Speakers & Organizers – Michigan Tissue Barriers Biology Group

Speakers & Organizers

External Speakers

Alexa L. Mattheyses, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology; Dermatology; Director High Resolution Imaging Facility (HRIF) Microscopy Core, University of Alabama Birmingham


Alexa Mattheyses received her B.A. in physics from Smith College in 2000. In 2005 she earned her Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Daniel Axelrod. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Institut Pasteur and Rockefeller University. Following her postdoc, Dr. Mattheyses joined the faculty of Emory University where she became Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and co-Director of the Integrated Cellular Imaging microscopy core facility. In 2017, Dr. Mattheyses moved her research program to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology and the Director of the High Resolution Imaging Facility. Dr. Mattheyses is also faculty in the analytical and quantitative light microscopy course (AQLM) at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA. Her research interests are to develop and apply novel optical microscopy techniques with the goal of providing a mechanistic understanding of the dynamics and function of macromolecular complexes in cellular communication and thereby providing insight into the cellular basis for human health and disease. Dr. Mattheyses is a 2016 NSF CAREER award recipient and her research is also funded by NIAMS and NIGMS.

Xufeng Wu, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, Light Microscopy Imaging Facility, NIH-NHLBI


Xufeng Wu received her B.S. in Physics in Shanghai China and her Ph.D. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University. As a Deputy Director of the Light Microscopy Core at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Dr. Wu oversees all Core activities in Building 50. Her core provides state-of-the-art microscopes, user training, experimental design, and image processing capabilities to assist investigators in experiments involving light microscopy. Dr. Wu’s research revolves around her long-term interest in studying the cellular functions of myosin motors using optical methods. The scientific insights and optical expertise gained by conducting these studies enables her to effectively advise other researchers and to facilitate their research by guiding them to the imaging modalities that are optical for their studies. In addition to working on important cell biological questions, Dr. Wu has led efforts to build and/or modify microscopes to meet the needs of specific research projects. Given the fast pace of light microscope development, she strives to provide her core with cutting edge imaging technology. These efforts include promoting cell biological studies using several “turn-key” super resolution instruments in NHLBI, as well as extensive collaborations with premier imaging developers like Eric Betzig at Janelia Farm/HHMI. In addition, Dr. Wu initiated an annual NIH Super Resolution Imaging Workshop to teach and promote super resolution imaging technology that is in its fifth iteration.

Internal Speakers and Organizing Committee Members

Anuska Andjelkovic, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pathology; Research Associate Professor of Neurosurgery


Dr. Andjelkovic received her M.D. from University of Nis Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia/Serbia) in 1990 and completed graduate studies at University Belgrade Serbia, receiving a M.Sci in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 1999. From 1996 to 2001, Dr. Andjelkovic completed her postdoctoral training at University of Connecticut. In 2001, Dr Andjelkovic joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Research Professor, and in March 2005 she joined the faculty of the Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, as an Assistant Professor-tenure track. In 2012, she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Pathology (with tenure) and Associate Research Professor of Neurosurgery. Dr. Anuska Andjelkovic’s research is focused on molecular mechanisms of cerebrovascular diseases. She is the recipient of several NIH grant awards, as well as American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association awards. She is a member of the Molecular and Cellular Pathology and Neuroscience graduate programs at the University of Michigan.

David Antonetti, Ph.D.

Roger W. Kittendorf Research Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology


Dr. Antonetti received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at The Penn State College of Medicine under the direction of Dr. Leonard Jim Jefferson and was a post-doctoral fellow in Cellular and Molecular Physiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School under the direction of Dr. C. Ronald Kahn. Upon returning to Penn State, he was one of the first to bring high-level signal transduction expertise to the problem of diabetic retinopathy and the blood-retinal barrier. Over the last 20 years, he has become one of the world’s leading experts in mechanisms of vascular permeability in diabetic retinopathy, the role of the blood retinal barrier in normal physiology, and the molecular mechanisms that underlie angiogenesis and neovascularization. These efforts have allowed him to develop new experimental treatments that show promising pre-clinical results. He has received awards including the Jules Francois Prize for Young Investigator at Ophthalmologia Beligica, the Hinkle Society Mid-career Translational Research Award, the Most Inspirational Teacher Award for graduate education at Penn State, and the Jules and Doris Stein Professorship from Research to Prevent Blindness. Currently, Dr. Antonetti is the Roger W. Kittendorf Research Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. His work has been noted by presentations at key meetings such as the American Diabetes Association, the International Symposium of the Blood-Brain Barrier, Gordon Research Conferences, and the International Symposium on Signal Transduction at the Blood-Brain and Blood-Retina Barriers. His research program’s translational impact has been recognized by clinicians through his presentations such as the American Uveitis Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the ARVO Vision Innovation and Venture forum.

Ann L. Miller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology


Ann Miller earned a B.A. in Biochemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College. She completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Yale University in Tony Koleske’s Lab and her Postdoc in Cell Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Bill Bement’s Lab. Her predoctoral work was funded by an NIH NRSA, and her postdoctoral work was funded by American Cancer Society and Helen Hay Whitney fellowships as well as a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Grant. Ann was recruited to the University of Michigan in 2011 as an Assistant Professor, and she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018. Research from the Miller Lab, which is funded by grants from the NIH and the NSF, has contributed to our understanding of how adhesion and barrier function are maintained and remodeled during cell shape change events in epithelia. Using Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) embryos as a vertebrate model system, Miller’s group has revealed new information about how the small GTPases RhoA orchestrates the actin cytoskeletal dynamics responsible for epithelial cytokinesis and junction remodeling. Dr. Miller has been recognized for her research, teaching, and mentoring efforts with awards such as: University of Michigan Biological Sciences Scholar (2010), Vice-Chair (2018) / Chair (2020) of the Signaling by Adhesion Receptors Gordon Research Conference, Keynote Speaker at the Xenopus Resources and Emerging Technologies Meeting (2019), Exceptional Mentor of the Year Award from the University of Michigan Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (2017), Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award from the University of Michigan College of Literature Science and the Arts (2018).

Asma Nusrat, M.D.

Peyton Rous Professor and Director of Experimental Pathology in the Department of Pathology


After finishing residency training in Anatomic Pathology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)/Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nusrat completed a fellowship in Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary pathology, as well as a research fellowship in epithelial pathobiology at the same institution. While at BWH, she began investigating fundamental mechanisms of epithelial barrier regulation and wound repair. She remained at BWH as a faculty from 1992-1997, after which she was recruited to Emory University, where she rose to the rank of full Professor. In 2015 she was recruited to the University of Michigan Medical School where she is currently the F. Peyton Rous Professor and Director of Experimental Pathology in the Department of Pathology. Dr. Nusrat’s research has focused on investigating mechanisms that orchestrate epithelial barrier regulation, mucosal homeostasis and repair in inflammatory disorders. Her group is exploring molecular mechanisms by which inflammatory mediators alter intercellular junction protein complexes and epithelial barrier function. In addition, ongoing studies are elucidating the influence of inflammatory and pro-resolution mediator signaling on epithelial homeostasis, wound repair and restoration of barrier function. Signaling down-stream of G-protein coupled receptors including formyl peptide receptors in response to protein and lipid pro-resolution ligands that coordinate intestinal mucosal wound repair are being investigated. She has published more than 150 scientific manuscripts, many in high profile journals such as J Clin Invest, Proc Nat Acad Sci, J Exp Med, Immunity, Mucosal Immunology, Gastroenterology, and Mol Biol Cell, and is a regularly invited speaker at international symposia related to her field. Dr. Nusrat is also a practicing Gastrointestinal and Liver Pathologist and has contributed to mentoring and teaching graduate and medical students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. She is an Associate Editor for Molecular Biology of the Cell and Gastroenterology and was the 2018 President of the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

Nils G. Walter, Ph.D.

Francis S. Collins Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Biophysics, and Biological Chemistry


Nils G. Walter is currently the Francis S. Collins Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Biophysics, and Biological Chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He founded and currently directs the unique Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART) Center, as well as cofounded and currently codirects the Center for RNA Biomedicine at Michigan. He started his career by receiving his “Vordiplom” (B.S.) and “Diploma” (Masters) from the Technical University of Darmstadt after performing research with Hans-Günther Gassen on the physiochemical characterization of a protein dehyrogenase enzyme. He earned his Dr. Ing. while studying molecular in vitro evolution of DNA and RNA using fluorescence techniques with Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen. For his postdoctoral studies, he turned to RNA enzymes under the guidance of John M. Burke at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. His research interests focus on noncoding RNA through the lens of single molecule techniques. Based on this work, he received the Otto-Hahn medal for Outstanding Researchers of the Max-Planck Society (1995), a Feodor-Lynen Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (1995), a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2004), was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2011), received the Faculty Recognition (2013) and Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards (2015) from the University of Michigan, and became the first RNA Society Mid-Career Award recipient (2017).

Managers/Directors of University of Michigan Core Microscopy Facilities

Damon Hoff, Ph.D.

Manager, SMART Center

Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART) Center
Super-resolution microscope: Customer-assisted single particle localization and tracking microscopy
Chemistry Building, Rm 3080: 734-763-5449

Damon Hoff manages the Center for Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART Center), a shared use facility housed in the Department of Biophysics at the University of Michigan that offers a suite of single-molecule microscopes and analysis tools. He obtained his B.S.E. in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Duke University, and continued his studies at the University of Michigan, obtaining his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, developing optical tools for manipulation of biomolecules, including nanoscale ultrafast laser ablation and optical tweezers. After a brief post-doc developing a point-of-care optical biosensor platform, he joined the SMART Center, where he manages the day-to-day activities and facilitates user training, experimental planning, and analysis.

Gregg Sobocinski, B.S.

Manager, MCDB Imaging Labs

MCDB Imaging Labs
Super-resolution microscope: Leica 3D STED
Biological Sciences Building (BSB), Basement imaging suite: 734-615-2034

Gregg comes from a career including nearly 30 years of microscopy with academia and industry, spending time with Wayne State University medical research, Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Global Research & Development, and the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department at the University of Michigan. He holds an active Certification in Biological Science Transmission Electron Microscopy, and an expired Qualification in Immunohistochemistry. As the Managing Director of the Microscope Imaging Suite at the new Biological Sciences Building, Gregg puts all of his microscopy skills and experience to work assisting research productivity.

Aaron Taylor, Ph.D.

Managing Director, Biomedical Research Microscopy Core Facility

Biomedical Research Microscopy Core FacilityRates
Super-resolution microscopes: Nikon SIM, expansion microscopy, Leica 1X STED
Biomedical Sciences Research Building (BSRB), Rm A830: 734-763-1170
North Campus Research Complex Building 20 (NCRC), Rm 53S: 734-763-0703
Medical Sciences II (Med Sci II), Rm 5631: 734-647-8251

Aaron’s major areas of expertise are cell and developmental biology, light microscopy, and image analysis. He comes to Michigan from Janelia Farms Research Campus, where he worked as an Advanced Application Scientist. Aaron received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brown University and has publications in the areas of neuronal cell biology, developmental molecular genetics, and iterative tomographic reconstruction. Prior to joining Janelia, Aaron was the Director of Purdue University’s light microscopy core facility. Aaron is be happy to collaborate on projects that require advanced imaging or custom image analysis.

Financial Support / Logistical Support

University of Michigan Biosciences Initiative

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, LSA

Department of Pathology, Medical School

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences/Kellogg Eye Center, Medical School

Staff Support

Chris Betz Bolang, Chief Administrator, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Diane Durfy, Executive Secretary, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Lisa Dwyer, Post Award Research Manager, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Stephanie Edwards, Administrative Assistant to Dr. Asma Nusrat, Pathology

Suzanne Tainter, Web and Publications, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Wendy Mrdjenovich, Administrative Project Coordinator, Kellogg Eye Center

Jessica Wolking, Web Designer Associate, LSA Technology Services

Trainee Volunteers

Sara Varadarajan and Anny-Claude Luissint – registration, website, and programs

Alyssa Dreffs – poster session

Jen Landino – catering point person for BSB

Miguel Quiros, Andreia Goncalves, Monica Diaz Coranguez, Zack Wilson – breakfasts with speakers

Vicky Garcia-Hernandez, Kevin Börner, Gabriella Martinez-Revollar – registration tables

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