Jim CassatAssistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology, and ImmunologyDivision of Pediatric Infectious Diseases615-936-6494Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Jim was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. After completing undergraduate studies and medical school at the University of Arkansas, Jim moved onto Music City for a residency in Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Jim joined Vanderbilt faculty in July 2014.
Osteomyelitis, Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis, pediatric infectious diseases
Host-pathogen interactions during musculoskeletal infection, bone biology, osteoimmunology, Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis
Chris PeekMSTP StudentLab Phone615-936-6494Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Chris is a Nashville native and graduated Davidson College in 2015 where he focused his research on RSV replication and attachment. He's back in Nashville for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and has switched gears from virology to bacteriology. His current project focuses on the role of inflammatory signaling and the gut microbiome in IBD mediated bone loss. Outside the lab, Chris enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, hiking, live music, and coffee.
Casey ButricoGraduate Student, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and ImmunologyLab Social Chair615-936-8476Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Casey is a graduate student in the Microbe Host Interactions program. She is originally from New Jersey and received her B.S. in Biology from Gettysburg College. Casey worked at Janssen R&D in the Translational Oncology Disease Area Stronghold before joining the Cassat lab in 2018. Her research focuses on S. aureus metabolism and abscess formation during osteomyelitis in the context of comorbid immune-modulating conditions, including diabetes. Outside of lab, Casey enjoys running and exploring Nashville coffee shops.
Jenna PetrongloGraduate Student, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology615-936-8476Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Jenna attended Fordham University where she majored in Biological Sciences and completed a research thesis on the ecology of the black-legged tick, the major vector of Lyme disease. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a research technician at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine and assisted in projects studying Huntington's disease. She joined the IGP in 2017 and the Cassat lab in 2018. Her project focuses on how inflammation generated during the innate immune response to S. aureus osteomyelitis affects osteoclast differentiation and function.
Brittney GimzaPostdoctoral FellowDivision of Pediatric Infectious DiseasesLab Phone615-936-8476Light Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Brittney attended the University of South Florida where she earned a B.S. in Microbiology and then a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology. Her Ph.D work was done in the laboratory of Dr. Les Shaw where she studied the transcriptional regulation of Staphylococcus aureus secreted proteases, as well as how these secreted proteases regulate disease progression via their modulation of virulence factor stability. In Spring 2020, Brittney joined the Cassat lab as a postdoctoral research fellow where she is working to understand the mechanisms S. aureus uses to withstand antibiotic treatment in an osteomyelitis infection. Outside of the lab, Brittney enjoys hiking and biking.
Kara is from Whitehall, PA and earned a B.S. in Biology from Susquehanna University. She received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology working in the laboratory of Dr. William Goldman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Yersinia pestis interactions with host cells during primary pneumonic plague. Kara joined the Cassat lab in 2020 as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease. Her project seeks to understand the consequences of co-infection on osteomyelitis disease progression. In her free time, Kara enjoys running, reading, and watching UNC basketball (go Heels!!).
Caroline MintonResearch AssistantDivision of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Caroline graduated from Harding University in her home state of Arkansas with a B.S. in Biology. Following her undergraduate studies, she attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and received a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Infectious Disease. Caroline now works full-time as a research assistant in the Cassat lab. In her free time, she likes to go running, embroider, and attend (socially-distanced) concerts.
Clara SiMSTP Student
Clara was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and attended NYU for her undergraduate studies, where she double majored in Biochemistry and Classics. She began her research journey at The Rockefeller University working under Dr. Charles Rice, before moving to NYU Langone as a founding member of the Dittmann Laboratory. She joined the Vanderbilt MSTP in 2019. In the Cassat Lab, her research focuses on the role of RANKL signaling in regulating the antibacterial response in monocytes. In her free time, Clara loves working out, cooking for a crowd, and playing with her cat, Fig Blossom.
Juan P. BarrazaPostdoctoral FellowDepartment of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Juan was born in Mexico City and earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. He started his graduate work in Austin with Marvin Whiteley and moved with his lab to Georgia Tech, where he obtained his PhD. His work focused on the development of tools for characterizing the spatial structure of microbial communities within the context of infectious diseases. In 2022, Juan started his postdoctoral work in a joint venture with the Cassat and Skaar lab at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. His project incorporates quantitative imaging, clinical samples and single cells assays to answer basic questions about host-pathogen interactions in the gut. He is an avid cyclist, live music enthusiast and is working towards developing a world-class taco experience from his kitchen.
Aimee Potter (Wilde)Graduate StudentDepartment of Pathology, Microbiology, and ImmunologyLab Phone615-936-8476Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Aimee completed her B.S. in Biology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with minors in Chemistry and History. Aimee joined the Cassat lab with an interest in studying oxygen regulated mediators of virulence in Staphylococcus aureus. She completed an undergraduate honors thesis studying S. aureus in the Richardson lab at Chapel Hill, so she has followed her love of the bug into graduate school! Aimee graduated from the Microbiology and Immunology program in August of 2019, and is pursuing a career in academia with a post doc in the laboratory of Alison Criss at the University of Virginia.
Andrew HendrixResearch Assistant
Andrew hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Science Pre-Professional graduate of the University of Notre Dame. His laboratory background includes medical bacteriology and breast cancer cell research. He was also a scholarship quarterback for the Fighting Irish football team, and attended rookie mini-camp with the Cincinnati Bengals. Andrew joined the lab in the Fall of 2015, as a research assistant I and lab manager extraordinaire. He is currently pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a physician.
Daniel MarkwalterMedical Student
Daniel grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. and attended Bucknell University as a biomedical engineer. During his undergraduate years, his research included development of nanoparticle dispersion protocols for the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as biosensor development for markers of traumatic brain injury. He is now a third-year medical student pursuing his interest in research. Outside of academics, Daniel enjoys writing songs, discovering up-and-coming Nashville musicians, and track and field.
Ian HurfordResearch AssistantDivision of Pediatric Infectious Diseases615-936-8476Light Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Ian is from St. Louis, MO, and was an undergraduate researcher in the Cassat lab during his time at Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he began work full-time as a research assistant. His research focuses on the role of several key genes in the bone cell response to the hypoxic osteomyelitic environment. In his free time, Ian likes to exercise, eat good food, and daydream about future travels.
Jacob CurryResearch Assistant IILab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Jacob is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. During his undergraduate years, his research experiences covered antioxidant degradation and organic synthesis of amino acid analogs. Jacob joined the lab as Research Assistant in the Summer of 2016 and left to pursue his master's degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic medicine in 2019.
Laura FulbrightResearch Assistant IILab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Laura is from Lexington, NC and received a B.A. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an undergraduate student, she studied SIR2 involvement in the recruitment of condensin to sites of tension in the chromatin in the Bloom lab. After graduation, she worked as a Research Technician II in the lab of Janelle Arthur at UNC-CH investigating how the yersiniabactin high-pathogenicity island of resident E. coli modulates the host response in the context of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Laura joined the Cassat lab to study osteoimmunology and host-pathogen interactions in S. aureus osteomyelitis. She has since pursued a career at Covance as a Study Start Up Associate.
Nicole PutnamGraduate StudentDepartment of Pathology, Microbiology, and ImmunologyLab Phone615-936-8476Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Niki is originally from Wisconsin and received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She then earned her Sc.M. in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She joined the lab in 2015 and her research focus is on osteoimmunology in the context of S. aureus osteomyelitis. Niki defended her thesis in the summer of 2019 and is currently at the NIH completing a fellowship in clinical microbiology.
Thomas SpoonmoreResearch EngineerLab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Tom hails from Indianapolis, IN and received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. During his time as an undergraduate, his primary research was focused on polymeric thin film membranes for water filtration using size exclusion chromatography. Tom received his PhD in the Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt and was co-mentored by Dr. Cassat. His project focused on novel delivery strategies to combat bone-dwelling biofilm infections. Tom now works as a research engineer at a small materials company that focuses on the development of innovative materials that eliminate microbes from high-touch surfaces. He works with a team of engineers, physicists, and chemists to improve, implement, and develop light-activated nano-engineered products.
Viriginia Cruz-VictorioResearch AssistantDepartment of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology615-936-8476Lab AddressLight Hall2215-B Garland AveRoom / Suite1035NashvilleTennessee37232
Virginia was born in LA, CA but spent most of her life in Nashville. She went to Union College in New York where she received her B.S. in Neuroscience. Her future plans include earning her M.D. and using it to do volunteer work abroad. Outside of the lab, Virginia enjoys camping, hiking, reading, and traveling.