Present Lab Members

Hyun Jin Kwun
Research Instructor
Jin is particularly interested in determinants of MCV viral replication and is investigating a new protein-mediated mechanism for MCV viral latency. She is also broadly interested in host-pathogen interactions particularly that of the MCV early viral proteins with the cellular E3 ligase network.
Tuna Toptan
Research Instructor
Tuna joined the lab in 2010 and works on both Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Some of her current projects are: Development of search tools for new pathogen discovery, role of human polyomaviruses in disease and cancer, and application of mitotic p4E-BP1(S83) as a potential biomarker. Tuna discovered a new rat polyomavirus and is the go to person for everything.
Parvez Akhtar
Research Associate
Parvez is all about LANA1 and EBNA1, the major latency proteins of KSHV and EBV, respectively. LANA1 and EBNA1 are necessary to the maintenance of the viral genome in host cells, and both encode for non-canonical, alternative reading frame proteins from their repeat regions. Parvez is investigating the functional significance of these EBNA1 and LANA1 frameshifted proteins.
Sara Artusi
Postdoctoral Scholar
Erdong Cheng
Postdoctoral Associate
Rui Sun
Postdoctoral Scholar
Celestino Velasquez
Graduate Student
Celestino Velasquez is a graduate student in the Ph.D. Program in Integrative Molecular Biology (PIMB). He investigates the regulation of protein synthesis by the mRNA translation repressor protein 4E-BP1 throughout the cell cycle, particularly during mitosis. No one in the world resolves the different isoforms of 4E-BP1 better on SDS-PAGE – no one.
Justin Wendzicki
Graduate Student
Justin is a 4th year PhD student in Molecular Virology and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from Duquesne University in 2013. A true Renaissance man, Justin spends his free time playing his blue ukulele, writing songs and plays, and studying Romance languages.
Yingci Liu
Yingci is a graduate student in the oral biology program. She joined the lab to investigate the presence of polyomaviruses in the oral cavity in the immunosuppressed patient populations, and is broadly interested in determining viral contribution to diseases in the head and neck region.
Jeffrey Lombardo
Jeffrey is in currently in his sophomore year as a Biological Sciences major at the University of Pittsburgh and plans on furthering his research in an interdisciplinary Biomedical PhD program. Outside of the lab, he enjoys cycling, cooking, and exploring Pittsburgh.
Felicia Steele
Administrative Assistant
Yoko Shuda
Lab Manager
Laura Staniland
Administrative Assistant