Research

NIPM Core Faculty

Jingchun Chen

Dr. Chen has focuses on the genetic studies on schizophrenia and nicotine dependence in the Department of Psychiatry, VCU, where she not only strengthened experimental skills (genotyping, RT-PCR and RNA-sequencing), but also broadened extensive knowledge/experience in big data management, imputation, genome-wide association studies (GWASs), meta-analysis, polygenic analysis, RNA-Seq analysis and network/pathway analysis. Her studies have led to the discovery of several genes associated with schizophrenia/nicotine dependence, and have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Mira Han

The Han Lab studies the evolution of genome structure, using bioinformatics to investigate how genomes change through gene duplication, loss, and gene transpositions. The lab also focuses on the phenotypic effects of copy number variations, indels, and transposable element polymorphisms. These are all important aspects of variations in humans that influence health and disease.

Edwin Oh

Dr. Oh's lab is interested in identifying genetic and structural variants that contribute to human health and disease as well as in the interpretation of such variation to to improve the cellular and molecular diagnosis of genetic diseases. To address these questions they utilize next generation platforms and mouse and zebrafish models. Over the last decade, the work has been supported by RO1 investigator-led and Program Center grants from NIH and fellowship awards from private foundations. Moving forward, his research program will be centered on the dissection of organellar stress in developmental and late-onset neurological disorders such as, schizophrenia (SZ), autism-spectrum disorders (ASD), and glaucoma. 

Martin R. Schiller

The Schiller Lab work has been ongoing and supported in part by the Knowledge Fund. The lab works in the areas of HIV, genomics, and bioinformatics. When a person is infected with some pathogenic virus, such as HIV, the virus inserts its DNA and becomes part of the DNA of the infected cell. This is the main reason HIV is difficult to cure. The Schiller Lab has used TALEN gene-editing technology to damage HIV DNA in infected cells, limiting its ability to produce more virus. A patent application was recently published for this technology. Also developed here is a new biotechnology to screen for molecular functions involved in disease processes, for which a patent application has been submitted. This screen could help lead to many new drug therapies and a better understanding of disease etiology. The Schiller Lab is also in the midst of identifying mutations associated with disease states by comparing thousands of genomes from diseased individuals with those from the unaffected.

Qing Wu

Dr. Wu’s research interests include the development and validation of personalized clinical normative values using modern statistical methodology and existing big data, meta-analyses of epidemiologic studies and clinical trials, genome-wide meta-analysis and mega-analysis, statistical methodology research in meta-analysis, clinical trials and big data analysis, and study design and statistical methodology development in observational studies and clinical trials. Dr. Wu has extensive experience in multidisciplinary collaborative research and statistical consulting in biomedical research. His collaborative works have led to 45 research grants funded by federal agencies, major industries and research foundations, on which he served as co-investigator or co-principle investigator and lead statistician. Dr. Wu is also an affiliate faculty member of biomedical informatics at the College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, as well as an academic editor of PLOS ONE, for which he serves on both the statistics advisory and editorial boards. He has also served as a peer reviewer for numerous journals.

NIPM Affiliate Faculty

  • Ernesto Abel-Santos — The Abel-Santos Laboratory is working on a compound that could aid your intestinal tract when antibiotics have wiped out much of the “good” bacteria. This anti-germinant compound, known as CamSA, works by stopping the germination of Clostridium difficile (C. diff). While C. diff can be a normal component of bacteria in the human gut, it also can become a problem when competing bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics. That is particularly dangerous for patients with suppressed immune systems, many of whom have been in hospitals, nursing homes, surgery centers, and other environments where C. diff thrives. This work has been patented. (See patent.)
  • Amei Amei – Amei Amei’s research focuses on solving scientific problems raised in areas of population genetics and mathematical biology using probability theory and statistics methodology. She is interested in deriving and application of Poisson random field to aligned DNA sequences of closely related biological species to make inference about various genetic parameters such as mutation rate, selection coefficient, and species divergence time. She is also interested in working on a possible extension of the Poisson random field model to cancer detection.
  • Nora Caberoy — Nora Caberoy studies the role of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cell phagocytosis in the photoreceptor death that leads to retinal dysfunction and degeneration. Caberoy's multidisciplinary approaches include animal models as well as molecular, cellular, genetic, biochemical, and functional proteomics by phage display, in combination with next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS).
  • Shawn Gerstenberger — Shawn Gerstenberger’s research focuses on childhood lead poisoning prevention and the impact of the built environment on human health. He is the founder of the Nevada Healthy Homes Partnership and has multiple collaborative grants with key community partners, such as the Southern Nevada Health District, the city of Henderson, and the Nevada State Health Division.
  • Mira Han — The Han lab studies the evolution of genome structure. We use bioinformatics to investigate how genomes change through gene duplication, loss, and gene transpositions. The lab is also interested in the phenotypic effects of Copy Number Variations (CNVs), indels and transposable element polymorphisms.
  • Brian Hedlund — The Hedlund Lab collaborates with the Abel-Santos Lab on determining C. diff's effects on intestinal microbes (termed the microbiotome). His lab has also developed an approach to sequence genomes from single microbes that was published in Nature. He also studies microbes growing in extreme environments.
  • Jefferson Kinney — Jefferson Kinney’s lab researches the cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms involved in various types of associative and spatial learning, with particular emphasis on glutamate and GABA systems. Additional research projects focus on animal models of Alzheimer's disease and psychiatric disorders involving disruptions of learning and memory. In several lines of research within the laboratory, Kinney is pursuing changes in neuronal systems to identify the cause of pathological features and learning and memory impairments. This work aims to identify both potential mechanisms responsible for the pathology and novel therapeutic targets.
  • Hyunwha Lee – Hyunwha Lee first explored depression and family dynamics — specifically the resilience among children — when one or both parents suffer from alcoholism. Her interests expanded to PTSD with a focus on the life-long effects of early life adversity, which included children who had been maltreated, and military service members returning home from combat. Now, Lee is exploring translational genomics, seeking the presence of specific bio-markers (e.g., epigenetic markers) and how they influence recovery from traumatic brain injuries and the co-occurring conditions such as PTSD, depression, and sleep disorders.
  • Joe Lombardo — Joe Lombardo has been director of UNLV’s Supercomputing Institute since 1997. He is currently expanding its infrastructure to analyze hundreds of thousands of genomes at once. He recently served as a witness for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness in Washington, D.C. He also secured a Cherry Creek from Intel computer and has helped forge a relationship with SWITCH Communications.
  • Fatma Nasoz – Fatma Nasoz’s research interests are in machine learning, deep learning, and human-computer interaction. Her current research focuses on deep learning analysis of primary and secondary data across numerous domains like health, education, finance, and genomics.
  • Laurel Raftery – Laurel Raftery’s laboratory studies how cells communicate to coordinate the formation of functioning organs. We use fruit flies as a model organism, because of the powerful genetic tools available to study cell biology in whole tissues.
  • Jay Shen – His research has covered access to care and outcomes/quality of care of racial/ethnic groups, uninsured, and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations; health services delivery including comparative effectiveness research, effects of EHR adoption on hospital’s financial performance, clinical outcomes, and patient safety; reduction in medication errors among hospitals in Southern Nevada; ED-based hospitalization among patients with severely mentally illness; improvement in communication skills among internationally educated nurses in the Las Vegas valley; economic effects of the Clean Air Act in Nevada; diabetic complications, maternal outcomes, and palliative care models in Nevada; and Chinese health system and policy.
  • Hui Zhang — Hui Zhang’s research identifies new molecules that are part of the cell division machine, and we investigate how different proteins work together to make a cell divide. This research not only helps answer how and why our body can develop from a single fertilized egg but also addresses the mechanisms of diseases such as cancer. Cancer cells can divide under conditions that a normal cell cannot. Identifying the molecular mechanism that promotes cancer cell division can help us develop chemical inhibitors to treat the disease.