Breakthrough Discovery Symposium I


Mark Burish, M.D., Ph.D.
The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery
Chair, Breakthrough Discovery Symposium I

Dr. Burish received his M.D., and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He completed his neurology residency at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).  He completed his fellowship in interventional pain management in the Department of Anesthesiology at UCSF and later obtained headache certification as an attending through the UCNS practice track.  Dr. Burish’s cluster headache research surrounds epidemiology as well as basic science circadian mechanisms.

Askar Akimzhanov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dynamic protein S-acylation in T cell signaling

Dr. Askar Akimzhanov is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School. Dr. Akimzhanov was born in Kazakhstan. He obtained his Master’s degree from Novosibirsk State University in Russia and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Würzburg in Germany. He then moved to the USA to receive postdoctoral training at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he developed his interest in post-translational lipidation of proteins. Subsequently, he started his lab at McGovern Medical School in 2016, focusing on the effects of protein S-acylation on T cell activation and function. Dr. Akimzhanov’s lab was the first to introduce the family DHHC protein acyltransferases as novel regulators of T cell-mediated immunity.

Tatiana Barichello, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Impact of infection and inflammation on neuropsychiatric disorders

Tatiana Barichello is a pharmacist specializing in Microbiology/Clinical Analysis, having earned her degree from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Holding a Master’s and PhD in Cell Biology: Biochemistry from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Previously serving as a Professor and Dean of the Pharmacy School at the University of South Brazil, Tatiana has garnered prestigious awards such as the Award-Brazilian Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences – Laurel Wreath-Joao Florentino Meira Vasconcellos of Pharmaceutical Innovation and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences/L’Oreal/UNESCO for Women in Science. In 2014, Tatiana started a new career, joining the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Science as an Assistant Professor. In 2020, The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston honored her with the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award; the same year, she got the position of Associate Professor. Since 2007, Tatiana has been actively engaged in research, specializing in the intersection of inflammation, infection, and behavior changes, demonstrating a commitment to advancing knowledge and making impactful contributions to her field.

Rachel Miller, PhDRachel Miller, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Insights into kidney development and congenital anomalies: “Ribbeting” perspectives from the frog model

Dr. Rachel K. Miller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School. She received her Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University in 2007 and then completed her postdoctoral training at MD Anderson Cancer Center where she began studying the role and regulation of Wnt signaling in kidney development. Subsequently, she opened her lab at McGovern Medical School in 2013 focusing on how cells communicate to coordinate nephron formation and how this process goes awry leading to congenital abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tract. Dr. Miller is committed to research training at the local, national, and international level. The valuable contributions of the trainees within her laboratory have led to innovations in tissue-targeting of CRISPR genome editing in the Xenopus (frog) model and in generating transgenics to enable in vivo imaging of nephron formation. Furthermore, her lab identified mechanisms by which progenitor cells come together to form the nephric tubules that make up the kidney, discovered that human mutations associated with congenital kidney anomalies disrupt nephron development, and identified the complete cellular and makeup of the Xenopus nephron through comparative single-cell transcriptional analysis. Notably, Dr. Miller’s research and educational contributions have recently been recognized through an invitation to serve as one of the Instructors of the Cold Spring Harbor Course, “Cell & Developmental Biology of Xenopus: Gene Discovery & Disease.”