Virginie Mansuy Aubert, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • vmansuyaubert@luc.edu
  • CTRE 517
  • Aubert Lab

The Aubert Lab is using in vivo cell-specific mice models combined with in vitro approaches to study the interaction between obesity and the nervous system (NeurObesity). Specifically, the laboratory is developing 3 lines of investigation: 1- To understand the impairment of neuronal G-protein-coupled receptor trafficking in obesity (AHA funded) 2- To study the role of nuclear lipid sensor in Obesity-induced pain (NIH funded) 3- To study gut- nervous system communication in Obesity and its complications (LUC Pilot Grant). The lab uses ex vivo organotypic cultures and primary cultures with genetically modified mice to evaluate whole body energy homeostasis and pain behavior.

Greg Aubert, MD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Internal Medicine (Cardiology)
  • gaubert@luc.edu
  • CTRE 523

To sustain repetitive contraction throughout one’s entire life, the heart has to constantly adapt its fuel utilization to match the demand. Our Research focuses on understanding the role of metabolism and substrate utilization plasticity in cardiovascular Health and Disease. We combine genetically engineered mouse models of heart disease with specific patient derived IPSC cardiomyocytes in order to decipher the role of specific proteins in substrate utilization. 

Dave Barefield, PhD

Dave Barefield, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • dbarefield@luc.edu
  • CTRE 

The Barefield Lab is interested in studying the pathological mechanisms of human gene mutations that cause inherited cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias, and how additional genetic and environmental factors influence the progression of the disease.  The major project in the lab is studying the role of the novel atrial myofilament protein myosin binding protein H-like (MyBP-HL).  As atrial contractility is not well studied in cardiomyopathy and heart disease, we also investigate how atrial dysfunction can contribute to other cardiovascular diseases.  We use mouse and cell culture models to study disease, as well as computational approaches to evaluate RNA-Sequencing data and large public data sets to evaluate the genetic links of atrial myopathy.

Jordan Beach, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • jbeach1@luc.edu
  • CTRE 525
  • Beach Lab

The Beach Lab is investigating how cells build contractile forces. These forces are critical at steady-state for many cellular processes, but are especially important during dynamic cell movements, such as cell migration and cell division. Our primary approach is to use high-resolution and super-resolution imaging techniques to determine how cells control the spatio-temporal assembly dynamics of myosin motor proteins. 

Lydia DonCarlos, PhD

  • Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Ldoncar@luc.edu
  • CTRE 437

My research focuses on: sexual differentiation of the brain during early and pubertal development, gonadal steroid hormone receptors in the brain, neuroprotection by gonadal steroids, and non-classical mechanisms of steroid hormone action in the brain.  Many behaviors and physiological functions, such as reproduction, language, cognition, and stress responses, are sexually differentiated, as are mental and neurodegenerative disorders. Histochemical and molecular experiments are aimed at understanding the role of steroid receptors in modulating specific developmental processes such as neurogenesis, gliogenesis, neuronal survival, neurite outgrowth, and neurotransmitter phenotype selection.

Pete Kekenes-Huskey, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • pkekeneshuskey@luc.edu
  • CTRE 532
  • Kekenes-Huskey Lab

My laboratory is keenly interested in how chemistry shapes cellular physiology. We fulfill this passion by developing and applying computational tools to probe cardiac and inflammatory functions from single atoms to entire tissue. These tools include computer vision and numerical
algorithms, molecular simulations, and applied mathematics as unique approaches to understanding living systems across broad time and spatial scales. Our interests include:
• How to predict and re-engineer calcium-binding proteins to selectivity modulate cellular functions.
• How do intracellular signaling networks response to stress and subcellular queues?

Jonathan Kirk, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • jkirk2@luc.edu
  • CTRE 522
  • Kirk Lab

The Kirk lab studies cardiovascular disease from the perspective of the sarcomere, the force-generating unit in heart muscle cells. Our goal is to understand how changes in the sarcomere can lead to disease and how disease impacts the sarcomere, then harness this knowledge to develop therapies to treat cardiovascular disease. We use sophisticated biophysical assays to measure single-cell function from human samples and animal models, and state-of-the-art mass spectrometry to discover changes in sarcomere protein modifications that impact function. Specifically, we study heart failure, diabetes, cardiac dyssynchrony, cardiac ischemia, and genetic mutations.

Ivana Kuo, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • ikuo@luc.edu
  • CTRE 518
  • Kuo Lab

Communication is key underpinning to all biological life. When this signaling goes wrong, disease, or pathology often results. The Kuo laboratory studies these pathways are three distinct levels- the molecular level, at the organ level, and signaling between organs utilizing a combination of electrophysiology, live-cell imaging, and non-invasive in-vivo and ex-vivo methodologies.  Our research primarily focuses on the exemplar calcium-modulating protein polycystin 2 (a protein, which when mutated results in untreatable renal cysts, kidney disease and cardiac defects), as well as other calcium-modulatory targets. The laboratory is currently funded by the NIDDK. 

Ruben Mestril, PhD

  • Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Cardiology
  • Rmestri@luc.edu
  • CTRE 534

My research interests concentrate on the function of the heat shock proteins (HSP) in mammalian cells and more specifically their protective role in both cardiac and skeletal muscle cells during stress. We have constructed a transgenic mouse line that expresses high levels of an exogenous rat HSP70 in heart, skeletal muscle and brain tissue and has shown that the increased presence of HSP70 in the hearts of these transgenic mice confers tolerance to ischemic/reperfusion injury. We are presently studying the effects of hsp70 overexpression during skeletal muscle atrophy. The possibility that an increase in expression of an endogenous heat shock protein in muscle cells is able to confer resistance against atrophy warrants the pursuit of means of inducing the expression of these proteins by using non-noxious drugs.

Gregory Mignery, PhD

  • Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Gmigner@luc.edu
  • CTRE 535

Research in my laboratory is focused on the structure / functional characterization of the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R) protein family.  My long-term goals are to understand the isoform specific regulation of the InsP3R and functional roles of accessory proteins which govern InsP3-mediated intracellular calcium signaling dynamics using a combination of cell/molecular biological and biophysical methodologies.

Patrick Oakes, PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • poakes@luc.edu
  • CTRE 516
  • Oakes Lab

Mechanical interactions are vital components of the most fundamental cellular processes. Without them, cells would be unable to divide, change shape, move or even form multicellular tissues. The Oakes lab is interested in how cells generate, interpret, and use these mechanical signals to regulate their behavior. We investigate these questions through the lens of the cytoskeleton and the role it plays in generating contractile forces and dynamically responding to external mechanical signals. Our lab combines traditional biological approaches with a number of quantitative approaches, including high-resolution microscopy, micropatterning, computational modeling and optogenetics.

Toni Pak, PhD

  • James R. DePauw Professor and Chair
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Tpak@luc.edu
  • CTRE 520
  • Pak Lab

The central theme of our research focuses on the molecular signaling mechanisms and target genes of nuclear steroid receptors. Currently in my laboratory I have two distinct, but related, NIH-funded research projects. The first project focuses on defining and identifying novel molecular signaling mechanisms that facilitate estrogen independent activation of estrogen receptor in neurons during menopause. The second project focuses on identifying the interactive effects of alcohol and estrogen on AVP during pubertal development in order to better understand why women are predisposed to increased risk of anxiety disorders.

Erika Piedras-Renteria, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Epiedra@luc.edu
  • CTRE 521

The overall area of interest in my laboratory is to understand the factors that modulate neuronal excitability in disease, from the study of ion channel function and dysfunction. Our lab is currently focused on trying to understand the molecular basis of dysfunction of voltage-gated calcium channels. Our experimental approaches include electrophysiology, and cellular and biochemical techniques such as immunocytochemistry, biochemistry and confocal microscopy.

Seth Robia, PhD

  • Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Srobia@luc.edu
  • CTRE 526
  • Robia Lab

The major focus of research in the Robia lab is a class of proteins called transport ATPases. These proteins are enzymes that use the energy of ATP to move small molecules across biological membranes. We are particularly interested in how the SERCA calcium transporter governs the dynamic changes in calcium in the heart to coordinate muscle contraction and relaxation. We use a variety of biochemical and biophysical techniques to study transporter structure-function relationships including fluorescence spectroscopy, chemical crosslinking, and molecular dynamics simulations. 

Aleksey Zima, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Physiology
  • Azima@luc.edu
  • CTRE 524

Research Focus: Defining the mechanisms that control calcium homeostasis and excitation-contraction coupling in the heart. Currently, the laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms that cause ryanodine receptor dysfunction during oxidative stress and how this may contribute to abnormal cardiac function during pathologies such as heart failure




Bryan Mounce (tertiary)