Diversity of the members of W&D task force
Prof. Dr. Julia Kzhyshkowska
Julia Kzhyshkowska has graduated Moscow State Lomonosov University,
and obtained her PhD in biology at the Cancer Research Center of Russian
Academy of Medical Sciences. She performed postdoctoral training at the
University of Regensburg working on host cell protein complexes targeted
by adenoviral oncogenes. Currently she is professor for cellular and
molecular biology at the University of Heidelberg and head of the research
laboratory Cellular and Molecular Biology of Innate Immunity. Her research interests include
tumor immunology, cardiovascular immunology, regulatory functions of macrophages, and
molecular mechanisms of immunotolerance. She investigates molecular mechanism of the
crass-talk between signal transduction and intracellular vesicular trafficking in macrophages.
She has authored and co-authored over 50 publications. Julia is also a Section Editor of
Giamila Fantuzzi, PhD
Dr. Fantuzzi received her doctoral training in Italy and her postdoctoral
training at the Tufts University in Boston, MA, USA. She is a tenured
Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the
University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr. Fantuzzi's research centers on the role of adipose tissue and obesity
in the regulation of acute and chronic inflammation, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract,
pancreas and liver. She has authored and co-authored over 125 publications.
Rachel R. Caspi, PhD
Dr. Caspi received her doctoral training in Israel and her postdoctoral
training at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, USA.
She is a tenured senior investigator, Section Head and Deputy Chief of the
Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, NIH and an holds an
Adjunct Professorship at the U. Pen. Sch. Med.
Dr. Caspi's research centers on tolerance and autoimmunity to
immunologically privileged retinal antigens in animal models of
autoimmune uveitis, a potentially blinding human disease. Her studies have elucidated many
basic mechanisms and helped devise clinically relevant immunotherapeutic approaches. She
has authored and co-authored over 190 publications
Amanda Brown, PhD
Dr. Brown received her doctoral training at the Albert Einstein College of
Medicine, in Bronx, New York. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department
of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Brown’s
research is focused on identifying and studying key cellular pathways that modulate HIV-1
replication in marophages and exploring their impact on the development of HIV-associated
Fatoumata B. Sow, PhD
Dr. Sow received her doctoral training at The Ohio State University and her
postdoctoral training at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
at Iowa State University. Her research interests are on the immunology and
pathogenesis of respiratory pathogens in animal models. She is currently a
Principal Scientist at Novartis Animal Health.
Elizabeth A. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
Dr. Fitzpatrick received her doctoral training at Ohio State University,
Columbus OH and her post-doctoral training at University of Kentucky,
Lexington KY. She is an Associate Professor at the University of
Tennessee Health Science Center in the Dept. of Microbiology,
Immunology, and Biochemistry. Our research focus is on the
mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP). HP is an interstitial
lung disease that develops following repeated exposure to inhaled environmental antigens. The
disease is characterized by alveolitis and granuloma formation that in some patients leads to
chronic fibrotic lung disease. There is a lack of successful therapeutic strategies to treat the
disease underscoring the need for research into disease pathogenesis.
Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala, PhD
Dr Marakalala received his doctoral training in Clinical laboratory
sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 2008. He then joined
the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM),
UCT, as a postdoctoral scientist, working in the laboratory of Gordon
Brown. He currently holds the Sydney Brenner postdoctoral fellowship in
the same institute.
Dr Marakalala’s research focuses on innate immunity to various infectious diseases including,
Candidiasis, tuberculosis, cancer and staphylococcus infections. He has published 6 articles in
peer-reviewed journals and has presented his work at four international conferences.
Vasanthi R. Sunil, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor – Pharmacology & Toxicology, Rutgers
Associate Director – Analytical Cytometry & Image Analysis Core,
Dr. Sunil received her Ph.D. and M.S. from the Department of
Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Rutgers University and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School. Her dissertation work was done under the guidance of Dr. Debra Laskin. After
a brief post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at Rutgers
University, she took up a faculty position in the same department. She also serves as Associate
Director of the Analytical Cytometry and Image Analysis Core Facility.
Dr. Sunil’s area of research include understanding mechanisms of pulmonary inflammation and
repair, effects of bacterial toxins, environmental pollutants and chemical warfare agents on lung
function and gene regulation. She is also interested in studying how aging causes alterations in
signaling pathways in the lung.
Vijaya Iragavarapu-Charyulu, PhD
Dr. Iragavarapu-Charyulu received her doctoral training at University of
Miami, Miami, Forida and her postdoctoral training at Mount Sinai Medical
Center, New York, USA and at University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA.
She is a tenured Associate Professor at Charles E. Schmidt College of
Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida. Dr.
Iragavarapu's research centers on the role of inflammation and immune
response in breast cancer. More specifically, she is studying the role of
inflammatory chemokines, MMPs and chitinase-3-like-1 molecule on
tumor-host interactions in breast cancer.
Cherié L. Butts, PhD
Dr. Butts conducts research and serves as a reviewer for drug and biologic
products in the Division of Therapeutic Proteins at the Center for Drug
Evluation & Research of the US Food & Drug Administration. She obtained
her undergraduate and master's degrees at The Johns Hopkins University
and her PhD from UT MD Anderson Cancer Center/UT Health Sciences
Center at Houston. Her graduate studies focused on studying immune
responses in ovarian cancer patients with metastatic disease and
characterizing immunity at tumor sites. Dr. Butts continued her training as
a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health exploring the role of steroid hormones in
regulating immune responses, and her current work investigates the impact of steroid hormones
on immunity during disease development in an effort to develop better strategies for driving
potent anti-tumor immune responses. Dr. Butts also teaches and mentors students interested in
biomedical research careers.