Faculty Research

Hope Barkoukis

My research focuses on the impact of dietary carbohydrate quality on substrate utilization, body composition, insulin resistance, energy and glucose metabolism. We have used RCT incorporating indirect calorimetry, body composition techniques, stable isotopes and a dietary intervention. Prior NIH RCTs have involved glycemic index diet interventions in older adults and assessing energy expenditure during hemodialysis. Two current NIH funded studies include the use of a low glycemic, Mediterranean diet and exercise intervention in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and  in obese women who are planning to become pregnant within an 18 month period of time. In each study, the interventions are assessing the intervetion impact on glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. Additionally, in the preparation for pregnancy study, the impact on the subsequent pregnancy and infant will also be assessed as secondary outcomes.

Gurkan Bebek

My current research projects include:

  • Characterizing driver genes in cancer
  • Exploring shared disease mechanisms associated with COPD and lung cancer.
  • Integrating genomic analysis of cancers to identify pathways and classify tumors.
  • Microbiome and related epigenetic alterations in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Classifying drugs by multiple genetic features to understand mechanisms of multidrug resistance and identify repositionable synergistic therapies.
  • Identifying the role of epigenetic regulators in triple negative breast cancers.
  • Developing software tools to analyze/improve our understanding and interpretability of proteomics and genomics datasets, and
  • Predicting contagious disease diffusion using social media big data.

One of my long-term goals is to create a personalized/precision medicine paradigm for cancer treatment, where a patient's genome/proteome guides identification of the best treatment.

Elaine A. Borawski

Dr. Elaine Borawski is a medical sociologist interested in the social and environmental influences of health and health behavior and the development and testing of new intervention strategies that draw from the strengths of the environments and the people who live within them.  Dr. Borawski has worked closely with community stakeholders on a wide range of issues, including childhood obesity, healthy food access, HIV and pregnancy prevention, and tobacco prevention and control, securing more than $30M in local, state, and federal funding for her research.  These studies include behavioral intervention development, efficacy and effectiveness studies, process evaluation, and health behavior and built environment surveillance.

She has served as PI or Co-I on over a dozen NIH and CDC funded studies, including two 5 year cycles of the CDC-funded Prevention Research Center and recently as Co-PI of a 7 year NHLBI funded childhood obesity treatment trial (IMPACT) that involved 360 low income, overweight/obese Cleveland youth and their families.  Dr. Borawski was the Founding Director of the CWRU Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) from 2009-2020 and remains part of the core faculty of the PRCHN.  In this capacity, she leads the Neighborhood Environment Assessment Project which among its products includes the annual Cleveland Food and Tobacco Retail Audit and FreshFinder an interactive map designed to help dietitians and other health professionals better understand the local food landscape and the options their clients have for finding healthy food options.  Current research also includes Food for Healthy Pregnancies, a collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and Better Health Partnership, which administers the local community health worker HUB.

Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods

Henri Brunengraber

My general research theme focuses on the identification of new pathways and regulatory mechanisms, by associating metabolomics and stable isotope technologies as follows:

  • Explore strategies to starve colon cancer cells by blocking glutamine utilization.
  • Expand previous findings that explain the failure of liver transplantation in the treatment of propionic acidemia. ROI to be submitted July 2016.
  • Expand previous work on the regulation of coenzyme A metabolism, in relation to inborn errors of metabolism. ROI to be submitted in October 2016.

Cheryl Cameron

Dr. Cheryl Cameron completed her Ph.D. in virology in the laboratory of Dr. Grant McFadden at Western University, computationally identifying novel viral immunomodulatory proteins such as the CD47 and CD200 homologues encoded by myxomavirus, a close relative of smallpox. She went on to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship in viral immunopathogenesis at the University of Toronto, applying transcriptomic analyses to dissect the host response to pathogenic respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-1 and avian influenza virus to identify key determinants of severe outcome. Dr. Cameron has continued to study the complex interplay between the host and virus, using objective computational approaches to identify mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and novel targets for immunomodulatory therapeutic interventions to improve the outcome in infected individuals. She went on to study chronic viral infection in people living with HIV, and has discovered that many of the host immune pathways that are highly dysregulated in viral infection are similarly dysregulated in cancer and in other diseases characterized by chronic inflammation, such as cardiovascular disease, heart failure and psoriasis. Importantly, many of these pathways are metabolic in nature and are impacted by diet, nutrition, and drug abuse. Most recently, Dr. Cameron has revived her SARS coronavirus research program and is actively studying the host immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in an effort to identify predictive biomarkers of disease severity as well as potential therapeutic targets to reverse the immune pathology seen in COVID-19. Dr. Cameron was excited to join the Department of Nutrition in 2019 as a translational researcher, and is happy to discuss opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in her research program, either by assisting in the analysis of big data, or by performing wet lab research.  

David Cavallo

My research studies use emerging communications technologies to reduce obesity-related mortality and morbidity with an emphasis on cancer. He has expertise in the areas of technology development and the design, implementation, and analysis of behavioral interventions. My current research focuses on examining the relationship between social media use and physical activity and dietary behaviors through the analysis of nationally representative survey data and by conducting intervention research using social media as a means of increasing social support and behavioral modeling for optimal dietary and physical activity behavior.

Mark Chance

Dr. Chance is noted for a long-standing research track record in quantitative mass spectrometry; Dr. Chance's laboratory invented mass spectrometry based protein footprinting, a well-known and popular quantitative proteomics technology for examining protein structure. Recently, his work combining proteomics, genomics, and bioinformatics, has provided novel approaches and biomarkers for understanding colon cancer and glioblastoma and identifying key pathways that mediate complications of HIV. He has a long-standing demonstrated experience developing complex, internationally recognized biomedical science projects and Centers, including developing and implementing technologically advanced experimental and computational infrastructure for biomedical research.

Case Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics

Case Center for Synchrotron Biosciences

Colleen Croniger

My research focuses on the development of liver injury and disease as a consequence of obesity or alcohol consumption. We began by investigating the genetic susceptibility to liver injury using chromosomal substitution strains. Our research has led us into the world of immunology. Currently we are investigating 2 genes (NLR Family, CARD Domain Containing 4, NLRC4 and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, Pck l). We have developed a myeloid specific knockout of Pckl and are investigating the role of Pckl in the immune system for the development of liver injury and obesity.

Stephanie Harris

My research interests have centered on the use of metabolomics and stable isotope techniques for new metabolite and pathway discovery and more recently expanded to include:

  • Dietary supplement use, motivations for use and regulation.
  • Education, knowledge, and attitudes of integrative medicine among dietetic educators, and
  • Nutrition education for health care professionals.

Janna Kiselar

The Narla laboratory has developed a novel series of small molecular drug candidates (SMAPs) that activate the protein Serffhr phosphatase PP2A and simultaneously reduce both the MAPK and AKT effector pathways in lung cancer cell lines and mouse models of the disease. In collaboration with Dr. Narla, I have employed a novel MS-based protein footprinting approach along with photo-affinity labeling to confirm the drug binding site within the PP2A structural subunit A, and establish the specific mechanism of drug-dependent allosteric activation of PP2A. Currently, my research is focused on understanding the function deficit of specific PP2A mutations in cancer patients and on the development of a possible mass spectrometry-based assay for drug screening.

David Lodowski

G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) govern the regulation of many homeostatic processes including heart rate, blood pressure, glucose metabolism as well as the sensations of sight and smell. GPCRs are the largest class of small molecule therapeutics and as such an in depth understanding of their mechanism of activation is of broad interest. My laboratory attempts to answer these fundamental questions utilizing a combination of X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and computer modeling. A second research interest employs ultra-high resolution structures to answer fundamental questions about the catalytic mechanism of serine proteases and hydrolases.

Danny Manor

My research projects include:

  • Nutritional biochemistry, Redox biology, dietary antioxidants, mechanisms of action of the tocopherol transfer protein, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and
  • Cancer biology. Cancer-related alterations in growth-factor signaling cascades; the roles of small GTPases in mitogenic and oncogenic signaling pathways, and cell motility, invasion and metastasis.

Manor Lab

James Swain

Nutritional status and hematology/anemia; absorption of minerals, including naturally occurring chelates and as food fortificants, especially iron, and metabolism; interplay between dietary iron and pathophysiology of clinically significant disorders/diseases, especially tumorigenesis.

John Tilton

Our laboratory is interested in delivering proteins into cells for research and therapeutic purposes. Leveraging our expertise in cellular susceptibility to HIV infection and identification of host factors that influence viral replication, we have developed a non- infectious nanoscale rQtein Qelivery (nanoPOD) platform to deliver proteins into the cytoplasm, nucleus, and intracellular organelles of cells. We are optimizing this platform in vitro and - with collaborators - are exploring its potential in vivo, including as a cancer immunotherapeutic and vaccine agent and as enzyme replacement therapy for congenital genetic deficiencies, emphasizing targeted protein delivery to specific tissues and cells in the body.

Sichun Yang

Our research is focused on basic and translational studies of estrogen receptor (ER), a key target of breast cancer therapeutics. Specifically, we focus on:

  • Molecular biophysics of estrogen receptor, enabled by the power of integration of multiple biophysical techniques (e.g., small-angle scattering, hydroxyl radical footprinting, and energy-landscape simulation).
  • Structure-based drug discovery by novel targeting of a new ER binding surface, and
  • A long-neglected folding phenomena of an intrinsically disordered domain of the ER, a critical aspect of breast cancer activation.