Meet the team

Principal Investigator

Antonio Amelio, PhD

Assistant 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.

Graduate Students

Adele Musicant

PhD Candidate, Genetics & Molecular Biology

Adele received 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 in her 6th year at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is pursuing a PhD in Genetics & Molecular Biology under the supervision of Dr. Amelio. 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.

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.

Visiting Research Scholars

Kotaro Sato, DDS

PhD Candidate, Pathology and Biochemical Responses

Kotaro was born and raised in Aichi, Japan. He received his DDS degree from Okayama University Faculty of Dentistry in 2010. After graduating, he completed his residency in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Nagoya University School of Medicine followed by clinical fellowships at Nagoya University School of Medicine and Nagoya Daini Red Cross Hospital. Kotaro is currently a PhD student at the Nagoya University School of Medicine in the Departments of Pathology and Biochemical Responses and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In 2018, Kotaro was became the inaugural candidate selected to participate in a new partnership established between Nagoya University and UNC-CH aimed at exploring collaborative research opportunities and providing access to international research training.  and a Visiting Research Scholar in the Amelio Lab interested in molecular carcinogenesis and biomarkers. Outside of his clinical and research studies, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing table tennis,  and reading books.

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

Chloe Twomey

BS, Biology Major

Chloe was born in Virginia and lived in Ireland for 3 years. She was in the top 20 of her graduating high school class of 350 students. She is currently an undergraduate Biology major in her senior year at UNC-CH on the Pre-Medical/Pre-Health Track. She is passionate about research has been working in the Amelio Lab for the past two years with Kay Sharma on various projects. She enjoys learning and making a difference, and recently began working with UNC Hospitals. Outside of the lab and her undergrad studies, Chloe loves to draw, spend time with her pets, and volunteers for the Animal First Rescue of the Carolinas.

amelio Lab Alumni

  • 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