Trainees

Bone Center Trainees

  • Rafay Ahmed

    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Lab Phone
    (615) 322-7184
    Lab Address
    MCN
    1161 21st Ave S
    Room / Suite
    B0213
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Rafay Ahmed received his PhD from City University of Hong Kong in 2019. There he diagnosed the healing of calvarial defects by assessing the molecular and elemental changes using Raman spectroscopy, X-Ray fluorescence spectroscopy, optical profiling and microscopies. Additionally, he developed the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy system in his lab that was used for several elemental studies including bones, teeth, thyroid, Red blood cells etc. Currently, Rafay is working as postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Nyman’s lab on the development of Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy to translate it for clinical assessment of bone matrix quality; to diagnose the reasons of fragility fractures in type 2 diabetes; fatigue testing of cortical bones using single edge notch bend specimen and assessing the ability of Raman spectroscopy to predict mechanical properties of human bone.

  • Erik Beadle

    Graduate Student
    Cancer Biology
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Erik is a 4th-year cancer biology graduate student in the Rhoades lab. He came to Vanderbilt in 2016 after completing his bachelor’s in biology (2014) and master’s in molecular science and nanotechnology (2016) at Louisiana Tech University. Erik’s master’s thesis focused on transcriptional control of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, which corresponded well to the research in the Rhoades lab.  His current research is focused on solidifying the link between Gli2 and PTHrP in tumor-induced bone disease while identifying how this interaction facilitates the development of osteosarcoma. 

  • Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215B Garland Avenue
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Natalie is from Nashville, TN and graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she received a BA through the College Scholars Program in Cancer Biology & Cellular Metabolism. She is a graduate student in the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program and is conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Rhoades. Her project focuses on myeloid cell regulation in bone metastatic disease.

  • Casey Butrico

    Graduate Student
    Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Lab Phone
    615-936-8476
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1035
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    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.

  • Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Courtney attended Hampton University where she graduated with her B.S. in Biochemistry (2016). She is currently a graduate student in the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program and a member of the Johnson Lab. Her project focuses on understanding how histone deacetylase inhibition can promote breast tumor dormancy. 

  • David Florian

    Graduate Student
    Biomedical Engineering
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1155
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    David Florian graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics. His research focuses on modeling and imaging the bone-tumor microenvironment to study the complex process of metastatic seeding and outgrowth of tumor cells in the bone marrow.

  • Dustin Groff

    Graduate Student
    Chemical Engineering
    Lab Phone
    (615) 343-4977
    Lab Address
    Olin Hall
    2400 Highland Ave
    Room / Suite
    107
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37235

    Dustin received his B.S. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the University of Arizona in May of 2015. He then spent one year working for W.L Gore Medical in Phoenix, AZ before returning to school. Dustin joined the Guelcher lab in August of 2016 and his researched is focused on the characterization of polyurethane based scaffolding for bone tissue remodeling.

  • Elizabeth Hennen

    Graduate Student
    Biomedical Engineering
    Lab Phone
    (615)-875-6095
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    P410
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Elizabeth graduated from Roger Williams University in 2021 with a degree in Engineering and specialization in Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on the mechanism by which hypertension promotes osteoclast formation. She is currently a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt.  

  • Greg Lowen

    Graduate Student
    Biomedical Engineering

    Greg attended Brown University where he graduated with his B.S. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (2012). After three and half years of research and project management at Orica Limited in Denver, he came to Vanderbilt and joined the Guelcher lab in October 2016. Greg is investigating how mechanical stress affects osteoblast/osteoclast activity in polyurethane composite grafts.

  • Ananya Nandy, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Medicine
    Lab Address
    Medical Research Building IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    I received my PhD from Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in New Delhi, India in 2020. My thesis work was focused on lipid metabolism in tuberculosis. I was trying to find out how Mtb rewires its physiology to adapt to lipid rich niche which it faces in human granuloma post infection. I joined Beth’s lab in January 2021 as a post-doctoral researcher. Currently, I am studying the importance of lipid metabolism in the maintenance of bone homeostasis.

  • Tolu Omokehinde

    Graduate Student
    Cancer Biology
    Lab Phone
    (615) 936-0709
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215-B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1255
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Tolu attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in May of 2016. He is currently a fourth-year student and is conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Rachelle Johnson.

  • Chris Peek

    MSTP
    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1035
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    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. 

  • Jenna Petronglo

    Graduate Student
    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Lab Phone
    615-936-8476
    Lab Address
    MRB IV
    2215b Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1035
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    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.

Bone Center Staff

  • Sasidhar Uppuganti, MS

    Lab Manager
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Lab Phone
    (615) 322-7184
    Lab Address
    MCN
    1161 21st Ave S,
    Room / Suite
    B0213
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37232

    Sasi graduated with a Masters in BME from University of Akron, Ohio in 2010. After a brief stint in the industry with Philips Respironics (Monroeville, PA) as an Engineering Assistant, he joined the Nyman lab in August 2011. He assists with the research studies for Dr. Nyman, VCBB collaborators, Vanderbilt Orthopaedic department, and other industry projects; besides overseeing the daily operation and management of the Bone Biomechanics laboratory. He has strong technical skills with hands-on experience in Micro-CT, 1H NMR, Raman spectroscopy, SEM imaging, and biomechanical testing of bone.

  • Lawrence (Tony) Vecchi, III, MS

    Research Assistant III
    Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology
    Lab Address
    MRB 4 (Light Hall)
    2215B Garland Ave
    Room / Suite
    1175
    Nashville
    Tennessee
    37212

    Tony attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he graduated with his B.S. in Biology. His current research consists of studying how disseminated tumor cells exit dormancy and metastasize to the bone by using transgenic mouse models, qPCR, Western blotting, and other techniques. He is currently a graduate student in the Master of Laboratory Investigation program at Vanderbilt.

Bone Center Alumni

Graduate Students:

Vera Todd, 2021
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Thomas Spoonmore, 2021
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Kristin Kwakwa, 2021
Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Rhoades

James Houdelette, 2021
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Ian Houdelette, 2021
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Julie Rhoades

Caleb Ford, 2021
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jim Cassat

Lauren Boller, 2021
Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Adrian Alepuz, 2020
Master’s Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Gokhan Unlu, 2019
Cell and Developmental Biology
Dr. Ela Knapik

Nicole Putnam, 2019
Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Dr. Jim Cassat

Aimee Potter (Wilde), 2019
Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
Dr. Jim Cassat

Miranda Sowder, 2019
Cancer Biology
Dr. Rachelle Johnson

Joe Vanderburgh, 2019
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Madison McGough, 2018
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Amy Creecy, 2018
Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Sichang Lu, 2018
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher

Denise Buenrostro, 2018
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Patrick Mulcrone, 2017
Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Shellese Cannonier, 2016
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Julie Sterling

Ushashi Dadwal, 2016
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Julie Sterling / Dr. Scott Guelcher

Daniel Levic, 2015
Cell and Developmental Biology
Dr. Ela Knapik

Matthew Karolak, 2015
​Pharmacology
Dr. Florent Elefteriou

Alex Makowski, 2015
​Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Jeffry Nyman

Preston Campbell, 2012
​Pharmacology
Dr. Florent Elefteriou

Na Lian, 2011
​Pharmacology
Dr. Xiangli Yang

Rachelle Johnson, 2011
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Lynn Matrisian / Dr. Julie Sterling

Weiguang Wang, 2011
​Pharmacology
Dr. Xiangli Yang

Nazanin Ruppender, 2011
​Chemical Engineering
Dr. Scott Guelcher / Dr. Julie Sterling

Jessica Fowler, 2010
​Cancer Biology
Dr. Claire Edwards

Postdocs:

Miranda Sowder (Johnson Lab)

Mustafa Unal (Nyman Lab)

Sabrina Danilin (Sterling Lab)

Mathilde Granke (Nyman Lab)

Yun Ma (Elefteriou Lab)

Jean Ndong de le Croix (Elefteriou Lab)

Koichiro Ono (Elefteriou Lab)

Beth Rendina-Ruedy (Perrien Lab)

​Guillaume Vignaux (Elefteriou Lab)