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PhD in Toxicology

Current Students


Anderson, Colin​ Colin Anderson was born and attended high school in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX in 2006 with a B.S. in biology. After graduation, he worked at CellzDirect for a short while doing quality control for their pre-clinical cyp450 inhibition/induction studies. He then attended Sam Houston State Unive​rsity in Huntsville, TX where he graduated in 2009 with an MS in forensic science. Colin moved to Phoenix, AZ in 2010 to accept a job as a forensic chemist with the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner. In 2014, he left the OME to pursue a position at Sonora Quest laboratories as a Medical Lab Scientist certifying GC/MS results in their toxicology section. Colin also served as an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ teaching forensic coursework before moving to Denver in 2016 to begin his PhD. Colin is currently rotating through Dr. Reisdorph's lab, working on a LC/ToF method for the lipid fraction of metabolomics analysis.
Berman, Reena Reena Berman graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a BA in Biology. After graduation, Reena worked as a Research Assistant at Harvard Medical School in a diabetes and obesity lab. In November 2013, she began working at the Chu Lab at National Jewish Health, studying rhinovirus infections in the context of asthma, allergy, and COPD. She joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2016 and will be continuing her research at National Jewish, investigating the respiratory illness and airway remodeling in Iraq War Veterans.
Brown, Dustin G. Dustin G. Brown is a first year toxicology student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He began researching as an undergraduate focusing mainly on dietary intervention in both mouse and canine studies in Dr. Elizabeth Ryan's Toxicology lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2012. Following completion of a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences in 2013, he began working full-time in Dr. Ryan's lab, focusing on metabololomics data from human clinical trials and some work with microbiological studies. He joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2016 and completed his fall research rotation in Dr. James Roede's lab working on a project to characterize compartmental redox status in down syndrome fibroblasts compared to normal human cells. He hopes to continue extensive research in oxidative stress in several disease models to elucidate mechanisms of carcinogenesis.
Chen, Lan Lan Chen graduated with a Bachelor degree from Wuhan University with a major in biopharmaceutics in 2015. She studied the mechanisms of inhibiting angiogenesis there. Then she went to University of Denver and studied neuroendocrine related diseases for three years. She joined AMC toxicology program in Aug. 2018, and now she's mainly studying MHC II antigen presentation to TCR on pathologic T cells in hypersensitivity in Dr. Dai's lab.
Cruz-Hernandez, Angela Angela Cruz-Hernandez is Florida native of Dominican descent. She earned her Bachelors in Biochemistry from Florida International University in Miami, Fl in 2013. She then moved to West Lafayette, Indiana where she did her MSc at Purdue University. At Purdue, she worked under Dr. Jason Cannon where she studied how dietary factors affect Parkinson’s disease and successfully defended her thesis on “Comparative Dopaminergic Neurotoxicity of Heterocyclic Amines in Primary Midbrain Cultures”. In Fall 2017, she joined the Toxicology program at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Colorado. She currently works for Dr. Jared Brown investigating the effects of vesicating agents such as mustard gas and how the molecular mechanism of mast cells contributes to Gulf War Illness.
Esquer, Hector Hector Esquer is a native of Valverde, Dominican Republic. He earned his Bachelor in Biology (Cellular & Molecular Emphasis) from Utah State University in 2015. He obtained a Master’s degree in Toxicology in 2017 also from Utah State University. His research was focused on novel Flavonol-based Carbon Monoxide Releasing Molecules and their delivery to the mitochondria under the mentorship of Dr. Abby Benninghoff and Dr. Lisa Berreau.
Gao, Rachel Rachel Gao graduated in 2014 from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. She previously gained toxicology research experience working under Dr. Pal Pacher at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) from 2008 to 2010. She demonstrated that co-incubation with Resveratrol was able to ameliorate azidothymidine (AZT)-induced cardiotoxicity by reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress generation, caspase activation and cell death. From 2010 to 2012, she continued to do research in a developmental genetics lab under the supervision of Dr. Yingzi Yang, at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). She contributed to the discovery that molecular signal, Wnt, may help signal progenitor cells into osteoblasts or chondrocytes. Rachel joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2016 under the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Ju. Her current research focuses on macrophage derived Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) and its role in acetaminophen induced acute liver injury.
Hari, Ashwini Ashwini Sri Hari, a native of Tamil Nadu, India, completed her B.S. in Biotechnology from Anna University in 2012. For her undergrad dissertation, she worked on designing DNA barcodes for the rapid identification of leather products. She then earned her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from BITS, Pilani in 2014 where she worked on assessing the toxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in earthworms. Driven by her interest to understand how oxidative stress can influence a spectrum of disease states, she applied to the Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Anschutz Medical campus to pursue her PhD in Toxicology in 2015. Ashwini joined Dr. Manisha Patel’s lab in 2016. Currently, she is investigating the correlation between neuroinflammation and oxidative stress and how they contribute to the generation of recurrent, spontaneous seizures in the epileptic population.
Mendoza, Ryan Ryan is investigating novel non-IgE mediated pathways of mast cell activation following nanoparticle exposure. In addition, Ryan is working to understand how the biocorona formed on engineered nanomaterials impacts immune responses.
Prutton, Kendra Kendra Prutton graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2016 with a BS in Biology and a Certificate in Environmental Science. While at FAU, Kendra worked at a metabolic medicine and toxicology lab, analyzing blood, urine, and saliva samples for physicians and drug rehabilitation centers in South Florida. She then earned her Master’s degree in Forensic Chemistry from Penn State in 2018, where she worked on developing analytical methods for novel performance enhancing drugs and analyzing anabolic androgenic steroids in wastewater samples. Kendra joined the Toxicology PhD program in August 2018 and is currently completing research rotations.
Rogers, Keegan Keegan Rogers was born and raised in the Denver metro area. He attended Hofstra University in New York, graduating with his B.S. in biochemistry. While in his undergrad, Keegan worked in analyzing compositions of various e-cigarette fluids. Following graduation, Keegan joined the Brown lab at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical campus where he began work on various projects across a diverse field of subjects. The work he does includes: building designer viruses as a new oncological immunotherapeutic, exploring an unknown etiology in kidney disease which afflicts many individuals across the globe, interrogating mechanisms of immunological damage by novel rare earth metal oxide materials, examining the extent of which different e-cigarette fluid compositions effect immune function, and determining if air pollution and other environmental factors contribute to clinical immunotherapeutic outcomes in cancer patients.
Sonn, Brandon Brandon Sonn was born and attended high school in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Colorado State University in 2005 with a B.S. in Microbiology. After graduation, he worked at Colorado State University in their Veterinary Teaching Hospital specifically in the Critical Care Unit educating veterinary students. During this time, he obtained his license as a veterinary technician and became board specialized in Emergency and Critical Care medicine. In 2014, he graduated from Colorado State University with a M.S. in Toxicology. After graduation, he worked at Front Range Community College as Adjunct Faculty teaching the Emergency and Critical Care medicine as well as part of the Anesthesiology courses for veterinary technicians. Brandon started in the PhD program in fall 2017 is very interested in personalized medicine and is completing his rotations to further that knowledge.
Tilden, Scott Scott Tilden is a Colorado native from Golden. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a BA in Biochemistry and a BA in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology. After graduation, Scott worked at CU Boulder for four years in the Maier/Watkins Neuroscience Laboratory and the Hough Biochemical and Biophysical Laboratory. Scott started at Anschutz in fall 2018 and is currently working with Dr. Tom Anchordoquy. Scott’s main interest is investigating how to manipulate endothelial permeability to reduce off-target toxicity and accumulation of nanomedicines. He and Dr. Anchordoquy are also working with a local epilepsy research company to develop novel formulation of anticonvulsant pharmaceuticals to be used in clinical trials.
Tooker, Brian Brian Tooker received his B.S. in Microbiology in 2000 and his M.S. in Animal Science in 2003, both from Michigan State University where he worked on Johne’s disease in dairy cattle. Brian went on to run a classical swine nutrition laboratory at Iowa State University from 2004-2005 where he was integral to initiating a more molecular approach to food animal nutrition, utilizing functional genomics and porcine specific microarrays. Following his time at Iowa State, Brian accepted an offer to work at National Jewish Health in the laboratory of Dr. Lee Newman. Brian left National Jewish along with Dr. Newman shortly thereafter and accepted the position of Sr. Professional Researcher / Laboratory Manager for Dr. Newman at the University of Colorado Denver back when it was still called the Health Sciences Center. After researching the T cell mediated occupational disease, Chronic Beryllium Disease, for nearly 10 years, Brian joined the Molecular Biology Program at CU Denver in the fall of 2015. Following the successful completion of his first year, Brain joined the laboratory of Dr. Nichole Reisdorph and transferred into the Toxicology Program at the beginning of fall semester 2016. Brian is currently interested in learning how polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons differentially drive metabolome alterations in different immunologically relevant cell types such as professional antigen presenting cells and T cells.
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