Title: Research Associate Professor
Dr. Wang has worked with Dr. Harnett for seven years, first at UNC as a post-doctoral student, then moving to Utah. She has a strong interest in retinal diseases and is particularly interested in the signaling pathways involved in retinal endothelial and epithelial cell motility, migration, and junctional properties.
Before joining Dr. Hartnett's laboratory, she received training in the field of metabolic diseases for four years, focusing on the G-protein coupled receptor signaling pathway in regulating energy metabolism and accrued rich experiences in molecular biology, cell biology, and signaling cascades.
In the past seven years, Drs. Hartnett and Wang have addressed questions regarding physiologic and pathologic angiogenesis, specifically of signaling pathways involving VEGF/VEGF receptor, erythropoietin (EPO)/EPO receptor, Rac1, CCR3, and Rap1 in regulating pathologic angiogenesis in neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Her role as co-investigator is to perform in vitro experiments assessing cell signaling (eg., VEGF, Rac1, CCR3, and Rap1), protein interactions, and cell transduction with adenoviral constructs and with IQGAP1 binding domain mutant constructs.
Dr. Wang is also responsible for siRNA/shRNA techniques, those involving in vitro mechanisms of IQGAP1 and Thy-1/IQGAP1 interactions. She also performs and oversees analyses of Western blots, PCR, and ELISAs on tissue and cell samples that are done by others in the laboratory.
She works with Dr. Hartnett and the laboratory team to address research frameworks; she generates hypotheses and designs experiments to test these as results are obtained. She also helps to train post-doctoral students and technicians and in writing manuscripts. As a team leader, Dr. Wang understands the importance of building good communication among team members and the necessity to address milestones.
Colin Bretz, PhD
Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr. Colin Bretz is a postdoctoral research fellow studying normal and aberrant signaling mechanisms associated with ocular disease in Dr. Hartnett’s laboratory. He works on erythropoietin and VEGF signaling as related to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
Before joining the lab, he completed his doctorate in the lab of John Penn, PhD, at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, where he focused on identifying critical and potentially therapeutic signaling targets important in the pathogenesis of ocular diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, ROP, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Dr. Bretz obtained his master’s degree in Biology from Wake Forest University, where he studied stress hormone signaling using genetic dissection in a Drosophila model system. He received his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University.
Title: MD, PhD Student
Aniket Ramshekar is an MD-PhD student at the University of Utah who is studying signaling mechanisms to prevent choroidal neovascularization. Before joining the Hartnett Lab, Ramshekar earned an Honors BS Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology and MSE in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where his honors thesis in the lab of Dr. David Antonetti focused on understanding barrier properties of endothelial cells.
Ramshekar is working on signaling mechanisms involved in AMD and particularly the effects of effector binding to the multi-domain protein, IQGAP1, in endothelial cells.
Title: Senior Lab Specialist
Eric Kunz joined Dr. Hartnett's team in 2015 as a lab technician and was promoted in March 2020 to senior lab specialist. His primary research interest is in cell signaling. He worked for two years in the Janis Weis Immunology Lab assisting with studies regarding long-term immune responses to Lyme disease.
Kunz has worked in AMD and ROP experimental studies, helping to optimize and provide expertise in experimental models.
Title: Lab Administrator
Maisa Gomez is the lab administrator. She is responsible for planning and facilitating equipment maintenance, organizing supplies, and lab materials logistics, as well as coordinating scheduling and other tasks to ensure the lab runs smoothly.