Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence

2018 K-INBRE Symposium Speaker Biographies

Moriah R. Beck, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas
Title: Emerging roles for actin binding protein palladin in regulation of highly motile cells

Moriah BeckMoriah R. Beck is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department at Wichita State University. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis where she used NMR to solve the structure of a novel virulence factor from a pathogenic, dimorphic fungus. As a Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Beck continued to use NMR to study the structure and function of actin binding proteins involved in metastasis. Her current research involves a wide variety of biochemical tools aimed at understanding regulation of the actin cytoskeleton in processes that include cancer, cardiomyopathy, and Listeria infections.



Jeffrey L. Bose, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
Title: The fatty acid kinase of Staphylococcus aureus controls virulence

Jeff BoseJeff Bose is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He received his PhD from the University of Georgia studying symbiotic host-microbe interactions. He transitioned to his work on the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Nebraska Medical Center studying biofilms. His current work, primarily on MRSA isolates, started as a screen for novel regulatory factors controlling MRSA virulence factor production. His lab focuses on fatty acid metabolism in virulence as a potential host recognition signal. These studies are uncovering a previously uncharacterized enzyme in many bacteria and are dissecting the molecular mechanism linking fatty acid metabolism and skin infections.


Rafael E. Luna, Ph.D.

Executive Director of the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Title: Scientific Storytelling

Rafael LunaRafael E. Luna is the Executive Director of the National Research Mentoring Network and the Principal Investigator of the Administrative Core of NRMN located at Boston College. He earned his bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, and was one of six individuals selected from a nationwide competition to participate in the inaugural Biomedical Research Training Program at the NIH. During his senior year at Southern, he was named as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar through Louisiana State University (LSU) and began molecular biology research, subsequently leading to his pursuit of a doctorate in Biological Sciences at LSU. Dr. Luna performed his post doctorate research at Harvard Medical School, which centered on elucidating the sequence of protein-protein interactions leading to the decoding of the initial start codons of messenger RNAs. In addition to doing biomedical research, he is also the CEO and Founder of Luna Scientific Storytelling, LLC, which promotes the communication of science in a narrative format. Dr. Luna is a dynamic speaker and has led lectures and workshops throughout the United States and Europe.

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D.

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri
Title: Stem cell population dynamics, tissue homeostasis and regeneration

Alejandro Sánchez AlvaradoAlejandro Sánchez Alvarado is an Investigator of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA where he was Director of the Embryology course. He is also a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences USA, a recipient of a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health and of the E.E. Just Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Society for Cell Biology. Dr. Sánchez Alvarado's current efforts are aimed at elucidating the molecular and cellular basis of animal regeneration using the free-living flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea as a research organism.



Santimukul Santra, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas
Title: Personalized nanomedicine: A new era of targeted cancer therapy

Santimukul SantraSantimukul Santra, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Pittsburg State University. He is a synthetic chemist and nanotechnologist and teaches organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and nanobiotechnology classes to the students from chemistry, biology, pharmacy and other disciplines. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.)-Bombay, India and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA. His laboratory research is focused on the Nanotechnology-based pharmaceutical theranostics for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and infectious diseases. He is the author of more than 20 high impact, peer reviewed journals, and contributed to more than 9 US Patents.



Yong Zeng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
Title: Enabling Micro/NanoSystems for Precision Cancer Medicine

Yong ZengYong Zeng currently is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas in the Department of Chemistry, the Bioengineering Graduate Program, and the KU Cancer Center. Working at the interface of chemistry and biology, a primary aim of his research is to develop new enabling tools for liquid biopsy-based cancer diagnosis and precision medicine. Dr. Zeng is also interested in translational research to move technology innovations from laboratory benchtop into clinical practices to facilitate the advance of human health. He received the J.R. & Inez Jay Award in 2014, and was named as prestigious Docking Family Faculty Scholar in 2017. His research has been supported by a number of grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies.