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PhD in Toxicology

Current Students



​Adedoyin, Abraham ​Adedoyin Abraham is a native of Nigeria. Adedoyin graduated from the University of Ilorin with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. He then moved to Colorado and earned his M.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Colorado Denver (Downtown campus) in 2011. He worked as a research assistant in the LaBarbera lab at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus studying the design and synthesis of Neoamphimedine and other novel anti cancer drug candidates. In 2013, Adedoyin joined the Toxicology PhD program at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus. Photo of Toxicology Student
​Aivazidis,
Stefanos
​Stefanos Aivazidis is a native of Serres, Greece. He earned his Bachelor in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from University of Thessaly (Larisa, Greece). Research regarding his bachelor thesis was conducted at the Animal Physiology Lab under Dr. Dimitrios Kouretas and focused on the antioxidant effects of whey, soy and beef proteins in C2C12 muscle cells. He joined the Toxicology PhD program in 2014. He currently works in Dr. James Roede’s lab, trying to identify possible mechanisms involved in medication and environmental toxicity in the vulnerable population of Down Syndrome individuals. Stefanos is also interested in investigating the proteostasis network in Down Syndrome models, hypothesizing that its disruption might serve as an important mechanism of disease that can explain the presence of several comorbidities appearing in this population.​ Photo of Toxicology Student
​Alsaleh, Nasser ​Nasser Alsaleh earned his BSc degree in Pharmacy from the College of Pharmacy at King Saud University (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). He then moved to Canada and did his MSc at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. His main work was focused on understanding the protective mechanisms of epoxyeicosatrienoic acids in myocardial ischemic injury. In Fall 2014, he joined the Toxicology program at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Colorado. In Fall 2015, Nasser joined the Brown lab and he is investigating the molecular mechanisms of mast cell activation in response to engineered nanomaterial exposure. Photo of Toxicology Student
​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 University in Huntsville, TX where he graduated in 2009 with a M.S. 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. Photo of Toxicology Student
​Assiri, Mohammed ​In 2010, Mohammed Assiri graduated from King Saud University (KSU) in Saudi Arabia with a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He worked as a pharmacist in Riyadh Military Hospital. After his time in the hospital, he started working as a teaching assistant in KSU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. During that time, he was working on a project investigating the cardiotoxicity of Gefitinib. In 2014, Mohammed joined the CU toxicology program and did his first lab rotation in Dr. Brown’s lab studying ER stress induced by silver nanoparticles in endothelial cells. After that, Mohammed joined Dr. Fritz’s lab studying Superoxide dismutase 2 post translation modifications. Photo of Toxicology Student
​​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.
Cruz-Hernandez, Angela​




​Dhar, Deepanshi ​Deepanshi Dhar graduated from University of Delhi, India with a BS in Life Sciences followed by MS in Biotechnology. She gained relevant research experience during her tenure at UC Denver in 2012 as a PRA in Dr. Rajesh Agarwal’s lab. The work involved studies on “Nitrogen Mustard induced ocular injuries in rabbit corneas” with respect to the inflammation, angiogenesis and cell death. She joined the PhD Toxicology program at UC Denver in 2013 and assessed the “role of natural agents in cancer chemoprevention”. Her current rotation project is to understand and “target aberrant lipid metabolism in prostate cancer cells under normoxic/hypoxic conditions using nontoxic agents” by incorporating techniques like Western hybridization, Clonogenic assays, and Viability assays.; Photo of Toxicology Student
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. 
​Ponder, Jessica

Rogue-Atilano, Amandla
Amandla Roque Atilano is a native of Denver, Colorado. Amandla graduated from Mills College where she received her B.S. in Chemistry. Amandla joined the Toxicology program in 2012, and works in Dr. Melanie Joy's lab. Her work focuses on the characterization of xenobiotic transporters in human kidney and heart as mediators of HMG-CoA redcuatse inhibitor uptake and efflux and translation to kidney outcomes. Photo of Toxicology Student
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. 






​​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.