June 2013 Research Spotlight : Jagirdar and Zolak

The June 2013 Research Spotlight features two first co-authors:

JagirdarMr Jagirdar holds a M Sc in Biotechnology and M S in Cellular and Molecular Biology. He has developed his career through research as Research assistant/Associate during 2004-2012 in part at University of Michigan. During his time at UAB Mr Jagirdar was instrumental in augmenting pleural research with an emphasis on dissecting the role of the pleural mesothelial compartment in the etiology of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Mr Jagirdar left UAb in Dec 2011 and now runs Geneclick.org, a non profit Bioinformatics & Computational Biology service.

 Dr. Jason Zolak received his B.S. degree in neurobiology and physiology from the University of Maryland, and his medical degree from the ZolakUniversity of Virginia. He completed a surgery internship, followed by an internal medicine residency at UAB in 2010. He will complete his fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine in June of 2013. Dr. Zolak has a clinical interest in pleural disease and malignancy. In conjunction with Dr. Veena Antony, he has investigated the role of pleural mesothelial cells in fibrogenic lung injury. They have demonstrated the novel finding that pleural mesothelial cells undergo differentiation with acquisition of mesenchymal phenotypic characteristics and migrate into the lung parenchyma in fibrogenic lung injury. They have further elucidated a potentially protective role for the induction of heme oxygenase-1 in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. They continue to investigate the role of pleural-based therapies for parenchymal diseases.


May 2013 Research Spotlight: Hao Li

Mr. Hao Li received his M.S. degree from the Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in 2005. He joined the Hao LiGraduate Program in Microbiology at UAB in 2008 and has carried out his graduate study in Dr. John Mountz laboratory at UAB since 2008.  Mr. Li initially studied the role of IL-23 in the regulation of autoimmune disease in the BXD2 mouse model of systemic autoimmunity.  These mice develop spontaneous germinal centers (GCs) in the spleen that are highly dependent of interleukin (IL)-17.  Mr. Li made the novel and unexpected finding that IL-23 was necessary to maintain the integrity of marginal zone barrier that prevents follicular entry of apoptotic self-antigens in BXD2 mice.  This initial work led to his present findings of a novel mechanism of autoimmunity in which “leaks” in the marginal zone barrier enable entry of apoptotic Ags into the follicle Mr. Li currently studies the molecular mechanisms regulating the interactions of marginal zone macrophages and marginal zone B cells in maintaining the tolerogenic function of these cells to apoptotic self-antigens.


April 2013 Research Spotlight: Yong Zhou, MD, PhD

Dr. Yong Zhou obtained his MD degree from Wuhan University, China and his PhD degree from Kyushu University, Japan.  He has been a recipient Yong Zhouof a Japanese Government Scholarship (also known as Monbusho Scholarship) from 1997 to 2002.  He completed his postdoctoral training at the Department of Pathology, UAB and was appointed Research Associate and then promoted to Instructor of Pathology.  In 2009, Dr. Zhou was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine.  He is currently program committee member of American Thoracic Society Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function and peer reviewer of the American Heart Association. 


March 2013 Research Spotlight: Tao Na

Dr. Tao Na received his Ph.D. degree in Clinical Pharmacy from the Pharmaceutical University in China. He joined Dr. Ji-Bin Peng's laboratory at UAB as a tao napostdoctoral scholar in 2007. Dr. Na initially studied calcium transport and regulation in the kidney.. He and his colleagues found that an African-specific variation in the epithelial calcium channel TRPV5 increases the calcium transport activity. More recently, Dr. Na focused on how the disease-causing mutations in WNK4, a protein kinase associated with a Mendelian form of hypertension, disrupt the regulation of WNK4. His studies provide novel insights into how mutations in WNK4 alter its biochemical properties and ultimately result in disease. Dr. Na completed his postdoctoral research in January, 2012. He is currently working as an investigator at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control in China.

The main research interest of Dr. Peng's lab is the molecular mechanisms of calcium transport pathways. Specifically, the focus is on the physiological roles of epithelial calcium channels (TRPV5 and TRPV6) in calcium absorption and reabsorption and on how they are regulated under physiological and disease conditions. In addition, research efforts in Dr. Peng's lab are also directed to the regulation of WNK4 kinase, which is an integrative regulator of renal electrolyte transport pathways. This lab has developed an in vitro kinase assay for WNK4, and is currently working on how the kinase activity and protein stability of WNK4 are regulated in response to physiological signals. These studies are expected to eventually lead to new therapeutic strategies for disorders in renal electrolyte transport.

March 2013 Research spotlight (PDF)