• Samantha Harris, PhD

    Understanding Myosin Binding Protein-C in Health and Disease

  • Ray Runyan, PhD

    Regulation of Cell Invasion in Development and Cancer

  • Keith Maggert, PhD

    Understanding the Origins of Genome Instability


    An Established Leader in Cutting-edge Research

  • Brett Colson, PhD

    Deciphering the Structural Basis for Muscle Contraction at the Molecular Level

  • Noel Warfel, PhD

    Modeling the Effects of Hypoxia on Cancer Cells and Tumor Angiogenesis

  • Tom Doetschman, PhD

    Synergistic Activities of TGFbeta Deficiency and the Gut Microbiome in Colon Cancer

  • Carol Gregorio, PhD

    Cytoskeletal Proteins in Striated Muscle Health and Disease

  • Darren Cusanovich, PhD

    Understanding How the Genome Regulates Diverse Cell Types in Development and Disease

  • Cynthia Miranti, PhD

    Targeting the Extracellular Matrix and Tumor Microenvironment

  • Jared Churko, PhD

    Informatics to Understand Cardiovascular Development and Disease Mechanisms

  • Julie Ledford, PhD

    Immunological Roles of Endogenous Lung Proteins

  • Clark Lantz, PhD

    Understanding How Early Life Environmental Exposures Leads to Adult Disease

  • Jean Wilson, PhD

    Cell biology of barrier function in inflammatory bowel diseases

  • Yana Zavros, PhD

    Organoid-based Pre-clinical Models to Study Gastric and Pancreatic Diseases


Message from the Chair

The mission of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) is to provide pre- and post-doctoral, medical and graduate education in an interdisciplinary environment through research activities, to advance knowledge of biological structure as related to function and disease from the molecular level to the whole organism.


Mouneimne Lab publishes mechanosensing study in Journal of Cell Biology (October 14, 2019)

In this newest study from the laboratory of Gus Mouneimne, PhD, recently-graduated CMM student Julieann Puleo and colleagues discovered that EVL, the Ena/VASP protein, is crucial for actin polymerization at focal adhesions (FAs). Importantly, they determined that EVL-mediated FA actin polymerization regulates FA maturation and mechanosensing, which are significant steps in mechanically-directed motility and durotactic invasion. This work is a significant contribution to our understanding of how cells interact with their microenvironment in normal and pathological contexts.   PMID: 31594807

Dr. Vercelli's research mentioned in the Washington Post (September 30, 2019)

We are (fortunately) not alone. Microbes should no longer be seen as foes that need to be eliminated at all costs. Work from Donata Vercelli, PhD's laboratory recently featured in the Washington Post shows that living in traditional farming environments means living in a place that is extremely rich in microbes — the right microbes that our immune system has evolved to live with and learn from. The constellation of organisms found in soil and on farm animals programs how a child responds to allergens throughout her lifetime. This programming likely starts in utero and continues to shape the immune system during the first few years of life.  Read more here.

Maggert Lab publishes heterochromatin study in PNAS (September 16, 2019)

A majority of the human genome consists elements called transposable elements – the fossils of evolutionary battles between ancient viruses and their human hosts. The human genome silences these elements by creating a specialized structure called heterochromatin on top of them. Dr. Keith Maggert and graduate student Farah Bughio's study in PNAS shows that heterochromatin is not as stable and reliable a protector as was previously thought, and instead turns on and off randomly and repeatedly throughout life, allowing transposable elements the freedom to once again move around the genome and cause damage.  More information can be found here: PMID 31527269

Dr. Ledford awarded NHLBI grant to study the link between airway infections and obstructive lung disease (September 4, 2019)

Asthma and COPD are the most commonly diagnosed chronic lung diseases in the United States. While it is now recognized that a percentage of severe asthmatics develop fixed airway obstruction, little is known pertaining to the basic underlying mechanisms of this progression. Julie Ledford, PhD and her research team will examine the role of club cell secreted protein (CC16) in the context of airway infection as a previously overlooked link in understanding this progression. These studies may provide a novel therapeutic approach for treating individuals with low circulating CC16 in order to prevent lung function decline over time.

Drs. Cress and Rogers awarded $2.8 million Special Initiatives Provocative Questions Grant (August 27, 2019)

Anne Cress, PhD, and Gregory Rogers, PhD, received the prestigious NCI Provocative Questions Initiative grant to study molecular mechanisms of genomic alterations that contribute to early stages of prostate cancer initiation and progression.  As co-PIs of this multi-PI (MPI) award, they lead an investigative team that includes Drs. Noel Warfel and Ray Nagle to investigate a link between hypoxia and organelle instability.

Thorne Lab Reconciles Scientific Standoff in Colon Cancer Research (July 30, 2019)

Curtis Thorne, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and doctoral student Carly R. Cabel recently undertook an ambitious study to determine whether therapeutic targeting of LRP6 – a cell-surface receptor protein that mediates cell growth of its surrounding tissue environment - was a suitable treatment strategy for colon cancer, thus challenging the current scientific dogma and approaches to patient care.  The results of Dr. Thorne and Ms. Cabel's experiments were published in a letter in the June 2019 issue of Developmental Cell.  Read more here.  PMID: 31211991

Upcoming Events

CMM Seminar Series - Alice Solomon, PhD Candidate
Thursday 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Talk title: TBA
Location: HSIB 880
Date: 11/21/19
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00 pm


HSIB 880

RCR Fall Workshop: Introduction to Rigor & Reproducibility
Thursday 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Date: 11/21/19

Time: 2:00 - 3:30 pm

Location: Office for the Responsible Conduct of Research, Room 107 (Tucson); BSPB, E112 (Phoenix)

Facilitators: Dr. Jessica Moon, Associate, Research Development + Dr. Ron Hammer, Professor, Clinical Translational Sciences

Description: This workshop will provide an overview of the concepts of rigor and reproducibility to consider when planning, conducting and disseminating research. The topics covered will include scientific premise, scientific rigor in experimental design and statistical analyses, and the importance of authenticating the resources used to conduct the research. Learning objectives include how to convey the rigor of your research in grant applications and publications, and how to ensure your results are reproducible. Counts towards RCR Certificate.

RCR Fall Workshop: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
Friday 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Date: 11/22/19

Time: 3:00 - 4:30 pm

Location: Environmental & Natural Resources 2, Room S225 (Tucson)

Facilitators: Scott Pryor, Interim Research Integrity Officer

Description: Introduces the components of responsible conduct of research (RCR) and outlines how to meet NSF, NIH, and NIFA requirements. Fulfills core requirements for RCR Certificate.  Counts towards RCR Certificate.

Thanksgiving Recess - No Classes
Thursday 12:00am

RCR Fall Workshop: Ethics of Authorship & Publication
Tuesday 1:00pm to 2:30pm

Date: 12/3/19

Time: 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Location: Environmental & Natural Resources 2, Room S215 (Tucson)

Facilitators: Dr. Chris Segrin, Professor, Communication

Description: This workshop provides an introduction to academic authorship and publication practices, including author responsibilities and guidelines for determining authorship credit.  Counts towards RCR Certificate.


Drs. Ledford and Kraft win $10K UA Shark Tank Prize

Drs. Julie Ledford, PhD (left) and Monica Kraft, MD (right) win the $10,000 prize during UA Research Day's ‘Shark Tank’ Event for their pitch on a new, inhaled therapeutic for the treatment of asthma and potentially even COPD, cystic fibrosis and pneumonia.