Members and Alumni

Kourtidis Lab Team

Antonis Kourtidis holding cameraAntonis Kourtidis, Ph.D.
Associate 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.

Amanda DaulagalaAmanda Daulagala, B.S.
Postdoctoral Fellow

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 and now as a Postdoctoral Fellow, I have been focusing my studies on the role of the adherens junctions, miRNAs and the RNAi machinery in gastrointestinal diseases.

Alyssa 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.

Houda MesnaouiHouda Mesnaoui, M.S.
Ph.D. Graduate Student

After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering, I proceeded to do my Master’s in Biotechnology. My thesis was focused on studying the correlation between C-kit variants in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors and the patients’ response to IMATINIB treatment. After graduating, I worked as a research assistant at the Oregon National Primate Research center, In the genetics core, where we investigated Neurobeachin as a target of alcohol use disorder treatment. Being always passionate about Cancer biology, I decided to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at MUSC. I aim to investigate the molecular mechanisms through which adherens junctions regulate the RNAi machinery and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in colorectal cancer cells.

Zamantha ManalansanZamantha Manalansan-Roberson, B.S.
PREP Student

I graduated from California State University Fullerton with a B.S. in Cellular and Developmental Biology with a minor in Chemistry. During my undergraduate studies, I conducted cellular and molecular research looking at the nuclear and cytoplasmic localization of PTBP1- a post-transcriptional gene regulatory RNA binding Protein. During my undergrad, I also conducted agriculture research abroad in Jamaica, W.I to understand the specific type of scientific and educational developments that a third-world country needs. After graduating, I worked as an Outreach Assistant for a non-profit organization in hopes to bring the love of science and critical thinking to disadvantaged children in low economic communities. Currently, I am a PREP student at MUSC conducting research in RNAi machinery within the adherens junctions, with the hopes of strengthening my understanding in basic science research to become a better applicant for when I apply to Ph.D programs in the near future.



  • Douglas Jimenez - M.D. Student (MUSC)
  • Lucy Ly - Summer Student (Northeastern University)
  • Kameisha Rashford - Ph.D. Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Mary Catherine Bridges, PhD - Graduated April 2022 (currently MSL, Natera)
  • Abhinav Cheedipudi - Summer Student (Governor High School for Science and Mathematics)
  • Akanksha Patwardhan - Summer Student (Wando High School)
  • Katie Garrabrant - Ph.D. Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Jensen Tomberlin - Ph.D. Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Valentina Ortega - Summer Student (American Heritage High School - currently: Rice University)
  • Maddie Davis - Summer Student (College of Charleston - currently: MS student, UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Trevor Penix - Summer Student (PhD student, St. Jude’s Research Children’s Hospital)
  • Bridgette Wellslager - Ph.D. Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Colin McDowell - Ph.D. Student, 1st Year rotation
  • Lauren Rutledge - Summer Student (Centre College)
  • Paul Hager - Summer Student (Darien High School - currently: Dartmouth College)
  • Megan Sheridan - Ph.D.  Student, 1st Year rotation