Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence

2016 K-INBRE Symposium Speaker Biographies

Sally Camper, Ph.D., Keynote Speaker

James V. Neel Professor and Chair, University of Michigan School of Medicine
Title: Hypopituitarism: From molecular diagnoses in patients to functional studies in mice

Sally Camper PhotoSally A. Camper is a Professor of Human Genetics and Internal Medicine at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She received her PhD in Biochemistry from Michigan State University, and postdoctoral training in Molecular Genetics at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA and at Princeton University in NJ. She is well known for establishing the Transgenic Animal Model Core Facility at University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the genetic basis for birth defects, especially those that affect the neuroendocrine system. Her approaches include patient genome sequence analysis and mouse models of human disease, which are ideal for developing an understanding of disease pathogenesis and testing potential therapies. Her presentation will focus on the roles of two critical transcription factors, PROP1 and POU1F1, in regulation of pituitary stem cells as they transition to differentiate into hormone producing cells. Defects in the genes that encode these factors are among the most common known causes of congenital hypopituitarism, and understanding their function is an important foundation for exploring cell-based therapies.


Brian Ackley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence
Title: Keep CALM and Mind the Synapse

Brian Ackley is an associate professor in Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas. He received his PhD from Northwestern University, and completed his post doc at the University of California Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the interactions between neurons and their environment during development. Neurons form intricate networks to accomplish their task. Like many networks these have a draft architecture that is refined over time. His lab uses the genetically tractable model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate the molecular mechanisms that guide axons to their targets, help them differentiate synaptic partners from non-partners and form synapses. In his talk he will describe a role for a novel calcium-binding protein, CALM-1, in regulating synapse formation and development. In humans the ortholog of CALM-1 has been implicated in developmental disorders, including Usher Syndrome, Autosomally-inherited Deafness, Autism and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Ackley and his lab hope to better understand the etiology of these disorders by studying this gene in C. elegans.


Marco Bortolato, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence
Title: Nature and nurture in the development of violence

Marco Bortolato PhotoMarco Bortolato is an assistant professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Kansas. He received his MD (Neurology) and PhD (Pharmacology) from the University of Cagliari, Italy. He completed his post-doc training at the University of California, Irvine, and worked as Research Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on translational studies on neurodevelopmental disorders (autism-spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome, pathological aggression, and intellectual disabilities), encompassing clinical trials and preclinical investigations on animal models. The aim of these studies is to identify the mechanisms whereby genetic, environmental, and sex-related vulnerability factors interact to underpin these neuropsychiatric problems, in order to identify novel strategies for their early diagnosis, prevention, and therapy.



Jeremy Chien, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, Translational Genomics, University of Kansas Cancer Center, University of Kansas Medical Center
Title: Ovarian Cancer Genomics: Biological insights from next-generation sequencing of cancer genomes

Jeremy Chien PhotoDr. Chien’s research program in Applied Genomics and Cancer Therapeutics focuses on understanding the genetic basis of ovarian cancer and translating the genetic knowledge into clinical applications to improve the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. He completed his undergraduate studies in Biology & Chemistry at Pittsburg State University and graduate studies in Physiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He subsequently completed postdoctoral training in Tumor Biology at Mayo Clinic. He was named a Lis Tilberis Scholar from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, an Early Career Investigator from the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Academy, and a Research Scholar from American Cancer Society. His current research focuses on applying next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize alterations in cancer genomes, to identify cancer genes and define their functional contribution to cancer progression, and to develop targeted therapies that exploit genetic vulnerabilities in cancer resulting from the alterations in cancer genomes.


Revathi Govind, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Kansas State University
Title: Toxin Secretion in Clostridium difficile

Revathi Govind PhotoDr. Govind is an Assistant Professor in Kansas State University. She received her PhD from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and did her Post Doctoral Research at Institut Pasteur, France. Her research focus is on understanding the pathogenesis of Clostridium difficile, an important nosocomial bacterial pathogen. More specifically, Dr. Govind's lab is interested in characterizing the gene regulatory networks that trigger toxin synthesis and secretion in these pathogenic bacteria.





William J. Hendry, III, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Wichita State University
Title: Update of the Hamster Chronicles:  Endocrine Disruption -> Uterine Cancer -> Ovarian Cancer Patient “Avatar” System

William Hendry PhotoDr. Hendry developed an animal experimental system with unique advantages to investigate the biomedical topics of endocrine disruption, hormone-dependent cancer, and the role of epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and micro RNA expression) in both of those pathophysiological processes.  He is now testing aspects of that system as means to develop a human patient “avatar” model of ovarian cancer.






John P. Thyfault, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, University of Kansas Medical Center
Title: Fitness Impacts Susceptibility for Obesity and Metabolic Disease

John Thyfault PhotoDr. Thyfault has a background and training in obesity, metabolism, and exercise physiology using translational approaches in cells, animal models, and human subjects. Dr Thyfault was faculty at the University of Missouri from 2005 to 2015, and recently moved his lab to the University of Kansas Medical Center and the KC Veterans Hospital in Kansas City. The broad theme of his research is on the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism by physical activity and fitness.





John Tomich, Ph.D.

Professor, Kansas State University
Title: Branched Amphipathic Peptide Capsules: A Singularly Versatile Drug Delivery Platform

John Tomich PhotoProfessor Tomich's laboratory research interests for the past 25 years have focused on the design, synthesis and biophysical analyses of supra-molecular peptide assemblies. His early studies focused on pore-forming peptides derived from naturally occurring ion channel proteins including the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, the L-type dihydropyridine sensitive calcium channel, the glycine receptor and CFTR. In time, segments of the channel forming peptides we found to form entangled nano-fibrils that displayed mechanical adhesive properties. More recently he has manipulated these adhesive sequences to form peptide bilayers with unusual properties—today's topic.