Bert Boyer

Bert Boyer (Chair)

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine
Bob and Charlee Moore Endowed Professor
Director, Alaska Native Health Research
OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, School of Medicine

I have served as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Nebraska Center for the Prevention of Obesity Diseases through Dietary Molecules (NPOD) since Year 1 of NPOD funding.
My primary research focus for the past 22 years has been cardiometabolic risk and protective factors among Yup’ik Alaska Native people living in small rural communities in South-West Alaska. During part of this time, I also served as Director and Principal Investigator of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence grant that established and provided 15 years of continuous funding for the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I was also a multi-PI on a Clinical Translational Research Center grant (U54GM115371) that focused on building clinical research capacity to address American Indian and Alaska Native health disparities in Montana and Alaska. In January 2018, I transferred my research program to Oregon Health & Science University, where I established and now direct the Alaska Native Health and Wellness Research Center. My research investigations span the translational cycle (T0-T4) with a strong emphasis on T0-community engagement in research. My research currently investigates genetic, nutritional, and behavioral risk and protective factors that may influence the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity in Yup’ik (Alaska Native) people.

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Cathy Ross
Catharine Ross

Catharine Ross

Department of Nutrition
Texas A&M University

I have a broad background in nutrition, biochemistry, and molecular biology and 40 years of experience with vitamin A and retinoid research. My lab has focused on the mechanisms of vitamin A transport in the circulation and intracellularly, vitamin A during pregnancy and lactation, and vitamin A’s role in the immune system, which earned me the recognition of being elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). We have conducted studies using tracer analysis and mathematical modeling to understand whole-body retinol kinetics under various physiological conditions in animal models ranging from newborn to old age to understand micronutrient nutrition in various contexts. Based on studies of immune response to various bacterial antigens, we have conducted mechanistic studies to understand antibody responses, including B cell-T cell interactions and the role of various cytokines and adjuvants, including vitamin A itself, in promoting a strong and sustained antibody response. I have participated in the Malnutrition as an Enteric Disease (MAL-ED) project, examining micronutrient status in children in eight low-income countries and its relationship to intestinal disease and early development. Simultaneously, I investigated retinoid signaling in the gut during experimental infections. In another line of research, I collaborate with investigators in my department to understand the role of B-vitamins in preventing hypomethylating stress and its impact on arterial disease in mouse models of atherosclerosis.
I have experience leading NIH-funded projects, collaborating within and outside my university, mentoring T32, F32, and K01 awardees, and serving organizations including NIH, NAS, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (NASEM), and professional societies.

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Konstantin Kousoulas

Konstantin Kousoulas

Professor and Director of Biotechnology & Molecular Medicine
Biotechnology & Molecular Medicine
Louisiana State University

My research is focused on understanding the molecular determinants of herpes simplex and SARS CoV-2 infectivity and immunopathogenesis. My work has led to the engineering of herpes simplex viruses that can be effectively used for vaccines against herpes simplex infections and as vectors for vaccine production against other infectious disease pathogens. Specifically, I have engineered and patented a herpes simplex virus with small deletions into membrane proteins, glycoprotein K (gK), and the membrane protein UL20 encoded by the virus. These gK and UL20 modifications prevent the virus from entering via membrane fusion, while it can enter into a variety of cells via endocytosis and replicate to wild-type levels. Surprisingly, these protein modifications have produced a strong “adjuvant response” that protects test animals (mice and guinea pigs) against lethal ocular or genital infections with virulent HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections. This work has also led to the use of engineered herpes simplex type-1 viruses for oncolytic immune-virotherapy of melanoma and breast cancers taking advantage of the adjuvant effect of the engineered viruses. My work has been supported over the years by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and from state of Louisiana research funds and corporate sources.
Currently, I am the PI of the Louisiana Biomedical Research Network supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) mechanism, which focuses on mentoring investigators and students in primarily undergraduate institutions to pursue biomedical research careers.

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Karen Peterson

Karen Peterson

Stanley M. Garn Collegiate Professor and Chair
Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Michigan

Dr. Peterson is Professor and Chair of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the School of Public Health, Research Professor for the Center for Human Growth and Development, and Director of the Momentum Center, all at the University of Michigan. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the influence of biosocial and environmental influences on child growth and maturation during sensitive developmental periods, as well as the design and evaluation of population-based interventions addressing dietary and physical activity behaviors related to obesity and chronic disease in diverse populations, including children and youth. She is Contact PI for the U-M Children's Environmental Health and Disease Protection Center on the theme: "Lifecourse exposures and diet: Epigenetics, maturation, and metabolic syndrome," and serves as Associate Director of the Michigan Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (MNORC). 

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