Dr. Emilyn Alejandro is an Assistant Professor in the Integrative Biology and Physiology (IBP) Department at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She joined IBP in September 2015 after completing her post-doctoral training with Dr. Ernesto Bernal-Mizarchi at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Emilyn received her degrees from the University of Washington (BS) in Seattle, WA and at the University of British Columbia (Ph.D.) in Dr. James D. Johnson’s laboratory in Vancouver, Canada. Outside of her research work and mentoring her trainees, Dr. Alejandro enjoys spending time with her husband and two curious little girls and watching her girls play ice hockey and exploring local attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Check out https://www.physiology.umn.edu/research/alejandro-lab/minneapolis-mn
Dr. Eric Gustafson received his Ph.D. in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. As a talented electrophysiologist trained by Dr. Robert Miller, he is involve in many projects in the lab. His main focus is to understand the mechanisms of OGT and NMDAR in insulin secretion using patch-clamp electrophysiology in single cells or whole intact islets.
Dr. Ramkumar Mohan is a Post-Doctoral Fellow. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University September 2016. He is working on the role of OGT on mitochondrial function and beta-cell regeneration. He is also trying to understand the mechanisms of susceptibility to cellular stress in the offspring dams exposed to low-protein diet during pregnancy.
Ms. Amber Lockridge ~ A PhD student in the IBP graduate Program working with Dr. Alejandro to explore physiological mechanisms that adaptively regulate the coupling of beta cell glucose metabolism with insulin secretion with an eye towards better understanding the pathology of type II diabetes. One of her projects is investigating the insulin secretion defect phenotype of mice with a pancreas-specific deletion of the enzyme O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT). A second project involves the role beta-cell membrane ion channel NMDA receptor on glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Amber is supported by an NIH NRSA F31 fellowship for two years!!
Dr. Samantha Pritchard is a post-doctoral fellow and a Registered Dietitian. She received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Iowa State University in June 2018. She is currently studying the role of OGT in regulating pancreatic and endocrine progenitors through Pdx1. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring her new home of Minneapolis with her husband. Dr. Pritchard is supported by an NIH NRSA T32 Training Grant in Diabetes Endocrinology, and Metabolism.
Mr. Seokwon Jo is a post-baccalaureate junior scientist working to identify novel OGT targets in insulin-producing cells. He joined the Alejandro Lab after graduating from the University of Minnesota wih degrees in Biochemistry and Genetics. Seokwon hopes to attend graduate school in the fall of 2019. Outside of the lab, Seokwon's hobbies include food, tea, horror movies and being creative.
Mr. Brian Akhaphong is Minnesota made. As a former undergrad in IBP Physiology, he worked on the effects of hypertension during pregnancy or preeclampsia on beta-cell development and function in the offspring. He is continuing this work as a post-baccalaureate junior scientist, and expanding on the impact of placential insufficiencity in maternal programming of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Outside of the lab, he likes to play with his two needy cats, Reginold and Pooksi. Mr. Akhaphong is supported by a two year Award from NIH, and he hopes to start medical school in the fall of 2020.
Mr. Ahmad Essawy is a product of the University of Minnesota undergraduate GCD program. He began his post-baccalaureate research career at the UMN Stem Cell Institute working on optimizing differentiation of IPS cells into beta cells, and studying the mechanism of beta cell apoptosis. He joined Alejandro lab as a post-baccalaureate junior scientist with hopes of furthering his research and setting a foundation for future graduate work. In the lab, he is currently studying the role of OGT in glucagon cells.
Ms. Alicia Wong received her BS degree at the U of Minnesota in December 2018. She majored in Biochemistry. In the lab, she focuses on beta cell mass analysis involving various projects in pancreas development. We are excited for her to join the lab full-time as she has done in previous summers via funding through MSROP, and a scholarship in the Department of Biochemistry for fall of 2018. Ms. Wong was supported by UROP until her successfully graduation in Dec. 2018. She is now a Researcher 1 in the lab working on the role of OGT in pancreas development.
Ms.Kinsley Kehlenbeck is a senior undergraduate student double majoring in Spanish Studies and Physiology. In the lab, she is currently working with Amber Lockridge and Ahmad Essawy, assisting them with various projects. So far she mastered tissue sectioning, staining and imaging techniques as well as analyzing beta and alpha cell mass. As a type one diabetic herself, Kinsley is very interested in learning more about pathways involved in the onset of diabetes and the genes involved in the progression of the disease. Kinsley is excited to start Dental School this fall, until then, she is continuing her research project in the Alejandro lab until May of 2019!!
Mr. Nicklas Damberg is now a 4th-year Biology student at the University of Minnesota. Nicklas and Ms. Amber Lockridge are working together to assess bihormonal cell number in multiple projects. He is a UROP student in 2018. He is looking forward to applying to medical school this summer!
Ms. Neha Panigrahy is a Senior student in Chemistry and Physiology. In the lab she is working with Mr. Seokwon Jo to identify specific OGT targets in beta-cells and the mechanisms of pro-insulin processing failure in mice lacking OGT. She is currently completing her Honor Thesis in the lab. Outside school, she likes to watch Netflix, read or take long naps.
Ms. Regina Schlichting is a junior undergraduate student studying Genetics, Cellular Biology, and Development and Spanish Studies, with hopes of attending medical school in the future. In the lab she is working with Mr. Seokwon Jo on various products. In her free time she enjoys baking, yoga, and spending time with friends.
Dr. Elizabeth Morgan is a Maternal Fetal Medicine fellow who has joined the Alejandro Lab to research placental nutrient sensing proteins and their role in fetal growth restriction. She is returning to the bench after a long hiatus, having studied molecular biology and bioinformatics prior to her matriculation into medical school. She will start as an attending physician in Massachusetts at the completion of her fellowship next Fall, and hopes to use what she has learned with Dr. Alejandro to continue her scientific career.
Ms. Elina Da Sol Chung is a third year Physiology student at the University of Minnesota. She started working as a volunteer intern in Dr. Alejandro’s lab, mainly assisting Brian and Seokwon. She is currently working on own project measuring beta-cell mass in mice with enhanced OGT signaling under diabetogic stress with Dr. Mohan. She is a recipient of a UROP award in 2018! Outside the lab, she likes to play piano, draw in pencils and make origami flowers whenever she is free. Ms. Chung is supported by UROP.
FORMER TEAM MEMBERS
Mr. Daniel Baumann (2015-2018) is a former Researcher 1 working to elucidate the role of OGT in pancreatic development and beta-cell regeneration and plasticity. He investigated the contribution of placental nutrient sensors in beta-cell programming and susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. He graduated from Boston College with magna cum laude in 2013. He is now pursuing graduate school in IBP.
Ms. Miranda Olson was (2016-2017)a third year student Physiology when joined the lab. She worked on the impact of nutrient sensor protein mTOR and OGT during pregnancy on the development of beta-cell mass. She is now currently finishing her degree before going to graduate school in public health.
Ms. Danica Fondevilla was our second summer intern (2017) from the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines. Her major is Biochemistry and she aspires to become an endocrinologist after taking her undergraduate degree. She enjoys traveling, watching movies, and catching-up with her friends. She completed her degree at UST in 2018 and now attending medical school also at UST.
Ms. Nicolle Myers (2017) was our former lab manager and she worked on the role of OGT in placental programming of Type 2 diabetes.
Ms. Lensa Ali (2016-2018)- was a senior majoring in Physiology with Arabic minor, and an aspiring pediatrician. In her free time she likes to go running. She also like baking, which, in some ways, ruins her be-healthy-go-running initiative. Lensa care about public health and she enjoy being involved in campus community and that's what brought her to the Dr. Alejandro's lab. She studied the impact of mTOR in the placental growth, beta-cell mass development. She was a UROP recipient in 2018! Lensa will start medical school this fall of 2019.
Ms. Tate Zemanovic (2016-2018) is now a 4th-year Physiology student at the University of Minnesota. Tate transferred from Pace University in NYC. In the lab, Ms. Tate worked on beta-cell mass analysis in various models with loss or gain of placental mTOR signaling. Her two favorite things are cats and coffee. And she loves to dance. She is excited to start graduate school in the fall of 2018 in New York!!!
Ms. Megan Rauschnot is a sophomore physiology student at the University of Minnesota with hopes of becoming a physician. Megan assisted Ms. Amber Lockridge in her various projects with a goal of understanding the pathology of type 2 diabetes. She enjoys hockey and soccer in her free time!
Ms. Alleah Abrenica- was our first summer intern from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines. Her summer project involved insulin signaling assessment in liver and visceral fat of mice lacking Serine Racemase. She intends to apply to medical or graduate school in the in the USA.
Ms. Bailey Aberthany (2016-2017) is a Colorado native and a newcomer to the Alejandro Lab. She just graduated at the University of Minnesota with a degree in Physiology. In the lab, she worked on her honors thesis on the role of OGT in beta-cell adaptation to insulin resistance. Outside of the lab she is a member of the university's women's gymnastics team and is a barista at Caribou Coffee. She is currently working as a medical scriber and learning so much about clinical care before applying for medical school fall of 2018.
Ms. Michelle Ann Wasan- was a junior student from the University of Washington in Seattle when she joined the lab. While in the lab, she assisted in characterizing the phenotype of mice overexpressing a kinase-dead mutant mTOR and offspring of dams exposed to low-protein diet during the last week of pregnancy. She is excited to start Pharmacy Graduate School in Minneapolis fall of 2018 and potentially find time to volunteer in the lab!