Poss Lab Member Spotlight

Jianhong Ou, Bioinformatician:

My areas of greatest interest include data integration and data mining of high-throughput experiments such as microarray, ChIP-chip, ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, miRNA-seq, iCLIP-seq/HIST-seq, ATAC-seq, and scRNA-seq for transcriptional regulation and post-transcriptional regulation. I aim to develop and apply computational tools (R/Bioconductor package) to analyze and integrate various data sources. As a Bioinformatician with more than 10 years of experience, I can bring considerable computational and analytic resources to alleviate the heavy tasks of research projects. I am an active developer in computational tools in the Bioconductor community. The high impact tools I developed and am maintaining include:

    •  ChIPpeakAnno
    • trackViewer
    • ATACseqQC
    • motifStack
    • GeneNetworkBuilder

In my spare time I enjoy visiting national parks. Here I am in Yellowstone:

Poss Lab Member Jianhong Ou, Yellowstone National Park


Kazunori Ando, PhD, Postdoc:

Originally from Takasaki city, Gunma prefecture, Japan, I completed my thesis and obtained my PhD at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. My thesis project focused on the study of osteoblast progenitor cells in zebrafish fin regeneration. I am proficient in molecular biology, histological techniques, transgenesis, and genome editing.  While in the Poss lab, my research focuses on gene regulation in zebrafish fin and heart regeneration by way of mutagenesis, gene editing techniques, and bioinformatics.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with friends and exploring fun destinations around the United States. Here I am in Key West with fellow Japanese postdocs from other labs in Duke’s Cell Biology department (That’s me on the far left):

Leslie Slota-Burtt, PhD, Postdoc:

Originally from South Florida, I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), where I worked in Marty Cohn’s lab on a project examining the evolution of cartilage.  I received my Ph.D. from Duke in Dave McClay’s lab where I focused on the evolution of the nervous system and on building gene regulatory networks that control neurogenesis in the sea urchin embryo.

In the Poss Lab, my research focuses on using the zebrafish to understand brain regeneration and on the the genes and signaling pathways required for repair of the brain after injury.Additionally, I use the regenerating fin to understand how genes are activated during regeneration.

In my spare time, I enjoy taking hikes with my family and putzing around in my garden. Here I am in Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France where I spent some time as a graduate student, holding my favorite developmental biology model organism-the sea urchin.


Valentina Cigliola, PhD, Postdoc:

After graduating from the University of Bari, Italy with a degree in Biology, I moved to the UK to attend the University of Cambridge for a research internship. While there I worked on cellular signals and pathways impacting mitochondrial activity and function during disease processes. Subsequently, I moved to Switzerland to attend the University of Geneva where I received my PhD.  My graduate work focused on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of spontaneous pancreatic b-cell regeneration in diabetes, mostly relying on the conversion of adult glucagon producing a-cells in insulin producers. In April of 2017, I came to Duke as a postdoctoral fellow. The scope of my research encompasses the molecular determinants underlying successful regeneration of the zebrafish spinal cord.



Amy Jackson, Administrative Coordinator:

As the Administrative Coordinator for the Poss Lab, my role involves working directly with the PI, Kenneth Poss, PhD to handle the business, human resources, funding, events, and travel for the lab. I am a graduate of North Carolina State with a BA in Sociology and came to the Poss Lab after five years at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. I am the mom to two daughters, Arden and Delaney, and one fantastic dog named Levi. In my spare time I enjoy reading, travel, and hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.  Here is a picture of me outside of the Leggs Inn in Cross Village, Michigan.


Ashley Rich, Ph.D, Postdoc:

I was raised in southern Illinois, and I earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biology from the University of Evansville in southern Indiana. I am fascinated by how cells organize themselves to generate tissues with elaborate forms and functions as well as how cells coordinate with each other to drive morphogenesis. During my PhD work at the University of Chicago, I investigated the role of small molecular switches, called RhoGTPases, during morphogenesis and polarization in Drosophila, the fruit fly. A large part of my thesis work involved developing optogenetic probes that enable light-dependent control of RhoGTPases in various tissues throughout Drosophila development. As a joint post-doc in the Poss and Di Talia labs I am investigating the mechanism(s) that control the size and shape of regenerated zebrafish fins, using live imaging and quantitative image analysis. Outside of the lab I enjoy distance running, hiking, and baking.


Ken Poss, Ph.D, Prinicpal Investigator:

I was born and grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and attended Carleton College in Minnesota for my bachelor’s degree in biology. My PhD research was with Susumu Tonegawa at MIT, also in biology. There I generated mouse mutants in heme oxygenases and followed their phenotypes wherever they took me. For postdoctoral work I moved to University of Utah to work with Mark Keating on tissue regeneration, and back to the Boston area when Mark moved the lab to Children’s Hospital. I started my lab at Duke 2003, and in 2016 I began directing Duke’s program in regenerative science and medicine. I am broadly interested in how and why tissue regeneration happens, and my biggest contribution has been elevating the zebrafish as a central model for regeneration. I am married with two teenage sons. I like forests and jungles, gardening in lieu of travel in pandemic times, casual fishing, and everything Maine.

Here I am with my dog, Quincy.


David Brown, M.D., Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Surgery and Director of Duke Wound Management Clinic:

I’m a plastic and reconstructive surgeon exploring the endless frontiers between surgery, science, and regenerative medicine. I’m originally from Colorado and did my M.D. and Ph.D. in California, then trained as a general surgeon in Seattle and as a plastic surgeon at Duke. I have a keen interest in how some animals can regrow body parts and why we can’t. My research, under the mentorship of Dr. Poss, is focused on the role of the epidermis in appendage and limb regeneration, including zebrafish fins and mouse digits. I am married and the proud father of two future surgeon-scientists.
Here is a photo of me multi-tasking with one of them.

David Brown, M.D., Ph.D.

Mira Pronobis, Ph.D. Postdoc:

The central focus of my research is to investigate proteomic changes during heart regeneration in the adult zebrafish. For this, I am using in vivo proximity labeling techniques such as BioID2 and affinity purification mass spectrometry.
I received my Diplom in Biology (equivalent to M.S. in Biology) from the University of Karlsruhe / Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany.  For my PhD, I joined Mark Peifer’s lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to investigate the mechanistic role of APC in the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in colorectal cancer cells and the fruit fly D. melanogaster . In 2016 I started my postdoc in Ken Poss’s lab to study tissue regeneration in the zebrafish model.
Fun things I like to do:
    • Run daily 3-6 miles with my 3 dogs
    • Hike the Appalachian trial in sections
    • Go camping at the beach and in the mountains
    • Painting
    • Meditation and yoga
    • Swimming
    • Travel

Here is a picture of me and my dog, Nala

Clay Becker, Graduate Student

I am originally from Evansville, Indiana and received my undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. There, I worked in Dr. David Hyde’s lab studying the role of metalloproteinases in retinal regeneration in zebrafish, which sparked an interest in regeneration of the nervous system that I have carried with me into my current graduate work. In the Poss Lab, I am studying the transcriptional control of spinal cord regeneration.

In my free time, I like to hike and volunteer at the local animal shelter. Here I am with my grouchy cat, Gil.

Clay Becker and Cat


Sushant Bangru, Ph.D. Postdoc:
Originally from Delhi, I completed my undergraduate studies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore where I worked on restriction-modification systems in Helicobacter pylori. I came to the states in 2015 and I received my Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign working in the lab of Dr. Auinash Kalsotra. For my graduate work, I investigated the role of post-transcriptional gene regulatory processes like splicing and translation in postnatal maturation and regeneration in the mouse liver. In the Poss and Di Talia labs, I am excited to explore regeneration in zebrafish using high-resolution quantitative imaging and genomics tools.
When not in the lab I am busy reading books (mostly fiction) and binging the latest tv shows and movies though occasionally I find myself outdoors visiting national parks and enjoying the vistas. Here I am at the cathedral spires in the black hills of South Dakota.
Sushant Bangru, Ph.D. at Cathedral Spires Black Hills
Jingwen Shen, Ph.D. Postdoc:

Coming from China, I received my undergraduate degree from Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Xi’an, Shaanxi, where I worked with Dr. Yuanqing Jiang& Bo Yang on the identification and functional characterization of MAP4K (Mitogen-activated protein kinases) in the oil plant (Brassica napus L.). I received my Ph.D. from Peking University in Dr. Yan Song’s lab on exploring biological function of mitotic retention of transcription factors during neuronal cell fate commitment in Drosophila.

In the Poss lab, my research is to understand activity regulation networks on tissue regeneration enhancer elements (TREEs) during zebrafish heart regeneration. Additionally, I also work on establishing tools to explore dynamics of extracellular matrix components in skeleton regeneration.

In my spare time, I like cooking, hiking and playing with my cat Fermi. Here is my cat!

Jingwen's cat Fermi