Creighton INBRE Mentors-Biomedical Sciences

Devendra Agrawal, Ph.D.
Professor
E-mail: dkagr@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  We are investigating the role of inflammatory cells and mediators in bronchial asthma and the mechanisms underlying beta-adrenoceptor desensitization in chronic asthma.  A second research area involves cell adhesion molecules and leukocyte-endothelial cell interaction and the role of polypeptide hormones and IGF-1 in these processes.  

For more information on Dr. Agrawal: Web Site

Kirk W. Beisel, Ph.D.
Professor
E-mail: kirkbeisel@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  Research in this laboratory, is focusing on the molecular delineation of the mechanisms of signal transduction in the inner ear hair cells. The sensory receptor cells (i.e., hair cells), have a complement of mechanosensitive, voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels.  Molecular studies are being done to identify the developmental expression patterns and the mechanisms for the subsequent up- and down-regulation of these channels during their development and electrophysiological maturation of inner ear hair cells and the innervating afferent and efferent neurons. 

For more information on Dr. Beisel: Web Site

Philip Brauer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: prbrauer@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  Heart defects are common life-threatening birth defect in newborn infants. In the very young embryo, neural crest cells form and contribute cells essential for the development of the heart. Heart and craniofacial defects occur if neural crest development is perturbed. Our laboratory studies the mechanisms controlling neural crest cell formation and migration with the long-term objective of understanding the mechanisms behind these birth defects.

For more information on Dr. Brauer: Web Site

Laura L. Bruce, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: lbruce@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  The work in my laboratory concerns the development of the nervous system. The development of connections in the visual and auditory systems are being studied to understand how structural and neurochemical changes affect functional development, in particular, the growth of axons to their target and formation of synapses. The developing and adult patterns of neural connections are being studied in reptiles as a basis for understanding the organization of the reptilian brain and how it relates to the evolution of amphibian and mammalian connections. 

For more information on Dr. Bruce: Web Site

Richard Hallworth, Ph.D.
Professor
E-mail: hallw@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  The hair cells of the inner ear convert the mechanical energy of sound to a receptor potential that results in excitation of the auditory nerve and ultimately in sensation of hearing.  My laboratory studies the mechanism of key molecules in hair cell function, using biophysical and fluorescence techniques, with the aim of understanding how they work and how they fail in various kinds of hearing loss. 

For more information on Dr. Hallworth: Web Site 

Deniz Yilmazer-Hanke, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: denizyilmazer-hanke@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  My research area is the function and pathology of the limbic system in the brain.  The limbic system is important for emotions and learning.  It is affected in a variety of disorders.  My group focuses on functional, molecular and genetic mechanisms influencing anxiety, fear and depression.  such mechanisms are studied to understand (i) the normal function of the limbic system as well as (ii) emotional changes in disorders like epilepsy and neurodegeneration.

For more information on Dr. Yilmazer-Hanke:  Web Site 

David Zhi-Zhou He, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: hed@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  The outer hair cell (OHC) is one of two kinds of receptor cells in the inner ear, and plays a critical role in mammalian hearing. OHCs enhance basilar membrane motion through a local mechanical feedback process within the cochlea, termed the 'cochlear amplifier'. It is generally believed that the basis of cochlear amplification is a voltage-dependent somatic length change of OHCs. In this scheme, receptor potentials produced by transducer current in response to acoustic stimulation provide the input to the cell's motor activity.  My research interest is to study the mechanoelectrical and electromechanical transduction of cochlear hair cells, and the role of OHCs in cochlear amplification. 

For more information on Dr. He: Web Site

Kenneth L. Kramer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
E-mail: kenkramer@creighton.edu

Research Interests: All vertebrate cells are surrounded by a layer of sugars that mediate how cells interact with each other.  Our research is focused on understanding how changes to these sugars control development.  We use zebrafish as a model system, allowing us to easily see organs develop.  We are particularly interested in ear and vascular development as similar sugars regulate these two distinct processes.

For more information on Dr. Kramer:  Web Site 

Sandor Lovas, Ph.D.
Professor
E-mail: slovas@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  The three-dimensional (3D) shape of molecules determines their biological activities.  Therefore, we study the structure-biological activity relationships of peptides.  Our studies involve peptide syntheses and characterization followed by biological assays using cell cultures.  The 3D structure of peptides are stabilized by several intra- and inter-molecular interactions including the weakly polar interactions.  The role of the latter one in structure stabilization is not characterized yet, so, we use Molecular Dynamics simulations, ab initio quantum chemical calculations and bioinformatics techniques to describe their role in peptide/protein structures.  We also use spectroscopic techniques, including vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) and electronic CD, to study conformational properties of peptides.  All the information gained during the structural studies are subsequently used to design bioactive analogs of peptides.

For more information on Dr. Lovas: Web Site

Roger D. Reidelberger, Ph.D.
Professor
E-mail: roger.reidelberger@va.gov

Research Interests:  An important early step in development of obesity drugs is determining whether chronic administration of anorexigenic substances can produce a sustained decrease in daily food intake and body fat in experimental animals. We have developed a novel experimental model that permits precise intravenous or intraperitoneal administration of anorexigenic substances to rats tethered via infusion swivels to computer-controlled pumps. Rats are free to move, eat and drink within their individual cages, and their indwelling catheters remain functional for many months. Measurement of food bowl weight, recorded by computer every 20 seconds, permits daily assessment of the instantaneous effects of infused substances on food intake and meal patterns. Adjustments in dosing pattern can be performed daily to define a dosing strategy that produces a sustained reduction in daily food intake and body fat. We currently have the capacity to remotely control drug delivery and measure food intake in 96 rats simultaneously.  Specific aims of our research program, which is funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Institutes of Health, are to (i) define the physiological roles of various gut-brain peptides in regulation of food intake and body weight, and (ii) identify patterns of administration of the various anorexigenic substances, alone and in combination, which will produce a sustained reduction in daily food intake and body fat in diet-induced obese rats.  We believe these pre-clinical studies will accelerate the discovery of a multi-drug therapy for treating obesity.

For more information on Dr. Reidelberger: Web Site

D. David Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: dsmith@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  My research covers all aspects of peptide chemistry. Current interests include (i) the relationship of the conformation and topography of calcitonin gene-related peptide to its biological activity, (ii) the development of a novel oxime linker with increased acid stability for the synthesis of all types of peptides and (iii) the isolation and structural characterization of hormones from Antarctic fishes.

For more information on Dr. Smith: Web Site

Garrett Soukup, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
E-mail: gasoukup@creighton.edu

Research Interests:  I have a general interest in RNA-mediated mechanisms of post-transcriptional genetic regulation.   MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are derived from endogenous genes and function through the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway to effect post-transcriptional gene silencing in eukaryotic organisms. Certain miRNAs have been demonstrated to play key roles in developmental timing and cell fate specification, morphogenesis, and regulation of cell signaling and proliferation in a variety of organisms. We are specifically interested in investigating the role of miRNAs in development and function of the mouse inner ear as a model neurosensory organ.     

For more information on Dr. Soukup: Web Site

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