Former Trainees

The Alcohol Research Program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine has been a launching point for dozens of careers in academics, research and medicine.  Here is a listing of our graduates:


Pegah Abbasnia, DVM, PhD

  • Degree: D.V.M., Urmia Univeristy, Iran; Ph.D., University of Tehran, Iran 
  • Research: Alcohol related effects on stem cells migration to the site of injury following bone fracture.
  • Mentor: John J. Callaci, Ph.D.
  • Current Position: Post Doctoral, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 

Suhail Akhtar, PhD

  • Degree: PhD, A.M., University, Aligarh, India
  • Research: Effect of alcohol intoxication and burn injury on gut epithelial barrier function and immunity.
  • Mentor: Mashkoor A. Choudhry, PhD
  • Current Position: Research Associate, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL

Joslyn M. Albright, MD

  • Degrees: BA, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL; M.D., University of Kentucky, College of Medicine, Lexington, KY
  • Residency: General Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Alcohol, injury and the lung.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, Ph.D., Carol R. Schermer, M.D., M.P.H.
  • Position(s): 2007-2009. M.S. Program, Clinical Research Methods, Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL; Fellowship, Surgical Oncology, John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, CA
  • Current Position: Lab Manager, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL

Angeline Antonio Giangreco, PhD

  • Degrees: BS, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.; PhD, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Protective effects of anti-oxidents on fetal rhombencephalic neurons exposed to ethanol.
  • Mentor: Mary Druse Manteuffel, Ph.D.
  • Position(s): Ph.D. Fellow, Pathology, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Current Position: Post Doctoral, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

Melanie D. Bird, PhD

  • Degree: PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
  • Research: Effects of alcohol and sex differences on viral clearance following burn injury.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): Research Associate (Post Doctoral), Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Adjunct Associate Professor, Division of Science, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS Clinical Policies Strategist, American Academy of Family Physicians, Overland Park, KS

James C. Brown, PhD

  • Degrees: BS, Midland Lutheran College. Ph.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE. Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Research: Binge alcohol-induced neurotoxicity.
  • Mentor: Michael A. Collins, PhD
  • Current Position: Managerial Assistant, Icon Identity Systems, Elk Grove Village, IL

John Callaci, PhD

  • Degree: MS, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL; PhD, Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL.
  • Research: Mechanisms of alcohol-induced bone loss.
  • Mentor: Frederick Wezeman, PhD
  • Position(s): 2005-2005. PhD Fellowship, Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL

Stewart Carter, MD

  • Degrees: BS, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; MD, University of Louisville, School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, Residency, General Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Inflammatory response of alcohol intoxication and smoke inhalation injury in burn patients: Combined effects of burn and radiation on intestine in a murine model.‌
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Current Position: General Surgery Resident, Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL‌

Brenda Curtis, PhD

  • Degrees: PhD, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Histone deacetylase control of inflammatory and fibrotic responses in the lungs after burn injury, radiation exposure, alcohol intoxication , or combined insults.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): Research Associate, Loyola Univeristy Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Research Assistant Professor, University of Colorado, Denver, CO

Christopher S. Davis, MD

  • Degrees: BA, University of Colorado, Boulder CO; MD, University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH
  • Residency: General Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
  • Research: The inflammatory effects of alcohol initoxication and smoke inhalation injury in the burn patient.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs PhD, Richard L. Gamelli, MD, P. Marco Fischella, MD
  • Position(s): 2009-2011. MPH Program, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
  • Current Position: Fellowship, Pediatric Surgery Critical Care, Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago, IL

Daniel Fitzgerald, MS

  • Degree: BS, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Ethanol impairs the inflammatory response during dermal wound healing.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2003-2005. M.S. Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Medical Student, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Joanna Goral, PhD

  • Degree: MS, Wroclaw University, Poland
  • Research: Mechanisms responsible for alteration of immune response upon burn and alcohol exposure.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2001-2005. PhD Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL

Sara Hlavin, MS

  • Degree: BA, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
  • Research: Effect of ethanol and infection on the innate immune response after wound injury.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2010-2012. M.S. Program, Infectious Disease and Immunology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Nursing Student, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

Kathleen Jaeger, MD, PhD

  • Degrees: BA, Miami University Oxford, OH; MD/PhD, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Research: Effects of alcohol exposure on human Treg induction.
  • Mentor: Makio Iwashima, PhD
  • Position(s): MD/PhD Student, Microbiology and Immunology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: OB/Gyn Resident, Barnes Jewish Hospital Washington University, Saint Louis, MO

John Karavitis, PhD

  • Degree: BS, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Research: Mechanisms by which acute alcohol exposure suppresses macrophage phagocytosis.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2005-2010. PhD Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL; PhD Fellow, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Current Position: Sr. Scientist, Abbott, Molecular Companion Diagnosis, Green Oaks, IL

Kristen Lauing, PhD

  • Degree: BS, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
  • Research: The effects of alcohol on the Wnt signaling pathway in bone fracture healing.
  • Mentor: John J. Callaci, PhD
  • Position(s): 2008-2012. PhD Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Research Laboratory Manager 11, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

Xiaoling Li, MD

  • Degrees: MD, Lanzhou University Medical School, Gansu, China
  • Research: Intestine immune and barrier function after alcohol and burn injury.
  • Mentor: Mashkoor A. Choudhry, PhD
  • Current Position: Research Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL

Eva Murdoch, PhD

  • Degree: BA, St. Xavier University, Chicago, IL
  • Research: Pulmonary bacterial clearance after acute ethanol exposure and burn injury.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2004-2009. PhD Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL

Eileen O'Halloran, MD

  • Degrees: BS, Vanderbelt University, Nashville, TN; MD, Loyola Univeristy Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL
  • Research: 2013-2015. The pulmonary response to burn trauma, including the effects of alcohol and the utility of exhaled breath condensate as a marker of clinical outcomes.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): Surgical Research Resident, Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Surgical Resident, Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL

Sarah A. Prins, PhD

  • Degree: BS, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Research: Alcohol abuse and the HPA axis.
  • Mentor: Toni R. Pak, PhD
  • Position(s): Ph.D. Student, Integrative Cell Biology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Biomedical Scientist, Chicago, IL

Katherine A. Radek, PhD

  • Degree: M.S., Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
  • Research: Effects of acute ethanol exposure on angiogenesis and the extracellular matrix in healing wounds.
  • Mentor: Luisa A. DiPietro, DDS, PhD
  • Positions(s): 2002-2005. PhD Program, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy; Division of Biochemistry, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL

Juan Rendon, MD, PhD

  • Degree: BSN, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.,
  • Mentor: Mashkoor A. Choudhry, PhD
  • Research: Effects of acute alcohol intoxication on post burn intestinal immune response.
  • Position(s): 2007-2014. MD/PhD Program, Medicine, Integrative Cell Biology, Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Plastic Surgery Resident, Ohio State Universtiy Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH

Vikas Saini, MD, PhD

  • Degrees: MD, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, India; PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Mentor: Matthias Majetschak, MD, PhD
  • Research: Extracellular ubiquitin and receptor interactions.
  • Position(s): 2008-2011. Fellow, Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Emergency Medicine at Universtiy of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences, Chicago, IL

Jill Shults, PhD

  • Degree: BS, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, PhD, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Research: Mesenchymal stem cells and tissue repair after ethanol and burn injury.
  • Position(s): 2010-2015. Graduate Student,Integrative Cell Biology
  • Current Position: Account Executive, Prescott Medical Communications Group

Magdalena Szymanska, PhD

  • Degrees: BS, Loyola University Chicago; M.S., Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL; Ph.D., 2011, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Mentor: Toni Pak, PhD
  • Research: Neurobiological effects of binge alcohol exposure during puberty.
  • Position(s): PhD Program, University of Chicago, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Chicago, IL
  • Current Position: Research Associate, Neurological Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
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Matthew Thompson, PhD

  • Degree: PhD, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Research: Effects of gender on the ability of dendritic cells to stimulate the immune system.
  • Mentor: Stephanie Watkins, PhD
  • Position(s): 2014-2015. PhD Fellow. Oncology Institute, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: 

Son Ton

  • Degree: BS, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Research: The effect of alcohol and traumatic brain injury on neural stem cell responses.
  • Mentor: Gwendolyn Kartje, MD
  • Current Position: 2014-2015- PhD Candidate, Neuroscience, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL 

Ian Vaagenes, PhD

  • Degree: BA, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN
  • Research: Alcohol and traumatic brain injury.
  • Mentor: Gwendolyn Kartje MD, PhD
  • Position(s): 2009. PhD Program, Neuroscience, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Research Associate, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, Maywood, IL

Anita Zahs, PhD

  • Degree: BA, Simpson College, Indianola, IA
  • Research: Effect of acute ethanol and burn injury on intestinal permeability and the role of myosin light chain kinase.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Position(s): 2008-2012. PhD Program, Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Current Position: Research Associate, University of Colorado, Denver, CO

Mike M. Chen, BS

  • Degree: BS, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
  • Research: Kupffer cell activation and hepatic injury after intoxication and burn.
  • Mentor: Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD
  • Current Position: 2012-date.  MD/PhD Candidate, Integrative Cell Biology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Email: mmchen@luc.edu

Adam Hammer, BS

  • Degree: BS, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, WI  
  • Research: Examining the effects of autophagy on the gut following alcohol intoxication and burn injury.
  • Mentor: Mashkoor A. Choudhry, PhD
  • Current Position: 2014-date. Graduate Student, Integrative Cell Biology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
  • Email: ahammer@luc.edu