Faculty Investigators

HudsonAlpha internationally-renowned faculty members are committed to making impactful discoveries in genomics and genetics that improve health and create a more sustainable world.

  • Richard M. Myers, PhD
    Richard M. Myers, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Devin Absher, PhD
    Devin Absher, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Greg Barsh, MD, PhD
    Greg Barsh, MD, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Josh Clevenger, PhD
    Josh Clevenger, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Nick Cochran, PhD
    Nick Cochran, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Greg Cooper, PhD
    Greg Cooper, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Sara Cooper, PhD
    Sara Cooper, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Jane Grimwood, PhD
    Jane Grimwood, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Jian Han, MD, PhD
    Jian Han, MD, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Alex Harkess, PhD
    Alex Harkess, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Neil Lamb, PhD
    Neil Lamb, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Shawn Levy, PhD
    Shawn Levy, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Thomas May, PhD
    Thomas May, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
  • Jeremy Schmutz
    Jeremy Schmutz
    Faculty Investigator
  • Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD
    Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD
    Faculty Investigator
Richard M. Myers, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of California Berkeley

Genomic and genetic analysis of human traits and diseases.

Richard M. Myers, PhD, President and Science Director and M. A. Loya Chair in Genomics at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. The Myers lab focuses on applying functional genomics and genetics approaches to understanding how genes and regulatory regions contribute to basic biology, human disease, responses to the environment and population genetics.

Devin Absher, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Emory University

Epigenomic analysis of complex human traits and diseases

Devin Absher, PhD, uses the epigenome to study complex diseases and traits, especially autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer and aging.

Greg Barsh, MD, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

M.D. and Ph.D. in pathology, University of Washington, Seattle

Genetic architecture of morphologic variation

Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, Smith Family Chair in Genomics at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, studies the genetic mechanisms that underlie differences in individual appearance and that could give new insight into both basic biology and human disease.

Josh Clevenger, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

PhD in Plant Breeding, Genetics, & Genomics, University of Georgia

Using genomics for crop improvement

Josh Clevenger, PhD, focuses on using genomics for crop improvement, especially crops in the southeast and Alabama.

Nick Cochran, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

PhD in Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Genomic approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease and other dementias.

Nick Cochran, PhD, focuses on genomic approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease and other dementias, with an end goal to improve the lives of those affected by neurodegenerative diseases.

Greg Cooper, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Genetics, Stanford University

Human Genetics and Genomics

Greg Cooper, PhD, researches the structures, functions and evolutionary histories of human genomes, with an emphasis on applying genomic approaches to study human disease.

Sara Cooper, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Genetics, Stanford University

Metabolomics

Sara Cooper, PhD, focuses on combining metabolomics with genomics and applying that data to pancreatic and ovarian cancer.  

Jane Grimwood, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Microbiology, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Genomic resource development for plants

Jane Grimwood, PhD, co-directs the Genome Sequencing Center at HudsonAlpha, managing one of the few centers in the world that produces, analyzes, and interprets genomic data on economically important plant species to improve crop breeding and other agricultural practices. In 2022, she was named Loretta Purdy Spencer Chair in Genomics.

Jian Han, MD, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

M.D., SuZhou Medical College, China; Ph.D. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Technology development to advance medical science

Jian Han, MD, PhD, focuses on developing integrated solutions for molecular differential diagnosis and mapping the personalized immunorepertoire.

Alex Harkess, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Alex Harkess

Visit Website

PhD in Plant Biology, University of Georgia

Plant Reproductive, Evolutionary, and Comparative Genomics

Alex Harkess , PhD studies plant reproductive, evolutionary, and comparative genomics. His research has focused on the evolution and function of small RNA pathways, the evolution of sex chromosomes in plants, and broad-scale comparative genomics.

Neil Lamb, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Neil Lamb

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology, Emory University

Educational outreach relating to genetics, genomics and biotechnology

Neil Lamb, PhD, oversees all educational programming developed at HudsonAlpha as vice president for educational outreach. Lamb creates innovative teacher training, student experiences, public enrichment, classroom kits and digital resources that re-shape how science education is delivered.

Shawn Levy, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Emory University

Technology development and automation, informatics, genomic variation

Shawn Levy, PhD, uses high performance genotyping and sequencing technologies to support projects from plant and animal phylogenetic studies to translational and clinical based projects at the Genomic Services Laboratory and the Clinical Services Laboratory.

Thomas May, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

PhD in Philosophy, Bowling Green State University

How genetics can address adoptees’ lack of family health history
Thomas May, PhD, is interested in the intersection of medicine; public health; and moral, social and political philosophy, with a special interest in autonomy and healthcare.

Jeremy Schmutz
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

B.S. in computer science, B.S. in biology, North Central College

Whole genome sequencing and assembly, population genomics

Jeremy Schmutz co-directs the Genome Sequencing Center at HudsonAlpha, managing one of the few centers in the world that produces, analyzes and interprets genomic data on economically important plant and organism species to improve crop breeding and other agricultural practices.

Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD
Faculty Investigator

Visit Website

PhD in Biology, Dartmouth College

Understanding the role of the rhizome in resource reallocation and perenniality.

Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD, studies the role of the rhizome in nutrient storage and reproduction in plants. She is interested in how perennial plants remobilize nutrients year after year.

Adjunct Faculty

  • Pankaj Arora, MD, FAHA, FASE
    Pankaj Arora, MD, FAHA, FASE
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Jeremy Day, PhD
    Jeremy Day, PhD
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Zechen Chong, PhD
    Zechen Chong, PhD
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Anindya Dutta, PhD, MBBS
    Anindya Dutta, PhD, MBBS
    Adjunct at University of Virginia
  • Anna C. E. Hurst, MD, MS
    Anna C. E. Hurst, MD, MS
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Bruce R. Korf, MD, PhD
    Bruce R. Korf, MD, PhD
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Akinyemi I. Ojesina, MD, PhD
    Akinyemi I. Ojesina, MD, PhD
    Adjunct Faculty with UAB
  • Xu Wang, PhD
    Xu Wang, PhD
    Adjunct Faculty with Auburn University
Pankaj Arora, MD, FAHA, FASE
Adjunct Faculty with UAB

MD, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, India

Cardiovascular genomics; heart failure; cardiometabolic diseases; natriuretic peptides; microRNAs; inherited heart disease; cardiovascular imaging

Pankaj Arora, MD, FAHA, FASE, completed his MD at Manipal University in India. He received his postdoctoral training in complex-trait genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He subsequently completed his clinical cardiology fellowship training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Arora is an Associate Professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease, Department of Medicine, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He also serves as the Director of Clinical and Translational Research in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease and the Director of the Cardiovascular Genomics Clinic at UAB. Dr. Arora’s research program supported by multiple intramural and extramural grants is focused on the genetic determinants of natriuretic peptide levels, mechanistic clinical trials, and genotype-directed physiologic studies. Dr. Arora’s laboratory is working with HudsonAlpha faculty investigator Dr. Devin Absher to dissect the molecular mechanisms behind deficiency in circulating natriuretic peptide levels and its role in the development of cardiometabolic diseases. He is also leveraging the whole genome sequence data in large population-based studies to identify novel genetic determinants regulating the natriuretic peptide signaling pathway. Dr. Arora’s long-term goal is to translate genetic discoveries into an improved understanding of human physiology through clinically-focused patient-oriented research.

Jeremy Day, PhD
Adjunct Faculty with UAB

PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Genetic and epigenetic regulation of neuronal function and the role of gene regulation mechanisms in cognitive and neuropsychiatric disease states

Jeremy Day, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Day received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UAB in the Department of Neurobiology. He joined the neurobiology faculty at UAB in 2014, where his lab investigates the neurobiology of reward-related memory systems in the brain and the role of these circuits in drug addiction. His research integrates molecular, physiological, behavioral, genetic and epigenetic tools to understand how experience alters the brain and how those changes drive future behaviors. Currently his lab is harnessing whole genome sequencing technology and genome editing tools to define how epigenetic and genetic mechanisms contribute to brain pathology in animal models of addiction. The ultimate goal of this work is to manipulate epigenetic or transcriptional patterns within selected brain regions to achieve therapeutic outcomes for brain diseases. Research in his laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and support from the Civitan International Research Center and the UAB Pittman Scholar program.

Zechen Chong, PhD
Adjunct Faculty with UAB

PhD, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Developing methods to characterize structural variants (SVs), the mechanisms of SV formation, and the function and clinical impact of SVs.

Zechen Chong, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Genetics and Informatics Institute at Heersink School of Medicine at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Chong received his bachelor’s degree in engineering in the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology, China, and his master’s degree in bioinformatics and Ph.D. in Genomics in Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. He was trained as a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He joined UAB as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2017. His research focuses on developing novel algorithms applied to sequencing data, especially the new sequencing platforms such as PacBio, Nanopore, Bionano, 10X Genomics, etc., and applying innovative computational approaches to solving fundamental biological questions on a hypothesis-driven basis. Particularly, his group is interested in developing new methods to comprehensively characterize structural variations (SVs), providing novel insights into the mechanisms of SVs formation, and exploring the function and clinical impact of SVs. His group is actively involved in nationwide or international projects, including Human Genome Structural Variation Consortium (HGSVC), International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed). In addition, his group has extensive local and nationwide collaborations. These projects have provided tremendous resources to achieve the research goals of the lab and the mission of the lab – “Making Sense of Biology using Bioinformatics”.

Google Scholar

ORCID

Anindya Dutta, PhD, MBBS
Adjunct at University of Virginia

Visit Website

MBBS, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India; Ph.D. Rockefeller University

Genomic instability in cancer cells and the role of noncoding RNAs in differentiation and cancer

Anindya Dutta, PhD, MBBS, is currently the Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia, and is the incoming Chair of the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Dutta received his Bachelor of Medicine-Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Christian Medical College, Vellore in India, and his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University in New York. He completed a residency in medicine at Christian Medical College Hospital in India, a postdoctoral fellowship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory supported by the American Cancer Society, and a residency in pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His laboratory identified many of the replication initiation proteins in human cells, used genomics technology to identify hundreds of origins of replication in human chromosomes, discovered a major mechanism by which human cells prevent over-replication of their DNA, and identified a novel class of circular DNA present in normal mammalian cells. His laboratory is currently working on long noncoding RNAs that regulate cancer progression and a novel family of short regulatory RNAs called tRFs. He has served as Editor for Journal of Biological Chemistry and Associate Editor for Cancer Research. He has trained over thirty-five scientists who continue research in academia or industry and has received the following honors: Elected Fellow of the AAAS, Ranbaxy Award for studies on genome instability and the Outstanding Investigator Award of the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

Anna C. E. Hurst, MD, MS
Adjunct Faculty with UAB


Clinical genetics, syndrome delineation, dysmorphology and advancing technologies, phenotype integration in genomic sequencing, care coordination for children with complex medical needs

Anna C.E. Hurst, MD, MS, is an assistant professor of medical genetics in the department of genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She trained as a genetic counselor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine (Columbia) and then completed her medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston). She is a board-certified pediatrician who completed pediatrics residency at Wake Forest Baptist Health (Winston-Salem, NC) and a medical genetics residency at UAB. Hurst is a clinician for the UAB Undiagnosed Disease Program, skeletal dysplasia clinic, and general genetics, and she provides genetic inpatient hospital consultations for patients at UAB and Children’s of Alabama. Her clinical interests include dysmorphology and congenital anomaly syndrome delineation, and she serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Facial Dysmorphology Novel Analysis (FDNA). Her research focuses on expanding the availability of genomic sequencing for children with complex healthcare needs and incorporating phenotypic information into the interpretation of genomic data.

Bruce R. Korf, MD, PhD
Adjunct Faculty with UAB

MD, Cornell University and PhD in Genetics and Cell Biology, Rockefeller University

Genetics and treatment of neurofibromatosis type 1; Genetics and genomics education; Integration of genetics into medical practice

Bruce Korf, MD, PhD, completed his undergraduate studies and MD at Cornell University and received his PhD in genetics and cell biology from Rockefeller University. He then did training in pediatrics, child neurology and genetics at Children’s Hospital, Boston, and is board certified in all three areas, as well as clinical cytogenetics and clinical molecular genetics. He served as clinical director and associate chief of the Children’s Hospital, Boston Division of Genetics until 1999, when he assumed the role of medical director of the Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics. In 2003 he moved to University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is the Wayne H. and Sara Crews Finley Chair in Medical Genetics, and director of the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences. From 2003 to 2017 he served as chair of the department of genetics and in 2017 he became chief genomics officer of UAB Medicine. He also is co-director of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine. Korf is past president of the Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics and of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and currently is president of the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine. He has served on the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute and of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH. Korf is author of Human Genetics and Genomics, co-author of Medical Genetics at a Glance, and co-editor of Current Protocols in Human Genetics and Emery and Rimoin’s Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics. His research focus is the genetics and treatment of neurofibromatosis type 1, and he also has a major interest in genetics and genomics education and the integration of genetics into medical practice.

Akinyemi I. Ojesina, MD, PhD
Adjunct Faculty with UAB

MD, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; PhD, Biological Sciences in Public Health, Harvard University

Cancer Genomics, Infection-related cancers; Women’s cancers; Biomarkers for early detection of cancers and disease progression

In the Ojesina Lab, we seek to answer two big questions: (i) what are the genomic events that facilitate the progression of pre-malignant states to cancer, (ii) how do infections synergize with genomic alterations to cause cancer? Our work lies at the nexus of translational genomics, integrative molecular epidemiology, oncology, infectious disease, and global health, with a primary focus on infection-related cancers (including HIV-associated malignancies) and women’s cancers. We integrate high throughput sequencing with functional experiments in primary tissues and cell lines to investigate the mechanisms by which infections synergize with genomic and transcriptomic alterations to facilitate the tumor initiation, progression, response to therapy, recurrence and patient prognosis. We anticipate that this work will have translational impact by facilitating the development of diagnostic biomarkers and predictive models for early detection, prevention and treatment of various cancers, in local and global contexts.

Xu Wang, PhD
Adjunct Faculty with Auburn University
Xu Wang, PhD

Download CV

Google Scholar

ORCID

PhD in Genetics and Genomics, Cornell University

Comparative, functional and evolutionary genomics in human and animals

The Wang Lab investigates the genetic and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in vertebrates and insects with a focus on allelic imbalance (AI). Diploid organisms inherit one set of haploid genome from the mother and one from the father, so relative equal mRNA expression of the two parental alleles is expected and observed for most genes in the genome. However, a subset of genes are expressed preferentially from one allele, and this deviation from 50%:50% in mRNA abundance is called allelic imbalance. Alterations of allelic imbalance are often associated with human and animal diseases including cancer, imprinting syndromes, aging and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia. The Wang Lab is working on general and extreme forms of allelic imbalance, including AI caused by cis- and trans-regulation of gene expression, genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation, through the profile of allele-specific expression (ASE), allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) and allele-specific histone modifications. The goal is to understand the origin, evolution and mechanism of allelic imbalance and predict how aberrant AI pattern is associated with disorders in human and other animals. In collaboration with Ruth Ley, PhD, of Cornell University, Wang compared the gut metagenomes of anxiety patients and their normal identical twin from the TwinsUK project and identified differences in species composition/abundance and biological functional pathways. The Wang Lab is also interested in comparative analyses of gut metagenomes, meta-transcriptomes and meta-methylomes in human and animal diseases. Visit the lab website: http://vetmed.auburn.edu/faculty/xu_wang/

Senior Fellow

  • Eric Mendenhall, PhD
    Eric Mendenhall, PhD
    Senior Fellow
Eric Mendenhall, PhD
Senior Fellow

Visit Website

PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Minnesota

Function of regulatory regions of the human genome

Eric Mendenhall, PhD, studies gene regulation and how its dysfunction leads to human disease. He also develops new technology to stay on the cutting-edge of genetics and genomics research.