Parag ShahParag Shah, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

I received my master degree (M.E.) in Biotechnology from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. Rajasthan. India. Since graduation, I have gained insight into the recent developments in Biotechnology and Cancer Biology. I have realized that the scope of research in the field of Biotechnology is extensive and there is no better way in which I can contribute to humanity. So, I have decided to pursue my PhD at one of the Pioneering Research Institute in India, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR). During my Ph.D. work, I explore the possibility of fingerprints of Cytochrome P450 genes as a biomarker of risk and assessment towards lung cancer. During this period, I also served as an active member of Indian Genome Variation Consortium. After successful completion of my Ph.D., I have decided to peruse postdoctoral training to further my carrier and get advance training in the field of cancer biology. Since my graduation, I was really interested to work on mouse models of cancer. I joined ToTOL Lab to learn in depth different animal techniques used routinely for cancer research. During this time, I have developed interest in EMT, which is important step towards lung cancer progression and metastasis. Currently my area of research focusses on exploring the mechanisms of ER stress induced EMT and important signaling pathways that are involved in cancer progression and metastasis including lung and Breast cancer. My hobbies include but not limited to painting, playing on flute, harmonica and outdoor games.

Lavona CassonLavona Casson

Lab Manager




Mark DollMark Doll, MS

Lab Manager

I grew up in a rural community in Minnesota on a farm raising cows, pigs and chickens and repair old outdated farming equipment. My favorite animal was pigs because of their intelligence. In high school I worked about 30 hrs per week after school and on weekends at a snack food manufacturing facility. After realizing that I did not want to be a farmer or work the rest of my life at a snack food company, I decided to go to college and study biology. I decided on biology because from my farm days I always had an interest in figuring out how things worked whether that was a tractor or a living cell. Graduating with a biology degree I wasn't sure what was next, however a buddy of mine was going to look at medical and graduate school at a University an hour of so away.  I went along and started talking to graduate students and faculty in the department of Microbiology and Immunology and learned that they would pay to go to graduate school.  That sound interesting so I applied and got accepted into the department. I finished my Masters and because of life, I needed to find a job paying more money to support new unplanned family. I got a job as a lab tech and have since enjoying developing my skills and helping the team I work with succeed. In my free time I enjoy staying fit by going to the gym, playing tennis or any game for that matter. I also enjoy bow hunting  and just being outside.

Nick HoffmanNick Hoffman

Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

I am a first year graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at UofL. I grew up in Louisville, graduating from Trinity High School in 2015 and Centre College in 2019, where I played baseball and studied chemistry. I joined the ToTOL group in January of 2020 and I currently study autophagy and sphingolipids in the context of cancer and acute kidney injury. Outside of research, I enjoy spending time with my family and staying active by playing basketball, baseball, volleyball, etc. with my friends.

Austin KruegerAustin Krueger

Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

I graduated from the University of Louisville in the Spring of 2018 where I earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. I joined the ToTOL group in the Fall of 2018 following my acceptance into the University of Louisville's Pharmacology and Toxicology Program. My main research focus is studying the interactions between cancer cells and the extracellular matrix deposited in the tumor microenvironment. I hope to defend my Masters Thesis in the fall of 2020, and continue on to PhD candidacy. Outside of research, I like to spend my time training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, weightlifting, and outdoor activities with my dogs.

Adam OrwickAdam Orwick

Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

I have always had a passion for science and medicine. I spent the last several years working as a community pharmacist, but I missed being directly involved in science and lab work. I decided to pursue a career as a scientist. I started my fellowship with Pharmacology and Toxicology Department in the Fall of 2019, and I am now working towards my MS/PhD. I joined the ToTOL lab in January 2020, and I am interested in cancer biology, treatments, and metabolism. Outside of lab I enjoy spending time with family & friends, playing soccer, and a good bourbon.

Sophie SearsSophie Sears

Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology

I graduated from Goshen College in 2017 where I majored in molecular biology & biochemistry and played basketball. I joined the TOToL lab later that year as a graduate student and started studying chemotherapy-induced chronic kidney disease. I earned my masters degree in 2019 and my dissertation research is now focused on the role of the immune system in renal fibrosis development. In my free time, I enjoy exercising, cooking, watching basketball, and playing with my pets.

Alex VegaAlex Vega

Graduate Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

I've always had an enjoyment for science, mainly for the thrill of discovering something new. I've investigated MRSA strains around my undergrade campus (Florida Gulf Coast University), explored the consequences of PKM2 mutation on its interaction with PSAT1, and assisted in a study pertaining to acute myeloid leukemia and methionine restriction. I'm now achieving my Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics while heading the investigation of intrinsic changes in lung adenocarcinoma brought on by methionine restriction.  What I enjoy most of the ToTOL lab is that although we all have our own individual projects, we're also trying to find a way to connect all our stories together and help one another out.  After all, you can never go wrong with Star Wars nerds.