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Faculty Members and Research


Daniel Capelluto
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Biochemistry and structural biology of protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions; protein domains engaged in Wnt signaling, protein domains that control blood clotting, multimodular proteins that control inflammation processes, lipid-binding proteins that mediate entry of oomycetes in plant cells

Jing Chen

Jing Chen
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

We build mathematical models to study cell biology, especially how spatial, temporal and mechanical regulations couple with biochemical signals to control cellular functions. We typically work in close collaboration with experimental groups. Current research projects in the lab include: Circadian gene expression, bacterial motility, and pattern formation in bacterial colony

Daniela Cimini

Daniela Cimini
Professor of Biological Sciences

The role of mechanics and dynamics of mitotic apparatus components in ensuring  accurate chromosome segregation during cell division; causes and consequences of aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome numbers) in normal and cancer cells.



Carla Finkielstein
Professor of Biological Sciences and Director, Virginia Tech Molecular Diagnostics Lab, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

Cell, molecular, and structural biology, regulation of cell division process, molecular basis for breast cancer incidence; circadian control of cell proliferation, tumor resistance to radiation therapies, regulation of gene expression by circadian proteins, control of metastatic processes

Michael Fos

Michael Fox

Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Director, Center for Neurobiology Research; Professor, Biological Sciences

Biological Machinery; Developmental Disorders; Synaptic Function; Synaptic Plasticity; Visual System


Michael Friedlander
Executive Director, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology, Virginia Tech; Senior Dean for Research, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Professor of Biological Sciences, College of Science, Virginia Tech; Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech; Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Biological Machinery; Synaptic Function; Synaptic Plasticity


Silke Hauf
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

The more complex a machine is - the more likely it is to break, simply because there are more potential breaking points. Yet, cells are highly complex entities and are extremely robust. We want to understand the underlying basis: what makes biological systems reliable? Which design principles are used? Do they resemble the principles that humans use in engineering?  To study these questions, we look at cell division, a process that is essential for life. When cells divide, a multitude of changes need to happen in a very short timeframe, and any error can be fatal. Hence, reliability is crucial. We use fission yeast in our experiments to identify general principles that have made cells successful in populating the earth for the past 3.5 billion years. 

Bryan Hsu
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

I am broadly interested in using an inter-disciplinary approach (microbiology, synthetic biology, and biomaterials) towards understanding and remodeling the gut microbiota. I am especially focused on discovering new phages and genetically engineering them for anti-bacterial and anti-virulence applications.

Scott Johnstone

Scott Johnstone
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences (Fralin Biomedical Research Institute)

The Johnstone Lab focuses on understanding how healthy blood vessels are altered in disease and defining effective pathways to therapeutically target vascular disease. Cardiovascular disease affects over a third of Americans, causing approximately 2,200 deaths per day. In the U.S., 50 percent of cardiovascular disease patients are less than 60 years old, resulting in a need to effectively treat patients for many years to maintain vascular health.

Shihoko Kojima

Shihoko Kojima
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Circadian rhythmicity is a fundamental aspect of temporal organization in essentially every cell in the body, and modulates much of physiology, biochemistry, and behavior. In order to maintain daily cycles, cell-autonomous circadian oscillators drive rhythmic expression of approximately 5-10% of mRNAs to ultimately drive a wide range of rhythmic biological processes. We are interested in understanding 1) how the circadian clock regulates the rhythms of thousands of mRNAs and proteins to regulate rhythmic physiology and behavior. We use the mouse as an animal model system and integrate diverse approaches - genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, neuroscience, and molecular/cellular biology - to answer these questions.


Anthony-Samuel LaMantia
Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; Laboratory Head, Laboratory of Developmental Disorders and Genetics, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

The work in Dr. LaMantia's laboratory focuses on the developmental mechanisms that build neural circuits for distinct behaviors. The laboratory addresses these issues via genetic, molecular and cell biological analyses as well as assessments of neural circuit function and related behaviors. One essential aspect Dr. LaMantia's work integrates genetic and cellular mechanisms underlying neural development with those for cardiovascular and craniofacial development—the coordinated construction of brains, hearts, and faces. Dr. LaMantia's goal is to use insights into basic development and genetics to address the causes and help develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the broad range of developmental disorders that compromise the brain as well as other organ systems. These disorders result in a lifetime of health challenges for the affected infants and children, as well as for their families and caregivers.


Iulia Lazar
Professor of Biological Sciences

Cancer is a disease of the cell cycle that results in uncontrolled proliferation of cells. In our laboratory, we explore the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer cell cycle regulation by using holistic, mass spectrometry-based systems biology approaches. We develop proteomic technologies for investigating the pathways that enable cancer cells to bypass tightly regulated molecular checkpoints, proliferate in an unrestrained manner, metastasize and hijack normal biological function. Further, we capitalize on the power of our proteomic data to identify novel therapeutic drug-targets, and to develop microfluidic architectures for targeted detection of biomarkers indicative of disease.

Liwu Li

Liwu Li
Professor of Biological Sciences

Molecular pathways controlling innate immunity and inflammation; dynamic programming of innate immune leukocytes; pathogenesis of acute chronic inflammatory diseases such as sepsis and atherosclerosis

Florian Schubot

Florian Schubot
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Structural and biophysical basis for virulence mechanisms in bacterial pathogens; regulation of the type III secretion system and biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa; structural studies of chlamydial Inc proteins and their role in host invasion


Jamie Smyth
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences / FBRI at VTC / VTCSOM

The heart sets the pace.  If it's too quick or two slow, it's catastrophic for the rest of the body. Our lab is researching heart failure and the development of effective anti-arrhythmic treatments.


Dorothea Tholl
Professor of Biological Sciences

The Tholl Lab employs biochemical, molecular, and genomic tools to study the biosynthesis of plant chemical defenses, especially volatile compounds, and explores their physiology and ecological significance in above- and below-ground plant tissues. Current research includes: 1) Biochemistry and molecular biology of volatile compounds as messengers in above-ground plant-organism interactions; 2) Metabolic organization and function of chemical defenses in plant roots.

James Tokuhisa

Jim Tokuhisa
Assistant Professor of Practice, Biological Sciences

Biochemical and molecular mechanisms of chemical defense fitness in higher plants

Brenda S. J. Winkel

Brenda S.J. Winkel
Professor of Biological Sciences

Characterization of the architecture and localization of the Arabidopsis flavonoid enzyme complex using a variety of molecular, biochemical, and cell biological techniques