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Members

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Lora Hooper

Dr. Lora Hooper
Principal Investigator

I grew up in Nashville Tennessee, and received my undergraduate degree from Rhodes College in 1989. After college, I entered the Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry Program at Washington University, where I did my dissertation work in Dr. Jacques Baenziger's lab. This work focused on the biochemistry of N-linked carbohydrate biosynthesis and the characterization of unique, biologically active carbohydrate structures. After receiving my Ph.D in 1996, I joined Dr. Jeffrey Gordon's lab at Washington University for post-doctoral training. During my fellowship training I became interested in interactions between intestinal bacteria and host cells in the mammalian gut, and this interest remains the driving force behind the research in my lab. I am currently a Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

 
Cassie Boyd

Cassie Boyd
Research Technician

Cassie Boyd is a native Texan. She is originally from New Braunfels, home of the original Schlitterbahn water park. Cassie received her bachelor of science degree in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas (Class of '99 - WHOOP!) Her primary duty in the lab is to manage a colony of germ-free mice. Germ-free mice are completely devoid of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These mice provide a unique tool for the lab and help the lab dissect complicated host-microbe interactions. With the help of another technician in the lab, Cassie maintains the mice to insure they remain healthy and microbe-free. When possible, she likes to relieve stress by going to heavy-metal rock concerts. For her, "It's not just metal, it's therapy."

 
Mehabaw Derebe

Dr. Mehabaw Derebe
Post-doctoral Fellow

Mehabaw Derebe is originally from Ethiopia. He earned B.S. and MSC degrees in Chemistry from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and just completed his PhD in Biophysics here at UT Southwestern. Trained as a Structural Biologist, Mehabaw's interest lies in determining three dimensional structures of proteins and their interacting partners, if any, to probe molecular mechanism of their function. He will be studying the structural basis of function of proteins vital in host-microbe interactions in the gut. In his spare time, Mehabaw likes to bike or play soccer or tennis.

 
Brek Duerkop

Dr. Breck Duerkop
Post-doctoral Fellow

Breck Duerkop earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2003, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Washington in 2008. His research focuses on the intestinal bacterium Enterococcus faecalis. Breck studies two aspects of E. faecalis biology: 1) How spatial segregation of E. faecalis from the intestinal mucosal surface influences its genetics and physiology, and 2) How bacteriophages contribute to the commensal lifestyle of E. faecalis in the intestinal tract. His work is supported in part by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIDDK. Outside of the lab, Breck enjoys jogging, cooking, playing the piano, Wes Anderson and Coen Brothers movies, metal/rock music, and his favorite author is John Steinbeck.

 
Sureka Gattu

Sureka Gattu
Student

Sureka received her B.S. in Human Biology and M.S. in Biotechnology from Indiana University, where she cultivated her interests in neurodegenerative diseases, microbial pathogenesis, and comparative literature. Her scientific interests are now developing at the intersection of immunity, diet, and the gut microbiota-specifically, vitamin A metabolism in the context of the GI tract. Sureka loves outdoor naps, cream cheese, the Italian Renaissance, squirrels, and playing her violin.

 
Dr. Tamia Harris-Tryon

Dr. Tamia Harris-Tryon
Post-doctoral fellow/Clinical Dermatologist

Tamia Harris-Tryon is a faculty member in the Department of Dermatology completing post-doctoral research in the Hooper lab. Tamia completed a B.S. in Biology/Biochemistry at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She then completed an MD/PhD at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her doctoral work in Charles Lowenstein's lab focused on the role of microRNA in endothelial cell biology/immunity. Her current focus will be on molecular mechanisms of cutaneous immunity. Tamia is new to Dallas and looks forward to getting to know the city. She enjoys traveling to new places, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

 
Tess Leal

Tess Leal
Research Technician

Tess Leal is originally from Brazil. She earned her B.S. in Biomedical Studies from the Federal University of Triangulo Mineiro in Brazil in 2010. Her research at the university was focused on biochemistry evaluating the antioxidant potentials of popular Brazilian plants. In the Hooper lab, Tess assists in the daily maintenance of the gnotobiotic facility. She helps to ensure that the mice remain healthy and microbe-free. Ballroom dancing is Tess' passion outside of work. She especially enjoys the Brazilian samba and the Latin salsa which keeps her busy by practicing as much is possible.

 
Sohini Mukherjee

Dr. Sohini Mukherjee
Post-doctoral Fellow

Sohini Mukherjee came to USA for her doctoral research in 2001. She got her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She then decided to continue with research at UTSW and joined the Hooper lab as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2007. Trained as a biochemist, her current project is aimed at understanding the biochemical basis of the bactericidal function of a C-type lectin, expressed in intestinal epithelial cells. In layman's terms, Sohini is interested in finding the mechanism used by this protein to kill gut bacteria and thereby maintain homeostasis. She is crazy about numbers, 2 being her favorite. If an experiment works the first time, she is convinced she must repeat it the same way; in other words, she is very superstitious. Sohini loves to eat, cook, and is a connoisseur of spicy Thai food. When not in the lab, she is entertaining friends or watching movies.

 
Daniel Propheter

Dr. Daniel Propheter
Post-doctoral Fellow

Dan earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Regis University in Denver, CO in 2006. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. His research in the Hooper lab is focused on glycan-mediated host-pathogen interactions in the gut. In his spare time, Dan enjoys reading, cooking, golfing, and everything science. He also enjoys playing and watching the greatest sport ever invented (rugby), and loves Roadhouse and Big Trouble in Little China.

 
Kelly Ruhn

Kelly Ruhn
Research Technician

Kelly Ruhn was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Dallas in May of 2002. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a laboratory helper at UTSW and then went on to work in several other labs after graduation. Kelly maintains the conventional animal colony and assists with projects in the Hooper lab. Kelly enjoys almost everything--especially taking care of her animals at the lab and at home. Her favorite thing to do in Dallas is play ice hockey.

 
Shipra Vaishnava

Dr. Shipra Vaishnava
Post-doctoral Fellow

Shipra Vaishnava earned her Ph.D. in Cellular Biology from University of Georgia, Athens. Her research in the Hooper lab focuses on host-microbial crosstalk at the at the intestinal mucosal surface, specifically the intestinal epithelial cells, and the effect this interaction has on the host innate and adaptive immune system. Her favorite thing to do in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is to visit the various art museums. She loves trying the new and different cuisines that DFW area has to offer.

 
Yuhao Wang

Yuhao Wang
Student

Yuhao Wang comes from Hangzhou, a beautiful city in southeastern China. He received his B.S. from Zhejiang Medical University (China) in 2010 and came to the US for doctoral study in 2012. His research interests in the Hooper lab are focused on how circadian rhythms shape gene expression in the intestine. Outside of the lab, Yuhao is a good photographer and photo editor, so traveling with a camera is his favorite thing to do when he gets free time.

 
Xiaofei Yu

Xiaofei Yu
Student

Xiaofei Yu earned his B.S. in Biology from Fudan University (China). He then came to the USA and received his M.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Iowa State University. Xiaofei is studying how the intestinal immune system responds to day-night light cycles (also known as circadian rhythms). He is using many approaches to unravel this complex problem, including protein biochemistry, cellular immunology, microbial ecology. Xiaofei likes jogging, fishing, and watching movies - especially comedies.