NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. More than 200 research projects are currently underway at NSU, including studies on cardiovascular disease, anti-cancer therapies, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, coral reef restoration, stem cells, disorders that cause blindness, wildlife DNA forensics, and more.
The individuals below are engaged in cutting-edge research at NSU and advancing progress in their respective fields.
Travis J.A. Craddock, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology & Neuroscience, Computer Science and Clinical Immunology applying systems biology and biophysics methods towards the purpose of identifying novel treatments for complex chronic illness involving neuroinflammation. Dr. Craddock received his Ph.D. in the field of biophysics at the University of Alberta where his graduate research activities focused on subneural biomolecular information processing, and nanoscale neuroscience descriptions of memory, consciousness and cognitive dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders. His current research activities are focused on using a theory driven computational systems biology and theoretical biophysics approach to understand the underlying molecular regulation of chronic illness resulting from exposure to neurotoxins, such as anesthesia and nerve agents, in order to improve diagnosis and putative treatment strategies. This work is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Current Areas of Academic Focus
Dr. Richard Deth joined Nova Southeastern University in September of 2014 after 38 years as a faculty member at Northeastern University. He is a molecular neuroscientist with a research interest in a number of brain disorders, including autism. His laboratory has a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopment and changes that occur during aging, as well as the mechanisms which provide the capacity for attention and learning. This work involves an appreciation of unique metabolic features of neurons, especially factors influencing levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) and its influence over methylation reactions, including DNA methylation. Methylation of DNA is a fundamental event in epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which drives development and allows adaptive responses to oxidation across the lifespan. In 2003 Dr. Deth published a monograph entitled: Molecular Origins of Human Attention: The Dopamine-Folate Connection. During the past 10 years Dr. Deth has worked closely with autism families and several parent-supported autism organizations. Dr. Deth’s lab recently reported the ability of casein and gluten-derived opiate peptides, as well as morphine, to impair transport of the amino acid cysteine, which adversely affects antioxidant levels and leads to epigenetic consequences. His ongoing research incudes studies of the effects of neurotoxic substances on antioxidant and methylation status and autism-related changes in antioxidant and methylation status, as well as vitamin B12 levels in post mortem brain tissues. These same factors are involved in other a number of neurological and neuroimmune conditions.
From Dr. Deth: My lab is primarily focused on the relationship between antioxidant status and methylation, especially DNA methylation as it pertains to epigenetic regulation in the brain. Our work is centrally relevant to neurodevelopment and aging, as well as a number of brain disorders including autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant status and methylation capacity are abnormal in each of these conditions, as well as in chronic fatigue disorder and Gulf War Illness. Evaluation of vitamin B12 status during neurodevelopment and aging, as well as in neurological disorders is a recent focus of our research efforts.
I am a geneticist and toxicologist with a career-long interest in creating techniques for biomonitoring of environmental exposures with significant health effects. Beginning at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, I was charged with developing a blood-based method of detecting and quantifying occupational and accidental radiation exposure. When it became clear that we had developed a suite of methods relevant to all types of genotoxic exposure I moved back into the academic world as a founding member of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. At Nova Southeastern University, I am a founding member of their new AutoNation Institute for Breast and Solid Tumor Cancer Research, investigating the complementary roles of the genome and the environment in breast cancer and leukemia, and, more recently, similar studies on autism spectrum disorders.
Grant, Stephen. (2018). The arrow of carcinogenesis.
Latimer, Jean & Johnson, Jennifer & Kelly, Crystal & Miles, Tiffany & A Beaudry-Rodgers, Kelly & A Lalanne, Nancy & Vogel, Victor & Kanbour-Shakir, Amal & L Kelley, Joseph & Johnson, Ronald & Grant, Stephen. (2010). Nucleotide excision repair deficiency is intrinsic in sporadic stage I breast cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107. 21725-30. 10.1073/pnas.0914772107.
Dr. Nancy Klimas, chair of the Department of Clinical Immunology, and professor in the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, established the Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine (INIM), at Nova Southeastern University in 2012. In partnership with the Miami Veteran’s Administration Medical Center (VAMC) Gulf War Illness (GWI) research program, the INIM is a multi- disciplinary research and clinical institute that takes a systems biology approach to understanding complex medical illnesses, such as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI)
Dr. Klimas’ research efforts have focused on understanding the pathogenesis and etiology of these complex immune conditions to better understand the underlying mechanisms of disease and to target treatments more effectively. Due to the complexity of understanding the underlying mechanisms of these illnesses, the INIM relies on a computational systems biology approach that can direct clinical laboratory research efforts to become more targeted and efficient. Her research efforts have been groundbreaking and disease mechanisms identified with this approach are currently being targeted with FDA approved pharmaceuticals and undergoing later stage clinical trial investigation.
Dr. Klimas is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a diplomat in Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology, staff physician and Director of Clinical Immunology Research at the Miami VAMC. She has achieved national and international recognition for her research and clinical efforts in multi-symptom disorders, including ME/CFS and GWI. She is the past president of the International Association for CFS and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFS/ME), a professional organization of clinicians and investigators, and a past member of the Health and Human Services (HHS) CFS Advisory Committee.
Dr. Jean Latimer, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, obtained her BA at Cornell University and her Ph.D. at the SUNY Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Latimer obtained postdoctoral fellowship training at University of California, San Francisco with embryologist Roger Pedersen, and DNA repair biochemist James Cleaver.
Dr. Latimer was an independent researcher at University of Pittsburgh, Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Latimer developed a variation of a stem cell culture technique to create a tissue engineering system for human breast tissue and tumors, which was published and patented. Normal cultures differentiate into an organotypic breast plumbing system and can be used in cancer and environmental chemical testing studies.
Dr. Latimer teaches at the graduate and professional levels, as well as performing community outreach. She has participated in projects involving over 7 million dollars in funding (NIH, DOD, Komen, Pittsburgh, Florida BC Foundations), using these resources to train 37 undergraduates, 17 graduate students, 8 fellows. Her work has generated 30 scientific papers and 2 patents. She has generated landmark reports with California BC Foundation, Institute of Medicine, and the Center for Environmental Oncology. Her work centers on the etiology of sporadic BC, to understand the environmental causes of BC, including those differentially present in women of distinct ancestries. Her unique contributions include the generation of a large set of explants and cell lines (used in multiple US laboratories), representing all stages of BC, including normal breast epithelium. She has received a number of awards and press coverage in national and international media.
From Dr. Latimer: My laboratory has developed a number of important in vitro models related to the human breast and breast cancer. My background in developmental biology and murine embryonic stem cells has allowed my laboratory to establish a tissue engineering system that involves multiple autologous cell types from the non-diseased breast. We have established 48/48 reduction mammoplasty extended explants,12 of which are from African American patients. This system culminates in an organotypic breast epithelial/myoepithelial ductal system in vitro, after one month, over a field of stromal fibroblasts. We utilize a rich serum-containing medium based upon embryonic stem cell culture called MWRI. Tumors can also be placed into the same system although we perform this without any stromal contamination. Tumors do not form normal ductal architecture in this system but we have a successfully created over 55 human breast tumor cell explants (<13 passage) and cell lines (>13 passages) from tumors of stages 0-IV at an 85% success rate. Thirteen triple negative tumors have been successfully cultured as explants from European white and African American patients. We published a landmark paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science involving 19 stage I tumors as primary explants and loss of functional DNA repair. Both types of cultures (non diseased and malignant) contain stem cell populations shown in a paper published in Stem Cells. Our goal is to use these tumor cultures for drug development and discovery. Our goal for the non-diseased breast cultures is to use them as a model system for environmental chemical assessment.
Dmitriy Minond PhD, is a biochemist specializing in drug discovery with strong interest in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Minond received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Biochemistry from Odessa State University (Odessa, Ukraine) and doctorate in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL). Dr. Minond completed his post-doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute (2006-2010) after which became an Assistant Member at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies (2010-2015) and, consecutively, an Associate Professor at Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University (2015-2017). Dr. Minond has recently joined NSU as a Scientist at RGICR and Associate Professor at College of Allopathic Medicine. Dr. Minond is a member of International Proteolysis Society and American Peptide Society. Dr. Minond authored more 40 scientific articles and book chapters. He also serves as a reviewer for multiple scientific journals and grant review panels. Dr. Minond is a recipient of multiple grants, including Florida Biomedical Council and NIH R01 “HTS for selective inhibitors of meprin a and b” in collaboration with Scripps Florida.
Research Focus: Cancer
Lung and breast cancer combined account for the most deaths from cancer in both men and women in the United States. Both lung cancer and breast cancer are characterized by uncontrolled growth and metastasis of cancer cells.
Dr. Dmitriy Minond’s main research interest is a class of enzymes called ADAM proteases which are important in understanding of proliferation of such cancer cells. His laboratory is working on new methods to discover inhibitors of ADAM proteases in order to control cancer development. These inhibitors could be used as potential drug leads for developing novel anti-cancer therapeutics. Most of the ADAM inhibitors developed to date are not selective, resulting in toxicity. Dr. Minond hypothesizes that novel class of inhibitors that selectively inhibit specific ADAM proteases will be able to slow or stop the progression of cancer alone or in conjunction with existing therapies without side effects. This type of research contributes towards a discovery of treatments for cancer and expands the knowledge of biomedical and translational researchers working in the field of lung cancer and breast cancer.
• Role of ADAM family metalloproteases in cancer progression
• Discovering and developing inhibitors of ADAM metalloproteases as potential cancer drug candidates
Dr. Raymond Ownby is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Nova Southeastern University where he is also a Professor in the Public Health and Biomedical Informatics Programs. He completed his undergraduate education at Ohio University where he was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and completed his medical education at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. Dr. Ownby completed his residency training in psychiatry at the University of Miami during which he received awards from the National Institutes of Health as an Outstanding Psychiatry Resident as well as the American Psychiatric Association’s Resident Research Award. While at the University of Miami, he also completed the MBA program with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration and Policy. He has been selected for inclusion in Best Doctors in America and is board certified in Adult Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, Clinical Neuropsychology, and Neuropsychiatry. He has published more than 100 research articles and has been the recipient of several research grants from the National Institute of Health. In addition to leading the team that created the FLIGHT/VIDAS health literacy measure, at NSU he was awarded the Provost’s Research Award in 2014.
His current research includes two projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. These include the development of a mobile app targeting older individuals with low health literacy, and is designed to help them improve their ability to manage chronic health conditions. The other project investigates whether the use of transcranial direct current stimulation in combination with computer-based cognitive training can improve cognitive problems in persons with HIV infections.
Appu Rathinavelu, Ph.D., is serving as executive director of NSU’s Rumbaugh-Goodwin Institute for Cancer Research, shortly known as RGI, since 2007. Rathinavelu is leading RGI’s efforts to develop new therapeutics and treatment strategies for curing cancer. His research team at RGI is actively engaged in drug discovery research, genomics research, and making good strides in identifying the active compounds that are naturally found in plants and other sources that might enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
In addition to his role with the RGI, Rathinavelu is an Associate Dean of Institutional Planning and Development at NSU’s College of Pharmacy where he is holding the rank of Professor. Rathinavelu received his doctoral degree from the University of Madras in India, and conducted his post-doctoral training at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, before he joined NSU in 1992.
Some of his noteworthy accomplishments are, Rathinavelu was awarded the Fulbright Award for excellence in Teaching and Research in 2015. Rathinavelu has also received the U.S. patents for two antiangiogenic agents that were designed to fight breast, ovarian, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers. One of his newly discovered drugs has received patents from Japan, Korea, European Union, and Canada. Some of his other achievements include publishing more than 50 peer-reviewed research articles, serving on the editorial boards of scientific journals, co-authoring a text book, authoring several book chapters and delivering more than 100 presentations at national and international conferences. Since 1992 he has mentored more than 200 undergraduate students, professional degree students, graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows. In 2016 Rathinavelu received the ‘Distinguished Professor’ award from the President of Nova Southeastern University.