Dr. M. Andrea Azcarate-Peril, Director

 M. Andrea Azcarate-Peril, Ph. D. is Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and  Physiology in the School of Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill.  Dr. Azcarate-Peril currently conducts research in modulation of the host-associated microbiota by prebiotics and probiotics. She has extensive experience in physiology and functional genomics of probiotic strains. Dr. Azcarate-Peril uses molecular biology, genomics, and next-generation sequencing tools to address questions relevant to the role of the intestinal microbiota in human health and disease.


Dr. Fodor is Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte. His lab focuses on using High-throughput sequencing technologies to characterize microbial diversity and function in human-associated microbial communities. Dr. Fodor is a member of the data analysis working group of the Human Microbiome Project. His lab has long-standing interest in bioinformatics algorithms and development of new tools for the visualization and interpretation of genomic data.



Dr. Natasha Butz, Technical Director

Natasha Butz

Dr. Butz is the Technical Director of the Microbiome Core Facility. She got her Ph. D in Genetics in Kiev, Ukraine and has been a postdoctoral fellow at Lerner Research Institute Cleveland Clinic Foundation and at Department of Genetics at UNC. She also had a previous appointment as a Research Associate at the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutic (School of Pharmacy, UNC). Dr. Butz provides research support to investigators in the study of complex microbial communities using molecular techniques and in particular, Next Generation Sequencing platforms. She possesses an extensive experience in classical methods and modern techniques of cellular and molecular biology with emphasis on assay design and development, providing her ability to design, perform and interpret experiments in order to analyze complex microbial populations.  Dr. Butz has published the results of her research in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters,  participated in national and international meetings and has been a recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Research Training Grant.


Dr. Kwintkiewicz is the Core Laboratory Manager. He received his Ph. D from the University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, Poland/Yale University School of Medicine. He had a postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, and later appointments at UCSF, NIEHS and USDA. Dr. Kwintkiewicz has extensive experience in cellular and molecular biology methods, experimental design, and data interpretation. He has trained numerous students and junior scholars in laboratory techniques including cutting-edge, high throughput methods of gene sequence analysis.


Dr. Jason Arnold, Postdoctoral Research Associate

 Dr. Jason Arnold received his PhD in molecular microbiology/microbial ecology from SUNY at Buffalo in often snow-covered western NY.  Thesis work focused on the evolution of microbial pathogens driven by predator-prey interactions between eukaryotic bacteriovores and their bacterial prey.  Upon receiving the PhD in May 2015, Jason migrated south to UNC Chapel Hill and joined the Microbiome Core Facility as a post-doctoral researcher.

Jason’s primary research interest is on better understanding the mechanisms by which the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus enhance health and metabolism of their hosts.  By using a genetics/genome editing approach, genes responsible for bacterial metabolism will be investigated.  The interactions between host and microbiome will be studied via mouse model, focusing on diet and its role in maintaining a healthy microbial community. 

Some of Jason’s non-scientific hobbies include keeping and breeding genetic variants of a number of reptile species, competitive gaming, and musical performance.