Dr. Borok’s Lab

Amy Ryan (Firth), PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Ryan’s research is focused on the development and regulation of stem cells in the human lung in the context of health and disease. Her laboratory uses patient-derived iPSC and primary human airway epithelial cells, state-of-the-art gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR, and in vitro model systems such as spheroid and organoid cultures to a) model and study mechanisms of lung disease development and b) investigate approaches for tissue regeneration and stem cell-mediated repair of the airway epithelium. She is particularly focused on mechanisms of ciliogenesis and associated rare lung diseases. Since joining the USC faculty her achievements have also been recognized through selection as one of three finalists for the Professional Achievement Award in the United States for the British Council Education UK Alumni Awards 2017 and was awarded the Assembly on Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology’s Carol Basbaum Award for recognition of outstanding scientific achievement and leadership potential. Ryan (Firth) Laboratory: firthlab.usc.edu

Beiyun Zhou, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. Zhou’s major areas of research interest are transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of pulmonary alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) differentiation and plasticity; role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and chaperone protein GRP78 in epithelial abnormalities during in a disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Her current research includes the role of ER stress in mediating senescence, apoptosis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), leading to pulmonary fibrosis; mechanisms underlying aberrant interaction between stressed AEC and mesenchymal cells and related signaling pathways (e.g., transforming growth factor-ß1 (TGF-ß1)).

Dr. Zhou earned her Master’s in Microbiology from the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She then went on to complete her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology at USC.

Honjun Wang, Ph.D.

Research Specialist

Responsible for doing research on an assigned topic. Experienced in animal care including breeding, weaning, genotyping and recording; lung surgery; optimal cutting temperature (OCT) compound embedding; histology; immunostaining; generation of viruses; cell culture and cryopreservation; RNA extraction; PCR and cloning.

Dr. Wang graduated from Peking University School of Basic Medical Sciences, China.

Janice Liebler, M.D.

Professor of Clinical Medicine

Dr. Liebler’s major areas of research include studying the growth and differentiation of pulmonary alveolar epithelial cells in health and disease. She is especially interested in the translational medicine aspects of pulmonary fibrosis. Her current research includes assessing the role of epithelial cell polarity in normal lung cells and how deranged polarity signals may promote abnormal cellular architecture in lung disease. Dr. Liebler is also involved in clinical research studies focused on learning how to better care for patients in the intensive care unit with severe lung disease.

Reem Elterafi, Ph.D.

Research Lab Tech III/Supervisor

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology engineering from the University of Gezira, Sudan in 1999, Reem worked as high school science teacher in a private school in the Los Angeles private for over 7 years. In 2007, she decided to go back to school and received her Master’s in Biochemistry form California Sate University Los Angeles under the supervision of Dr. Robert Vellanoweth investigating the role of lipid transfer protein in the regulation of senescing in plants. Upon graduation, she moved to UCLA to work as a Research Associate under the supervision of Dr. James Liao in the department of Chemical and Bimolecular engineering working on to engineer an efficient cycle for carbon fixation in plants, cyanobacteria and E. coli. She then moved to USC to work in the department of Pulmonary and Critical care under the supervision of Dr. Zea Borok and Dr. Amy Ryan (Firth) working on the generation of new induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines with fluorescent reporters for tracking cell differentiation. Her training in Biochemistry and Molecular biology has provided her with the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of scientific research, ranging from biofuels to medical research

Yixin Liu, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Responsible for doing research on an assigned topic, and providing analysis and reporting. Experienced in Western; Immunostaining; imaging; cell counting; co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP); Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP); primary culture for rat, mouse and human alveolar epithelial cells (AEC); AEC 3-D culture; animal surgery.

Dr. Liu graduated from Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, China.