Lab Member

Dr. Mari Shinohara

PI of the lab, also the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of Duke Immunology. Had two previous experiences in the industry. One is at a Brewing Lab in a major Japanese whiskey/beer company, and another is a Danish pharma/biotech. In the first job, the beer tasting was a part of her job description (and loved it), but switched her career to immunology research. Enjoys various crafts, Brazilian music enthusiast, and ZIN (Zumba Instructor).

Current Members:

Dr. Nupur Aggarwal – Post-doctoral Associate

Nupur received her M.Sc. degree in Biochemistry from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India in 2011, where she investigated the role of SWH/Hippo signaling pathway in glioblastoma. She earned her PhD. in 2016 from Hannover Medical School (MHH), Germany where she investigated the impact of various form of Alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) and the genetic predisposition associated with this protein in human neutrophils and patients. She has authored four articles as a first author during her graduate studies. In the Shinohara lab, Nupur is working on projects to understand the role of Osteopontin (OPN) in various inflammatory disorders. In addition, she is working with different fungus like Cryptococcus- to understand its mechanism of action in immunocompromised patients; and anti TLR response of Mucor (Zygomyces) as well.  She has published a review article on “Understanding Mechanisms Underlying the Pathology of Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRIS) by Using Animal Models”.

Fun fact: Nupur’s passions expand beyond the lab and include hot yoga, painting and dancing. She loves to travel with her most recent adventures being to Puerto Rico.

Dr. Ban-yu Saitoh – Post-doctoral Associate

Ban-yu obtained his M.D. degree from Kumamoto University in Japan (2010). After he completed his residency for internal medicine and fellowship in neurology at Kyushu University and Hiroshima red cross and atomic-bomb survivor’s hospital in 2015, he entered the graduate school of medicine at Kyushu University in Japan.

During his graduate, he studied the effect of allergic asthma on microglia, a brain resident macrophage in early life, which leads to synaptic excess and autism-like behavior. His interest is focused on innate immunity in CNS and brain-peripheral communication in the broad context of neuro-immunological disorders. He joined Shinohara lab at Duke University in June 2021 and work on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and Alzheimer’s disease models.

He enjoys hiking, camping with his family and friends. He also liked to go on a small trip to hot springs in Japan.

Jonathan Borush – Lab Manager

Johnathan recently obtained his Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a concentration in Human Biology.  As an undergraduate he studied microbiome host organisms’ interaction and response to a pathogen’s presence in the western honeybee. After graduation he briefly worked in the industry as a molecular scientist for a medical diagnostics lab. Johnathan joined the Shinohara lab in August of 2021 and assists lab members with various assignments.  Johnathan hopes his experience in the Shinohara lab will align with his aspirations for further education in immunology. During his free time, Johnathan enjoys cooking, watching baseball and playing his guitars.

Jeremy Ratiu – PhD Student

Jeremy received his B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University in 2014. Following undergrad he spent three years in Bar Harbor, Maine at The Jackson Laboratory studying Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) under the guidance of Dr. Dave Serreze. While at Jax, Jeremy’s work focused on studying the role for class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation in B cells in T1D development as well as mechanisms of central T cell tolerance and development. Jeremy began his Ph.D training at Duke in 2017, first joining the laboratory of Dr. Yuan Zhuang where he studied the role of novel transcription factor Zinc Finger Protein 335 (Zfp335) in T cell development. In 2021 he joined the Shinohara lab where he continues his work on Zfp335 in T cell development with a focus on its role in restraining activation of the pattern recognition receptor cGAS by endogenous DNA. Jeremy maintains an active interest in basic cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and autoimmune disease. He enjoys teaching, mentoring, and development of novel laboratory tools and techniques.  

During his free time, Jeremy loves to travel with his partner Pim, play with his dog Jax, golf, and cook.

Estefany Reyes – PhD Student

Estefany earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish from Williams College in 2012. While at Williams, she pursued research on noncoding RNA generation in the yeast model of the yeast, S. cerevisiae.  Before beginning her Ph.D. training in at Duke, Estefany worked at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in southern California where she focused on understanding and defining the roles of noncoding RNAs in the regulation of gene expression in cancer and autoimmunity (miR-142 and miR-146a). Since joining the Shinohara lab in 2018, Estefany has been focusing on elucidating the role of central nervous system resident cells during cryptococcal meningitis. She maintains an active interest in infectious diseases, innate immunity, and neuroimmunology. She enjoys teaching, mentoring, and is an active advocate for increasing the diversity within the biological science.

During her free time, Estefany loves to travel with her two boys and husband. Independently, she loves to spend time with friends, hike, read, and learn new languages (currently fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian).

Elliot Lin – PhD Student

Elliot obtained my bachelor’s degree in Life Science and Exercise Science from National Taiwan Normal University in 2017. In the following two years, he received my master’s degree in Life Science from National Taiwan University. His master’s thesis project was focusing on the pathogenesis of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Elliot joined Shinohara in 2021 and works on functions of osteopontin in CNS diseases. During free time, he likes to go for a run, make coffee, drink coffee, and photography. Fun facts: Elliot used to be a track and field athlete competing at the top division collegiate sports in Taiwan. He used to work as a barista at a cat cafe. Before leaving Taiwan, he started picking up Muay Thai for hobby.

Devon DiPalm– MD/PhD Student

Devon is an MD/PhD student, joining the lab in 2021. He did his undergraduate training at Duke University, where he received a B.S. in neuroscience and B.A. in philosophy. His undergraduate research was focused on neuropharmacology, which resulted in graduation with distinction honor. After graduation, he spent two years at the NIH in the Experimental Immunology Branch, where he transitioned his research interests to the role of the 𝛄c family receptors in the development and homeostasis of different sub-populations of T cells. He looks forward to broadening his immunology research interests in the Shinohara lab.

Lab Babies


Maltepoo boy. Lots of energy in his small fluffy body. His job description is encouraging PI when she writes. Walking on foot is his signature move.


American short hair. Very food motivated. Loves canned fish and shrimp. Sleeps most of the time during the day. Likes to play on her mother Shengjie’s desk while she works on her computer. 


An American Bully who will do anything for food. He loves to sleep next to me (Stef) during zoom meetings. His favorite activities include, eating, sleeping, walking and playing with bubbles. Training in progress.


He enjoys walkng underfoot, goingout to bars with his dad, shredding his toys. He is living his best life as the little “person” that he thinks he is.


Black, sometimes white, small fellows. Arguably the most important contributors to all the lab projects. Thank you, little ones!

Past Members:

Previous postdoc

Current position: Assistant Professor, Comparative Biosciences
Assistant Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

Previous postdoc

Current position:  Assistant Professor, Tokyo Medical and Dental University Yushima Campus M & D Tower (東京医科歯科大学湯島キャンパスM&Dタワー)

Previous postdoc

Current position: Assistant Professor, Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan

Current position: Graduate Research Assistant at UMBC University of Maryland Baltimore County

Previous postdoc

Current position: Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Keio University, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Previous postdoc

Current Position: Department of Immunology and Immunopathology, Faculty of Medicine, Kagawa University, Kita-Gun, Kagawa, Japan

Current position: Solution consultant at Thomson Reuters, Seoul, Korea

Post-doctoral associate

Vincenzo stayed in the lab from Fall 2018 to Spring 2020 as a lab technician. He is a member of the Duke University Class of 2020 and graduated with a BS Neuroscience and BA Global Health. He worked with multiple students in the lab to coordinate genotyping. Additionally, he was involved with other projects, such as understanding the role of autophagy and inflammasome activation in astrocyte cell lines. After graduation, he will pursue a MSc Global Health from Duke University with hopes of researching chronic neurological diseases in the health sciences field.

Nathan was an undergraduate student and member of the Class of 2020 majoring in neuroscience and history. In the Shinohara lab, he completed his honor’s thesis by studying the NLRP3 inflammasome and how modifications to components of the inflammasome affect assembly and downstream signaling. After graduation, Nathan came back to Duke in 2021 for the MD program.


Tomoko finished her Master’s Degree (Engineering) in Soka University, Japan in 2005. She worked as a Research Technician in Research Center for Glycoscience (Medical Glycoscience), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan from 2005 to 2015. She stayed in the Shinohara lab during 2017-2020 as a lab technician.

Dr. Toshiaki Nonaka was a visiting clinician scholar from 2018-2020. He is a neurologist at Nagasaki University in Japan.

Shengjie obtained her PhD in 2020. Her thesis project focuses on the heterogeneity in alveolar macrophage populations during fungal infection and published a wonderful paper in Science Immunology. She currently work at Merck Sharp & Dohme. Shengjie also exhibited her talent in various DIYs. 🙂

Emre was Duke Undergraduate Class of 2020, majoring in neuroscience with minors in chemistry and biology. He completed his honor’s thesis by studying the role of C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) in CNS autoimmunity and the interplay between metabolism and CLR signaling. Now, he continues working at Shinohara Lab as a Research Tech. Emre has also spent time studying antibody/antigen interactions at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. After graduation, Emre started his Tri-Institutional MSTP education at Cornell/Rockfellor/Sloan Kettering in 2021

Elizabeth has completed her PhD in 2021 and is currently completnig the MD/PhD progra. She studied C-type lectin receptor signaling in neuroinflammation, specifically in the EAE model of Multiple Sclerosis. She completed her undergraduate training at Yale University and has previous research experience at the Jackson Laboratory, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Yale University, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). She is a recipient of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F30). Her long-term goal as a physician-scientist is to understand the role of the innate immune system in neurologic disorders.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, birding, reading, and spending time with family and friends.


Twitter: @MEDeerhake

Will received his B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and French from Case Western Reserve University in 2014.  He was a PhD student in the lab and completed PhD in 2021. His projects revolved around innate immune system interactions within the central nervous system. He has worked primarily on understanding novel modes of inflammasome signaling in the mouse model of neuroinflammation, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), in order to gain insight into the underpinnings of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Secondarily, he has conducted work in collaboration with other lab members to investigate mechanisms of disease development in cryptococcal meningitis-driven Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRIS).  Will enjoyed brewing beer and mead, experimenting with graphic design software, and has been known to play the highland bagpipe on occasion.