Project Leaders

Nukhet Aykin-Burns picture

Nukhet Aykin-Burns. Ph.D.

Project-1: The Role of Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) Bioavailability in Radiation-induced Skin Injury.

The overall goal of the project is to elucidate the underlying mechanisms in dermal radiation toxicity. She will test the innovative hypothesis that radiation-induced deficiency of the electron carrier and enzyme co-factor tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) causes mitochondrial dysfunction and contributes to skin injury.

Dr. Aykin-Burns received her doctoral degree from University of Missouri-Rolla, Rolla, MO in 2002. After completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa, Iowa City in 2007, she joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as a faculty member in 2011. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy.

Dr. Aykin-Burns’s Mentors

Lee Ann MacMillan- Crow, PhD, is program director of the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Ph.D. Program and a standing member on the Surgery, Anesthesiology, and Trauma Study Section at NIH. In addition, her research is examining the therapeutic potential of several agents to block renal mitochondrial injury during warm and cold ischemia, using rat, porcine, and a human model of transplantation.

Dr. Aykin-Burns’s Staff and Students
Research Associate:  Dr. Kimberly J. Krager
Postdoctoral fellow:  Dr. Gwendolyn S. Carter

Graduate Student:  Francesca Lobianco

Antiño R. Allen. Ph.D.

Project-2: Activation of the Nrf2 Pathway to Ameliorate Normal Tissue Damage and Cognitive Decline after Cancer Treatment.

The overall goal of the project is to determine if Nrf2 contributes to the protective effect of MnBuOE toward AC-T induced brain injury.  He will quantify the ability of MnBuOE treatment to reduce hippocampal microvascular damage and to ameliorate Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide and Paclitaxel (AC-T) -induced inhibition of neurogenesis.

Dr. Allen received his Ph.D. degree in Evolution, Ecology & Behavior from Indiana University Bloomington in 2010. He received postdoctoral training at the Brain and Spinal Injury Center, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California San Francisco. Dr. Allen is Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), member of the College of Pharmacy Division of Radiation Health.

Dr. Allen’s Mentor: Edgar Garcia-Rill, Ph.D.

Dr. Garcia-Rill (Ph.D.) is Director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience, a division of the Department of Neurobiology & Dev. Sci. and research arm of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neuroscience Institute, at which novel treatments for the treatment of spinal cord injury are being developed under the Spinal Cord Injury Mobilization Program. His laboratory is engaged in the investigations of 1) Disorders of the Reticular Activating Systsem (RAS), including schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, and sleep disorders, and 2) Disorders of motor control, including Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and Spinal Cord Injury.

Dr. Allen’s Staff and Students

Jing Wang (Research Assistant)

Thomas Groves (Graduate student)

Tyler Alexander (Graduate student)

Julie Anderson (Graduate Student)

Frederico Kiffer (Graduate Student)

Taylor McElroy (Graduate Student)


Igor Koturbash, M.D., Ph.D.

Project-3: Epigenetic Alterations Caused by Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation

The overall goal of this project is to investigate the epigenetic changes induced by radiation. The project relates particularly to secondary radiation-induced cancers. Dr. Koturbash will determine the extent to which low-dose radiation induces specific epigenetic alterations in hematopoietic stem cells; whether DNA methylation profiles in hematopoietic stem cells determine their response to radiation; and whether modifying DNA methylation profiles in hematopoietic stem cells alter their radiation response.

Dr. Koturbash received his M.D. from the State Medical University in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine (2001), and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Lethbridge, Canada (2008). He completed his training as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Research Fellow at the National Center for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration (Jefferson, AR). He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Little Rock, AR).

Dr. Koturbash’s Mentors

Alan J. Tackett Ph.D. is a Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Department of Pathology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He has extensive experience in proteomics, epigenetic technology development, and melanoma cancer biology. His laboratory uses cutting-edge proteomic and biochemical tools to understand how chromatin-associated protein complexes regulate chromosome structure and thereby influence cellular mechanisms like gene transcription.

Dr. Koturbash’s Staff and Students

Isabelle R. Miousse, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Charles Skinner – Research Associate

Rupak Pathak, Ph.D.

Project-4: Role of KLF2 in Regulating Intestinal Radiation Toxicity

The overall goal of this project is to investigate the mechanisms underlying the function of the transcription factor KLF2 with the specific goal of developing future alternate therapeutic approaches by modulating KLF2 and its downstream targets for the prevention and/or treatment of intestinal damage caused by abdomino-pelvic radiotherapy.

Dr. Pathak received his Ph.D. in Radiation Biology from Kalyani University (Kalyani, West Bengal, India). He served as Assistant Professor in the Radiobiology Department of Manipal University (Manipal, Mangalore, Karnataka, India). He received postdoctoral training at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (Bethesda, MD, USA). Dr. Pathak is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy, UAMS.

 Dr. Pathak’s Mentor: Dr. Jerry Ware, Ph.D.

Dr. Ware’s laboratory studies fundamental aspects of platelet biology to elucidate their role of in hemostasis, thrombosis and in the development of cardiovascular disease. Since platelets are anucleate fragments of cytoplasm, in vivo models are used based on the hypothesis that the unique cellular characteristics of megakaryocytes and platelets require the correct in vivo environment for meaningful assessment of biological properties. Currently, we are characterizing variants of the human glycoprotein Ib receptor expressed on the surface of circulating mouse platelets. Methodologies include the generation of transgenic and gene-targeted deletions in the mouse genome. These studies are defining the molecular mechanisms controlling normal platelet generation and the role of specific platelet receptors in disease.

 Dr. Pathak’s Staff and Students

Ratan Sadhukhan, Ph.D. (postdoc)

Ms. Regina Lichti Binz, (Research tech)