Developmental Biology
Molecular And Developmental Biology Graduate Program

Molecular And Developmental Biology Graduate Program FY 16 Annual Report

The Graduate Program in Molecular and Developmental Biology is an interdepartmental program within the University of Cincinnati that offers the PhD degree. It has been based in the Department of Pediatrics for over 40 years. Dr. Rashmi Hegde served as Director, Dr. Rulang Jiang served as Co-Director of the Program, with Associate Directors Drs. Jeffrey Whitsett - finance, Brian Gebelein - curriculum, Rolf Stottmann - admissions, Edith Markoff – recruitment, Yi Zheng – faculty membership, and Vladimir Kalinichenko– graduate studies.

There are 83 faculty members in the program. During the past year, there were 53 pre-doctoral students in the program, 11 of whom are pursuing MD/PhD degrees, and 5 Master of Science students. Students and faculty continue to be productive as measured by their numbers of publications, presentations at meetings, honors and awards received. Grant support to faculty remains high. 

During the past year, the University of Cincinnati continued to support the program by providing University Graduate Assistantships and funds appropriated from the Dean's office to support 5 first year students. The remaining students are supported through a variety of sources including Ruth L. Kirchstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (1), American Heart Association Fellowships (3), NIH training grants (5) and external grants to their advisors (28) and funds from the Children's Hospital Research Foundation to the Graduate Program (3). 

The MDB Program provides an excellent research and educational experience for students and has an excellent record in the placement of its graduates in scientific careers.

Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program Students 2015-2016

Amel Alqadah Chiou-Fen Chuang 2010
Kristin Bell Noah Shroyer 2010
Gregory Bick Paul Andreassen 2010
Markaisa Black Tanya Kalin 2012
Ian Campbell* Rotating 2015
Satish Casie Chetty Rotating 2014
Jason Cowan Stephanie Ware 2009
Andrew DiStasio Rolf Stottmann 2013
Caitlin Dunn-Fletcher** Louis Muglia 2013
Tiffany Duong* Rotating 2015
Alexandra Eicher Rotating 2015
Kelsey Elliott Rotating 2015
Ming Fang Katherine Yutzey 2010
Christa Gunawan* Rotating 2015
Lu Han Aaron Zorn 2011
Jillian Hufgard Charles Vorhees 2012
Jed Kendall** Nancy Ratner 2011
Andrew Kim** Katherine Yutzey 2014
Andrew Koenig Saulius Sumanas 2012
Yi Kuang Brian Gebelein 2014
Jeff Kuerbitz** Kenneth Campbell 2012
Katie (Bezold) Lamm Louis Muglia 2011
Julie Lander** Rafi Kopan 2011
Chaochang Li Rulang Jiang 2014
Shan Lin James Mulloy 2009
Zhenling Liu Rotating 2015
Marshall Lukacs** Rolf Stottmann 2015
Bliss Magella Steve Potter 2011
Amrita Mandal Joshua Waxman 2011
Sierra Marable Rotating 2015
Heather McCauley Geraldine Guasch 2009
Patrick “Sean” McGrath James Wells 2012
David Milewski Tanya Kalin 2013
Grethel Millington* Samantha Brugmann 2015
Edward “David” Muench H. Leighton Grimes 2012
Talia Nasr** Aaron Zorn 2015
Shenyue Qin Kenneth Campbell 2011
Rebecca Rice Samantha Brugmann 2014
Stephen Riffle Rashmi Hegde 2013
Valeriia Rudomanova Rotating 2015
Ariel Rydeen Joshua Waxman 2011
Joseph Salomone** Brian Gebelein 2015
Betsy Schock Samantha Brugmann 2012
Moen Sen Kathryn Wikenheiser-Brokamp 2011
Katie Sinagoga James Wells 2012
Shatrunjai Singh Steve Danzer 2010
Sneha Sitaraman Timothy Weaver 2013
Yuntao “Charlie” Song Joshua Waxman 2014
Vicky (Gomez) Stallons Katherine Yutzey 2011
Mariana (Louza) Stevens Aaron Zorn 2010
Stephen Trisno** James Wells 2014
Angela White Lionel Chow 2013
Alyssa Wilson* Rotating 2015
Arya Zandvakili** Brian Gebelein 2013
Inuk Zandvakili** Yi Zheng 2009
Xinghao Zhang James Wells 2014
Xuzhe Zhang Louis Muglia 2012
Sandra Zoubovsky** Louis Muglia 2015

Students who completed PhD work in FY2016

Amel Alqadah – “Molecular mechanisms of olfactory neuron diversification in C. elegans,” December 7, 2015.

Kristin Bell – “The Role of Klf5 in Normal Intestinal Homeostasis,” March 9, 2016.

Gregory Bick – “Regulation of the DNA damage response through ubiquitination of H2A by RNF8,” June 20, 2016.

Jason Cowan – “The Genetics of Heterotaxy,” October 19, 2015.

Ming Fang – “Wnt/catenin signaling pathway in non-myocyte lineages in the heart,” March 9, 2016.

Amrita Mandal – “Roles of retinoic acid and Wnt signaling during zebrafish development,” March 8, 2016.

Heather McCauley – “Two novel roles for TGF signaling in epithelial differentiation and cancer,” July 13, 2015.

Patrick “Sean” McGrath – “The role of Neurog3 in human pancreas and intestinal endocrine development,” March 2, 2016.

Ariel Rydeen – “The roles of Cyp26 enzymes in cardiovascular development,” April 15, 2016.

Shatrunjai Singh – “Quantitative analysis on the origins of morphologically abnormal cells in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,” September 14, 2015.

Inuk Zandvakili – “Dual targeting of RhoA and RhoC significantly reduces Kras-driven lung adenocarcinoma formation in mice,” August 17, 2015.

Xuzhe Zhang – Supported by the March of Dimes

Students who completed MS work in FY2016

*Please note that the MS degree in Molecular & Developmental Biology began operating as a separate graduate program in 2015-2016, with a focus on Biomedical Research. Complete separation of the two programs is expected to be complete by 2018.

Grethel Millington – “Primary cilia-dependent Gli processing in neural crest cells is required for early tongue development,” May 10, 2016.

Student publications:

During the past year, students from the Program authored or co-authored 24 articles.

Alqadah A, Hsieh YW, Schumacher JA, Wang X, Merrill SA, Millington G, Bayne B, Jorgensen EM, Chuang CF. SLO BK Potassium Channels Couple Gap Junctions to Inhibition of Calcium Signaling in Olfactory Neuron Diversification. PLoS Genet. 2016 Jan 15;12(1):e1005654. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005654. eCollection 2016 Jan. PubMed PMID: 26771544; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4714817.

Alqadah A, Hsieh YW, Chuang CF. Sox2 goes beyond stem cell biology. Cell Cycle. 2016;15(6):777-8. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2015.1137714. PubMed PMID: 26743825; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4845972.

Alqadah A, Hsieh YW, Vidal B, Chang C, Hobert O, Chuang CF. Postmitotic diversification of olfactory neuron types is mediated by differential activities of the HMG-box transcription factor SOX-2. EMBO J. 2015 Oct 14;34(20):2574-89. doi: 10.15252/embj.201592188. Epub 2015 Sep 4. PubMed PMID: 26341465; PubMed
Central PMCID: PMC4609187.

Bick G, Zhang F, Meetei AR, Andreassen PR. Coordination of the recruitment of the FANCD2 and PALB2 Fanconi anemia proteins by an ubiquitin signaling network. Chromosoma. 2016 Jun 8. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27277787.

Jeruschke S, Jeruschke K, DiStasio A, Karaterzi S, Büscher AK, Nalbant P, Klein-Hitpass L, Hoyer PF, Weiss J, Stottmann RW, Weber S. Everolimus Stabilizes
Podocyte Microtubules via Enhancing TUBB2B and DCDC2 Expression. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 2;10(9):e0137043. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137043. eCollection 2015. PubMed PMID: 26331477; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4557973.

Eidem HR, Rinker DC, Ackerman WE 4th, Buhimschi IA, Buhimschi CS, Dunn-Fletcher C, Kallapur SG, Pavličev M, Muglia LJ, Abbot P, Rokas A. Comparing human and macaque placental transcriptomes to disentangle preterm birth pathology from gestational age effects. Placenta. 2016 May;41:74-82. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2016.03.006. Epub 2016 Mar 12. PubMed PMID: 27208410.

Fang M, Xiang FL, Braitsch CM, Yutzey KE. Epicardium-derived fibroblasts in heart development and disease. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2016 Feb;91:23-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2015.12.019. Epub 2015 Dec 22. Review. PubMed PMID: 26718723; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4764446.

Rankin SA*, Han L*, McCracken KW, Kenny AP, Anglin CT, Grigg EA, Crawford CM, Wells JM, Shannon JM, Zorn AM. A Retinoic Acid-Hedgehog Cascade Coordinates Mesoderm-Inducing Signals and Endoderm Competence during Lung Specification. Cell Rep. 2016 Jun 28;16(1):66-78. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.060. Epub 2016 Jun 16. PubMed PMID: 27320915.

Mann EA, Alam Z, Hufgard JR, Mogle M, Williams MT, Vorhees CV, Reddy P. Chronic social defeat, but not restraint stress, alters bladder function in mice. Physiol Behav. 2015 Oct 15;150:83-92. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.02.021. Epub 2015 Feb 15. PubMed PMID: 25689100; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4537697.

Wu J, Keng VW, Patmore DM, Kendall JJ, Patel AV, Jousma E, Jessen WJ, Choi K, Tschida BR, Silverstein KA, Fan D, Schwartz EB, Fuchs JR, Zou Y, Kim MO, Dombi E, Levy DE, Huang G, Cancelas JA, Stemmer-Rachamimov AO, Spinner RJ, Largaespada DA, Ratner N. Insertional Mutagenesis Identifies a STAT3/Arid1b/β-catenin Pathway Driving Neurofibroma Initiation. Cell Rep. 2016 Mar 1;14(8):1979-90. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.01.074. Epub 2016 Feb 18. PubMed PMID: 26904939; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4782770.

Koenig AL, Baltrunaite K, Bower NI, Rossi A, Stainier DY, Hogan BM, Sumanas S. Vegfa signaling promotes zebrafish intestinal vasculature development through endothelial cell migration from the posterior cardinal vein. Dev Biol. 2016 Mar 1;411(1):115-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.01.002. Epub 2016 Jan 6. PubMed PMID: 26769101; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4769896.

Palencia-Desai S, Rost MS, Schumacher JA, Ton QV, Craig MP, Baltrunaite K, Koenig AL, Wang J, Poss KD, Chi NC, Stainier DY, Sumanas S. Myocardium and BMP signaling are required for endocardial differentiation. Development. 2015 Jul 1;142(13):2304-15. doi: 10.1242/dev.118687. Epub 2015 Jun 19. PubMed PMID: 26092845; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4510589.

Raines AM, Magella B, Adam M, Potter SS. Key pathways regulated by HoxA9,10,11/HoxD9,10,11 during limb development. BMC Dev Biol. 2015 Jul 9;15:28. doi: 10.1186/s12861-015-0078-5. PubMed PMID: 26186931; PubMed Central PMCID:

McCauley HA, Guasch G. Three cheers for the goblet cell: maintaining homeostasis in mucosal epithelia. Trends Mol Med. 2015 Aug;21(8):492-503. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2015.06.003. Epub 2015 Jul 3. Review. PubMed PMID: 26144290.

Fulford L, Milewski D, Ustiyan V, Ravishankar N, Cai Y, Le T, Masineni S, Kasper S, Aronow B, Kalinichenko VV, Kalin TV. The transcription factor FOXF1 promotes prostate cancer by stimulating the mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK5. Sci Signal. 2016 May 10;9(427):ra48. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aad5582. PubMed PMID: 27165781.

Meyer SE, Qin T, Muench DE, Masuda K, Venkatasubramanian M, Orr E, Suarez L, 
Gore SD, Delwel R, Paietta E, Tallman MS, Fernandez H, Melnick A, Le Beau MM, Kogan S, Salomonis N, Figueroa ME, Grimes HL. DNMT3A Haploinsufficiency Transforms FLT3ITD Myeloproliferative Disease into a Rapid, Spontaneous, and Fully Penetrant Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Cancer Discov. 2016 May;6(5):501-15. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-16-0008. Epub 2016 Mar 25. PubMed PMID: 27016502; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4861898.
Muench DE, Grimes HL. Transcriptional Control of Stem and Progenitor Potential. Curr Stem Cell Rep. 2015 Sep;1(3):139-150. Epub 2015 Jun 26. PubMed PMID: 26509110; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4617301.

Rydeen A, Voisin N, D'Aniello E, Ravisankar P, Devignes CS, Waxman JS. Excessive feedback of Cyp26a1 promotes cell non-autonomous loss of retinoic acid signaling. Dev Biol. 2015 Sep 1;405(1):47-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2015.06.008. Epub 2015 Jun 24. PubMed PMID: 26116175; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4529768.

Schock EN, Chang CF, Youngworth IA, Davey MG, Delany ME, Brugmann SA. Utilizing the chicken as an animal model for human craniofacial ciliopathies. Dev Biol. 2016 Jul 15;415(2):326-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2015.10.024. Epub 2015 Oct 24. Review. PubMed PMID: 26597494; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4842343.

Schock EN, Chang CF, Struve JN, Chang YT, Chang J, Delany ME, Brugmann SA. Using the avian mutant talpid2 as a disease model for understanding the oral-facial phenotypes of oral-facial-digital syndrome. Dis Model Mech. 2015 Aug 1;8(8):855-66. doi: 10.1242/dmm.020222. Epub 2015 Jun 4. PubMed PMID: 26044959; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4527291.

Hester MS, Hosford BE, Santos VR, Singh SP, Rolle IJ, LaSarge CL, Liska JP,
Garcia-Cairasco N, Danzer SC. Impact of rapamycin on status epilepticus induced hippocampal pathology and weight gain. Exp Neurol. 2016 Jun;280:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2016.03.015. Epub 2016 Mar 17. PubMed PMID: 26995324; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4860167.

Singh SP, LaSarge CL, An A, McAuliffe JJ, Danzer SC. Clonal Analysis of Newborn Hippocampal Dentate Granule Cell Proliferation and Development in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. eNeuro. 2016 Jan 9;2(6). pii: ENEURO.0087-15.2015. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0087-15.2015. eCollection 2015 Nov-Dec. PubMed PMID: 26756038; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4706641.

Zandvakili A, Gebelein B. Mechanisms of Specificity for Hox Factor Activity. J Dev Biol. 2016 Jun;4(2). pii: 16. Epub 2016 May 9. PubMed PMID: 27583210; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5003318.

Uhl JD, Zandvakili A, Gebelein B. A Hox Transcription Factor Collective Binds a Highly Conserved Distal-less cis-Regulatory Module to Generate Robust Transcriptional Outcomes. PLoS Genet. 2016 Apr 8;12(4):e1005981. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005981. eCollection 2016 Apr. PubMed PMID: 27058369; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4825978.

Student Honors

Markaisa Black – Johnson & Johnson-SMDP Biotech Scholar, July 2015; Supported by NIH Training Grant T32 HL 007752-19, Lung and Cardiovascular Development and Disease Pathogenesis Training Program; Janssen Biopharmaceuticals Graduate Student Travel Award selected for Platform talk at Johnson & Johnson Annual Diversity Biotech Open House Conference, October 2015; 1 of 2 PhD Interns selected from 82 candidates for summer internship at Procter and Gamble-Beauty Technology Division: Pre-Emptive Aging for OLAY™, May 2016

Ming Fang – Supported by an American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Jillian Hufgard – Supported by NIH Training Grant T32 ES 007051-37, Teratology

Jed Kendall – Supported by a private donor to the University of Cincinnati Medical Scientist Training Program

Andrew Koenig – Supported by NIH Training Grant T32 HL 125204-2, Understanding Cardiovascular Disease Mechanisms

Shan Lin – Supported by CancerFree Kids Pediatric Cancer Research Alliance 

David Milewski – Best Question Award, Developmental Mechanisms, Organogenesis, and Stem Cells Annual Retreat, College Corner, Ohio, April 2016

Grethel Millington – Best Student Poster Award, 5th Annual Craniofacial and Skin Sciences Research Symposium, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 2016

Edward “David” Muench – Supported by NIH Training Grant T32 ES 007250-27, Environmental Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis

Stephen Riffle – Supported by CancerFree Kids Pediatric Cancer Research Alliance

Ariel Rydeen – Supported by an American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Betsy Schock – Supported by NIH Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award F31 DE 025537-01, The role of ectodermal primary cilia in murine orofacial development; Gordon Research Seminar for Neural Crest Cells and Cranial Placodes Co-Chair (to be held February 2017)

Moen Sen - 2016 ATS Abstract Scholarship Award Recipient

Yuntao “Charlie” Song – Graduate Student Governance Association Travel Award

Vicky (Gomez) Stallons – Supported by an American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Mariana (Louza) Stevens – Supported by NIH Training Grant T32 HL 007752-23, Lung and Cardiovascular Development and Disease Pathogenesis Training Program

Stephen Trisno – Supported by a private donor to the University of Cincinnati Medical Scientist Training Program

Arya Zandvakili – Supported by a private donor to the University of Cincinnati Medical Scientist Training Program

Richard A. Akeson Fellowship Fund

The Richard A. Akeson Fellowship and Memorial Lectureship Fund continues to support the Annual Richard Akeson Memorial Lectureship and travel by students in our graduate program to relevant courses and meetings in which they are presenting results of their research. Dr. Rafi Kopan presented the Twentieth Annual Richard Akeson Memorial Lectureship in conjunction with the annual Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Student Symposium in 2015.

The following students received funding from the Richard A. Akeson Fellowship and Memorial Fund for travel in FY2016:






Betsy Schock

Gordon Research Conference: Neural Crest & Cranial Placodes

Waltham, Massachusetts


July 2015

Amrita Mandal

ZDM8 Conference

Boston, Massachusetts


August 2015

Shenyue Qin

Neuroscience 2015

Chicago, Illinois


October 2015

Jeff Kuerbitz

Neuroscience 2015

Chicago, Illinois


October 2015

Bliss Magella

Midwest Society for Developmental Biology Meeting

Ann Arbor, Michigan


October 2015

Shan Lin

AACR Advances in Pediatric Cancer Research

Fort Lauderdale, Florida


November 2015

David Muench

American Society of Hematology

Orlando, Florida


December 2015

Katie Sinagoga

Keystone Symposia Conference, Islet Biology

Keystone, Colorado


March 2016

Moen Sen

American Thoracic Society

San Francisco, California


May 2016

Charlie Song

Weinstein Cardiovascular Development and Regeneration Conference 2016

Durham, North Carolina


May 2016

Stephen Riffle

18th Annual DNA Repair Symposium

Columbus, Ohio


May 2016

Jillian Hufgard

Gordon Research Conference: Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases

Girona, Spain


June 2016