Laboratory Staff

Ning-Yuan Chen

Research Associate

Lab: MSB 6.036

Phone: 713-500-6047

Research:  I joined the Blackburn lab in the Spring of 2011. As a Research Associate, I am happy to be involved in almost every project in the lab. I have been working as a Research Associate for almost 20 years, but the work never becomes old and there is always so much to learn. My goal is to know as many techniques as possible so that I can better support all research projects in the lab. In addition to research, I also keep track of ordering all general lab supplies; my motto is always “Save Money Work Better”.

Fun Facts: In my spare time I love to read and chat with old friends. One of my hobbies is cooking. Research is like cooking – they are both difficult but joyful, and the most important ingredient is to always follow the protocol!


Jose Molina

Sr. Research Assistant

Office: MSB 6.109

Phone: 713-500-5051

Research: I am currently working as a Senior Research Assistant in Dr. Blackburn’s lab where I’ve built 13 years of experience in pulmonary research. I am responsible for the organization and maintenance of rodent colonies to preserve strain lines by conducting mating, genotyping, gel zymography and hormonal replacement therapy. I developed and maintain a full mouse log database and an exchange folder to keep an accurate inventory and provide laboratory personnel and collaborators with overall mouse availability for ongoing and proposed research projects. To ensure that research projects are successfully accomplished, I schedule laboratory experiments by implementing breeding strategies and coordinating injections to efficiently and accurately guarantee the appropriate distribution of treated animals for research and provide knowledgeable advice to laboratory personnel in basic mouse handling and specialized laboratory animal manipulations under standard operating procedures and good laboratory practices. Additional responsibilities include the production and distribution of Peg-Ada, participation in tissue collection and analysis, chemical and radiation safety compliance, liquid and solid waste safety compliance, and other general lab management and administrative tasks. Recently, I began working on a scleroderma project to test the efficiency of the A2b-AR antagonist GS-6201 in skin fibrosis, where I’ve assisted in the development of the animal protocol and treated mice subcutaneously with bleomycin to generate skin fibrosis.

Fun Facts: I received my MD degree with a major in Surgery from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, Mexico (international medical graduates are awarded a baccalaureate in Biology and Health Sciences). My clinical experience has been reinforced in this country as a Physician Assistant-Chart Reviewer at a pain management private practice clinic and the UTHealth School of Public Health, in conjunction with Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, where I performed clinical research in children with asthma. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my children and visiting museums and parks.


Kelly Volcik, PhD

Sr. Research Scientist

Office: MSB 6.212

Phone: 713-500-7886

Research: I assist in the day-to-day operations of the lab, including the management of funds, ordering of supplies, keeping animal protocols and biological safety forms up-to-date, submitting animal transfer forms and ensuring that MTAs are in place. I assist with the writing/editing of manuscripts and grants, as well as the submission of manuscripts online and completing all necessary paperwork involved with fulfilling the submission process. I help organize weekly lab meetings and Dr. Blackburn’s calendar in association with the GSBS Dean’s office. I also act as program coordinator for Dr. Blackburn’s Program Project Grant by being the point liaison for collaborations and organizing monthly web conferences and biannual in-house meetings.

Fun Facts: I received my undergraduate degree in Genetics (with a minor in Psychology) from Texas A&M University and my PhD in Human and Molecular Genetics from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston, TX. My graduate work focused on the identification of genetic susceptibility factors for spina bifida, and I continued my study of the genetics of birth defects through my postdoctoral work at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology. Before having the great opportunity of joining Dr. Blackburn’s lab, I was an Assistant Professor at the UTHealth School of Public Health studying the genetics of common diseases, and I have published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts related to my research endeavors. In my free time I enjoy working out, reading all types of genres (my favorite author is Haruki Murakami), and watching college football (Gig’em Aggies!).

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