Geurts Lab

Aron Geurts, PhD Aron Geurts, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Geurts is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, Cardiovascular Research Center and Human and Molecular Genetics Center. He leads an NIH-funded research team focused on innovating novel approaches to genetic engineering and creating animal and cell models of complex genetic human diseases. He is a recipient of a prestigious New Innovator award from the Office of the Director of the NIH.

Michael Grzybowski, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Michael Grzybowski

Laboratory Supervisor

My role in Dr. Aron Geurts' lab is to help facilitate the creation of genetically modified models. I design nuclease reagents that are then created and validated in the Geurts lab that will be used to create these modifications. I am also responsible for the day to day operations in the lab. My research interests are mainly molecular biology and technology and how to create and develop animal models.

Michael Harrison, MD, PhD, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Michael Harrison, MD, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

My current projects in the Geurts Lab are using gene-editing technologies to develop the first tissue-specific, conditional gene knockout rat. This project will not only serve as a blueprint for a new generation of sophisticated animal models of disease, but will also be a useful model for understanding cardiovascular disease. My other project involves the creation and testing of new molecules based on zinc-finger and TAL Effector proteins that can target and methylate CpG dinucleotides in specific regions of the genome. The ability to alter the epigenome of target organisms can greatly enhance our understanding of this disease-related mechanism. My main interests are in the field of hypertension, the genetics of complex disease, the development of animal models, and how epigenetics relates to disease.

Akiko Takizawa, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Akiko Takizawa

Research Scientist I

My research interests are related to reproductive biology in rats. I am especially interested in assisted reproductive technology such as cryopreservation of gametes and zygotes, re-derivation and embryo manipulation. These technologies are reliable methods to preserve strains which were generated using new gene modification technologies such as Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFNs) and TAL Effector Nucleases (TALENs), to avoid breeding problems. I am also interested in the development of more effective sperm cryopreservation and nuclear transfer technology.

Jason Klotz, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Jason Klotz

Research Technologist III

Under Dr. Geurts I help coordinate the business conducted in the Rat Transgenic Service Center. I also perform micro-injections and sperm cryopreservation for the Service Center.

Judy Kuo, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Chieh-Ti (Judy) Kuo

Research Associate I

I have backgrounds in animal science and physiology. My main research interests are in genetics, stem cells, and cancer research. My primary roles at Dr. Geurts' lab are to perform experiments, collect and analyze data, and apply experimental techniques to support various projects. My current research project uses TAL Effector Nucleases (TALENs) and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs) to make gene modifications or edits to generate gene-targeted rat models for research projects.

Elizabeth Schneider, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Elizabeth Schneider

Research Technologist I

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, with a degree in Biology. I take care of all the animal work for the Geurts Lab. I set up breeders, collect tissues, and inject hormones, working with both rats and mice.

Bradley Endres, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Bradley Endres

Graduate Student

As a graduate student in Dr. Aron Geurts' lab, my research has been driven by the application of gene engineering technology to study the involvement of genes in complex diseases. Over the past few years, I have been investigating the contribution of a GWAS-nominated gene to the pathogenesis of salt-sensitive hypertension by mutating the gene in our salt-sensitive hypertensive rat model by zinc-finger nuclease mutagenesis. Using our mutant rat-model, our goal has been to elucidate the functional mechanisms leading to hypertension and translate our findings in order to better understand and treat hypertension.

Shauna Rasmussen, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Shauna Rasmussen

Graduate Student

I am a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I earned a BS in Pharmacology & Toxicology with a second major in Biology. I joined the MCW Physiology Graduate's program in the summer of 2012, and the Basic and Translational Science PhD program in the summer of 2013. I am a third year graduate student in the laboratory of Aron Geurts. Upon my completion of these programs, I hope to find a post-doctoral position that will further advance my knowledge and skills within the field of physiology. Subsequently, I would like to return to academia and obtain a part-time research and teaching position. This will allow me to continue my passion for research while influencing the next generation of scientists.

Christopher McDermott-Roe, MCW CVC Geurts Lab Christopher McDermott-Roe

Postdoctoral Fellow

My research focuses on the mitochondrion and how disturbances therein contribute to disease. These near ubiquitous, abundant organelles carry out essential cellular functions including ATP production, amino acid biosynthesis and ion trafficking, and have been linked to numerous monogenic and complex traits. I employ classic molecular and cellular biology methods in conjunction with unbiased predictive approaches, such as gene co-expression network analysis to investigate key aspects of mitochondrial physiology, particularly in the context of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Current themes include:

  • defining novel regulators and executors of metabolic processes,
  • identifying hitherto unrecognized disease-relevant members of the mitochondrial proteome, and
  • manipulating mitochondrial processes via metabolic intervention as a means to mitigate pathological processes.

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