Three new faculty members have joined Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics to move the department’s mission of understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease forward.
Dan Foltz, ’02 PhD, an associate professor who started this July, is a graduate of Feinberg’s Integrated Graduate Program, now the Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences. His research focuses on a region along the chromosome called the centromere that controls chromosome segregation during cell division. When this process goes wrong, cells may end up with too many or too few chromosomes – a hallmark of most cancers. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in San Diego and most recently led a laboratory at the University of Virginia. Foltz’s studies are currently supported by two major grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Panagiotis Ntziachristos, PhD, joined the Feinberg faculty this September as an assistant professor in the department. He studies the epigenetics of cancer, specifically how oncogenic proteins orchestrate aberrant gene expression in aggressive forms of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The goal of his work is to explain how cancer cells differ from other cells to help inform future targeted therapies. He earned his doctorate at the University of Athens and finished a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University. Ntziachristos’ studies are currently funded by K99/R00 funding from the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and by the American Society of Hematology.
Marc Mendillo, PhD, who also started this September as an assistant professor, investigates how cellular stress response networks are co-opted and perturbed in pathological conditions. While completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he focused on the master transcriptional regulator of heat shock response and the role it plays in cancer. He received his doctorate at the University of California, San Diego, and completed an additional postdoctoral fellowship at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Mendillo’s studies are also funded by K99/R00 funding from the NCI.
“Ali’s vision for the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics is one that is highly innovative and collaborative,” Foltz said, referring to department chair Ali Shilatifard, PhD. “The hope is to leverage the talents of a group of scientists with disparate but related interests and skills to make a major breakthrough in understanding the relationship of epigenetics, chromatin and disease. I am looking forward to helping make that ideal a reality.”