Dr. Meera Hameed

Dr. Meera Hameed graduated from Kilpauk Medical College (Madras, India) with an MBBS and went on to a research fellowship and pathology residency at Hahnemann University (Philadelphia, PA). Shen then moved to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY) for a Fellowship training in oncologic pathology and molecular pathology. Upon completion of her fellowship training, Dr. Hameed became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She then moved to the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (Newark, NJ) where she was promoted through the academic ranks to Professor. In 2009, Dr. Hameed moved to the Department of Pathology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with an appoint in the Department of Pathology at the Weill-Cornell Medical College. Dr. Hameed is Chief of Surgical Pathology, Co-Director of the Alpert Center for Digital and Computational Pathology, and an active member of the Sarcoma Disease Management Team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She plays an active role in the training of fellows in oncologic surgical pathology as they rotate through bone and soft tissue pathology. Dr. Hameed is active with several pathology societies and has served as an elected member of the Education Committee for United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) and the Meritorious Award Committee of the American Society of Investigative Pathology. She is also an Associate Editor for The American Journal of Pathology and is a member of the Editorial Board of Modern Pathology.

Dr. Hameed is Board certified in surgical pathology, molecular pathology, and clinical cytogenetics. As a surgical pathologist, Dr. Hameed’s expertise is bone and soft tissue (musculoskeletal) pathology. In this capacity, she works closely with clinical colleagues – including surgeons, radiologists, and medical oncologists – in support of patient care. Dr. Hameed is an Invited Member of the International Skeletal Society – an organization of radiologists, pathologists, and surgeons who meet annually to discuss rare and unusual presentations of the various bone and soft tissue neoplasms. Dr. Hameed serves as course co-director for orthopedic pathology at meetings of the USCAP. As a molecular pathologist, Dr. Hameed keeps abreast of latest developments in the fast-growing field of molecular oncology. As an invited member of the Molecular Oncology Committee of the College of American Pathologists CAP), she serves as the committee member for the sarcoma sub-division and provides expertise on test development and appropriate molecular testing for sarcoma patients. Dr. Hameed’s research involves the study of chromosomal changes and their interpretion related to pathological diagnostic correlations. She specifically explores prognostic markers in bone and soft tissue neoplasms. For example, she has studied expression of markers with therapeutic significance, such as the EGFR family of tyrosine kinases in synovial sarcomas and osteosarcomas.

Dr. Lindsey Kennedy

Lindsey Kennedy is an Assistant Research Professor of Medicine and a VA Health Science Specialist at Indiana University School of Medicine and the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, IN. She was appointed these titles February of 2021 following her post-doctoral fellowship at Indiana University School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Heather Francis. Her program focuses on the impact of estrogen signaling on the progression of liver damage in autoimmune liver diseases, and the pathological role of angiogenic signaling during cholestasis. She was recently awarded a pilot award from AASLD Foundation, and a Career Development Award from the VA for her work in these areas. Lindsey has been actively involved in ASIP sponsored events since the beginning of her studies in graduate school, and has attended multiple EB and PISA meetings. These engagements have offered her valuable training opportunities and networking abilities, and this year she was awarded the George K. Michalopoulos Junior Faculty Scholar Award, which is excitingly her first faculty award since her appointment. This year she participated in the ASIP Social Ambassador program and hopes to further her efforts in scientific outreach. Her involvement in the ASIP Liver Pathobiology SIG has been a highlight of her career and she is excited to continue attending EB and PISA, and to see the growth of the organization.

Dr. Kelsey McKillip

Dr. McKillip completed a BS in Biology (minor in Chemistry) from Muskingum College (New Concord, OH) in 2009. At Muskingum College, Dr. McKillip held a Science Division Scholarship, a Faculty Scholarship, and a Hodges Research Grant. She then entered graduate school at the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) and completed a PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine in 2014. Dr. McKillip’s dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Zhongyun Dong was focused on “anti-cancer implications of small molecule compounds targeting proliferating cell nuclear antigen.” Some of Dr. McKillip’s dissertation research was published in Molecular Pharmacology and Molecular Cancer Therapy. Dr. McKillip was a co-inventor on a patent for “PCNA targeting compounds for cancer therapy” (granted in 2018) that grew from her dissertation research. Dr. McKillip was recognized as Student of the Year in the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program in 2014, and she was recognized on several other occasions with recognition for excellent research.

In 2015, Dr. McKillip became a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, and she was promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor in 2017. In 2015, Dr. McKillip became the Director of the University of Cincinnati Biorepository, in 2016 she became Technical Director of the Histopathology Core Laboratory, and in 2019 became the Technical Director of the Precision Medicine Laboratory.  This year, Dr. McKillip was awarded the UC College of Medicine Research Service Award in recognition of her dedication and service to the research mission of her institution.  Dr. McKillip also participates in the teaching mission of the University of Cincinnati providing lectures for graduate students on a variety of subjects from “biorepositories and biospecimen research” to “identification of new drugs for cancer therapy.” Dr. McKillip serves as a consultant for the Post-Graduate Hematology/Oncology Translational Training Program which is supported by a T32 grant from the NIH/NCI. Dr. McKillip also participates in teaching of pathology residents (since 2015) from her department, providing lectures related to “biobanking, molecular genetic testing, and solid tumor testing.” Dr. McKillip also teaches and mentors students in the laboratory. To date she has mentored two undergraduates, five graduate students (including 2 Masters and 3 PhD students), and four pathology residents. Dr. McKillip is also extremely active in various Committees at the University of Cincinnati that oversee clinical operations, including the COVID-19 Operations Subcommittee (since 2020). Dr. McKillip also serves on the University of Cincinnati Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is essential to a strong research program.

Dr. McKillip’s more recent research is translational or applied and focused on utilizing the molecular diagnostics laboratory to identify actionable genomic targets in human disease tissue, as well as issues related to biorepositories in research. In recent years, she expanded biorepository support of cancer research programs, including work with a multidisciplinary team of investigators engaged in microbiome research.  In the spring of 2020, she worked with a collaborative team of clinicians and researchers to establish the Cincinnati COVID-19 Repository (CCR), which to date has collected and banked more than 28,000 serum, plasma, and PBMC aliquots for research. For this work, she has been recognized in news articles and other publications, and this resource has been invaluable for enabling research on COVID-19.

Dr. McKillip has been active and engaged with the ASIP since joining in 2017. She is a member of the Research and Science Policy Committee (since 2018) and the Program Committee (since 2018). In 2020, Dr. McKillip was a co-author on a white paper produced by the Research and Science Policy Committee entitled “Return of individual research results: A guide for biomedical researchers utilizing human biospecimens” that was published in The American Journal of Pathology (Sobel. M.E., et al., 2020, Am. J. Pathol. 190:918-933). In 2020, Dr. McKillip was appointed Interim Chair of the Research and Science Policy Committee when that position was vacated by another member. In this role, Dr. McKillip also became a member of the ASIP Council. In early 2021, Dr. McKillip was elected to serve as the Chair of the Research and Science Policy Committee. Her leadership of the Research and Science Policy Committee has been particularly valuable as it is one of the ASIP’s more active committees, meeting monthly and addressing a wide range of issues and opportunities in representation of the membership of the Society. As a member of the Program Committee, Dr. McKillip has been called upon to contribute to the scientific programs for both the ASIP Annual Meeting and the PISA meetings. In 2018, she participated in a round table discussion on “maximizing biospecimen resources” at the PISA 2018 meeting at the University of Michigan. At Experimental Biology 2021, Dr. McKillip gave a short talk on her “alternative academic career” as a pathology PhD in the session entitled “I am an ASIP member and this is my science.”

Dr. Wendy M. Mars

Dr. Mars obtained her BS in Medical Technology at Arizona State University and she is ASCP certified, having worked in a clinical cytogenetics laboratory as a Medical Technologist. Subsequently, she obtained her PhD working with Grady F. Saunders, PhD, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) studying the “Molecular Genetics of Cancer,” using Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) as a model. Her dissertation research identified the alpha-defensins DEFA1 and DEFA3 (formerly known as HP-1 and HP-3) as the most abundantly expressed genes in the chronic phase of CML. This observation led Dr. Mars to discover that these innate immunity genes normally exhibit copy number variations (CNVs) in the human population. For one year following graduation, she studied breast cancer genetics at MDACC before moving to the Pittsburgh area where she has resided, since 1990, with her research focusing on the study of normal and abnormal liver regeneration.

The main focus of Dr. Mars’ research has been to understand the roles of the urokinase- and tissue-type plasminogen activators (u-PA and t-PA) in liver regeneration, particularly with regard to their interactions with their stoichiometric target, Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF). Although u-PA and t-PA are best known for their enzymatic roles in fibrinolysis and cancer metastases, in the early 1990’s Dr. Mars’ research group (and others) demonstrated that u-PA and t-PA are also capable of activating latent HGF to its active form, suggesting non-canonical roles for these two proteins. Stoichiometric activation of HGF by u-PA is of particular importance during liver generation/regeneration, where HGF serves as an essential molecule for liver growth. HGF and u-PA, the u-PA inhibitor (PAI-1), and their receptors MET (for HGF), u-PAR (for u-PA), and LRP1 (for u-PA and/or t-PA), are either made or utilized by multiple liver cell types, including hepatocytes, Kupffer cells (hepatic macrophages), stellate cells, and sinusoidal endothelial cells. This poses a problem in fully understanding exactly how u-PA, HGF, and PAI-1 contribute to liver regeneration since it is difficult to discern which cell types participate in the growth/regenerative process at what times. In order to explore this area of research more fully, Dr. Mars’ research group initially developed a fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) technique for detection of cellular mRNAs that can be used in conjunction with protein immunofluorescence (IF). By simultaneously utilizing FISH and IF, they were able to definitively demonstrate which cell types produce particular mRNAs and proteins at any particular time during liver growth and regeneration. In addition, Dr. Mar’s research group discovered that the u-PA/HGF axis interacts with interleukin-6 (IL-6), a crucial cytokine controlling various liver responses, including the acute phase response. More recent studies have focused on investigating novel interactions between these proteins (u-PA, u-PAR, HGF, PAI-1, MET, t-PA, LRP1) and other pathways known to be important in liver homeostasis. Using a cell-specific targeted cre/loxp approach (LysZ for macrophages, albumin for hepatocytes, tamoxifen for all cell types) Dr. Mars’ group demonstrated that constitutive activation of MET in bone marrow-derived macrophages leads to suppressed IL-6 production in response to LPS stimulation. In contrast, in hepatocytes HGF acts as a direct stimulus for IL-6 production. In other investigations Dr. Mars showed that t-PA-mediated signaling through LRP1 in stellate cells reverses their activation. In kidney, t-PA actually pushes a fibrotic response through the same receptor. The implication of these latter findings is that t-PA, an FDA-approved drug, may ultimately be of value in hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis. However, due to the potential for inducing kidney fibrosis, a way of specifically targeting treatment to the liver will be essential.

Dr. Mars is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh, Director of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program, and a member of the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center. She also serves as Assistant Dean for the Learning Environment and Associate Director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. The Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) graduate program is one of 11 PhD-granting programs in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The CMP Graduate Program typically has around 25 students and Dr. Mars is responsible for oversight of the curriculum, faculty, and student affairs. As the Assistant Dean for the Learning Environment, Dr. Mars has responsibility for all graduate student learning experiences (good and bad) in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Many of these learning experiences correspond to relationships between mentors/teachers and students, and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This oversight role covers around 450 graduate students at any given time. Dr. Mars is a long-time member of the ASIP and currently serves on the Program Committee and the Education Committee. 

Lab Website

Research Gate

Dr. Sonika Patial

Sonika Patial, DVM, PhD, DACVP is an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine.  She earned her DVM and Ph.D. in Molecular Immunology from Michigan State University. Her doctoral research focused on understanding the modulation of inflammatory responses through G-protein coupled receptor kinases and the regulation of inflammation through the NFkB pathway. Following her PhD, she went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in the Laboratory of Signal Transduction under the mentorship of Dr. Perry Blackshear. Her postdoctoral work focused on understanding the role of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) of the zinc finger protein 36 (ZFP36) family in regulating inflammation and innate immune responses. Here, she developed and characterized a novel mouse model of endogenous ZFP36 overexpression through knock-in approach. Further, she demonstrated that increasing the levels of ZFP36, also known as tristetraprolin, protects mice against experimental inflammatory and immune-mediated conditions including arthritis, psoriasis, and autoimmune encephalomyelitis, among others. This work was published in PNAS and was selected as the Paper of the Year, 2016 by Environmental Factor, a leading NIEHS journal. Dr. Patial’s research is published in excellent peer-reviewed journals including PNAS, Cell metabolism, Trends Pharmacological Sciences, and The Journal of Immunology and has been cited over 1,500 times. During her postdoctoral training at NIEHS, she received numerous honors and awards including the NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence and a best abstract award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Following her postdoctoral training, she went on to do a residency in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology at Louisiana State University. She is currently a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathology. She joined as an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in 2017 and started her independent research laboratory.

Dr. Patial’s research program is focused on understanding the role of RBPs including ZFP36/tristetraprolin and other members of this protein family in regulating mammalian physiology and pathology. These proteins function by targeting the messenger RNAs that possess certain types of AU-rich elements within their 3’untranslated regions, for post-transcriptional degradation. Thus, the dysregulated expression of this family of proteins can potentially perturb the post-transcriptional regulation of hundreds of target mRNAs. She is particularly interested in understanding how this post-transcriptional regulatory mechanism contributes to lung and liver injury, inflammation, and fibrosis. In her recent work, her lab has shown that tristetraprolin is an endogenous anti-inflammatory protein and that increasing the levels of tristetraprolin, particularly in the non-hematopoietic cells within the lung, provides significant protection against acute lung injury in mice. In another study, her lab has found that ZFP36L1 protein post-transcriptionally regulates Fgf21 mRNA turnover and that liver-specific loss of ZFP36L1 increases FGF21 expression several fold in response to alcohol. FGF21 analogues have been developed for the treatment of metabolic conditions, however, the endogenous regulation of FGF21 production has remained unknown. This study provides a novel mechanism of regulation of FGF21 expression in the liver. Besides, the lab has generated several other cell-specific knockouts of this family of proteins to test their research questions. The ultimate goal of the research program is to discover novel ways of reducing inflammation, discovering new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of lung and liver disease, and validating new targets for therapeutic interventions. Her work is currently funded by the NIH and the Louisiana board of Regents.

She is also committed to teaching and mentoring the next generation of graduate students and post-doctoral trainees in the LSU, School of Veterinary Medicine. She is affiliated with the comparative biomedical sciences graduate program at LSU, School of Veterinary Medicine and serves as a recruiter for new graduate students. Besides, she is also passionate about teaching Veterinary Histology and Pathology to the budding veterinarians and clinician-scientists in the Veterinary curriculum, for which she has consistently received the Dean’s teacher merit honor roll awards (2018-2020). She is an active member of the American Society of Investigative Pathology (ASIP), the Society of Toxicology (SOT), the Society of Toxicologic Pathology (STP), the American College of Veterinary Pathology (ACVP), and the American Association of Immunology (AAI). She is the recipient of the 2020 ASIP Hans-Monga Faculty Scholar award.

http://facultypages.vetmed.lsu.edu/faculty/spatial

She is an ASIP member and a recipient of the 2021 Monga-Hans Junior Faculty Scholar Award.

Research

The focus of our research is to understand how post-transcriptional mechanisms of gene expression regulate the pathogenesis of Environmentally-induced Hepatic and Pulmonary inflammation. We are specifically investigating RNA-Binding-Proteins of the Zinc Finger Protein 36 (ZFP36) family. Zinc Finger Protein 36 (ZFP36), also commonly known as Tristetraprolin (TTP) post-transcriptionally regulates gene expression by binding to AU-rich…