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URMC / Research / Our Researchers / 2013 New Research Faculty

2013 New Research Faculty

Beau W. Abar, PhDBeau W. Abar, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, of Psychiatry, and of Public Health Sciences

Beau W. Abar completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University with emphasis on research methodology and prevention science. He then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Emergency Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Beau joined the URMC following a period as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Alpert Medical School at Brown University. His research focuses on identifying and eliminating barriers to efficacious treatment for behavioral health concerns. His most recent work focuses on access to care for depression among older adults.

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPHGretchen L. Birbeck, M.D., M.P.H.

Professor of Neurology, of Public Health Sciences, and in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics

Professor Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD MPH DTMH is a clinical epileptologist and neuroepidemiologist who conducts research on neurologic disorders in sub-Saharan Africa. For 6 months each year she leads NIH-funded research in Zambia and Malawi where she investigates the causes and potential treatments for conditions such as epilepsy. Her time in the field also gives her the opportunity to provide clinical services and medical education. Her present projects include a clinical trial of levetiracetam for seizure control in pediatric cerebral malaria as well as a cohort study of new onset seizures in people with HIV. She also mentors junior neurologists in Africa who are studying HIV-related neuropathies and TB meningitis. Professor Birbeck is faculty member with the Strong Epilepsy Center in the Department of Neurology and has secondary appointments in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics.

Shubing Cai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences

Shubing Cai is an Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester.  Shubing received her bachelor degree (Fudan University) and master degree (Jiaotong University) in clinical medicine in Shanghai, China.  After completing two years of residency in internal medicine at a teaching hospital in Shanghai, Shubing came to the University of Rochester to pursue her PhD in Health Services Research and receiver her PhD in 2009.  After that, she spent three and half year at Brown University as a junior faculty member and joined the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester in 2013.  Shubing’s research interests are focused on quality of care received by the elderly, and how the quality is influenced by financial incentives and regulations.  She is also interested in statistical modeling and causal inference.

Emily E. Carmody, MDEmily E. Carmody, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and of Oncology

Dr. Emily E. Carmody is an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics. She specializes in treating both benign and malignant musculoskeletal tumors in adults and children. She has a particular interest in limb-sparing surgery and endoprosthetic reconstruction for treating bone sarcomas. Dr. Carmody also specializes in metabolic bone disorders including osteoporosis and osteopenia. Dr. Carmody earned her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Florida. Following her residency, she completed a fellowship in Orthopaedic Oncology at the University of Florida. Dr. Carmody focuses her research in two areas. The first is in synovial sarcoma. She is looking at the SS18-SYT fusion protein and how this contributes to the oncogenesis of synovial sarcoma. In addition, Dr. Carmody does clinical research in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Joe V. Chakkalakal, Ph.D.Joe V. Chakkalakal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research

Joe Chakkalakal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research.  He earned his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the University of Ottawa and did postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine.  His research explores the regulation and contributions of stem cells to skeletal muscle atrophy, age related wasting (sarcopenia) and regeneration.  Specifically, his laboratory utilizes targeted genetics and injury models to determine how molecules of interest affect stem cell maintenance, fate and skeletal muscle regenerative capacity. 

Andrew G. Evans, MD, PhDAndrew G. Evans, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Oncology

Andrew Evans earned his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 2000. He spent a year at the National Institutes of Health doing pre-doctoral research before entering the MSTP program at Emory University, where in 2009 he completed his MD and PhD in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis. His graduate work in immunology and molecular virology focused on the mechanisms by which chronic viruses modulate the host immune response, and how these interactions contribute to cancer pathogenesis and other chronic diseases. Dr. Evans completed his residency in Anatomic Pathology and a fellowship in hematopathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He joined the faculty of the School of Medicine and Dentistry as an Assistant Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine in July of 2013. His current research focuses on the molecular, genetic, and immunologic mechanisms that underlie leukemia and lymphoma development. Specifically, he is studying which bone marrow stromal interactions influence the development and persistence of these diseases. Other interests include the role of chronic viruses in lymphoma development, and the genetic characteristics that influence diagnosis and treatment of pre-myeloid leukemias or myelodysplastic syndromes. He is currently an attending physician in the Hematopathology Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital and a Wilmot Cancer Research Fellow at the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Orna Intrator, Ph.D.Orna Intrator, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Health Sciences

Dr. Orna Intrator is a health services researcher educated in statistics and applied mathematics. Her research focuses on health services provided to older adults and others who require long-term services and supports, with particular attention to the implications for health policies and organizational management. She received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University and her career has spanned through the Division of Applied Mathematics and the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown University through the Statistics Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Providence VA Medical Center to her current positions at the University of Rochester and the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. Dr. Intrator’s main interest is in developing the infrastructure to facilitate this area of research by building data systems, and defining and developing new measures and methods to support her inter-related research interests. The development of the Veterans’ Health Administration Geriatrics and Extended Care Data and Analysis Center (GEC DAC) follows her deep involvement in the development of the extensive data for long-term care at Brown University. It was initially conducted under her VA Health Services Research and Development grant that studied factors relating to which nursing homes Veterans used. In developing standardized data infrastructures, Dr. Intrator and her teams at the VA and at the university are able to coalesce the richness of the VA data with data from Medicare and Medicaid to systematically reflect institutional and home and community based services utilization and, to some extent, needs-based demand for those services. Dr. Intrator’s work in GEC DAC serves the needs of the Veterans’ Health Administration’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care providing an evidence base for planning programs and policies and monitoring performance of GEC services across VHA programs and institutions, thus contributing to policy and program development to serve this large segment of the U.S. population.

Courtney Marie Cora Jones, PhD MPHCourtney Marie Cora Jones, Ph.D. M.P.H.

Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and of Public Health Sciences

Courtney Jones received her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Rochester in 2014 and is currently completing a research trainee fellowship from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. She is an injury epidemiologist with extensive experience with subject recruitment in emergent care settings, including the emergency department. Courtney’s research portfolio centers around risk stratification of injured patients to identify patients who would benefit from trauma center services. Specifically, her research foci include: 1) clinical outcomes of traumatically injured patients, with particular emphasis on how issues of aging, such as medical co-morbidities, high-risk medication use, and resiliency influence short-and long-term patient outcomes; 2) the pre-hospital care of injured patients, including the evaluation and development of field triage criteria; and 3) decision-making processes used in the pre-hospital setting by emergency medical services providers. 

Todd A. Jusko, PhDTodd A. Jusko, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences and of Environmental Medicine

Todd Jusko is an environmental epidemiologist whose work explores the effects of chemical exposures on the human immune system. Recently, this work has focused on perinatal exposures to persistent organic pollutants and measures of post-vaccination antibody response, and in adults, the relationship between environmental chemicals and antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Dr. Jusko received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and earned an MS and PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington. As a doctoral candidate, Dr. Jusko was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to complete dissertation research in the Slovak Republic. Before joining the faculty of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Jusko was a postdoctoral fellow in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH.

Xiuxin Liu DDS, PhDXiuxin Liu, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Dentistry

Dr. Xiuxin Liu received his dental degree (DDS) from Shandong University School of Dentistry, China. He obtained further scientific education and received his PhD in Pharmacology from Heidelberg University, Germany. Before moving to Rochester, Dr. Liu completed his postdoctoral training in Neuroscience and also held faculty positions at Yale University. Dr. Liu enrolled in the residency-training program in Advanced Education in General Dentistry at EIOH and received his certificate in 2013. Dr. Liu brings a breadth of research experience in electrophysiology and neurobiology. His research activities mainly focus on glial-neuronal interactions and their implications in both developmental and clinical disorders. He is especially interested in elucidating the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms for the pathogenesis and management of orofacial pain and other oral sensory disorders, such as dentine hypersensitivity, toothache, TMJD, burning mouth syndrome. His current research investigates the role of intercellular ATP signaling in dentine hypersensitivity and orofacial hyperesthesia. Specifically, his laboratory uses patch clamp, confocal imaging, biochemistry, genomics, and behavior approaches to determine how and why nociceptive signaling is modulated and enhanced in the trigeminal nervous system. Dr. Liu has a strong publication record including research articles in Science, Nature Neuroscience, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, and Journal of Dental Research.

Bogachan Sahin, MD, PhDBogachan Sahin, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology

Bogachan Sahin majored in molecular biology as an undergraduate at Princeton University. He completed his M.D. and Ph.D. training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, where he studied post-synaptic signal transduction in the striatum as a graduate student. After completing his neurology residency and stroke fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, he joined the faculty of the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in July 2013. His research interests include mechanisms of recovery in stroke survivors with language deficits and visual field cuts, and functional outcomes in stroke patients treated with mechanical embolectomy. 

Jessica C. Shand, MD, MHSJessica C. Shand, M.D., M.H.S.

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Jessica Shand received her BA in Natural Sciences (1998) and Master of Health Sciences in Microbiology/Immunology from the Johns Hopkins University (1999), after which she worked in the biodefense industry studying the innate immune response to emerging pathogens. She went on to receive her MD from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2006, and began her research career in cancer immunology while participating in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Research Scholars Program in the laboratory of Dr. Crystal Mackall (Pediatric Oncology Branch, NCI). Based on her work studying the immunogenicity of dendritic cell-based cancer vaccines she received a merit-based scholarship to subsidize the remainder of her medical studies. She completed her pediatric residency at the University of Rochester with a distinction in research, and went on to complete fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and National Cancer Institute. Her postdoctoral research on leukemia-specific T-cell responses following bone marrow transplantation resulted in a first-author publication and several awards. Jessica’s current research focuses on how “danger signals” released by human acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the leading cause of cancer death in children, impacts the effectiveness of adoptive T-cell therapy. Her work is supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar Award. 

Juilee Thakar, PhDJuilee Thakar, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Juilee Thakar is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and works closely with the Center for Integrative Bioinformatics and Experimental Mathematics. She received her PhD from the Department of Bioinformatics, University of Würzburg, Germany. She previously held a postdoc position in the Department of Physics, Pennsylvania State University. Then she was an associate research scientist in the Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine before coming to Rochester. Juilee’s research program investigates effects of several factors including age, immunogenicity of the antigens, host genotype and host’s immune history on immune responses to infections and vaccinations. Specifically, she uses systems biology approaches to model probable trajectories of the immune response which then allows identification of parameters that can predict future outcomes of the disease. 

Tong Tong Wu, PhDTong Tong Wu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biostatistics & Computational Biology

Tong Tong Wu received her Ph.D. in Biostatistics from the Department of Biostatistics, UCLA School of Public Health in 2006. She then held a postdoctoral researcher position in the Department of Human Genetics, UCLA when visiting the Department of Statistics at Stanford University. Dr. Wu started as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007 and moved to the University of Rochester in 2013. As a biostatistician, Dr. Wu’s research interests in statistical methodology development include high-dimensional data analysis, survival analysis, statistical genetics, machine learning, computational statistics, longitudinal data analysis, and categorical data analysis. She has extensive experiences in collaborating with researchers in various fields. Specifically, she has worked on cancer, HIV, disease diagnosis, epidemiology, adolescent health, physical activities and diet, cardiovascular disease, health intervention, pain, medical devices, and genetics. Dr. Wu has served as a co-PI of a collaborative $10 million grant from NSF and co-I for over 10 NIH funded P20, R01, and R21 projects as she designs and directs the biostatistical aspects of those studies.

Jian Zhu, Ph.D.Jian Zhu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Jian Zhu joined the University of Rochester Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology from Peking University in China.  He then moved to the United States to pursue a PhD of Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Jian further completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Stephen Elledge at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School.  His lab studies the host-virus interactions, particularly for HIV and herpes viruses, at the interface of virology, immunology, proteomics, and functional genomics.  The goal is to construct a global landscape of gene network modulating viral infection by using recently developed, multidisciplinary systematic approaches, and further study key genes that play a critical role in viral replication, especially those genes that dynamically regulate the switch of viral latency and reactivation, employing cell and/or animal models as well as other biochemical and biophysical skills.