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New Research Faculty 2015

John J. Foxe, Ph.D.John J. Foxe, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Dr. John Foxe is the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and also serves as the inaugural Director of The Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuromedicine. His research team at the Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory employs an integrated multi-methodological approach to issues in the cognitive neurosciences, using structural and functional neuroimaging, high-density electrophysiology, imaging genomics, eye-tracking, psychophysics and virtual reality techniques to understand the neural basis of sensory-perceptual and cognitive functions. The work is translational at its core in that it utilizes an equal mix of basic-science projects in healthy individuals with clinical studies in patient populations. The approach taken is to first develop novel assays of a given perceptual or cognitive function in healthy individuals, assays that are then deployed in clinical populations of interest. The core mission of the lab is to understand the underlying neurobiology of developmental disorders, with a specific emphasis on both adolescent Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Before joining the faculty at Rochester in October of 2015, he served for 6 years as Research Director of the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where he was also the Associate Director of the Rose F. Kennedy Center for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research. Between 2004 and 2010, he served as Director of the Program in Cognitive Neuroscience at The City College of New York. He studied English Literature and History at University College Dublin, before moving to the United States to study Experimental Psychology at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. He subsequently completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Jesse Schallek, Ph.D.Jesse Schallek, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, and of Neuroscience

Jesse Schallek, Ph.D. is an Assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, the Department of Neuroscience and a member of the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester. Dr. Schallek received his BS in Bioengineering from Syracuse University and PhD in Neuroscience from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. He completed his postdoctoral research in high-resolution ophthalmic imaging at the University of Rochester in 2015. Dr. Schallek’s research focuses on non-invasively imaging blood flow within the living eye where vision begins. The neural cells of the retina are highly metabolic and require a tightly regulated blood supply in order to function normally. Vascular dysfunction of the retina is the leading cause of retinal blindness in the US and Schallek’s research seeks to better understand the early changes that impact blood flow at the smallest vascular level where metabolic exchange takes place. His laboratory is pursuing three parallel projects to elucidate capillary function in health and disease:

  1. a study of diabetic retinal capillary dysfunction using both animal models and non-invasive clinical investigation at the Flaum Eye Institute
  2. a study of the dynamic regulation of blood flow in response to neural modulation also known as neurovascular coupling and
  3. to aid these investigations, Schallek is developing a cutting-edge camera that images the smallest capillaries 1/10th the thickness of a human hair and provides investigation of single platelets, red and white blood cells flowing within.

Martha Susiarjo, Ph.D.Martha Susiarjo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine

Dr. Martha Susiarjo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine, and member of the Environmental Health Sciences Center. She received her PhD in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Research in the Susiarjo Lab investigates the underlying mechanisms of the developmental origin of health and disease focusing on how epigenetic mechanisms mediate gene-environment interaction. Her laboratory uses imprinted genes as epigenetic markers to test the effect of environmental exposure on DNA methylation regulation on fetal and placental development. Additional, she is also interested in elucidating the role of environmental exposure on maternal health during pregnancy and the potential beneficial role of nutritional supplementation. Her research is supported by an R00 grant from the NIEHS. The lab employs bisulfite sequencing analysis, mouse genetics and embryology, molecular biology, and next generation sequencing.

Felix O. Yarovinsky, M.D.Felix O. Yarovinsky, M.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology in the Center for Vaccine Biology & Immunology

Dr. Felix Yarovinsky is an Associate Professor in the Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of Rochester.

Before joining the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2015, he established his laboratory as an Assistant (2007-2013) and an Associate (2013-2015) Professor in the Department of Immunology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He made the important discovery revealing the function of the Toll-like receptor 11 (TLR11) in recognition of parasite profilin and in the induction of IL-12 response by dendritic cells during Toxoplasma gondii infection. More recently, Yarovinsky laboratory revealed a role for the microbiota in the control of parasitic infection.

Much of the current work in the Yarovinsky Lab is focused on elucidating the molecular mechanism underlying parasite recognition by the mucosal immune system. The Yarovinsky lab is particularly interested in dissecting the signaling pathways by which neutrophils, dendritic cells, and Paneth cells cooperate in protective and immunopathological IFN-gamma dependent immune responses to Toxoplasma gondii and other intracellular pathogens. The lab employs flow-cytometry, high-throughput sequencing, biochemistry, molecular biology, and highly specialized germ-free mice to discover novel mechanisms of host resistance and immune regulation in parasitic infection.

Bin Zhang, Ph.D.Bin Zhang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and Pediatrics

Dr. Bin Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics at University of Rochester. He earned his BS in Biology from Sichuan University in China, MS in Biology from Truman State University, PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics and his Clinical Genomics training at Washington University in Saint Louis. He completed his post-doctoral training at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory studying function, regulation, and evolution of long noncoding RNAs. He maintains active research interests in RNA-based disease biology, cancer biology, and biomarker discovery using genomic approaches. In particular, his research program at University of Rochester focuses on molecular classification of B cell lymphomas, and development of novel NGS-based methodologies for efficient circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) detection and nucleotide-level mapping of disease-associated chromosomal rearrangements. His study will help us better understand genetics of both constitutional and somatic diseases and facilitate individualized/targeted patient care.