Meet the team

Principal Investigator

Antonio Amelio, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Amelio is a first generation American-Italian scientist that was born and raised in the ‘backyard’ of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Inspired by NASA scientists and engineers, and other immigrant scientists to the U.S. that established successful scientific careers, Dr. Amelio developed a deep passion for scientific inquiry and the pursuit of new knowledge for the benefit of humanity from an early age. In 2014, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in 2019 received the Joseph Lister Young Investigator Award. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Cell Science and then received a concurrent Masters of Business and PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Florida in 2004 and 2005, respectively. From 2006-2014 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow and Staff Scientist at The Scripps Research Institute where he received a NIH/NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Post-Doctoral Fellowship (F32) followed by a NIH/NCI Howard Temin Pathway to Independence Award in Cancer Research (K99/R00). His cross-disciplinary approach to science draws from nearly thirty years of experience, with roots in developmental and marine biology and expertise in virology, molecular and cell biology, tumor biology, and more recently chemical and synthetic biology. He enjoys sharing his passion for science with others and loves fly fishing and spending time outdoors with his wife, three boys, and boxer.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Adele Musicant, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Musicant was the first Amelio Lab graduate student and received her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from UNC-CH in 2021. She earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Northeastern University in 2014. While at Northeastern, she worked in the lab of Dr. Erin Cram, where she utilized genetic engineering techniques to increase the production of naturally occurring drugs in the plant Catharanthus roseus. She is currently performing a short postdoc in the Amelio Lab on projects related to her dissertation studies. Outside of lab, Adele runs a scientific communication and outreach series called TRUtalks and also serves on the UNC Women in Science (WinS) leadership team.

Yi-Hsuan "Shannon" Tsai, PhD

Bioinformatics Scientist

Dr. Tsai is a Bioinformatics Scientist and performs cancer multi-omics by analyzing different types of omics data and building prediction models using various integrated approaches. 

Weida Gong, PhD

Bioinformatics Scientist

Dr. Gong is a Bioinformatics Scientist and performs cancer multi-omics by analyzing different types of omics data and building prediction models using various integrated approaches. 

Graduate Students

Kshitij ("Kay") Parag-Sharma

PhD Candidate, Cell Biology and Physiology

Kshitij grew up in Mumbai, India and came to the United States in 2012 to pursue a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Boston University. While at BU, he worked in a the labs of Dr. Michael Dietze (Ecology and Forest Forecasting) and Dr. Mikel Garcia-Marcos (Cell biology and Biochemistry). His work in the Garcia-Marcos lab culminated in four publications, two of which were as a first author. After graduating from BU in 2016, Kshitij started his PhD program at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, in the department of Cell Biology and Physiology in the lab of Dr. Amelio, where he is currently a 4th year PhD candidate. Outside of lab, Kshitij is an avid embroiderer and is hoping to take up quilting in the near future as well!

Ryan Murphy

PhD Candidate, Pharmacology

Ryan grew up in Manhattan Beach, CA and received her B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley in 2014. After graduating, she spent a year as a lab technician in the Ortiz-Urda lab in the Department of Dermatology at UCSF studying NRAS mutant melanoma, followed by a year at an industry CRO in the Pharmacovigilance department. She is currently in her 4th year pursuing her PhD in the Department of Pharmacology under Dr. Amelio at UNC Chapel Hill. Outside of lab Ryan participates as a career development mentor for the Women in Science Promoting Inclusion in Research Experiences (WinSPIRE) program for high school students, as well as volunteering for the UNC Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

Christine Thai

MD Student, MS2

Christine is a first generation Vietnamese-American born and raised in Los Angeles, California and received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a minor in Psychology at UC San Diego in 2016. As an undergraduate, she worked as a teaching assistant in UCSD Biology Department and as a lab technician with Dr. Elena Pasquale at Sanford Burnham in San Diego studying the role of Eph receptors and ephrins in tumor development and neurodegenerative diseases. After graduating in 2016, she worked as a clinical research assistant in breast cancer research with Drs. Victoria Seewaldt, Lisa Yee and Mark LaBarge at City of Hope. Christine is currently in the MD program at UNC Chapel Hill and is interested in pursuing a specialty in infectious disease and oncology. Outside of school and lab, she enjoys swimming, dancing and cooking. On her days off, you’ll find her jamming to some funky beats as she cooks up new recipes or scoping out a new restaurant/cuisine!

Visiting Research Scholars

Jason Tasoulas, DMD

MD-PhD Candidate, Pathology

Jason grew up in Athens, Greece and began traveling to the United States in 2013-2016 for several clinical externships. Jason is currently an MD-PhD student at the University of Athens and a Visiting Research Scholar in the Amelio Lab interested in molecular carcinogenesis and biomarkers. He previously received a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree from the University of Athens, Greece, graduating as his class valedictorian. His clinical interests are focused on Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery. Outside of his clinical and research studies, he enjoys European and American cinema, classic and modern literature, and outdoor activities (running, water polo, and swimming).

Technicians and Undergraduates

Bryan Labra

BS, UNC-NCSU Biomedical Engineering

Bryan is a first generation Mexican-American college graduate. Born and raised in rural North Carolina, he decided to remain in his home state and attended UNC-CH where he received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. After graduating from UNC in 2018, he accepted a position as lab technician in the Arendshorst lab where he took a focus in renovascular hypertension pathophysiology. In his spare time, Bryan can be found playing jazz standards on a nearby piano.
 

Jacob Locklear

UNC-CH Undergraduate in Biology

UNC-CH Chancellor's Science Scholar

Major in Biology with a minor in Chemistry

 

Claire Moxham

UNC-CH Undergraduate in Chemistry

UNC-CH Carolina Research Scholar

Major in Chemistry

amelio Lab Alumni

  • Julie Nguyen

    UNC-CH Undergraduate in Biology, minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience

  • Dr. Kotaro Sato, DDS, PhD

    PhD, Pathology and Biochemical Responses

  • Chloe Twomey

    BS, UNC-CH Biology Major; Clinical Research Assistant Moderna and Novavax vaccine trials

  • Dr. Miranda Carper, PhD

    Virology Quality Assurance Program Manager; Duke Human Vaccine Institute

  • Dr. Siddharth Sheth, DO, MPH

    Assistant Professor; UNC-CH Department of Medicine

  • Erich Mildner

    Emory University Undergraduate Program in Biology

  • Dr. Colin O'Bannion, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow; Max Plank Institute for Neuroscience

  • Dr. George "Chip" Getz, DDS, MS

    Private Practice, General Dentist

  • Anna Zhang

    DDS1 First-Year; UNC-CH Adams School of Dentistry

  • Sophia Raterman

    UNC-CH Chancellor's Science Scholar

  • Erin Henry

    QC Analyst II; Lonza Bioscience, Research Triangle Park

  • Dr. Sasha Betz, DDS, MS

    US Naval Officer, Oral Pathologist

  • Saumya Goel

    UNC-CH Carolina Research Scholar; UNC-CH Adams School of Dentistry

  • Shaily Aghera

    UNC-CH Chancellor’s Science Scholar; ECU School of Dental Medicine

  • Sonam Saxena

    UNC-CH Undergraduate Program in Biology

  • Anna Adjei

    UNC-CH Chancellor’s Science Scholar

  • Paul Brocklebank

    UNC-CH Undergraduate Program in Biology

  • Naseeruddin ("Naseer") Ahmed

    ECU Brody School of Medicine

  • Jordi Gaton

    UNC-CH Carolina Millennial Scholar; Medical College of Georgia