Research Investigators

John A. Arnott, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9066


Interests: Mechanisms that control bone formation and skeletogenesis

David B. Averill, PhD

Phone: 570-207-3680


Interests: Cardiovascular disease

Michael Bordonaro, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9646


Interests: Colorectal cancer, gene therapy, adaptive mutation in cancer, Wnt signaling in colorectal cancer and human aging

Carmine Cerra, MD

Phone: 570-955-1316


Interests: Cancer biology

Youngjin Cho, PhD

Phone: 570-687-9717


Interests: Regulation of bone formation, regulation of adipogenesis and obesity (physiological role of Src family kinases and their adaptor proteins in bone formation, adipogenesis and lipogenesis), animal model of bone formation and adipogenesis

Jess Cunnick, PhD

Phone: 570-955-1311


Interests: Actin cytoskeleton and associated proteins

Raj Kumar, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9675


Interests: Structure: function studies of the steroid hormone receptors

Darina Lazarova, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9645


Interests: Molecular biology of cancer

Jun Ling, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9644


Interests: Regulation of cancer development by signal transduction, mRNA translation and gene transcription

Pamela Lucchesi, PhD, FAHA

Phone: 570-504-9658


Interests: Cardiovascular disease

William McLaughlin, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9633


Interests: Structural bioinformatics, translational bioinformatics

Brian J. Piper, PhD, MS

Phone: 570-558-4264


Interests: Psychopharmacology, pharmacoepidemiology, behavioral neurology methods development and medical ethics

Sonia Lobo Planey, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9629


Interests: Dr. Planey's research interests are primarily in signal transduction and cancer biology. She has spent the last few years studying protein palmitoylation and developing a proteomic method to identify substrates of palmitoyl acyl transferases (PATs) — the enzymes that mediate palmitoylation. Despite their recent discovery (2002), many PATs have already been linked to human disease. One compelling example is the association of ZDHHC2 with cancer. ZDHHC2 encodes the PAT, DHHC2, and is deleted in many types of cancer. Its absence in cells is highly correlated with metastasis; therefore, investigating the function of this gene in established cancer cell lines will allow Dr. Planey to better understand its role in preventing metastasis. DHHC2 modifies specific cellular proteins with a small, regulatory lipid called palmitate. One substrate of this enzyme is CKAP4/p63 which is a cell-surface receptor for antiproliferative factor (APF) — a small molecule that is thought to cause a painful, chronic bladder disorder called interstitial cystitis. The signaling networks under the control of the ZDHHC2 gene are important to cancer and bladder disease and are the current focus of Dr. Planey's research.

Gregory A. Shanower, PhD

Phone: 570-504-9670


Interests: Epigenetic gene regulation in Drosophila melanogaster

Ying-Ju Sung, PhD

Phone: 570-687-9716


Interests: Identification of signals and genes expressed during the cascade of events resulting from nerve injury or inflammation to primary sensory neurons.

John L. Szarek, PhD, CHSE

Phone: 570-955-1322


Interests: Technology in medical education and students' emotions during learning

Gabi N. Waite, PhD

Phone: 570-955-1329


Interests: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a cardiology assessment derived from inexpensive electrocardiograms (ECG). It indicates the physiological state of the autonomic nervous system, which monitors and regulates the health of most body organs. In retrospective studies, it has been shown that Convolutional Neural Networks can evaluate HRV to accurately diagnose a variety of human diseases and hence potentially lead to vastly improved and less costly healthcare. In prospective studies, HRV has been used for cardiovascular risk assessment and as health indicator for a variety of other diseases. However, HRV has not yet attained its clinical potential. Dr. Waite’s research employs a new Big Data platform to extract HRV from dis-structured archived ECGs and will apply Deep Learning based algorithms to determine a prognostic relationship between HRV and health. In the Human Performance Laboratory at Geisinger Commonwealth, studies are ongoing to determine clinically meaningful physiological HRV states and to better understand rhythmic HRV events. This knowledge is applied to clinical community studies, in order to develop HRV into a potent monitor of disease, of patient compliance to therapeutic instructions, and of lifestyle factors, all of which strongly influence HRV.