Prasant Kumar Jena, PhD, received his doctorate from Nirma University, India, in biotechnology. His doctoral research focused on the effect of probiotic Lactobacillus and gut microbiota against sugar rich diet induced obese rat models. During his postdoctoral work at the University of California, Davis, he studied the effect of probiotics Bifidobacterium infantis and prebiotics milk-oligosaccharide against non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and liver cancer. Jena has strong interest in the study of gut-liver and gut-brain axis in inflammation. He showed how Western diet dysregulated bile acid synthesis, drives intestinal dysbiosis, which in turn causes hepatic inflammation, neuroinflammation and reduces synaptic plasticity as well as psoriasis. Jena joined the Noval Rivas Lab and Arditi Lab in September 2019 and works on joint projects investigating the host-microbe interactions and the involvement of bacteria derived metabolites on the development of murine Kawasaki disease.
Stefanie Marek-Lannucci, MD, is enrolled in the Cedars-Sinai graduate program and since August 2019 works in the Noval Rivas Lab and Arditi Lab as a PhD student. Prior, Marek-lannucci began working on a large animal model on swine in the Gottlieb Laboratory, where she performed a myocardia infarction and local hypothermia via pericardial irrigation with cold saline to study the effects of therapeutic hypothermia on remodeling after ischemia/reperfusion injury. For her thesis, Marek-Iannucci is working on the role of autophagy and its interaction with the NLRP3 inflammasome, in the murine model of Kawasaki vasculitis. She wants to learn more about the molecular mechanisms behind the formation of cardiovascular lesions ins this murine model. The final goal being to decipher mechanisms that can be modulated and widen the therapeutic spectrum for Kawasaki disease and eventually prevent the formation of cardiovascular lesions. In her free time, Marek-Iannucci enjoys hiking, biking, classical music and opera.
Angela Camille Gomez joined the Noval Rivas Laboratory in January 2019 as a research associate. Gomez earned her master of science in global health at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana where she investigated the prevalence of malnutrition and stunting among tribal students in Biligiriranga Hills, India. She received her bachelor of arts in biological sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina. Gomez previously worked at Midwestern University in Illinois, where she studied the transcription factor gene, Prdm16, in craniofacial development. She was also at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she worked to characterize the regulatory mechanism of ryanodine receptors, skeletal and cardiac muscle calcium release channels, and identified two regions involved in calcium-dependent inactivation. Currently, Gomez investigates the molecular and cellular immune mechanisms involved in murine Kawasaki disease vasculitis with a focus on the role of Sirtuin-1 in this model.