Student Profiles

Edward Beck, MD
Second Year MS Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2019
Email: ecbeck@wakehealth.edu
Education: University of Illinois College of Medicine, MD, 2019
Research mentor: Kerry Danelson, PhD and Kristen Nicholson, PhD (Orthopaedics)
Research Interests: Orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, motion analysis, physical rehabilitation therapy

Lanazha Belfield
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: lbelfiel@wakehealth.edu
Education:
Bachelor’s of Science Biology Major Physics Minor, Winston-Salem State University, 2017
Research mentor: D. Clark Files, MD (Pulmonary)
Research Interests: Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome; Muscular Atrophy; Muscle Proteins

Julie Bennington, DVM
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: jbenning@wakehealth.edu
Education: DVM, Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine
Research mentor: Koudy Williams, DVM, (WFIRM and Comparative Medicine/Pathology)
Research Interests: Working under the mentorship of Koudy Williams, DVM, at WFIRM and shadowing Dr. Gopal Badlani, MD, Professor of Urology and Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs, during Urology clinics. Her research interests include developing animal models for regenerative and reconstructive medicine that are directly translational to the military patient and veteran populations, Women’s Health Initiatives, as well as veterinary patients. She hopes to be able to teach and continue clinical research in Comparative Medicine after earning her PhD.

Steven Bronson, DVM
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2020
Email: sbronson@wakehealth.edu
Education: DVM, Purdui University, 2019
BS, Genetics and Developmental Biology, Pennsylvania State University, 2011
Research mentor: David Soto-Pantoja, PhD (Surgery Sciences (Hypertension)
Research Interests: Cancer Biology

Aaron Deal
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: awdeal@wakehealth.edu
Education:
Davidson College, BS - 2012
Research mentor: Leah Solberg Woods, PhD (Molecular Medicine)
Research Interests: Genetic mapping

Anthony Dominijanni, MS
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: adominij@wakehealth.edu
Education:
M.S., Cancer Biology, Wake Forest University, 2017
B.S., Biology, Virginia Tech, 2014
Research mentor: Shay Soker, PhD (WFIRM)
Research Interests: Development of in vitro 3D organoids for testing the efficacy and mechanism of both novel and established cancer therapeutics on CRC.
Establishing high throughput screening methods for testing therapeutics on 3D cancer organoids in comparison to the 2D monolayers.
Identify the role of stromal cells on cancer spheroids using 3D organoids.

Lindsey Farris
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2019
Email: lfarris@wakehealth.edu
Education:
BS, Biology & Chemistry
Research mentor: Leslie Poole, Ph.D. (Biochemistry)
Research Interests: Cancer therapeutics & translational medicine

Brittni Foster, MS
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: bmfoster@wakehealth.edu
Education:
MS, Chemistry, Western Carolina University, 2016
BS, Chemistry, Western Carolina University, 2014
Research mentor: Bethany Kerr, Ph.D. (Cancer Biology)
Research Interests: Bone microenvironment, prostate cancer, metastasis, metastatic cancer stem cells, circulating tumor cells.

Jenny Gonzalez-Armenta
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: jlcollin@wakehealth.edu
Education:
BS in Chemistry, Western Carolina University, 2016
Research mentor: Anthony Molina, Ph.D. (Internal Medicine – Section on Gerontology and Geriatrics)
Research Interests: Effects of diet and exercise, healthy aging, bioenergetics

Chukwuwieke Gwam, MD
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2018
Email: cgwam@wakehealth.edu
Education:
MD, Howard University College of Medicine
Research mentor: Xue Ma, PhD and Kerry Danelson, PhD (Orthopaedics)
Research Interests: Bone microenvironment

Alexandria Harrison
Sixth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2015
Email: alexharr@wakehealth.edu
Education:
BS, Biology, Winston-Salem State University, 2014
Research mentor: Donald McClain, MD, PhD (Endocrinology & Metabolism)
Research Interests: diabetes, obesity, metabolism, dietary iron, hypoxia

Alexander Jinnah, MD
Sixth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: ajinnah@wakehealth.edu
Education:
BSc – University of Southampton (’07- ’10),
MD – Medical University of the Americas (’11-’15)
Research mentor: Kerry Danelson, PhD (Orthopaedic Surgery)
Research Interests: Fracture healing, bone graft substitutes

Brendan Johnson, DVM
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2020
Email: bjjohnso@wakehealth.edu
Education: DVM, University of Missouri, 2018
Research mentor: Mark Cline, DVM, PhD (Pathology, Comparative Medicine)
Research Interests: Comparative Medicine, Cancer Biology, Radiation Oncology, Cognition and Memory

Adam Jorgensen
Fifth Year Student MD/PhD Program, PhD Candidate 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2015
Email: ajorgens@wakehealth.edu
Education: BS, Exercise Science, Brigham Young University, 2015
Research mentor: Anthony Atala, MD, WFIRM
Research Interests: skin tissue engineering, bioprinting, surgery, and regenerative medicine.

Caroline Kuczynski
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2019
Email: ckuczyns@wakehealth.edu
Education: BS, Biophysics with Honors, Wake Forest University, 2018
Research mentor: Graça Almeida-Porada, MD, PhD (WFIRM)
Research Interests: Genetic hematologic disorders (particularly sickle cell anemia and other hemoglobinopathies), adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy, prenatal gene therapy, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations.

Kendall Langsten, DVM
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2019
Email: klangste@wakehealth.edu
Education: DVM, University of Missouri, 2017
MS in Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, 2017
Residency in Anatomic Pathology, University of Minnesota, 2020
Research mentor: Neveen Said, MD, PhD (Cancer Biology)
Research Interests: Cancer Biology, pathophysiology

Daniel Lara, MD
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: dlara@wakehealth.edu
Education: BS, University of Notre Dame, 2011
MD, Creighton University School of Medicine, 2016
Research mentor: Thomas Smith, PhD (Orthopaedic Surgery)
Research Interests: Neuromuscular Junction/Peripheral Nerve Trauma and Regeneration

Steven Leung, MBBS
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: sleung@wakehealth.edu
Education: B.S. Human Biology, University of California, San Diego, 2009
M.B.B.S, University of Queensland/Ochsner Clinical School, 2013
M.S., Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts & Science, 2018
Research mentor: Sean Murphy, PhD (WFIRM)
Research Interests: Evaluation of Cystic Fibrosis Inflammatory Cell Function

Diana Lim
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2018
Email: dlim@wakehealth.edu
Education: B.A. in Neuroscience, Dartmouth College
Research mentors: James Yoo, MD, PhD and John Jackson, PhD (WFIRM)
Research Interests: Regenerative Medicine, Organogenesis, Oncology (Glioblastoma), Translational Medicine, Food Insecurity, Healthcare Education

T. David Luo, MD
Sixth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2015
Email: tluo@wakehealth.edu
Education: B.S. Purdue University, 2009
M.D. Indiana University School of Medicine, 2014
Research mentor: Jeffrey Willey, PhD (Radiation Oncology)
Research Interests: Peripheral nerve injury and repair

Nequesha Mohamed, MD
Second Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2020
Email: nmohamed@wakehealth.edu
Education: MD, University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts, 2016
BS, Universityof Toronto, 2011
Research mentor: Kerry Danelson, PhD (Orthopaedics)
Research Interests: Arthritis, Diabetes, Joint Replacement, Healthcare Disparity

Sumaiya Nazli
Fourth Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: snazli@wakehealth.edu
Education: Bachelors of Science Biology Major, Math Minor,
Salem College, 2015
Research mentor: Michael Olivier, PhD (Molecular Medicine)
Research Interests: Plasma Proteomics, Mass Spectrometry, plasma biomarkers for biological disease

Angelica Riojas
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: ariojas@wakehealth.edu
Education: B.S. Biology, Texas State University, 2014
M.S. Biochemistry, Texas State University, 2016
Research mentor: Laura Cox, PhD (Molecular Medicine; Center for Precision Medicine)
Research Interests: Genetics and genomics, sex specific differences, hypertension

Martin Rodriguez
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2017
Email: mrodrig@wakehealth.edu
Education: BSc in Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University, 2017
Research mentor: Graca Almeida-Porada, MD, PhD (WFIRM)
Research Interests: Fetomaternal Immunology of In Utero Stem Cell Transplant in treatment of Hemophilia A

Alistaire Ruggiero
Third Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2018
Email: adruggie@wakehealth.edu
Education: BA in Biological Anthropology from Smith College
Research mentor: Kylie Kavanagh, PhD (Pathology-Comparative Medicine)
Research Interests: Metabolism and ageing, obesity phenotypes, adipose

William Shane Sills, DVM
Third Year PhD Student, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2019
Email: wsills@wakehealth.edu
Education: BS, Zoology, NC State University
DVM, NC State University
Residency, Anatomic Pathology, Cornell University
Research mentor: Mark Cline, DVM, PhD, DACVP (Pathology-Comparative Medicine)
Research Interests: Immunology and pathology, Immune response to tumors and cancer immunotherapy, Cancer genetics and genomics, Long-term effects of radiation

Alexandria Szalanczy
Third Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2018
Email: aszalanc@wakehealth.edu
Education: Centre College, B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Research mentor: Leah Solberg Woods, PhD (Molecular Medicine)
Research Interests: How our genetics can impact our health and behavior.

Priyanka Thakur, MVSc
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: pthakur@wakehealth.edu
Education: Post Graduate: Master of Veterinary Sciences (M.V.Sc.), 2008-2010,
Major: Veterinary Pathology
Date of completion: September 2010
Graduate: Bachelor of Veterinary and Animal Sciences,
Dr. G.C. Negi College of Veterinary Sciences,
CSK HPKV, Palampur, Himachal
Pradesh, India. (Five year Graduate programme, 2003-2008).
Research mentor: Mark Cline, DVM, PhD (Pathology, Comparative Medicine)
Research Interests: Radiation induced lung fibrosis.

Briana Thompson
Fourth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2018
Email: brthomps@wakehealth.edu
Education: B.S., Physics, Wake Forest University, 2017
B.A., Mathematics, Wake Forest University, 2017
Research mentor: William A. “Andy” Dezarn, PhD (Radiation Oncology)

Shaina Yates Alston
Fifth Year PhD Candidate, 2020-2021
Year Matriculated: 2016
Email: sayates@wakehealth.edu
Education: Winston Salem State University;
Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science, MT (AMT)
Research mentor: Nicole Levi-Polyachenko, PhD (Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery)
Research Interests: Microbiology - bacteriology, infectious disease, biofilms, chronic wounds, cancer, nanomedicine, thermal therapy, alternative therapy for disease, immunology
Research Interests: Liver Cancer, Brachytherapy, Yttrium Radioisotopes