Dodge-Kafka Lab

Current Members

Kristin Tokarski

Graduate Student
Phone: 860-679-4204
Email: tokarski@uchc.edu

I am a fifth-year MD/PhD student in the Biomedical Science PhD program, and my concentration is Cell Biology. I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology and a French minor. During my undergraduate career at UConn, I worked in the laboratories of Dr. John Salamone studying the effects of anti-depressants on motivation in a rat model, and Dr. Robert Sherwin at Yale University studying the type I diabetes counter-regulatory mechanism.  These two experiences ignited my passion for science in addition to medicine.  I gained expertise in using animal models, classical behavioral neuroscience techniques, glucose clamp experiments, RNA extraction from tissue, and PCR among other things. Now as a graduate student in the Dodge-Kafka lab, my thesis project deals with the signaling pathways through a nuclear scaffold, mAKAP, that has been shown to be responsible for organizing the cardiac remodeling associated with hypertrophy. I specifically study the mechanism of apoptotic signaling through mAKAP in cardiomyocytes using TUNEL staining. ​

Turcotte photoMoriah Turcotte

Graduate Student
Phone: 860-679-1362
Email: mturcotte@uchc.edu

I am a fifth-year graduate student in the Biomedical Science PhD program, and my concentration is Cell Biology. I graduated from the University of Saint Joseph with a B.S. in Biology and a Chemistry minor. Before starting my graduate career at UCONN Health, I joined the Dodge-Kafka lab as a technician, which ignited my passion for science. During this time, I gained expertise in confocal imaging, working with FRET sensors, and culturing cardiomyocytes, among other things. Now as a senior graduate student, my thesis deals with perinuclear signaling surrounding a nuclear scaffold, mAKAP, responsible for organizing gene expression in cardiac hypertrophy. I specifically study perinuclear release of calcium and nuclear beta-receptors in cardiomyocytes using localized FRET sensors and other peptides. 

Former Members

  • Shania Aponte Paris: Master's mentor (2016-2019), as part of the YIIP program at UConn Health.  Currently in Medical School in Puerto Rico at San Juan Bautista.
  • Akilah Plair: Master's mentor (2014-2016), Akilah is part of the YIIP program at UConn Health.  4th Year Naturopathic Medical Student at University of Bridgeport.
  • Marc Rigatti - PhD mentor (2012-2015).  Graduated from UConn Health MD/PhD program.  Emergency Physician at UConn Health.
  • Arpita Singh - PhD mentor (2008-2013).  Clinical Trial Manger at Oticon Medical AB.
  • Andrew Le - PhD mentor (2008-2013).  Currently in Physician Scientist School at Yale University.
  • John Redden - PhD mentor (2008-2013).  Associate Professor-in-Residence at UConn, Department of Physiology and Neurobiology.
  • Maximilian Vargas - PhD mentor (2007-2012). Senior Director for US Access Strategy.