Postdoctoral Fellows

Khalid El Saafien headshot

Khalid El Saafien
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Ph.D. from University of Melbourne
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2020

Khalid El Saafien, Ph.D., conducted his graduate training at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Australia; where he investigated the interplay between the autonomic nervous system and the immune system in the regulation of cardiovascular physiology. Following his Ph.D., Khalid moved to Gainesville in fall 2019 to join the laboratory of Dr. Eric Krause as a post-doctoral associate. His research utilizes an integrative approach involving advanced neuroanatomical, optogenetic and cardiovascular physiology techniques; to probe brain circuitry that control and regulate cardiovascular physiology.


Alan Moreira de Araujo-MCM-9095_web

Alan Moreira de Araujo, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Ph.D. from Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2018

Moreira de Araujo’s research focuses on gut-brain interaction, specially the vagal sensory neurons that provide a rapid neural mechanism for conveying information about the gastrointestinal environment to the brain. He uses molecular and genetic tools to target, image, and trace projections from subpopulations of sensory vagal neurons that innervate the gut to study the signals that active them and the circuits they recruit. Specifically, he is interested in understanding the effects of chronic high-fat high-sugar diets on viscerosensory feeding circuits.


 

Arashdeep Singh, Postdoctoral Associate, Dept. of Pharmacodynamics, UF College of PharmacyArashdeep Singh, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Ph.D. from University of Calgary, Canada
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2019

My research focuses on investigating how long-term consumption of palatable high-fat, high-sugar foods causes alternations in the gut microbiota and the endogenous function of the gut-vagus-brain axis to promote cardiovascular malfunction, diabetes and obesity. By utilizing a combination of gut-brain neural circuit mapping, in vivo live cell imaging, chemogenetics and optogenetics approaches, my research aims to unravel how ensembles of neural networks that receive anatomical and functional inputs from the gut are dysregulated in metabolic disease states.

 


Dinesh PhotoDinesh Thummuri, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Ph.D. from NIPER-Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2018

My research focuses on cancer drug discovery. Bcl-xL inhibitors garnered more importance due to their crucial role in evasion of apoptosis and development of chemo resistance. However, Bcl-xL inhibitors causes severe thrombocytopenia as an on-target drug toxicity. We are working on Bcl-xL PROteolysis-TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACs) which, selectively induce the degradation of Bcl-xL in cancer cells but is essentially not in platelets. We are also working on identification of tissue specific E3 ligases for development of safer drug like molecules using PROTAC technology.


Macarena Vergara

Macarena Vergara, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Ph.D. from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2019

My research focuses on the study of the neurobiology of feeding. Our lab is interested in a set of peripheral neurons that form a direct anatomical link between the gut and the brain and provide information about the gastrointestinal environment to the brain. Although electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve is proving effective in treating a number of diseases, a lack of tools available to study the role of specific subsets of vagal neurons in physiological and disease states has led to an incomplete understanding of this pathway. In combination with behavioral, physiologic, and neurochemical techniques we study the role of vagal sensory neurons in the control feeding behaviors.


Shuo ZhouShuo Zhou, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky
Joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2020

My research interests focus on covalent small molecule inhibitor design and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.