Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, Ph.D.
Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz received her bachelor's degree from Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX in the Experimental Pathology Program. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology with Dr. Charles Arntzen. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz joined the University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix in 2009 as the Oncology Block/Course Director in the preclerkship medical curriculum. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in the Departments of Basic Medical Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2016 and became the Director of the Women’s Health Microbiome Initiative at the College of Medicine-Phoenix in 2017. Her lab is focused on understanding the microbiome and host-microbe interactions in the female reproductive tract as it relates to oncologic, reproductive, gynecologic health outcomes. She has been funded by NIH NIAID and foundations including the Flinn Foundation, ARDF and most recently the Mary Kay Foundation. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz utilizes clinical specimens, animal models and an innovative 3-D bioreactor system to study human epithelial and innate immune responses to commensals, pathogens, and microbial products at this site. In addition, she has studied interventions for preventing STIs (vaginal microbicides and mucosal vaccines) and has a long-standing interest in enhancing women’s health outcomes through translational research. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz enjoys interacting with the media to disseminate research findings and has been interviewed by news outlets including NPR/KJZZ Radio, Forbes Magazine, ScienceNews, MITNews and others. She was most recently recognized as a member of the “40 under 40” Class of 2018 by the Phoenix Business Journal. The award recognizes leaders in their organizations that are making a difference in their companies/organizations, as well as their greater community.
Assistant Research Scientist
Paweł Łaniewski, Ph.D.
Dr. Paweł Łaniewski is an Assistant Research Scientist in our laboratory. He received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology at the University of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland). After completing his Ph.D., he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He joined Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz's research team at the University of Arizona in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and has been promoted to an Assistant Research Scientist in 2018. He is a trained bacteriologist with extensive experience in microbiology, molecular biology and mucosal immunology. He has significant experience in culturing fastidious anaerobic microorganisms (including bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria and vaginal health-associated Lactobacillus spp.), rotating wall vessel bioreactor technology, and studying host-pathogen interactions using in vitro cell culture models. Drs. Łaniewski and Herbst-Kralovetz developed and characterized a human 3-D endometrial epithelial cell model to study host interactions with vaginal bacteria and sexually transmitted pathogens, which was published in 2017 in Infection and Immunity. He also co-authored a book chapter with detailed protocols for studying host responses to Neisseria gonorrhoeae using our human 3-D endometrial epithelial cell model, which is scheduled to be published in June 2019. Recently,a book chapter by Drs. Łaniewski and Herbst-Kralovetz “Vagina” was also published in Encyclopedia of Reproduction, which is the most comprehensive reference resource for students, non-experts and educated public in the field of reproduction. Dr. Łaniewski also has extensive experience in studying mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis and host defense using animal models, including mouse models of viral and bacterial genital infections. Furthermore, he has expertise in translational clinical research in the area of gynecologic oncology. He designed and performed experiments for a cervical and endometrial cancer project in our laboratory funded by the Flinn Foundation and the Mary Kay Foundation. He is a first author of the manuscript describing a link between cervicovaginal immune signatures, HPV and microbiota composition in cervical carcinogenesis, which was published in Scientific Reports in 2018. Dr. Łaniewski has a deep interest in studying vaginal microbiota-host interactions and impact of microbial communities on female reproductive health and physiology, particularly gynecologic cancer.
Esra Ilhan, Ph.D.
Dr. Esra Ilhan is a postdoctoral researcher specializing in the human microbiome. Esra obtained her M.S. degree from Iowa State University in Environmental Sciences and a Ph.D. degree from Arizona State University (ASU) in Microbiology in 2016. Her Ph.D. studies focused on the global problem of obesity and the role of gut microorganisms in human energy balance after different types of bariatric surgery. After graduation, she worked at the Biodesign Institute at ASU as a postdoctoral researcher on the link between the gut microbiome and host endocrine system. She joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in January 2018 to study microbiome's role on women's reproductive health. Esra's previous expertise in microbiome, metabolome, and bioinformatics and her recent training in host-microbe interactions using 3-dimensional cell models are being leveraged in projects related to gynecological cancers, advancing cancer therapeutics, and BV associated microorganisms including Prevotella. Participating in these projects will provide a stepping stone for establishing her career in women's health and microbiome research.
Jason Maarsingh, Ph.D.
Dr. Jason Maarsingh is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in our lab. He received both his B.S. in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Dr. Maarsingh is trained in bacterial genetics and utilized multi-omics approaches to elucidate essential genetic signaling pathways in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. He joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in August of 2019 and will study how microorganisms of the female reproductive tract influence health and disease in women. His research interests include integrating multi-omics approaches to improve our understanding of the complex microbial interactions in the female reproductive tract. The long-term goals of his research are to develop novel therapeutic strategies to improve women's health related to infectious disease and cancer.
Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator
Regina Montero, MSN, RN, CNOR
Regina Montero, MSN, RN, CNOR has practiced as an operating room nurse for 27 years primarily specializing in Gynecology and Gynecology Oncology. She was a member of one of the pioneer teams in the use of Intuitive Surgical’ s daVinci surgical robot for GYN surgery. She was a consultant for Intuitive Surgical and an invited speaker throughout the world along with Dr. Javier Magrina and Dr. Rosanne Kho, on how to build a successful robotic team and program. Additionally, she has been invited to participate in coordinating GYN society Post Graduate workshops, that increase the knowledge and skills of Gynecological Surgeons. Regina received her Masters of Science in Nursing Degree from the University of Phoenix in 2006 where she was introduced to research. Regina has always been interested in improving the health of women outside of the operating room and now has joined University of Arizona as the Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Elisa Martinez earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Business Administration, as well as a Certification in Management from the University of Phoenix in 2018. She became involved with clinical research after 5 years in general ophthalmology and began working with retina specialists as a Clinical Research Coordinator in 2016. Elisa has always aimed to expand her knowledge in healthcare, specifically in patient education, experience, and care. Elisa joined the University of Arizona as the Clinical Research Coordinator for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in June of 2019. In addition, Elisa is working toward her MBA in Health Systems Management.
Jameson Gardner is a fourth-year graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program at Arizona State University. He received his B.S. in Microbiology from Brigham Young University in 2015 and worked as an undergraduate research assistant studying protein-protein interactions in phosphate signal transduction in E. coli. He joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in August 2015 and is using human 3-D epithelial cell models and animal models to investigate the function of IL-36gamma in the female reproductive tract in response to pathogens, including HSV-2. His research interests include mucosal immunology and virology, and specifically the host response to STI pathogens.
Natalie Thomas is a post-baccalaureate student currently studying microbiology at ASU. She graduated from ASU in 2014 with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in English Literature, and joined the lab in August 2018. Natalie is interested in global health disparities and infectious disease, and plans to pursue a career in epidemiology.
Mary Salliss is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Biochemistry at the University of Bath. She joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in August 2019 as part of the Bath Placement Program. Her interests include investigating interactions between endogenous metabolites of the female reproductive tract and the resident microbiome in efforts to improve women's health.
Masahiro Ito, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor at Kitasato University (Japan)
Andrea Throop, Ph.D. - Technical Director at LabCorp
Alicia Muhleisen, MD
Rebecca Ludwig, MD
Victoria Yarbrough, MD
Alison Goulder, MD
Sylvie Doerflinger, M.S., Ph.D.
Sean Winkle, B.S.
Bath University Placement/Exchange Program
Kimberley Owen (2018-2019)
Ellen Wilkinson (2017-2018)
James Baker (2016-2017) - Ph.D. student at University of Manchester (UK)
Tess Alexander, B.S. (2017-2019), Natalie Thomas, B.S. (2018-2019), Sara Stowers, B.S. (2016-2018), Dani Krasinski, B.S. (2016-2018), Ryan Smith, B.S. (2015-2017) - Medical student at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Greg Frasco, B.S. (2016-2017), Natalie Van Ert, B.S. (2016-2017), Adriana Gomez, B.S. (2015-2016), Geoff Hire, B.S. (2015-2016)
High School Summer Interns
Elena D'Avanzo (2019), Cynthia Ianova (2018), Anamika Basu (2017), Jasmin Menjivar (2016)