Rheumatology

  • Research Faculty

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    Division Head

    A photo of John Harley.

    John B. Harley, MD, PhD Director, Division of Rheumatology

    is a rheumatologist and biochemist with special clinical and research interests in the genetic etiology of inflammatory diseases. His experimental focus is the many genetic effects and environmental causes of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and related inflammatory diseases. Through this work, nearly 50 genes are known and Epstein Barr virus has been identified to trigger the systemic autoimmunity of lupus. Dr. Harley also builds infrastructure with which to do high throughput genotyping, expression analysis, and epigenetics, which he makes available to his colleagues from around the world. In recent experiments, Dr. Harley organized the logistics of managing >18,000 subjects at >30,000 genetic markers, 3200 subjects at 1.2 million markers, and 10,000 subjects at 196,000 markers. Dr. Harley is committed to all of the steps between association detection through replication and toward identifying the possible functional genetic variants and to pursuing their biology.

    513-803-3665
    john.harley@cchmc.org

    John B. Harley, MD, PhD

    Director, Division of Rheumatology

    Academic Information

    Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-803-3665

    Email: john.harley@cchmc.org

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    Publications

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    Grants

    Molecular & Immunologic Analysis of the Pathobiology of Human Anthrax. Co-Principal Investigator. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sep 2009-Aug 2014. #AI062629-06.

    Genomics of Lupus. Principal Investigator. Aug 2009-Jul 2014. #1 P01 AI083194-01.

    Faculty

    A photo of Hermine Brunner.

    Hermine I. Brunner, MD, MSc

    is a pediatric rheumatologist with a special interest in clinical and translational research, focusing on pediatric lupus. Her research is focused on biomarker discovery for children with lupus and the testing of new medications for various pediatric rheumatic diseases. Dr. Brunner is also involved in trial design and provides statistical support at Cincinnati Children's and is pioneering the development of outcome measures and improving the quality of care for children with lupus and other pediatric rheumatic diseases.

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    513-636-4676
    hermine.brunner@cchmc.org

    Hermine I. Brunner, MD, MSc

    Academic Information

    Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-4676

    Fax: 513-636-4116

    Email: hermine.brunner@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Clinical Interests

    Health-related quality of life; outcome research; lupus

    Research Interests

    Economic analyses; HRQOL; measurement development; outcome research; lupus 

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    Biography

    Hermine Brunner, MD, MSc, is a pediatric rheumatologist with a special clinical and research interest in pediatric lupus. Her research is focused on biomarker discovery and the testing of new medications for lupus. She is also involved in trial design and provides statistical support at Cincinnati Children's. As head of the Lupus Center, she is involved in the conduction of the Lupus Clinic and the organization of Lupus Support Groups. She also pioneers the development of outcome measures and improving the quality of clinical of children with lupus and other rheumatic diseases.

    Education and Training

    MD: Ludwig Maximilan University, Munich, Germany, 1991.

    Residency: University of Chicago, 1997.

    Fellowship: University of Toronto & Cincinnati, 1999.

    MSc: Clinical Epidemiology: University of Toronto, 1999.

    Certification: Pediatrics 1997; Rheumatology 2002.

    Publications

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    A photo of Edward Gianni.

    Edward H. Giannini, MSc, DrPH

    serves as project director for numerous clinical trials, and has vested a considerable part of his research career in the methodological aspects of conducting clinical trials in children with rheumatic diseases. In 2011 he received the ‘American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Clinical Investigator Award’ from among its 15,000 members.

    513-636-7634
    edward.giannini@cchmc.org

    Edward H. Giannini, MSc, DrPH

    Academic Information

    Emeritus, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-7634

    Email: edward.giannini@cchmc.org

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    Publications

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    A photo of Alexei Grom.

    Alexei A. Grom, MD

    is a pediatric rheumatologist with a special interest in the pathways associated with the development of macrophage activation syndrome, a life-threatening complication of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA). His work includes a strong translational component; along with studying the mechanisms behind these conditions, his lab is researching potential biomarkers that could facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.
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    513-636-3339
    alexei.grom@cchmc.org

    Alexei A. Grom, MD

    Academic Information

    Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-3339

    Fax: 513-636-3328

    Email: alexei.grom@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Biography

    The research of Alexei Grom, MD, has mainly involved two translational projects focused on two autoimmune diseases – systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile dermatomyositis. In both projects, recent advances of cellular immunology are applied to these diseases to promote better understanding of their pathogenesis and treatment.

    Systemic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and an associated condition known as macrophage activation syndrome are severe and often devastating illnesses. The pathological mechanisms are not known but Dr. Alexei Grom has focused his research on NK and cytotoxic cell function in this disease. The rationale for this approach has been based on the strong clinical similarities between MAS and the better understood autosomal recessive disorder familial hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, in which the uncontrolled proliferation of T cells and macrophages has been recently associated with decreased NK cell and cytotoxic cell functions secondary to mutations in the gene encoding perforin. Recent observations suggest as in FHLH, MAS patients also have profoundly depressed NK function. Moreover, a large subgroup of systemic JRA patients has very similar immunologic abnormalities. Combined with the evidence of the immunoregulatory role of NK cells in many immune responses, this suggests that NK dysfunction is relevant to the pathogenesis of MAS. New directions have thus been established for research in this poorly understood disease.

    Juvenile dermatomyositis is a chronic inflammatory condition involving primarily muscles and skin. The most characteristic feature of JDM is vascular damage associated with the capillary necrosis that eventually leads to capillary loss and tissue ischemia. The project is based on the hypothesis that capillary loss in this condition may be caused by angiostatic chemokines that are prominent in the inflammatory response in the affected muscles.

    Education and Training

    MD: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Pediatric Medical Institute, Russia, 1986. 

    Residency: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Medical Institute, Russia, 1988; Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1998. 

    Fellowship: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Pediatric Medical Institute, Russia, 1991; Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1995. 

    Certification: Pediatrics, 1999.

    Publications

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    A photo of Michael Henrickson.

    Michael Henrickson, MD, MPH Clinical Director, Division of Rheumatology

    focuses on health policy development to improve national pediatric rheumatology workforce capacity. Strategies include creative policy solutions for current workforce challenges, developing telemedicine for pediatric rheumatology outreach to underserved regions, and establishing national benchmarks for clinical productivity. His second research interest is the development of global health initiatives to address the epidemiologic shift in developing countries to chronic conditions, including pediatric rheumatic diseases.

    513-636-7686
    michael.henrickson@cchmc.org

    Michael Henrickson, MD, MPH

    Clinical Director, Division of Rheumatology

    Academic Information

    Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-7686

    Email: michael.henrickson@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Health policy, global health, neuropsychiatric-SLE, periodic fever syndromes, systemic JIA, culturally appropriate care, quality measures.

    Education and Training

    BA: Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 1980.

    MD: Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, 1984.

    MPH: College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, 2009.

    Residency: Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, HI, 1984-87.

    Fellowship: Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 1991-94.

    Certification: American Board of Pediatrics: General Pediatrics, 1988 (recertified 2004). Pediatric Rheumatology, 1994 (recertified 2008). National Board of Public Health Examiners, 2009.   

    Publications

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    A photo of Daniel Lovell.

    Daniel J. Lovell, MD, MPH Associate Director, Division of Rheumatology

    focuses on the performance of interventional clinical trials in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and other rheumatic diseases. He has served as the PI for >30 multicenter, interventional trials in JIA. Dr. Lovell is also involved in the development and validation of outcome measures and clinical response definitions for JIA, JDM and childhood onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

    513-636-4676
    daniel.lovell@cchmc.org

    Daniel J. Lovell, MD, MPH

    Associate Director, Division of Rheumatology

    Academic Information

    Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-4676

    Fax: 513-636-5990

    Email: daniel.lovell@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Clinical Interests

    Diagnostic evaluation and ongoing care of children with all pediatric onset rheumatic diseases

    Research Interests

    Performance of clinical trials in children with rheumatic diseases; clinical trials methodology; mentoring of junior faculty

    Education and Training

    MD: University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kan., 1978. 

    MPH: University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, 1982. 

    Residency: Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Kan. 

    Fellowship: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. 

    Certification: Pediatrics, 1984; Pediatric Rheumatology, 1992.

    Publications

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    A photo of Halima Moncrieffe.

    Halima Moncrieffe, PhD

    is an immunologist who has basic and translational research interests in mechanisms of childhood arthritis susceptibility and immunopathology. She studies how genetic and immunological variants contribute to inflammation and response to medication. A second research focus is investigating mechanisms of immune system suppression with specific interest in regulatory T cell function.

    513-636-4676
    halima.moncrieffe@cchmc.org

    Halima Moncrieffe, PhD

    Academic Information

    Instructor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-4676

    Email: halima.moncrieffe@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Immunoregulation; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; biomarkers of response to medication

    Biography

    Halima Moncrieffe, PhD, is an immunologist who has basic and translational research interests in mechanisms of childhood arthritis susceptibility and immunopathology. She studies how genetic and immunological variants contribute to inflammation and response to medication. A second research focus is investigating mechanisms of immune system suppression with specific interest in regulatory T cell function.

    Education and Training

    PhD: Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

    Publications

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    A photo of Esi Morgan DeWitt.

    Esi Morgan DeWitt, MD, MSCE

    focuses on the development and validation of patient reported outcomes measures using modern psychometric approaches, including item response theory, for improved health assessment in children. A second major research focus concerns improving clinical outcomes of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis through the science of quality improvement.

    513-636-4676
    esi.morgan-dewitt@cchmc.org

    Esi Morgan DeWitt, MD, MSCE

    Academic Information

    Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-4676

    Email: esi.morgan-dewitt@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Clinical Interests

    Childhood rheumatic diseases; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; juvenile dermatomyositis; sarcoidosis

    Research Interests

    Patient reported outcomes measure development; quality Improvement; health services research; economic evaluations; comparative effectiveness

    Biography

    Esi Morgan DeWitt, MD, MSCE, is a pediatric rheumatologist and researcher. Clinical care spans the childhood rheumatic diseases, with focus on juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and juvenile dermatomyositis.

    Her research training and experience includes epidemiology and health services research, in addition to specialization in quality improvement methods and application to improve health care delivery. Dr. Morgan DeWitt leads a research project to develop new measures to assess pain in children and youth, as well as to validate measures of health related quality of life in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis or chronic pain as part of a national network of investigators.

    Dr. Morgan DeWitt is a leader in a multi-center quality improvement network to improve the outcome of care in children with JIA, the Pediatric-Rheumatology Care and Outcomes Improvement Network. Additionally, she has served on expert panels in development of JIA treatment recommendations and measures of quality of care in treatment of JIA.

    Education and Training

    MD: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 1999.

    Residency: Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, 2002.

    Fellowship: Rheumatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, 2005.

    MSCE: University of Pennsylvania, Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Philadelphia, PA, 2005.

    Certification: Pediatrics, 2002; Pediatric Rheumatology, 2006.

    Publications

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    Bahram Namjou-Khales, MD

    has been working on genomic of complex diseases for many years in particular lupus. He started his genomic research with working on identifying interesting lupus families for linkage study. Subsequently, he expanded these efforts into GWAS studies for SLE and other complex diseases, gene environment interaction and modeling for coexisting conditions to capture more target loci.

    513-803-5076
    bahram.namjou@cchmc.org

    Bahram Namjou-Khales, MD

    Academic Information

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-803-5076

    Email: bahram.namjou@cchmc.org

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    Biography

    Over the past decade, Dr. Namjou-Khales has been involved in research and studying the genetics of lupus and related autoimmune diseases with more than 35 peer-reviewed publications. His background as a physician and his experiences in genomic medicine have been enormously useful to deeply evaluate, successfully identify, and well-characterize subphenotypes and incorporate a wide variety of clinical variables into the genetic analysis. Furthermore, this effort has generated a very interesting bio repository database with comprehensive genomic, clinical and environmental data elements for the analysis of the genetics of lupus and other autoimmune diseases.

    Education and Training

    MD: National University (s.beheshti) of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, 1989.

    Certification: USMLE certified, 1996.

    Publications

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    A photo of Alexey Porollo.

    Alexey Porollo, PhD

    is computational biologist with research focused on the development of new prediction methods in structural bioinformatics. He is particularly interested in prediction and analysis of protein structure, protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions. Applications of the computational approaches include structural and functional characterization of proteins and their mutations, analysis of biological pathways, identification of alternative drug targets, and virtual drug screening.

    513-803-5489
    alexey.porollo@cchmc.org

    Alexey Porollo, PhD

    Academic Information

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Environmental Health

    Phone: 513-803-5489

    Email: alexey.porollo@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Computational biology; bioinformatics

    Education and Training

    MSc: Mari State University, Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, 1995.

    PhD: Tver State University, Tver and Mari State University, Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, 1999.

    Post-doc: Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2006.

    Publications

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    Grants

    Directed Culturing of Pneumocystis Using Metatranscriptomics. Co-Principal Investigator. National Institutes of Health: Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. May 2013-Feb 2018. R01HL119190-01.

    GM-CSF-Induced Metal Sequestration and Histoplasma. Co-Investigator. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. May 2013–Apr 2018. 1R01AI106269-01.

    Norovirus Capsid: a Novel Drug Target. Co-Investigator. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Aug 2013–July 2015. 1R21AI097936-01.

    A photo of Susan Thompson.

    Susan Thompson, PhD

    leads a translational research program dedicated to identifying juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) genetic risk factors and disease-specific gene expression patterns to help understand the causes of JIA and the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis. This work has the long-term goal of developing molecular definitions of disease that can be used to improve diagnosis and response to therapy in JIA.
    Visit the Thompson Lab.

    513-636-3899
    susan.thompson@cchmc.org

    Susan Thompson, PhD

    Academic Information

    Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-3899

    Fax: 513-636-3328

    Email: susan.thompson@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Molecular basis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; large-scale integrative analysis of gene expression, polymorphism and other genomic data with clinical data

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    Biography

    Susan Thompson, PhD, has research interests that span both genetic and functional genomic studies of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) to advance the understanding of the causes and mechanisms of disease pathogenesis. A genome-wide screen for JRA susceptibility traits has been completed and defined several regions for linkage mapping and candidate gene analysis. In addition, complementary approaches that measure global gene expression patterns using DNA microarrays are also being used to understand the molecular basis for disease.

    Education and Training

    PhD: University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences, Memphis, TN, 1988.

    Fellowship: Immunology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, 1988-1991.

    Fellowship: Molecular Genetics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 1991-1994.

    Publications

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    Thornton-Sherry.

    Sherry L. Thornton, PhD

    her research focuses on finding and functionally evaluating targets for the treatment of rheumatic disease, with a particular interest in the role of angiogenesis in human arthritis and animal models of arthritis. A second interest is the use of reagents to label inflammatory cells for visualization during arthritis as a potential clinical tool, and for evaluation of cell types during the course of disease in animal models.
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    513-636-1318
    sherry.thornton@cchmc.org

    Sherry L. Thornton, PhD

    Academic Information

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-636-1318

    Fax: 513-636-3328

    Email: sherry.thornton@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Evaluating targets for the treatment of rheumatic disease; angiogenesis; animal models of arthritis

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    Education and Training

    BS: Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

    PhD: University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH.

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

    Publications

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    A photo of Stephen Waggoner.

    Stephen N. Waggoner, PhD

    is a viral immunologist whose lab studies immune regulatory mechanisms that control pathogenesis of disease. We use viruses and bacteria to probe immune functions associated with disease in mice. Our interests currently focus on a novel regulatory role of natural killer (NK) cells that influences vaccine efficacy, autoimmune disease, chronic viral infections, and immune dysfunction in the elderly.

    513-803-4607
    stephen.waggoner@cchmc.org

    Stephen N. Waggoner, PhD

    Academic Information

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-803-4607

    Email: stephen.waggoner@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Viral immunology; natural killer cells; immunoregulation; vaccines; autoimmunity; immune dysfunction in aging.

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    Biography

    Stephen Waggoner, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE) within the Division of Rheumatology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Waggoner received his PhD from the University of Virginia, conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and joined the faculty at Cincinnati Children’s in 2013. He has garnered international recognition for his discovery that natural killer (NK) cells play a crucial regulatory role during persistent virus infection involving suppression of virus-specific T cell responses. His lab continues to explore the relevance of this phenomenon to chronic infection, vaccine efficacy, autoimmune disease, and age-associated immune dysfunction.

    Education and Training

    BA: St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City, MD, 2000.

    PhD: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 2007.
    Post Doc: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.

    Publications

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    Grants

    Effect of aging on natural killer cell regulation of T cells in viral pathogenesis. Principal Investigator. Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging. July 2012 - July 2016.

    A revolutionary vaccine approach to prevent HIV infection in substance abuse. Principal Investigator. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Avant-Garde Award For HIV/AIDS Research. June 2014-May 2019.

    A photo of Matthew Weirauch.

    Matthew T. Weirauch, PhD

    is a computational biologist.  His lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms of gene transcriptional regulation.  Current projects focus on the characterization of transcription factor binding specificities, and the development of methods for modeling their interactions with DNA, both in vitro and in vivo.  His lab also applies insights from basic research on transcription factor-DNA interactions to the study of the mechanisms underlying complex diseases, with particular emphasis on lupus.

    513-803-9078
    matthew.weirauch@cchmc.org

    Matthew T. Weirauch, PhD

    Academic Information

    Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

    Phone: 513-803-9078

    Email: matthew.weirauch@cchmc.org

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    Specialties

    Transcription factors; transcriptional regulation; functional genomics; genome analysis; network-based algorithms; bioinformatics

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    Biography

    The staggering diversity of life on our planet stems from the elegant system encoded in our genomes.   A major finding of the genomic era is that a substantial proportion of the wide range of biological form and function is likely explained by differences in gene regulation (the processes governing how and when genes are utilized), as opposed to differences in the genes themselves.  An important component of gene regulation is the binding of transcription factors (TFs) to genomic DNA.  A typical metazoan genome contains thousands of TFs, and knowledge of their sequence binding preferences is crucial to our understanding of the “regulatory code” governing health and disease. 

    Two major obstacles stand in our way before we can even begin to accurately model gene regulation.  First, we must gain a thorough knowledge of the sequence binding preferences of TFs.  Of an estimated 165,000 TFs present in the approximately 300 sequenced eukaryotic organisms, sequence preferences are currently known for only ~2,000 (~1%).  In collaboration with Tim Hughes at the University of Toronto, I have developed a joint experimental and computational approach to determine or predict binding preferences for > 55,000 eukaryotic TFs (>30%), representing an order of magnitude improvement over our current knowledge.  Second, there is an ongoing controversy surrounding the optimal way to represent TF binding preferences, and how to accurately model them to predict binding to genomic sequences.  To address this issue, I have recently led the largest evaluation of computational TF binding models to date, involving 20 methods developed by researchers from around the world.  Together, these two studies will provide the groundwork for the future development of models of gene regulation in both normal and disease states.

    Education and Training

    Postdoctoral Fellow: University of Toronto (Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research), Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    PhD: Bioinformatics, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California.

    BSc: Computer Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

    Publications

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    Grants

    Lupus Association with Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 4. Investigator. US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2012.