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We offer a variety of research opportunities that enhance your learning experience and help you improve your chance at getting a residency match. Contact a mentor on the list below to learn more about any research projects that interest you.


Mentor Topic of Research Time Commitment Contact
Jonathan Bleeker, M.D. Gastrointestinal cancers, clinical trials in esophageal cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Oncology
Michael McHale, M.D. Hematologic malignancies, clinical trials in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Evenings on your own and periodic meetings with the Division of Hematology
Steven Powell, M.D. Clinical research in head and neck cancer outcomes Six to eight hours per week over three to six months
Steven Powell, M.D. Novel cancer therapies including immunotherapy, targeted therapy and novel delivery systems in head and neck cancer; clinical outcomes of select At least two half-days per week over six to 12 months
Steven Powell, M.D. Clinical outcomes of select tumor types that have undergone next-generation sequencing and targeted therapies Six to eight hours per week over three to six months
Khosrow Rezvani Identifying the mechanisms underlying colorectal cancer pathogenesis and what can be done to reverse the progression of colorectal cancer tumors. Our laboratory uses transgenic mice as a model system that can be engineered to reproduce certain aspects of human colorectal cancer. In addition, our lab has recently awarded a three years NIH grant support to advance a translational research on obesity-associated colorectal cancer. It is a collaborative project between Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences and Several clinicians in Sanford Center for Digestive Health as well as Sanford Surgical Associates. Time commitment is flexible based on student availability.
Jianning Tao, Ph.D. Investigating efficacy of inhibitors using human cancer cell lines and animal models of human disease, which may have clinical relevance for novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of skeletal disease including osteosarcoma. 10 weeks

Cancer Biology

Mentor Topic of Research Contact
William Spanos Head and neck cancers caused by human papilloma virus
Jianning Tao Understanding the role of developmental signaling pathways in the maintenance of bone stem cells and cancer cell metastasis.


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Yi-Fan Li Neurohumoral regulation of cardiovascular function and metabolism, with a focus on the skeletal muscle derived factors in cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, and inflammation.
Douglas Martin Physiological mechanisms that underlie the development of hypertension. Time commitment is flexible based on student availability.
Scott Pattison Autophagy, cardiac biology, skeletal muscle plasticity, aging
Xuejan Wang Cardiovascular (patho)physiology, protein degradation pathways and molecular mechanisms of heart failure
Hong Zheng Neuro-humoral regulation of circulation in disease state (chronic heart failure, obesity hypertension). Flexible time commitment

Human Genetics

Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Krista Bohlen, Pharm.D. Projects may vary depending on interest
Erik Ehil, Ph.D. Projects may vary depending on interest
Tim Soundy, M.D. Projects may vary depending on interest

Medical History

Mentor Topic of Research Time Commitment Contact
Henry Travers, M.D., F.A.C.P. Infectious disease prevalence in Sioux Falls from 1880-1940 Flexible at Wegner Library
Henry Travers, M.D., F.A.C.P. Historical evolution of medical professionalism Flexible at Wegner Library
 Henry Travers, M.D., F.A.C.P. Historical study of religious influences on medical ethics from Hippocrates to the 21st Century Flexible at Wegner Library


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Michael Chaussee
Victor Huber, Ph.D. Vaccines, influenza virus, Fc receptors, antibodies, cytokines, Streptococcus pyogenes
Victor Huber, Ph.D. Immunology - Using DNA shuffling to generate influenza vaccines that protect against both swine and human-origin influenza A viruses. Time commitment varies based on student availability and project.
Victor Huber, Ph.D. Immunology - Defining the contributions of vaccine-induced immunity toward limiting secondary bacterial infections
Victor Huber, Ph.D. Vaccines - The Huber lab is working toward an influenza vaccine that will simultaneously stimulate immune responses against influenza viruses that circulate in pigs and in humans. The goal of this vaccine effort would be to limit the interspecies transmission events that are often associated with influenza pandemics. One potential project in the lab would be to perform a vaccine study with 2 distinct vaccine candidates, as we determine the true breadth of vaccine-induced immunity that can be achieved with these vaccines.
Victor Huber, Ph.D. Super-infections - Influenza virus infections can turn deadly when they are complicated by secondary bacterial pneumonia. The Huber lab has recently identified an influenza virus protein that has the potential to modulate the severity of a bacterial superinfection. One project in the Huber lab would be toward defining the impact of this viral protein on host immune responses within our super-infection model.
Jose Pietri, Ph.D. My lab is focused on understanding microbial pathogen transmission by insect vectors and on the use of insects as models for infection and immunity.
Keith Weaver Determination of the functional role of toxin-antitoxin systems in the common gut bacterium and opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis, specifically, RNA-mediated regulation of gene expression and the mechanism of peptide toxin function. Accepting only undergrad students at this time. Work requirements would be around 10 hours per week.


Mentor Topic of Research Time Commitment  Contact
Lora Black Ethics and Clinical Research programming.
Samuel Sathyanesan, Ph.D. Neuropsychiatric diseases, neurovascular biology, drug development and trophic factor signaling
Matthew Simmons, M.D. Case reports, Short subject reviews, Grand Rounds


Additional mentors in this area can be found on the CBBRe webpage.

Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Lee Baugh, Ph.D. Cognitive and neuropsychological foundations of skilled movement; Neurostimulation; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Genetics and Behavior
Brian Burrell, Ph.D. Studies on the mechanisms by which pain signaling is modulated by endocannabinoids, including behavioral studies on its effects, bioinformatic and molecular biology studies to identify potential critical molecular targets and neurophysiological experiments to examine effects on synaptic transmission
Xuesheng Feng, Ph.D. Sleep disorder and headache management in traumatic brain injury patients; multiple sclerosis and movement disorder
Kevin Francis, Ph.D. Neurodevelopment – available projects will utilize gene editing and stem cell models to define how lipid metabolism impacts signaling within the developing nervous system.
Emily Griese, Ph.D. Risk and resilience trajectories; population health
Joyce Keifer, Ph.D. Signaling and epigenetic mechanisms underlying learning and memory
William Mayhan, Ph.D. Examining the role of the endothelium in the regulation of vascular function and the blood-brain barrier, determining how reactivity of cerebral blood vessels changes during disease states and how these changes relate to brain damage following an ischemic event, examining how the susceptibility of the blood-brain barrier may be altered by diseases. 
Lisa McFadden
Robert Morecraft, Ph.D. Study reorganization of nervous system circuitry that accompanies recovery of hand and arm movements following cerebral cortex injury. Investigate nervous system responses to therapeutic interventions designed to enhance motor recovery of hand movement following cerebral cortical injury.
Patrick Ronan, Ph.D. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, addiction, and depression.  His lab is investigating the role neuroinflammation plays in alcoholism and the treatment of cognitive dysfunction often seen in cancer patients, as well as investigating factors maintaining alcohol use disorder and PTSD among Veterans.
Hongmin Wang, Ph.D. Studying neurodegeneration and neuroprotection involved in Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cerebral ischemic stroke to identify targets that can be “druggable” for the disorders, and screen therapeutic compounds that can be used for treating these disorders.

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Matthew Barker, M.D. Urogynecology, retrospective surgical studies and clinical research from cross-sectional questionnaires to randomized controlled clinical trials
Maria Bell, M.D. Gynecology/oncology
Keith Hansen, M.D. Reproductive endocrinology


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Michael Koch, M.D. Pathology
Henry Travers, M.D. Historical research of general pathology questions


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Alaa Al Nofal, M.D. Mental health screenings in endocrinology
Alaa Al Nofal, M.D. Thyroid cancer detection in children
Alaa Al Nofal, M.D. Knowledge synthesis and systematic reviews
Fernando Bula Rudas, M.D. Antimicrobial stewardship in children
Fernando Bula Rudas, M.D. Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Fernando Bula Rudas, M.D. Quality Improvement
Randolph S. Faustino, Ph.D. Project 1: Stem cell modeling of cardiac disorders. Project 2: Cardiac disease and nuclear envelop biology. Project 3: Mapping cardiac molecular networks. Time commitments may vary based on project.
Carl Galloway, M.D. Patient Experience Initiative
Carl Galloway, M.D. Rounding checklist
 Carl Galloway, M.D. Sanford Pediatric Sepsis Initiative
Julie Mayo, M.D. MSK, CAP
Mathia Rall,DrPH Mental health screenings in endocrinology
Jennifer Reed, M.D. MSK, CAP
 Alexei Savinov Type I Diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease with pediatric onset. It results from the progressive destruction of insulin-producing beta cells by autoreactive T lymphocytes. My lab studies T1D pathogenesis with the emphasis on identification of the key cellular and molecular processes suitable for pharmacological interference.
DenYelle Kenyon, Ph.D. Analyze quantitative and qualitative data from My Journey and Draw the Line/Respect the Line, STI/teen pregnancy prevention programs for Native youth. Data analysis of the College Social Support and Persistence study.


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Vinod Bhatara, M.D. Psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry
Ann Bowden, M.D. Child and adolescent psychiatry
Kristin Butz, M.D. Psychiatry
Nicole Christenson, M.D. Child and adolescent psychiatry
Matt Eggers, M.D. Psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry
David Ermer, M.D. Child and adolescent psychiatry
Sarah Flynn, M.D. Forensic psychiatry
William Fuller, M.D. Homeless, mentally ill, Alzheimer's disease, history of psychiatry in South Dakota
William Bryce Gammeter, M.D. Child and adolescent psychiatry
Xiaofan "Amy" Li Addictions, psychiatry
Sandra Peynado, M.D. Psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry
Tim Soundy, M.D. Psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry
Shawn Van Gerpen Child and adolescent psychiatry


Mentor Topic of Research Contact
Keith Baumgarten, M.D. Orthopedics
Robert Van Demark, Jr., M.D. Orthopedics
Vance Thompson, M.D. Ophthalmology
John Berdahl, M.D. Ophthalmology
William Spanos, M.D. Ear, nose and throat
Paola Vermeer, Ph.D. Defining molecular mechanisms promoting tumor innervation and innervation-mediated disease progression. These mechanisms include immune suppression, direct neural-tumor cell interactions, as well as treatment resistance. We study the process of tumor innervation in various different solid tumors (e.g. head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, ovarian cancer, melanoma).

Other Opportunities

Mentor Project Area Project Description Time Commitment  Contact
Adam Stys, M.D. Cardiology New techniques in PCI impact of technique on outcome and reduction in coronary artery stent complications Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Cardiology
Adam Stys, M.D. Cardiology Contrast reduction techniques in coronary procedures Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Cardiology
Adam Stys, M.D. Cardiology Coronary calcium as prognosticator Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Cardiology
Adam Stys, M.D. Cardiology Guide catheter extra support techniques in percutaneous coronary intervention Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Cardiology
Adam Stys, M.D. Cardiology Research on our database of coronary calcium screening (100,000 patients) and cath lab database (10,000 patients) Evenings on your own and periodic meetings in the Division of Cardiology
Dan Rath, M.D. Quality Assurance Process Improvement (QAPI) projects.   Survey or chart review QAPI requires choosing a clinical question, background reading, data collection from charts, surveys, etc. Then analysis with presentation of conclusions to the appropriate departments.  Make a poster and write up the study. This could be done as a longer-term intermittent project or as a block rotation.
Barbara Goodman, Ph.D. Education How various pedagogies impact student learning in a variety of courses and with different levels of students Flexible time for implementing change, collecting and evaluating data
Pasquale Manzerra, Ph.D. Education
Benjamin Aaker, M.D. Emergency medicine Studies on opioid use in the emergency department.We will work together to find a suitable research project to submit to the Scholarship Pathways Program See the Scholarship Pathways Program website to find details on the time commitment required
Andrea Liebl Epigenetic
Epigenetic changes and hormonal release and regulation that mediate the connection between the genome and the environment.  Flexible
Michelle Baack, M.D. Fetal and neonatal nutrition in health and disease Determining whether mitochondrial dysfunction in developmentally programmed disease is inherited or acquired in utero and how maternal, placental and fetal characteristics influence risk. Depends on the project
Michelle Baack, M.D. Fetal and neonatal nutrition in health and disease Working to understand how adverse pregnancy conditions such as diabetes or obesity influence the risk of cardiac disease through alterations in mitochondria, metabolism, ageing and cell fate.  Depends on the project
Kamesh Surendran, Ph.D. Genetic and cellular basis of Alagille Syndrome (ALGS) Characterization of novel ALGS associated mutations.  Flexible hours
Govarthanan Rajendiran, M.D. Hepatology Portosystemic gradient and clinical indicators of portal hypertension Evenings on your own and periodic meetings at the Division of Gastroenterology. or
Govarthanan Rajendiran, M.D.  Hepatology Bile ductular proliferation and etiology of liver diseases. Evenings on your own and periodic meetings at the Division of Gastroenterology. or
Matthew Simmons, M.D.  Medical Humanities  Visual art and medicine (collaborative program with Rapid City Arts Council/Dahl Arts Center), History of medicine in Western South Dakota (collaborative program with Journey Museum), Minerals in Medicine (collaborative program with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), On kindness, Use of literature in medical education to support professional development
Kamesh Surendran, Ph.D. Lithium induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus Examining how lithium causes a water reabsorption defect Flexible hours
Lance Lee, Ph.D. Motile cilia disorders Investigating how ciliary defects affect ciliary protein trafficking and dynamics, identifying novel ciliary protein networks and investigating the cellular feedback mechanisms resulting from ciliary dysfunction Varies depending on project and availability
Michael Kareta, Ph.D. Translational Investigating the role of the Sox2 transcription factor in development and tumor formation Evenings and weekends