Basic and Translational Biomedicine

Basic and Translational Biomedicine students

The Basic and Translational Biomedicine (BTB) Graduate Program is designed to educate and develop students into leading independent scientists, scholars, and innovators. The program offers exceptional training opportunities in the basic and applied health sciences with nationally and internationally recognized faculty across the following focus areas: Neurodegenerative DiseasesHeart and Blood Vessel DiseaseAuditory NeuroscienceMusculoskeletalDiabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Read below to learn more about our current students and the research they are engaging in.

Mirjavid Aghayev

I received my Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Master’s degree in organic chemistry at Baku State University. After graduation I completed an internship at NEOMED, where I studied liver, blood proteins and metabolic changes in rodent models, using mass spectroscopy. Currently, I am pursuing my dissertation research under the direction of Dr. Takhar Kasumov studying the relationship between post-translation modifications and protein turnover in alcoholic liver disease (ALD).

Laila Almassri

I completed a Bachelor of Arts at Hiram College and a Master of Arts in Science Writing at Johns Hopkins University. I am currently working under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Mellott as part of the Hearing Research Group studying the neuroanatomical changes of the central auditory system that occur with aging. Outside the lab, I serve as an editor for the Journal of Medical Sciences at NEOMED.

AndreA Arias-Alvarado, M.D.

In 2021, I joined the BTB program to pursue my interests in metabolic research. I am currently working with Dr. Takhar Kasumov on determining the effects of diet on post-translational modifications of proteins and how they contribute to the pathophysiology of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease through the use of high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques. Prior to joining the BTB program, I was a general physician in the Philippines, treating patients of all ages. Alarmed by the number of adult patients suffering from chronic preventable diseases, I was called to research and I am hoping to make future contributions to the mechanisms, diagnosis, and care of diet-induced conditions.

Zaid Batayneh, M.S., RPh.

I hold a Bachelor’s in Pharmacy from Jordan University and a Master’s in Pharmacology from the University of Toledo. Prior to joining the BTB program, I worked as a pharmacist in Ohio for 20 years. I joined the BTB program in 2021 and am currently working under the direction of Dr. Yanqiao Zhang within the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Research Focus Area. My current research aims to study the role of CES3 (part of a family of hydrolyzing enzymes) in fatty liver disease and lipid metabolism.

Katie Bretland

Born and raised in northeast Ohio, I received my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, Biology, and Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. I entered the BTB program in 2018, to study under the direction of Dr. Christine Dengler-Crish within the Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging Research Focus Area. My research explores the therapeutic potential and mechanisms behind two hormones that are seen to be dysregulated in Alzheimer’s disease: irisin and VGF. While I am not in the lab, I take part in a few student groups, such as the NEOMED Student Council, the Journal of Medical Sciences at NEOMED, and the Student Interest Group in Neurology.

Andrew Fulk, Pharm.D.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Ohio State University prior to attaining a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from NEOMED in 2022. As a student of the College of Graduate Studies through the BTB PharmD/PhD program, I work in Dr. Woo Shik Shin’s lab utilizing medicinal chemistry and computational methods such as computer-aided drug design (CADD) to preform research in drug design and development.

Trae Hillyer

I attended the University of Mount Union prior to NEOMED, where I studied biology and chemistry. I work in Dr. Woo Shik Shin’s lab, where we incorporate methods from microbiology, medicinal chemistry, computational biology, and neuroscience to optimize our drug development timeline. Our lab’s current projects include the development of a combinational antibiotic for multi-drug resistant bacteria and understanding host-pathogen interactions and their resistance patterns. Outside of school, I serve in the Army National Guard as an infantryman.

Cody Juguilon

Cody Juguilon

Has a Bachelor’s in Biotechnology from Kent State University. Currently working in the lab of Dr. Liya Yin within the Heart and Blood Vessel Disease Research Focus Area looking the role of MicroRNA-21 in regulating the coronary microcirculation in diabetes. The goal is to better understand the impairments in coronary microvascular function that are commonly found in diabetes and linked to cardiac dysfunction. An awardee of 2019 NIH predoctoral fellowship grant (F31). Currently serves as the student representative on the Committee on Academic Progress and Professional Progress for the College of Graduate Studies.

Nicholas Osborne

I am MD/PhD candidate in Dr. James P Hardwick’s lab. My research focuses on the function and regulation of the cytochrome p450 fatty acid omega-hydroxylase enzyme, CYP4V2. Outside of my academic engagements, I serve as a director for a national medical student LGBTQ+ non-profit, Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA) and as a student representative on the NEOMED College of Graduate Studies’ graduate faculty council. I am also pursuing an M.A. in Medical Ethics and Humanities at NEOMED.

Gabrielle Robinson

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. I am currently studying a trafficking protein that is linked to intellectual disabilities and musculoskeletal deformities, in the lab of Dr. Fayez Safadi as part of the Musculoskeletal Research Focus Group. I hope to better understand the link between bone morphology and this protein of interest. I currently serve as a peer reviewer for the NEOMED Journal of Medical Sciences, the College of Graduate Studies representative for the NEOMED Wellness Committee, and a member of the Student Cohort of The American Society of Bone and Mineral Research.

Trinity Samson

I am a Pittsburgh native and current MD/PhD student at NEOMED. I attended Emory University where I majored in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and minored in Dance and Movement Studies. With hopes of becoming a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and physician scientist, my main research interest is in musculoskeletal research. I currently work under the direction of Dr. Fayez Safadi conducting two main orthopaedic projects, one pediatric and one adult orthopaedic project. The pediatric project investigates the pathophysiology of slipped capital femoral epiphysis and the adult project investigates the use of osteoactivin, a novel anti-inflammatory glycoprotein, as a potential therapeutic for use in post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Regarding my extracurricular activities, I am currently the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medical Sciences at NEOMED, current participant and previous Co-President of NEOvations Bench to Bedside, and volunteer at Gigi’s Playhouse Cleveland.

Ernesto Solorzano Zepeda

I received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Walsh University. I am investigating a set of rare diseases known as Complex Lymphatic Anomalies (CLAs) and their osteopathic phenotype, in the lab of Dr. Fayez Safadi as part of the Musculoskeletal Research Focus Group. My research aims to identify the cause of abnormal bone loss in CLAs and propose new treatment options for patients. Beyond the lab, I have also been involved in various entrepreneurial opportunities aimed at introducing biomedical products to the market. I currently serve as an Editor for the NEOMED Journal of Medical Sciences, as the student representative of the BTB Advisory Committee, and am currently completing an internship as a Senior Associate at Orange Grove Bio.

Miljan Terzic, Pharm.D.

I received my Bachelors of Science in Biology from Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. I graduated with a PharmD from NEOMED in May 2022 and have since matriculated into the College of Graduate Studies to complete a dual PharmD/PhD. I am currently working in Dr. Sam Crish’s lab, focusing on neurodegenerative disease states, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope to incorporate my clinical background to further our knowledge on the management and treatment of this elusive disease state.