Members and Alumni

Kourtidis Lab Team

Antonis KourtidisAntonis Kourtidis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

I obtained my PhD in Molecular Biology and Evolution from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and then became specialized in RNAi and Epithelial Cancer Biology as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics, SUNY, and as a Research Associate and Instructor at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. I love all things cell-cell adhesion, RNA, epithelial and cancer biology - although barely limited to those. In my “free” time, I like to delve into astrophysics, cosmology, evolution, the origins of life (remnant bug from my PhD years) and learning about all things science. I also like running, biking, photography, chess, music, the ocean, and good wine. Oh, and strong coffee…lots of it!

Joyce NairMenonJoyce Nair-Menon, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist - Laboratory Manager

During my post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, I investigated the molecular immunological aspects of rejection in Xeno transplantation. As a Research Associate at USC Columbia, I studied the effects of alkylphenols and polychlorinated biphenyls on immune function and reproductive capacity. I also worked on the effects of vitreous on the epithelial to mesenchymal like transformation of retinal epithelial cells leading to proliferative vitreoretinopathy, a major cause of vision loss in developed countries. More recently at MUSC, I was investigating how the malignant nature of lung cancer is driven by epithelial-mesenchymal transformation and cancer stem cells. My current work in the lab focuses on elucidating the role of adherens junctions in cancer progression.

Mary Catherine BridgesMary Catherine Bridges, M.Sc.
Ph.D. Graduate Student

Following my undergraduate career at the University of Georgia, I obtained my Masters degree in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston. For my Masters thesis, I cloned and characterized a novel fluorescent protein from the diseased tissues of a coral species. My background in Molecular Biology facilitated a transition into the biomedical research field. I worked for several years at MUSC in the Pathology Department studying the role of miRNAs in aging and reparative processes of the inner ear. As a Ph.D. student, I am continuing to pursue my interest in RNA biology and non-coding RNAs in the context of pro-tumorigenic transformation of epithelial cells.

Amanda DaulagalaAmanda Daulagala, B.S.
Ph.D. Graduate Student

During my junior year of undergraduate studies, I studied the interaction between two bacteria in the gut microbiota of Drosophila melanogaster. In the senior year, I focused on biochemical studies and investigated Carbon Monoxide effects in redox state in cells. Since obtaining my Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Oswego, I worked in the department of Chemistry at the same university and studied the inhibition of Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase by Diabetic related plants. In addition, I investigated the effect of vacation on certain biomolecules. As a graduate student, I am focusing my studies on the role of the adherens junctions, miRNAs and the RNAi machinery in gastrointestinal diseases.

Alyssa RisnerAlyssa Risner, B.S.
Ph.D. Graduate Student

I graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. As an undergraduate, I conducted olfactory memory assays using transgenic Drosophila as a model for Alzheimer’s disease. I was also selected as a summer researcher for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSFREU) at Coastal Carolina University to analyze temperature and wind pattern data from NASA’s AURA satellite. To become well-rounded in molecular biology techniques, I participated in the South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) program. For this project, I studied the toxic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia which is known to be associated with toxic algal blooms. My current studies as a Ph.D. student at MUSC aim into elucidating novel interactions of cadherin junctions with RNA-binding proteins and small RNAs, and their roles in pro-tumorigenic transformation of epithelial cells.

Christina KingsleyChristina Kingsley, B.S.
D.M.D./Ph.D. Graduate Student

I graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a B.S. after completing a double major in Biology and Sociology. During my undergraduate studies, I conducted microbiology and immunology research looking at the influence of the Camellia sinensis plant, the source of green and black tea, on macrophage cell activity. I was selected as a Hauber Research Fellow for summer research at Loyola and I presented my research at the American Society for Microbiology national meeting in 2019. After graduating, I worked at the University of Maryland in the Department of Neurology as a Clinical Research Assistant looking at the influence of Multiple Sclerosis on cognitive function. Currently, I am a DMD/PhD student focusing my graduate research on the adherens junctions in the oral epithelium and looking at changes in the RNAi machinery due to oral pathologies.

Douglas JimenezDouglas Jimenez, B.S.
MD Student - Volunteer

I graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor degrees in Computer Science and Biology. As an undergraduate, I was heavily involved in a Psychology research lab that studied the cognitive and social processing that underlies communication with respect to Autism. Additionally, I took an advanced seminar course that was centered on the reading and presentation of primary research in the field of cancer and immunotherapy. Now at MUSC, I am a first-year medical student training to become a physician. I am still unsure of specialty and plan to learn more about each field as we move through the blocks before choosing. Volunteering in the Kourtidis Lab is a great opportunity for me to learn basic science research techniques that are crucial to understanding the pathways and associated disruptions that can lead to disease in future patients.


  • Megan Sheridan - Ph.D. Graduate Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Paul Hager - Summer Student (Darien High School - currently: Dartmouth College)
  • Lauren Rutledge - Summer Student (Centre College)
  • Colin McDowell - Ph.D. Graduate Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Bridgette Wellslager - Ph.D. Graduate Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Trevor Penix - Summer Student (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • Maddie Davis - Summer Student (College of Charleston)
  • Valentina Ortega - Summer Student (American Heritage High School)
  • Jensen Tomberlin - Ph.D. Graduate Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Katie Garrabrant - Ph.D. Graduate Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Akanksha Patwardhan - Summer Student / observer (Wando High School)