Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs

Research Opportunities

The strength of the PhD Program lies in our students' ability to develop expertise targeted towards future professional careers.  First year PhD students will complete at least three 5-week laboratory rotations without restriction before selecting a mentor. Thus, students choose mentors based upon research projects and not departmental affiliation. 

USF Health Research Day award recipients pose on stage
Research is the core of the PhD Program and a vital component of USF Health. USF Health Research Day promotes interdisciplinary study and collaboration between researchers and practitioners.

Current Faculty Mentors

Labs that are open to incoming students vary each year, but you can learn more about our current mentors in the Morsani College of Medicine and their research projects below. You may also explore our Research Directory to learn more about our faculty who may not be current mentors. 

  • Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Disease

    Burt Anderson, PhD 

    The primary focus of our laboratory is how facultative intracellular bacteria control expression of genes required for virulence.  

    Narasaiah Kolliputi, PhD

    Subhra Mohapatra, PhD

    The overall goals of our laboratory are to discover and develop therapeutics for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

    Xingmin Sun, PhD

    The Sun Lab focuses on the pathogenesis of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and development of novel preventive and therapeutic agents against CDI.

    Michael N. Teng, PhD

    We study the role of host-virus interactions in viral pathogenesis. In particular, we are interested in how respiratory syncytial virus affects host signal transduction pathways to enhance viral replication.

  • Cardiovascular Biology

    Jerome Breslin, PhD

    My research area of interest is inflammation, with emphasis on the mechanisms that underlie swelling of tissues, or edema.

    George Davis, PhD

    The GE Davis laboratory studies the molecular basis for human capillary tube formation and we have established in vitro methods under serum-free defined conditions and in 3D extracellular matrices to investigate this process.

    Thomas Mcdonald, MD

    Molecular Biology of ion channels and their human mutations; Cardiomyopathy

    Sami Noujaim, PhD

    We focus on the mechanistic understanding of cardiac normal and abnormal electrical impulse propagation. 

    Timo Rieg, MD

    The main areas of Dr. Rieg's research interests are the physiology and pathophysiology of the kidney and intestine.

    Joshua Scallan, PhD

    My laboratory performs research in the area of lymphatic vascular biology to gain insight into how loss of lymphatic vessel function leads to disease. 

  • Molecular Medicine

    Yu Chen, PhD

    The Chen lab focuses on structure-based drug design against proteins involved in infectious diseases and cancer.

    Robert Deschenes, PhD

    The Deschenes research group and collaborators are currently working on the posttranslational modifications that regulate the subcellular localization and function of signal transduction proteins.

    Gloria Ferreira, PhD

    Our main research interest is defining the reaction and regulatory mechanisms of the first and terminal heme biosynthetic pathway enzymes, 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS) and ferrochelatase (FC). 

    Niketa Patel, PhD

    The overall goal of my research program is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and metabolic pathways in neurodegenerative diseases.

    Vladimir Uversky, PhD

    Our scientific interests are broadly defined as everything related to protein folding, misfolding and non-folding. 

  • Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology

    Dominic D'Agostino, PhD

    The primary focus of our laboratory is developing and testing metabolic-based therapies, including ketogenic diets, ketone body supplements and metabolic-based drugs

    Jay Dean, PhD

    We study the effects of O2, CO2 and barometric pressure on the function of the mammalian CNS, with an emphasis on the cardio-respiratory and gastro-esophageal control systems. 

    Matthias Majetschak, MD, PhD

    Thomas Taylor-Clark, PhD

    Our interests lie in the role of nociceptive (defensive) sensory nerves in health and disease. Our focus is primarily on the sensory nerves of the airways.

    Hana Totary-Jain, PhD

    Our research is focused on elucidating the role of non-coding RNA in vascular diseases. 

    Lianchun Wang, MD

    Our research focuses on heparan sulfate (HS), a linear polysaccharide, that expresses at the cell surfaces and in the extracellular matrix where it interacts with a large number of protein ligands, such as growth factors, morphogens, cytokines and matrix proteins, to modulate a variety of physiological and pathological processes.

    Kay-Pong Daniel Yip, PhD

    The research interests of our laboratory are to develop and apply confocal fluorescence microscopy, laser-based video microscopy, and flash photolysis of caged compounds to study renal cellular function in situ and in vivo. 

  • Neuroscience

    Paula Bickford, PhD

    Dr. Bickford's research focuses on the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in aging and neurodegenerative disease with a specific emphasis on age-related changes in neuronal plasticity and learning.

    Laura Blair, PhD

    Dr. Blair’s laboratory studies how chaperone proteins drive different states of the tau protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease and more than a dozen other tauopathies, including Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

    Cesario Borlongan, PhD

    A world leader in stem cell therapy for stroke. Dr. Borlongan's translational bench to clinic research has led to 5 FDA-approved clinical trials of cell transplantation, including the world’s first cell therapy in stroke patients.

    Danielle Gulick, PhD

    My research focuses on the neural mechanisms of schizophrenia (SCZ), a devastating disorder that afflicts approximately 1% of the population worldwide, with wide-reaching effects on caregivers, family, and friends of patients, as well as on the economy, with a focus on identifying potential targets for pharmacotherapy.

    David Kang, PhD

    Research in the Kang lab focuses on the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related neurological disorders such as Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). 

    Kevin Nash, PhD

    My research focus is now targeted towards using recombinant Adeno-associated virus (rAAV) to study of neurological disorders. 

    Paul Sanberg, PhD

    The Center significantly enhances existing strengths to serve as a fundamental investigational and application unit integrating basic research, translational research, industrial partnerships, education, and clinical services to address key needs of aging and care of the elderly, as well as to develop unique solutions for repair of degenerative processes.

  • Pathology & Cell Biology 

    Vrushank Davé, PhD

    The Davé Lab employs a variety of cutting-edge molecular techniques and omics platforms including SILAC-based proteomics, tissue-microarray (TMA) analysis, RNA-Seq and Next Gen-Seq (NGS) using IPF and cancer tissues obtained from models and patients. 

    Patricia Kruk, PhD

    As part of the Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Pathobiology program in the Department of Pathology at USF, the research focus in my lab is on early molecular changes responsible for ovarian epithelial transformation.