For more information on all of our members, just click on the left!
Gary K. Owens, Ph.D is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology. Dr. Owens also is the Director of the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center.
Rupa has been with the Owens Lab for over sixteen years. She runs the cell culture core in the lab and helps with all cell culture experiments, including primary smooth muscle cell isolation, aortic explants, cell proliferation and migration assays. Rupa also manage the lab inventory and equipment, as well as making orders for supplies to the entire lab. She recently took over the lab manager responsibility at the end of June 2018.
I am Santosh Karnewar. I obtained my B.Sc. in Biotechnology, Zoology and Chemistry from NIZAM College (Autonomous) and MSc in Biochemistry from University College of Science (Osmania University) in India. I have completed my PhD with Dr. Srigiridhar Kotamraju at Chemical Biology department, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (AcSIR) in June 2017. My PhD thesis was on “Studies on the role of AMPK-mediated pathways during atherosclerosis and preventive strategies”.
As a graduate student I have studied age-associated atherosclerosis in Apo E-/- mice and now I joined the Dr.Owens lab in September 2017. In my project we will test the hypothesis that “Age associated changes in Smooth Muscle Cell and/or Endothelial Cell function negatively impact late stage atherosclerotic lesion pathogenesis by using unique mouse models. We will also study the skin wound healing and vascular injury-repair in young and aged SMC lineage tracing non-ApoE KO WT and SMC Oct4 and/or Klf4 KO mice. Klf4 and Oct4 KO models are unique models and Owens group reported in recent publications, Laura S Shankman (2015- nature medicine) and Olga A Cherepanova (2016- nature medicine).
My name is Gamze Bulut. I obtained my B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University in Turkey. Then I moved to USA in 2008 to do my Ph.D. at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, TX. I worked in Dr. Lily Huang's laboratory in Department of Cell Biology. My Ph.D. thesis was on "Ubiquitination of Erythropoietin Receptor (EpoR) and p85 in ligand induced EpoR down regulation", which involved studying cell biology and protein modifications. Then we moved to Richmond, VA for my husband's new job at VCU Computer Science.
I started my postdoctoral training in Dr. Charles Chalfant's laboratory in October 2015 investigating the alternative splicing of Caspase 9 by the RNA trans factor hnRNP L to produce a gain of function variant called Caspase 9b. My brief postdoc in the Chalfant lab involved characterization of a transgenic mouse line expressing human Caspase 9b in the lung, cooperation with oncogenes in lung cancer formation, recombinant protein purification using baculovirus system and RNA protein binding through EMSA assays.
Dr. Chalfant and his lab moved to Florida and I have joined Dr. Gary Owens's laboratory at the Cardiovascular Research Center at University of Virginia in September 2017. Owens lab studies smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotype switching using unique lineage tracing mouse models. My project is about diet induced obesity and how microvasculature is affected within the pathological adipose depots. Specifically, we will investigate the phenotypic switching of SMC upon diet induced obesity and the role of pluripotency factor Klf4 in these changes using different lineage tracing models. We will also generate new mouse models to investigate the effect of gender on atherosclerosis.
I am a fourth year graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics department, doing research in the Owens lab. I came to UVA from New York, where I worked in the Division of Cardiology at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY in 2010. My previous research was in Alzheimer's disease.
The main project I am working on is: "PDGF Beta Receptor Dependent Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotypic Switching in Atherosclerotic Plaque Stabilization". PDGFs, the ligands of the PDGFRs are major mitogens of smooth muscle cells, inducing their migration and proliferation. It is widely thought that inhibiting PDGFBR will ameliorate atherosclerosis by leading to a decrease in smooth muscle cells within the lesion, and therefore reduced lesion size. This idea is based in part on the fact that antagonism of PDGFBR reduces SMC mediated lumen obstruction that occurs after stent placement. However, SMC are thought to be the protective cell types within the lesion, leading to stabilization and reduced rupture. Blocking their migration and proliferation may actually weaken the atherosclerotic lesion, leading to plaque rupture and thrombosis. Instead, we want to apply the opposite logic, i.e. increase PDGFBR signaling in the lesion in order to augment the protective SMC layer. This could eventually lead to exciting novel therapeutics.
My name is Gabriel Falcao Alencar and I am currently a second year at the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics program at UVa. I did both my undergrad (Biological Sciences) and my Master's degree (Medical Sciences - Human Genetics) at the University of Brasilia - Brazil, where I am from. After finishing my Master's degree, I came to the USA to work at the Hereditary Genomics Lab at the University of Kentucky under Dr. James Hartsfield. There, my research was mainly identifying genetic loci involved in the development of orthodontics problems, such as mandibular prognathism (theme of my Master's thesis), as well as familial non-medullary cancer, ovarian cancer, and aging.
My main project in the Owens' Lab is: "KLF4 dependent maintenance of microvascular integrity". It is well established that the transcription factor KLF4 is not expressed in smooth muscle cells (SMC) in large conduit arteries in healthy mature animals. However, it appears to be expressed in SMC and pericytes (SMC-P) of the microvasculature and have a functional, and potentially physiological, role in the correct maintenance of perivascular coverage. It is also important to note that alterations within the microvasculature play a key role in the development of cardiovascular disease and complications of diabetes. Therefore, I am trying to identify how KLF4 recruitment, maintenance and/or survival of the SMC-P within the microvasculature in a healthy animal model.
I am also interested in computational biology and using high-throughput sequence data to investigate the role of histone markers and transcription factors in the differentiation/de-differentiation of SMC-P, both in injury models as well as in vitro models, and in disease. To date, we have generated and analyzed ChIP-seq (chromatin imunnoprecipitation sequence) datasets for KLF4 in an atherosclerosis setting and in mesentery of healthy animals, as well as RNA-seq of OCT4 and KLF4 KO in different models.
I received a BS in Biomedical Engineering at the Ohio State University. I performed the majority of my undergraduate research in Dr. Palumbo's lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital looking at how the coagulation cascade impacts colitis associated colon cancer. I have just completed the first two years of medical school and will transition to the lab this Spring to start my graduate training.