I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2008. During my undergraduate years here, I developed an interest in biomedical research and worked with a lab nearby at Duke University Neurosurgery as well as a group in UNC Gastroenterology. I decided to continue my work with the UNC group and pursue graduate study with the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology in 2009.
My main interests are in basic and translational stem cell and regenerative medicine research. The Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology at UNC fits my personal research interests by creating an environment that couples excellence in basic science with an understanding of human physiology and disease. Additionally, there is a level of collegiality between faculty, staff, and students that makes the Department feel like “home”.
I am currently conducting research on intestinal epithelial stem cells with Drs. Kay Lund and Scott Magness. We are specifically interested in the genetic regulation of intestinal epithelial stem cell populations by the Sox family of transcription factors. Understanding how stem cell populations self-renew and differentiate in adult tissues could lead to novel therapeutics applicable to degenerative disease, injury, and cancer. As a secondary interest, we are collaborating with biomedical engineers and chemists to develop novel technologies that will facilitate the study of somatic stem cell populations.
Gracz, AD, Puthoff, BJ and ST Magness (2011). Identification, isolation, and culture of intestinal epithelial stem cells from murine intestine. In Singh S. R. (Ed.), Somatic Stem Cells: Methods and Protocols, Series: Methods in Molecular Biology, Humana (Springer), New York. (book chapter, accepted)
Gracz AD, Magness ST. Sry-box (SOX) transcription factors in gastrointestinal physiology and disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):G503-15. Review.
von Furstenberg RJ, Gulati AS, Baxi A, Doherty JM, Stappenbeck TS, Gracz AD, Magness ST, Henning SJ. Sorting mouse jejunal epithelial cells with CD24 yields a population with characteristics of intestinal stem cells. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Mar;300(3):G409-17.
Gracz AD, Ramalingam S, Magness ST. Sox9 expression marks a subset of CD24-expressing small intestine epithelial stem cells that form organoids in vitro. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 May;298(5):G590-600.
NCTraCS $2K Pilot Grant (PI): Identifying cell-surface markers for the isolation of intestinal stem cells from human tissue", May 2011
Funding period 6/1/11-6/1/12.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: Honorable Mention, April 2011