Eric Pietras, PhD – Principal Investigator
Eric Pietras, PhD, earned his BA in Biochemistry (magna cum laude with honors) from Knox College in 2001. He subsequently trained for 2 years as a research technician at the University of Chicago, under the mentorship of Dr. Marcus Peter. Eric pursued his PhD at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the laboratory of Dr. Genhong Cheng, where he identified molecular and systemic pathways that activate immune responses to viral and bacterial pathogens.
Following graduation in 2008, Eric started postdoctoral training at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) under the mentorship of Dr. Emmanuelle Passegué, focusing on identifying the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in regulating hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function. Following completion of his postdoctoral work, Eric was recruited to his current faculty position in the Division of Hematology at the University of Colorado. He is an associate member of the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC) and holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology. Eric is also affiliated with the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and the CU RNA Biosciences Initiative, as well as the Cancer Biology, Molecular Biology and Biological Sciences graduate programs.
During his training, Eric was the recipient of several intramural and extramural awards, including an NIH K01 Career Development Award funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in 2014. He is a recipient of the 5-year Sandra Saffer Research Chair at the University of Colorado. Eric is also a 2017 recipient of the Boettcher Foundation Webb-Waring Early Career Investigator award, and holds the title of Boettcher Investigator.
In his spare time Eric is an avid photographer and musician. He has a number of albums to his name as a solo artist or contributor, and since 2014 has hosted a weekly Internet radio show where he presents ambient and experimental music. He also enjoys cycling, hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains.
Jenn Rabe, BS – PhD Student
Jenn earned a BS in Biology with minor in Chemistry from the University of Colorado Denver in 2013. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Molecular Biology in the Pietras Lab. Jenn is interested in the role of the microenvironment in the development and progression of blood cancers. Her current research seeks to understand how chronic inflammation impacts distinct subsets of hematopoietic stem cells.
Outside of the lab, Jenn enjoys hiking, camping, and is an avid runner.
Taylor Mills, BS – PhD Student
Taylor earned his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Molecular Cellular and Developmental biology in 2013. While an undergrad, Taylor worked in the lab of Michael Stowell studying the role of the Siah-1 protein in regulating Synaptophysin, a molecule important for neurotransmission and implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. After graduating Taylor moved to the lab of Margarete Wierman on the Anschutz Medical Campus to study Growth Hormone (GH) pituitary adenomas. Specifically, he studied the role of the PERP protein as a tumor suppressor in GH adenomas. Taylor is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Immunology, and his thesis work focuses on investigating the effects of chronic inflammatory diseases on the function of hematopoietic stem cells. Taylor plans to have a career working in the development and implementation of cancer immunotherapies.
Outside of the lab Taylor loves everything food oriented, spending time in the woods of the Rocky Mountains, and enjoys participating in interactive digital goal oriented programs.
James Chavez, BS – Professional Research Assistant
James received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. As an undergraduate, he had the wonderful opportunity of working in the Voeltz Lab where he investigated mitochondrial DNA positioning and dynamics utilizing fluorescent microscopy. Shortly after graduation, he was hired as the PRA for the Pietras Lab. He is currently investigating the impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on hematopoietic function. James plans on attending graduate school following his training in the lab.
Outside of the lab, James enjoys playing recreational sports, playing video games and cheering on his favorite sports teams (GO BUFFS).
Giovanny Hernandez, BS – Professional Research Assistant
Giovanny earned his BS in 2015 with a double major in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Biochemistry, along with a minor in Chemistry, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. During his undergraduate training he pursued independent studies in ecology and evolutionary biology, as well as microscopy-based investigations of endosome fission from the endoplasmic reticulum. He served as a professional research assistant (PRA) in the Pietras lab from 2015 to 2017 and during this time made major contributions to key projects in addition to helping establish the lab.