Postdoctoral Symposium

J. Christian Pérez, Ph.D. 
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Chair, Postdoctoral Symposium

Christian Pérez, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at McGovern Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Genomics at Washington University in St. Louis, studying mechanisms of gene regulation in enteric bacteria. Dr. Pérez started investigating human fungal pathogens during his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco (2009-2013). He then moved to Germany to establish his laboratory at the University Hospital Würzburg. Dr. Pérez joined the faculty at UTHealth in November 2020. His laboratory seeks to understand the interplay between mammalian host and Candida albicans, a ubiquitous fungus of humans that inhabits the gastrointestinal tract but that also causes thousands of disseminated, life-threatening infections in the United States every year.


Abhijnan Chattopadhyay, Ph.D.
Department of Internal Medicine
Division of Medical Genetics
A novel pathway drives atherosclerosis by augmenting phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells without traditional risk factors

Abhijnan Chattopadhyay, Ph.D., is an Instructor in the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Internal Medicine at UTHealth. His research focuses on the role of smooth muscle cells in the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. It has uncovered the critical contribution of stress pathways in smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis. Dr. Chattopadhyay received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and Biochemistry, respectively, from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. He then obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. Subsequently, he joined the UTHealth Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine, as a postdoctoral research fellow (2018-2023). He was appointed as an Instructor in the same department in the fall of 2023. Dr. Chattopadhyay has published 13 peer-reviewed research articles and was funded by a Victor A. McKusick Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Marfan Foundation. He received multiple awards during his graduate training at UTMB. Also, he received poster and travel awards from the Gulf Coast Vascular Research Consortium and the North American Vascular Biology Organization during his postdoctoral training.


Kyrylo Pyrshev, Ph.D.
Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
Life under pressure: Regulation of Piezo1 activity in a renal collecting duct

Kyrylo Pyrshev, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at UTHealth Houston. His research focuses on cardiovascular and renal physiology and pathophysiology-related questions. Notably, Dr. Pyrshev studies the contribution of ion channels and their effectors to water-solute transport in the renal tubule and aims to establish the pathophysiological ramifications of their dysfunction at both cellular and systemic levels. The research also emphasizes the development of new techniques, including novel and technically challenging isolation and split-opening of the distal tubular segments to perform patch clamp, [Ca2+] I, [Cl-] I, and pHi imaging, and systemic balance studies using different genetically manipulated animals.

He received his Bachelor’s (2010) and Master’s (2011) degrees in Biochemistry with Summa cum Laude from Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine. He pursued a Ph.D. program in Biochemistry at the Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and obtained his Ph.D. degree in 2019. Kyrylo was awarded an EMBO fellowship, a Fulbright research and development program fellowship, and a NATO Science for Peace stipend during that period. He received recognition as a young scientist researcher by the Ukrainian Government.

As a postdoctoral research fellow in Prof. Oleh Pochynyuk’s laboratory, Dr. Pyrshev received the American Heart Association Postdoctoral fellowship. The scientific community recognized Kyrylo’s research with a Postdoctoral Excellence in Research Award in the Renal section (Experimental Biology meeting 2022) and the 3rd prize for the President’s Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research (UTHealth at Houston 2023).​

Sarah Surrain, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatrics
Children’s Learning Institute
Identifying caregiver behaviors that promote optimal outcomes for emergent bilinguals with language difficulties

Sarah Surrain, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher at the Children’s Learning Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at UTHealth Houston. Her research centers on emergent bilinguals’ language and literacy development in early childhood to design and test culturally and linguistically sustaining home and school-based programs, particularly for children with or at risk for language difficulties. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development, Learning, and Teaching at Harvard University and her master’s in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She joined the Children’s Learning Institute in 2021 with an Institute of Education Sciences-funded postdoctoral fellowship. In 2023, she was awarded a 5-year Pathway to Independence grant by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. This project is focused on identifying caregiver behaviors that promote home language maintenance in emergent bilingual children with or at risk for Developmental Language Disorder.