Laboratory Personnel


Sean, in his happy place.
Name:  Sean Davidson, Ph.D.
Degrees:  B.S. Biochemistry (Indiana University, 1990), Ph.D. (MCP/Drexel University, 1994), Post-doc (University of Illinois, 1997), Sexiest Man Alive (Time Magazine, 2019).
Founded lab:  April, 9  1998.
Position:  Ceremonial Figurehead
Job Description:  I (try to) keep the funds coming in and generally stay out of everyone's way. I spend most of my time planted at a desk evaluating other people's science.
Interests:  I enjoy hanging out with my family, bicycle racing with my teammates at ZWS/Brilliant Advice and driving my beautiful 1966 Mustang convertible. I am a sucker for Chipotle burritos and UDF milkshakes and am an obnoxious Indiana University basketball fan.
Future Goal: The Nobel Prize may have eluded me, but I still am striving to win a national championship in cycling - shooting for the 100+ age group where I will be the only competitor.


Name:  Amy Sanghavi Shah, M.D.
Degrees:  MD, St. George's University, MS, University of Cincinnati
Joined lab:    2010
Children's Website:
Position:  Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Clinical/Translational Researcher, blah...blah...
Job Description:  Type 2 diabetes in adolescents is completely different than type 2 diabetes in adults. It is aggressive and we have limited therapeutic options. My goal is to integrate basic science work with clinical research to answer questions on why type 2 diabetes in kids is different, how type 2 diabetes in leads to atherosclerosis and early complications, and importantly how we can prevent it.
Interests: In my "free time" I drive my kids from one activity to the next. I also enjoy hanging out with friends/family, drinking red wine, and running, Pilates and Orange Theory.


Mark between a rock and a hard place.
Name:  Mark Castleberry
Degrees:  B.S. Biology (Henderson State University, 2013).
Joined lab:  May 2015.
Position:  Graduate student
Job Description:  My primary research goal is to better characterize both the structure and function of apolipoprotein A-V, as well as aiding the lab in both protein expression/purification and structural analyses.
Interests:  Prior to my knee injuries, I was an amateur skateboarder and traveled across the country exploring natural cave systems. Now I spend a considerable amount of my free time playing poker and competitive video games (e.g. LoL, CS:GO). Although my demeanor may suggest otherwise, I am a huge fan of rap music and consider myself a true thug at heart.
Goals: Nothing too fancy. I just want to get married, finish my education, teach at a college, win the WSOP main event, retire, build a cabin in the mountains, and then run a whiskey distillery until I die.

Name:  Jamie Morris
Degrees: B.A. Biology (University of Cincinnati, 2014), Associates Degree in Biotechnology ( Raymond Walters)
Joined lab: September, 2007  
Position:  Research Associate
Job Description: I generate and purify HDL associated proteins, and mutants, for a variety of downstream experimental procedures. I also generate and experiment with reconstituted HDL particles for studying structural and functional properties of HDL.
Interests: I enjoy golfing & riding jet skis with my wonderful son, Ryan. When I am not in the lab, you can find me on my yoga mat. I am a certified instructor in traditional and aerial yoga. I have llamas as pets. They aren't really an interest, more so just a fact about me. People get upset if I don't mention the llamas.
Goals: Practice moderate beef consumption. Retire in a small house off the emerald coast. Practice yoga every day.


Name:  Scott Street
Degrees:  B.S. Medical Technology (ASCP), Professional Certificate: Clinical Research
Joined lab:  July   2006.
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description:  I joined the Davidson operation in July of 2006 as a highly sought after free agent in the laboratory manager marketplace. My main function, in future Nobel Prize winning scientist Dr. Sean Davidson's laboratory, is to oversee the administrative tasks associated with the daily operation of such a highly successful lab. This basically rids Sean of administrative responsibilities so that he can focus on things like keeping up his reputation for a well maintained head of hair and biking up and down Route 42 between home and work. In addition, I sprinkle in a little bench science here and there so that Sean feels like he is getting his money's worth out of the outrageous salary that he pays me. But my most important duty may be keeping Sean's ego pumped up so that he can maintain his unbelievable fast track to the Nobel Prize as he has promised me 25% of the bonus money when he wins.
Interests:  My main interests outside of work include "SLOW" pitch softball (because I was never good enough to hit a fast pitched hardball). I am also an avid Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, OSU Buckeye football and UC Bearcat basketball fan. In addition, I have already started training my 16 month old son to pick up a miniature baseball bat, swing it, run around imaginary bases and throw left handed by tying his right hand behind his back. I am also on a lifetime quest to understand the relationship of beer consumption on central obesity.
Future Goal: By age 50: to blow so fast by Sean and his candy apple-red Ford Mustang in my black 68 Chevy Corvette (L88 427 V8 430 bhp) that his well coifed hair becomes discombobulated and he finally decides to upgrade to a real muscle car that has a hard top (i.e. any GM product).


The Grinch
Name:  John "The Grinch" Melchior
Degrees:  B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan Ph.D. in Molecular Pathology, Wake Forest School of Medicine (Advisor: Lawrence Rudel).
Joined lab:  November   2013.
Position:  Research Scientist
Job Description:  I perform protein structure and function studies on subspeciated HDL in different disease settings.
Interests:  Stealing Christmas
Future Goal: Get a job.


Debi in da' hood.
Name:  Debi Swertfeger
Degrees:  BS Biochemistry, Indiana University; Ph.D. Developmental Biology, University of Cincinnati
Joined lab:    Oct, 2012
Position:  Scientist
Job Description:  I run the experimental side of Jason Lu's lab, in close collaboration with the Davidson lab. Our goals are to use functional and proteomic approaches to identify specific HDL subspecies that are responsible for HDL's cardioprotective effect..
Interests: Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with my family, playing with my dogs, and reading good books.


Name:  Brynne Whitacre, M.S.
Degrees:  B.S. in Biological Sciences, Florida State University; M.S. in Immunology, University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine
Joined lab:    May 2018
Position:  Graduate Student
Job Description:  Studying HDL subspecies roles in inflammation and the immune response, with attention to the syndrome of sepsis.
Interests: Hiking, camping, traveling, canoeing with my dog, bourbon tasting, target practice, volunteering.
Future Goals: Rising in rank within U.S. Army Reserves as a microbiologist, leading global impact deployments/projects during and in prevention of epidemics/outbreaks a.k.a saving the world, become an expert in scientific communication for educational purposes, contribute to science & medicine in a meaningful way, fundamentally better the future of at least one child in the foster system/situations of abuse/neglect/dependency, train my dog to help with chores.


Name:  Hannah Sexmith
Degrees:  B.A. Biological Sciences (Ohio University)
Joined lab:    January 2015
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description:  I fractionate and assay patient plasma to find, evaluate, and determine HDL subspecies specific to a healthy or disease state.
Interests: I enjoy singing in a local young professional choir, which allowed me to live out my dream of singing backup for Barry Manilow in addition to gracing the acoustically perfect stages of Music Hall and Carnegie Hall. I am an avid enthusiast of local, small batch fermented wheat products. I also like to take long walks through well-trodden woodland paths to prepare myself for the long walk to Mordor and back. After all of my daily activities are done I like to sit down with an exciting book and expand my knowledge of fictional worlds.
Future Goals:  I hope to one day get a graduate degree in science and to finally fulfill my dream of defeating a dark lord trying to take over the world.


Esmond thinking hard.
Name:  Esmond N. Geh, Ph.D.
Degrees:  Ph.D. University of Cincinnati
Joined lab:    March 2017
Position:  Research Associate
Job Description:  Currently focused on developing and optimizing an assay that could be used to quantitatively measure LDL binding to proteoglycans.
Interests: I like watching old time TV shows and I am a big fan of movie channels like ACM and TCM. In my spare time, I like playing online PC games, especially soccer.
Future Goals:  Like a typical existentialist, my short term goal is to finish raising the kids, get them out of the house and then figure out what my long term goal will be.


Stephanie and successful tissue culture experiment.
Name:  Stephanie Gierek
Joined lab:    Jan. 2019
Position:  Research Assistant - aka John's minion
Job Description:  I study Apolipoprotein E and its role in early onset Alzheimer's. I also study the structure of Apolipoprotein A II. (I refuse to help John steal Christmas!!!)
Interests: I spend most of my "free" time running my 3 kids from one practice/game to another. The only sports I watch are my kids' and the Bengals. If my husband and I can steal some time to ourselves, we run away on our 2018 HD Road King. I have an addiction to anything Tim Burton, tattoos and the beach.
Future Goals: To convince Sean to paint his Smart car like a Cozy Coupe. To retire on the beach, watching baby sea turtles hatch while enjoying an ice cold adult beverage.


Name:  Brantley Lawson
Degrees:  Fill in here
Joined lab:    Fill in here
Position:  Research Technician
Job Description:  Fill in here
Interests: Fill in here
Future Goals: Fill in here


Name:  Shimpi Bedi
Degrees:  M.S. Cell Biology (Wright State University, 2008), Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wright State University, 2017)
Joined lab:    September 2017
Position:  Post-doctoral fellow
Job Description:  I am optimizing a method for site-specific labeling single cysteine mutants of apoA-1 with gold clusters to visualize the organization of apoA-1 at the surface of human HDL through electron microscopy
Interests: Abstract painting, listening to famous Classical Piano Pieces, baking, binge-watching Netflix, navigate the challenges of playing badminton with hubby
Future Goals: Formulate my own winning strategy to beat hubby at badminton, secure a highly sought after permanent position (Research Scientist) in Sean's lab

Past Members of the Lab
Wael (his good side).
Name:  Wael Safi (Past Member)
Degrees:  BS 2000, University of Cincinnati.
Joined lab:  June,  1998 (the lab's first employee).
Left lab:  Sept.,  2000. (but he hangs around - kind of like a virus)
Position:  Undergraduate student
Job Description:  During his undergraduate time in our lab, Wael successfully developed an accidental result into a method for measuring lipid-free forms of apoA-I in vitro. It is the first method to distinguish between forms of apoA-I based on conformation rather than some physical characteristic of HDL.
Where are they now?:  Wael got his Pharm D from the University of Cincinnati and is now making the big bucks at Proctor and Gamble here in Cincy. Since he no longer lifts with Sean and Kevin, he is getting soft and flabby, like a little girl.

Name:  James Dressman (Past Member)
Degrees: BA Psychology/Philosophy, University of Kentucky
Joined lab: February, 2004.  
Left lab:  Aug.,  2013.
Position:  Research Assistant


Cali, doing the heavy lifting.
Name:  Cali Smith (Past Member)
Joined lab:  Jan.  2005.
Left lab:  Aug.,  2012.
Position:  Administrative Assistant (Mother Hen)

Name:  Scott Gordon (Past Member)
Degrees: B.S. Biological Sciences, SUNY Brockport
Joined lab: June, 2009.  
Left lab:  Oct.,  2012.
Position:  Graduate Student. Current location: Post-doc in Alan Remaley's lab at the NIH.


Alex pretending to work for the camera.
Name:  Alex Tomann (or Alexei Tomannov if im playing hockey) (Past Member).
Degrees:  BS Bio-Chemistry from The University of Scranton (yes thats where "The Office" is set)
Joined lab:  June, 2010.
Left lab:  Sept.,  2010.
Position:  Undergraduate summer intern
Job Description:  Test for presence and/or location of HDL sub-particles, Lab Lunch organizer
Interests:  I enjoy playing sports mainly Ice Hockey, Softball Saturday. I also love to travel to US cities to eventually pick out places where I would consider living later in life.
Where are they now?:  Alex graduated and is now on the sales force for Stryker Corp. selling joint replacment products.


Allison in her element.
Name:  Allison Cooke (Past Member)
Degrees:  BA Biology, BA Spanish (Transylvania University).
Joined lab:  August 9  2014.
Left lab:  Nov. 2019   2014.
Current Position:  Looking for a post-doc or industry position


Name:  Rong Huang (Past Member)
Degrees:  Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2007.
Joined lab:  August, 2007.
Left lab:  Sept.,  2010.
Position:  Post Doc
Job Description:  My main project will be utilizing cross-linking chemistry and mass spectrometry to study tertiary structure of apolipoproteins in reconstituted HDL. Currently I am working on preparation of spherical reconstituted HDL particles of apo A-I.
Future goal:  To realize my dreams!

Name:  Amy Ghering (Past Member)
Degrees: Ph.D. Chemistry, Northwestern University
Joined lab: April, 2003.  
Left lab: August, 2009.  
Position:  Post doc
Job Description: ABCA1 mediates cholesterol efflux to apoA-I and thus generates the body's HDL pool. She investigated how the lipid signaller ceramide modulates ABCA1 activity using cholesterol efflux assays combined with immunoblots that track the ABCA1's cellular location and lifetime.
Where are they now?: ??

Name:  Gangani Silva (Past Member)
Degrees: BSc (chemistry) University of Colombo, Sri Lanka 1991, Ph.D. (biophysical chemistry) University of Illinois/Chicago, 2000
Joined lab: April, 2003.  Left lab: December, 2008.  
Position:  Post-doc then Research Instructor
Job Description: My main project was focused on conformational analysis of apolipoproteins in reconstituted HDL and native HDL. We combined cross-linking chemistry and high resolution mass spectrometry to understand the structure of these proteins. I also developed new methods for addressing new when we have to analyze native HDL vs. reconstituted HDL.
Where are they now?: Gangani is now a scientist at Girindus Corp in Cincinnati .

Name:  Matthew Tubb (Past Member)
Degrees: BS Biology, minor Chemistry, University of Dayton, 2003
Joined lab: June, 2005.  
Left lab: June, 2008.  
Position:  M.D./Ph.D. Student
Job Description: His thesis revolved around the coolest protein in the world, apolipoprotein A-IV. He described the first three dimensional structure of lipid-free and lipid-bound apoA-IV as well as determine the particular parts of the protein which modulate its lipid binding characteristics.
Where are they now?: Matt finished the M.D. part of his M.D./Ph.D. training and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UC.

Name:  Lauren Beish (Past Member)
Degrees: BS Biology, University of Cincinnati
Joined lab: September, 2004.  
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description: My research involves developing and perfecting a more efficient protein expression system and working on creating apoA-IV mutants. I also oversee general lab maintenance, ordering and product cabinets
Where are they now? Lauren became a pharmaceutical sales representative for Ethicon here in Cincinnati.

Name:  Kristina Liu (Past Member)
Degrees: None yet, but is working on one from Harvard
Joined lab: June, 2003.  
Position:  Undergraduate
Job Description: Kristina spent her summer internship working on inducing recombinant protein ABCA1 into an expressible vector. In her downtime she babysits Kevin and reminds Sean about how great his haircut is.
Where are they now?: Kristina started in the lab as a high school summer student and went on to Harvard in Pre-Med then Yale medical school. She is a currently a Dermatology resident in Boston.

Kevin, in concert
Name:  Kevin Pearson (Past Member)
Degrees: BS Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. University of Cincinnati
Joined lab: April, 2001.  Left lab: May, 2005.  
Position:  Graduate student
Job Description: His project focused on the structure/function roles of apoA-IV in obesity and lipid metabolism.
Where are they now? Kevin took a post-doc at the National Institute on Aging. You may have seen his Nature paper on the benefits of Resveratrol. In 2009, he took a tenure track Assistant Professorship at the University of Kentucky studying the interplay of nutrition and aging.


Stacy, knee deep in bacteria.
Name:  Stacy Martin (Past Member)
Degrees:  B.S. Agricultural Biology, University of Kentucky.
Joined lab:  Sept.  2006.
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description:  To develop efficient protein expression systems and maintain protein production in the lab.
Where are they now?:  Stacy moved on to a company in Northern Kentucky that runs clinical trials.

Austin, attempting to think.
Name:  Austin Hake (Past Member)
Degrees: BS BA Computer Science, University of Missouri
Joined lab: June, 2005 (for the summer).  
Position:  M.D. Student from St. Louis University
Job Description: Basically I just bask in the reflected glory of the geniuses I’m working with this summer. My project is to perform limited proteolysis on human apoA-IV to learn more about its domain structure.
Where are they now?:  Medical school, last we heard.


Name:  Samantha "Sam" Bellman (Past Member)
Degrees: None.....yet.  
Joined lab: June, 1999 
Left lab: April, 2000 
Position:  High school student
Job Description: Sam spent her summer internship setting up a lipid clearance assay that will be used with some of the apoA-I mutants in the lab.  She also did some initial work on making apoA-I mutants for use in cell surface binding studies using PCR. 
Where are they now?   The last that we heard from her, she had been accepted to Miami University in a pre-med program.  


Name:  Stacey Panagotopolus (Past Member)
Degrees: BA Biology, Ohio Wesleyan   
Joined lab:  June, 1999 
Left Lab:  December, 2002
Job Description: Stacey is the first student to graduate from the lab. She studied ways in which apoA-I interacts with cells and ABCA1. In addition to several papers, she was awarded the Dean's Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship in 2002.
Where are they now?  Since graduating, she got married, did a post-doc in the laboratory of Francine Welty at Beth Israel Hospital at Harvard University and is now pursuing an advanced degree in Nutrition.

Nick at Night.
Name:  Nick Maiorano (Past Member)
Degrees:  MS University of Cincinnati ('98), BS Wright State ('94).
Joined lab:  August,  1998.
Left Lab:  September, 2004
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description:  "Main Lab Dude". Basically ran the lab (ordered supplies, balanced the budget, etc.). 
Interests:  Protein isolation, purification and characterization. Lynard Skynard, food, and eliminating fruit flies and rap music from the lab.
Where are they now? We don't know for sure, but rumor has it that he may have entered the seminary.

Name:  Erica Horace (Past Member)
Degrees:  B.S. Canisius College, Buffalo NY.
Joined lab:  February 2001
Left Lab:  July, 2004
Position:  Research Assistant
Job Description:  Protein isolation and purification, lab ordering and general lab maintenance.
Where are they now? Erica moved closer to her family and is a Research Assistant at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Name:  Scott Witting (Past Member)
Degrees: BS Biology, University of Detroit Mercy
Joined lab: April, 1999 (the lab's first grad. student). 
Left Lab:  May, 2004
Position:  Graduate student
Job Description: My current project is the study of sphingolipid signalling in relation to apolipoprotein-mediated cholesterol efflux. My unofficial job is to keep the lab entertained.
Where are they now? Since graduating from the Lab, Scott went on to a Post-doc at IUPUI in Indianapolis studying diabetes, then was an assistant professor in thier viral vector core laboratory. Just recently, he came back to Cincinnati to head the Translational Trials Development Support Laboratory at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Name:  Loren Faulkner(Smith) (Past Member)
Degrees: BA Chemistry/Philosophy, DePauw University
Joined lab: July, 2005.  
Graduated with Ph.D.: May, 2010.  
Position:  M.D./Ph.D. Student
Job Description: My project involved studying how apoA-I interacts with ABCAI and how it may traffic inside cells.
Interests: I like reading, picnicking, eating cookies for breakfast, watching black and white movies in which people suddenly break into song and dance, and contemplating the nature of the universe with my good friend Steve Hawking.
Where is she now?: Loren finished the M.D. part of her M.D./Ph.D. training and then completed a residency in Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She recently joined the Anesthesiology faculty at Vanderbilt and is studying the perioperative role of HDL.

Name:  Linda Pan (Past Member)
Degrees: None...yet.
Joined lab: May, 2009 (for the summer).  
Position:  High School student
Job Description: She spent her summer helping James to express recombinant proteins in bacterial cells and working with cultured cells expressing ABCA1.
Interests: Making frozen candy bars with liquid nitrogen, competing in math contests...and winning them.
Goals: Going to Harvard in the fall.

Name:  David Mihal (Past Member)
Degrees: BFA Art & Technology, Honors BS Biology, University of Cincinnati.
Joined lab: May, 2009 (for the summer).  
Position:  Medical Student (MSSRP program)
Job Description: My summer project looked at using a trifunctional crosslinker (Sulfo-SBED) to analyze the structure of ApoA-I in reconstituted HDL particles.
Interests: Currently studying medicine non-stop, but I used to enjoy biking, jetskiing, camping, boating, fishing, writing, drawing, photography, watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos,...
Goals: Presently I am working on earning my MD.

Name:  Anita Durairaj (Past Member)
Degrees: Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Cincinnati
Joined lab: June, 2009.  
Left lab: June, 2010.  
Position:  Post Doc
Job Description: My research projects involve the study of the mouse lipoproteome using mass spectrometry. I hope to discover and study many new protein-protein interactions that may have an overall impact on different epidemiological processes.
Interests: Reading for fun, shopping, movies, visiting and exploring new places.
Goals: Having a productive postdoc career in the form of publications. I hope to gain valuable research experience and knowledge working with lipids.


Anna showing how much fun it is to work here.
Name:  Anna Heink (Past Member)
Degrees:  B.S. Psychology & Biology, University of Dayton; M.S. Zoology, Washington State University
Joined lab:  September   2012.
Left lab:  May 2017   2012.
Position:  Research Assistant
Current activity:  She is now enrolled as a medical student at the University of Kentucky.


Name:  Hailong Li (Past Member)
Degrees:  Ph.D.
Joined lab:    2013
Left lab:    2017
Position:  Post-doc (Jason Lu's lab)
Current Activity:  Currently a research associate at Children's Hospital of Cincinnati in Neonatology


Name:  Sandy Rebholtz (Past Member)
Degrees:  BS, Clinical Laboratory Science (University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences);  Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology (University of Cincinnati Raymond Walters College);  Unbeknownst to Sean or I might not be employed in the lab: Associate of Arts (The Ohio State University-Go Buckeyes!)
Joined lab:    Fall 2013.
Left lab:    Fall 2017.
Position:  Research Assistant
Current Activity:  No info.