Each PJI is assigned one or two mentors who are established and funded investigators with experience in mentoring and relevant scientific expertise. The major duty of the mentors is to assist their assigned PJIs to reach their milestones of the COBRE training.
The PJI-mentor interactions include:
- The mentor will meet weekly with the PJI to discuss the PJI’s project and to provide advice concerning experimental design and manuscript submission.
- PJIs will consult individual mentor/mentors when designing new research projects and writing research grants.
- The mentor will read, comment upon, and critique all grant proposals being prepared by PJIs.
- The mentor will read all review critiques from the NIH study section regarding the PJI’s proposal and assist the PJI in revision and resubmission of the proposal.
- PJIs will be required to present a written progress report twice each year to the mentor, who will review it and provide written feedback.
- The mentor will attend the presentations of the PJI at the EAC and IAC meetings and the individual meeting of the PJI with the EAC members.
Robert E. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., Dean McGee Professor is the Research Director of Dean McGee Eye Institute. He served as Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at OUHSC for 10 years, and he is the current Director of Research for both the Department of Ophthalmology at OUHSC. He has also served for the past ten years as PI of another COBRE (Vision Research) at OUHSC. Dr. Anderson has extensive experience in mentoring junior faculty members and in COBRE operation. In addition, he is a world-renowned leader in vision research, with scientific expertise in neuroprotection and retinal degeneration. Dr. Anderson’s proven success in mentorship and retina research will be an important asset to Dr. Farjo’s developing research program to evaluate the effects of increasing serum retinol-binding protein levels on retinal physiology.
Kenneth C. Copeland, MD, Jonas Chair, Professor and Chief, Section of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, OUHSC: Dr. Copeland is an experienced clinician researcher with an interest in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in children, growth, growth factors, obesity, and maternal effects on childhood disease. During his 6 years at OUHSC, he has established extensive partnerships with Native American Tribes, both in the provision of clinical services and in clinical research. He is a center PI in the NIH TODAY (Treatment Options in Diabetes among Adolescents and Youth), and Director of the Childrens’ Metabolic Research Center. He will serve as a mentor for PJI Kevin Short.
Morris Foster, PhD, Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK: Dr. Foster has conducted population studies of Native Americans for many years, with a particular emphasis on involving tribal communities in the design, planning, and oversight of biomedical research. He has a long track record in mentoring investigators. His expertise in Native American populations and his existing collaboration with Indian Tribes are resources for PJI Diane Warren’s project, which is to study the genetic factors in diabetes in Native Americans.
Andy Gardner, PhD, Hobbs-Recknegel Chair and Professor, Section of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, OUHSC: Dr. Gardner is an accomplished and very well-funded researcher whose focus is on the effects of exercise on vascular function. His studies involve human-based clinical research conducted at the GCRC, and are highly pertinent to the study of abnormal vascular function in patients with diabetes, insulin resistance, and peripheral vascular disease, common conditions among minority populations. Dr.Gardner will also serve as a mentor for PJI Kevin Short.
Timothy J. Lyons, MD, FRCP - As Director of the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center, Dr. Lyons has remained at the forefront of research devoted to understanding the complications of diabetes. In previous years he has served as the Chair for the American Diabetes Association’s Research Policy Committee and as a Member of the American Diabetes Association’s 70th Scientific Sessions Planning Committee. Dr. Lyons has a long and clinical career with more than 80 published peer-reviewed articles and 140 presentations and productive research and published abstracts.
He is the Professor of Medicine, Chief, Section of Diabetes and Endocrinology and program director of General Clinical Research Center as well as the Chickasaw Nation Chair of Diabetes Studies. Dr. Lyons has received more than 40 grants as principal researcher including specific research on diabetic eye disease, diabetic kidney disease and the acceleration of vascular disease in diabetes and the increased prevalence of complications for pregnant women with diabetes. He will serve as a mentor for PJI Liisa Tremere, PhD.
Dr. Lyons served as the mentor of PJI Sarah Zhang, because of his extensive experience in diabetic retinopathy
Jian-Xing Ma, MD, PhD, Laureate Professor and Director of Research, Section of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Medicine, OUHSC: Dr. Ma will also serve as a mentor for PJI Sarah Zhang. For his qualifications, please see description of PI above.
Dr. Jian-Xing Ma, the mentor of Dr. Le (ECI), is an authority in endothelial dysfunction in DR, the visual cycle, and retinal degeneration. As described above, Dr. Ma has the skill and experience needed to mentor Dr. Le at the ECI level.
John Mulvihill, MD, Kimberly V. Talley/CMRI Chair of Genetics, Professor of Pediatrics, is Associate Program Director of the OUHSC GCRC. He is a distinguished geneticist and clinical scientist who founded the Department of Genetics in the Graduate School of Public Health, Univ. of Pittsburgh, and has served as President of the International Genetic Epidemiology Society. He will mentor PJI Diane Warren.
Ann Louise Olson, Ph.D. - Dr. Olson is the Edith Kinney Gaylor Foundation Presidential Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at OUHSC. Dr. Olson's laboratory has had a long-standing interest in the molecular processes that regulate insulin-mediated exocytosis of GLUT4 vesicles as well as the transcriptional regulation of the GLUT4 gene. Using transgenic mouse models, the Olson lab has sought to understand the transcriptional regulation of the GLUT4 gene in complex with physiologic states. Understanding these areas of GLUT4 cellular and molecular biology are crucial to understanding the development of diabetes. Dr. Olson is well versed in all aspects of diabetes research and will be an integral part of Dr. Hays's mentoring team within this COBRE initiative.
Raphael Pinaud, PhD - Research in Dr. Pinaud's laboratory is focused on how sensory experience is encoded, processed and transformed in brain circuits. Dr. Pinaud's group is particularly interested in understanding how classic neurotransmitter systems and neurohormones shape the coding of sensory (auditory and visual) signals, and how experience controls gene expression programs required for the learning and memorization of behaviorally-relevant sensory stimuli. To directly address these questions, Dr. Pinaud's laboratory pursues a multi-disciplinary research program that utilizes a variety of tools including: molecular and cellular biology methods, genomics and high-throughput proteomics approaches, whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, multi-site, multi-electrode extracellular recordings in awake animals, computational and information theoretical methods, as well as behavioral assays. Three Federal grants, two from NIH (R01 and R21) and one from NSF support his research. In addition, Dr. Pinaud has 4 private foundation grants, one from the state of Oklahoma known as the OCAST grant and three from the Schmitt Foundation. Dr. Pinaud has published two books, over a dozen book chapters and more than 40 original peer-reviewed articles and reviews, and has been invited to present his research at national and international meetings. Dr. Raphael Pinaud has recently been invited to join the editorial boards of two journals: Journal of Neurological Sciences and Audiology Research. Dr. Pinaud is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and holds a Donald W. Reynolds Chair within ROCA. He will serve as a mentor for PJI Liisa Tremere, PhD.
Scott Plafker, Ph.D. - Dr. Plafker is an Associate Member in the Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program at OMRF. He is a former COBRE PJI who successfully obtained R01 funding. Dr. Plafker is extremely familiar with the fields of diabetes and free radicals and with many of the techniques Dr. Humphries will employ. At the same time, Dr. Plafker’s distinct expertise in cell biology will offer to Dr. Humphries a unique perspective on experimental design and interpretation
Luke Szweda, PhD is a Member and the Hille Family Foundation Chair of the Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program at OMRF. His expertise is in mitochondrial bioenergetics, metabolism, and free radical biology in the heart. In addition, Dr. Szweda has extensive experience mentoring young scientists and is a former COBRE PJI mentor. His scientific and mentoring experience will be an asset to the future success of Dr. Lim.
Leonidas Tsiokas, PhD is an Associate Professor in Cell Biology at OUHSC and holds the John S. Gammill Endowed Chair in Polycystic Kidney Disease. Dr. Tsiokas’s expertise is in the area of signal transduction in Polycystic Kidney Disease and has successfully served as a mentor in a previous COBRE project. Dr. Tsiokas’ expertise in mentoring junior faculty along with his strong background in the area of signal transduction during kidney development and disease will significantly contribute to Dr. Xu’s development into a fully independent investigator.
Paul H. Weigel, Ph.D. - Dr. Weigel is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor and Ed Miller Endowed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at OUHSC. Dr. Weigel is an NIH-funded investigator, has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, and is an internationally recognized glycobiologist studying integral membrane proteins related to hyaluronic acid signaling and synthesis. He is also experienced in structural biology. Dr. Weigel’s extensive experience with mentoring junior faculty in his department will assist Dr. Hays as he develops his nascent project related to modulation of cellular response to stress induced by the diabetic state.
Ming-Hui Zou, MD, PhD, Travis Professor, Section of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Medicine, OUHSC: Dr. Zou is a well published and a well-funded investigator in diabetic complications, especially in oxidation and nitration. He has been serving in NIH study sections and is experienced in mentoring postdoctoral fellows and junior investigators. His extensive experience in oxidation and AMPK will provide great support and advice for PJI Zhonglin Xie’s project.
Existing Collaborations among PJIs and Mentors
Kenneth Humphries, Ph.D., Assistant Member, OMRF, PJI
Mentored by Luke Szweda, Ph.D., and Scott Plafker, Ph.D.
Luke Szweda, Ph.D., Member and Chairman, Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program, OMRF
Scott Plafker, Ph.D., Associate Member, Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program, OMRF
Mentors for Kenneth Humphries
Dr. Humphries will be co-mentored by Dr. Scott Plafker and Dr. Luke Szweda. Dr. Plafker is one of our former COBRE PJI who successfully obtained R01 funding and graduated from the COBRE in 2011. He has recently moved from the Department of Cell Biology at OUHSC to become an Associate Member in the Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program at OMRF. In fact, Dr. Plafker’s and Dr. Humphries’ offices are next to each other, allowing them to interact on a daily basis. Dr. Plafker will be able to offer valuable guidance on how to become a successful PI. In addition, Dr. Plafker is extremely familiar with the fields of diabetes and free radicals and with many of the techniques Dr. Humphries will employ. At the same time, Dr. Plafker’s distinct background and expertise will offer to Dr. Humphries a unique perspective on experimental design and interpretation.
Dr. Szweda is an established scientist with a long track record of NIH funding. He was previously Dr. Humphries’ graduate school mentor and recruited him to OMRF. Since then Dr. Humphries has established an independent research laboratory. Dr. Szweda’s expertise and familiarity with mitochondrial bioenergetics and free radical biology will continue to be an invaluable asset to Dr. Humphries. Dr. Szweda was also the mentor of former PJI Dr. Plafker and thus has recent experience in mentoring COBRE PJIs.
The proximity of the two mentors will ensure that interactions will be frequent. In addition, formal, documented interactions will be held monthly. It will also be expected that both co-mentors review future R01 grant applications and thus provide needed, varied insight for a successful application.
Jian Xu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, PJI
Mentored by Leonidas Tsiokas, Ph.D.
Leonidas Tsiokas, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology
Mentor for Jian Xu
Dr. Leonidas Tsiokas is an Associate Professor in Cell Biology at OUHSC and holds the John S. Gammill Endowed Chair in Polycystic Kidney Disease. He has been selected as a mentor of Dr. Jin Xu firstly because of his previous successful mentorship of junior faculty. He served as mentor in another COBRE (Vision Research) for PJI Dr. Xi-Qin Ding, who was successful in obtaining R01 funding. Dr. Rong Ma was a postdoctoral fellow of Dr. Tsiokas (2002-2004) and is now a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology at The University of North Texas, TX. Dr. Dana Rundle, a previous postdoctoral fellow in the Tsiokas lab, is now on the faculty of the University of Central Oklahoma, OK. Equally important, in recognition of Dr. Tsiokas’ contributions to the field of signal transduction in kidney diseases and development, he has served as an ad hoc member of numerous NIH and NSF study sections and has been invited to give presentations in national and international meetings. He has served as a reviewer of several esteemed journals including Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics, Development, and Cancer Research. The NIH has funded Dr. Tsiokas for 9 consecutive years and his current competing renewal (years 9-14) has scored in the top 5%, and is expected to start in September 2011. His publication record includes papers in Nature, Nature Cell Biology, EMBO Journal, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His expertise in the mechanisms of kidney disease is a field in which Dr. Xu, his trainee, has recently developed an interest. As a result, they have developed interactions that include meetings on a regular basis of at least once a month to discuss research progress and plan preparation of manuscripts and grants. This interaction will formally continue during the time period that Dr. Xu is supported by the current COBRE. Overall, Dr. Tsiokas’ expertise in mentoring junior faculty, along with his leadership in an area of research that is shared by his trainee, will significantly contribute to Dr. Xu’s development into a productive and fully independent investigator.
Franklin A. Hays, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, PJI
Mentored by Paul Weigel, Ph.D. and Ann Louise Olson, Ph.D.
Paul Weigel, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Biochemistry
Ann Louise Olson, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Mentors for Franklin A. Hays
The research project outlined by Dr. Hays is focused on how GRP78 activity regulates the adaptive Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) during ER stress. To accomplish the Specific Aims outlined within his proposal, Dr. Hays’ laboratory will employ a broad range of methods including: whole-animal imaging; diabetic animal models; measuring insulin resistance and sensitivity in primary cell culture; evaluating UPR activity in cell culture; biophysical methods including x-ray crystallography, surface-plasmon resonance, analytical ultracentrifugation, molecular modeling, and molecular dynamics simulations; and studying ER stress indicators in both in vitro and in vivo systems. Dr. Hays has a strong background in biophysical methods and structural biology but has limited experience in endocrinology or in using in vivo or cell culture systems. Considering the breadth of methods and scope of the proposal, we have selected two mentors for Dr. Hays: Dr. Paul Weigel and Dr. Ann Louise Olson.
Dr. Weigel is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at OUHSC. He was instrumental in recruiting Dr. Hays to his current independent faculty position. Dr. Weigel is an NIH-funded investigator, has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, and is an internationally recognized glycobiologist studying integral membrane proteins related to hyaluronic acid signaling and synthesis. He is also experienced in structural biology. As such, he is an outstanding resource for Dr. Hays in refining his research ideas and methods, learning, and implementing human cell culture methods within his new lab. Dr. Weigel’s extensive experience with mentoring junior faculty in his department will assist Dr. Hays to compete successfully for independent R01 funding.
Dr. Olson will serve as the junior mentor for Dr. Hays. Dr. Olson is the Edith Kinney Gaylor Foundation Presidential Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at OUHSC. Dr. Olson's laboratory has had a long-standing interest in the molecular processes that regulate insulin-mediated exocytosis of GLUT4 vesicles as well as the transcriptional regulation of the GLUT4 gene. Using transgenic mouse models, the Olson lab has sought to understand the transcriptional regulation of the GLUT4 gene in complex with physiologic states. Understanding these areas of GLUT4 cellular and molecular biology are crucial to understanding the development of diabetes. Dr. Olson is well versed in all aspects of diabetes research and will be an integral part of Dr. Hays's mentoring team within this COBRE initiative.
Yun Le, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, ECI
Mentored by Jian-xing Ma, M.D., Ph.D.
Jian-xing Ma, M.D., Ph.D., Laureate Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiology
Mentor for Yun Le
Dr. Jian-xing Ma, the mentor of Dr. Le (ECI), is an authority in endothelial dysfunction in DR, the visual cycle, and retinal degeneration. As described above, Dr. Ma has the skill and experience needed to mentor Dr. Le at the ECI level.
Previous Collaborations among PJIs and Mentors
Scott Plafker (PJI) has been collaborating with Hanna Abboud (EAC member) in studying the roles of AT-II and the ubiquitin system in diabetic nephropathy. He is also working with Sarah Zhang (PJI) in elucidating the role of ubiquitin in PEDF degradation.
Kevin Short (PJI) established collaboration with Andrew Gardner (mentor) in studying the impact of exercise on diabetes and its complications. He interacts closely with Dr. Lyons in his use of GCRC facilities.
Diane Warren (PJI), another new recruit to OU, is working with Morris Foster (mentor) to study genetic factors in diabetes in Native Americans. She is also working with John Mulvihill (mentor) in genetic analysis of human samples.
Zhonglin Xie (PJI) is collaborating with Sarah Zhang (PJI) in studying the PEDF effect on protein nitration in diabetic retinas. He is also collaborating with Ming-Hui Zou (mentor) and Luke Szweda (mentor) in studying oxidation and mitochondrial functions in diabetic animal models.
Sarah Zhang (PJI) is collaborating with Scott Plafker in elucidation of mechanisms responsible for the decreased PEDF levels in the diabetic retina and kidney. She has also existing collaboration with Dr. Jian-xing Ma (mentor) in studying the mechanism for the anti-angiogenic activity of PEDF in diabetic animal models. She is collaborating with Tim Lyons (mentor) and John Baynes (EAC member) in studying effects of PEDF against retinal vascular damage induced by oxidized LDL.