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Salazar Laboratory

Lab Members

Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H.
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Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP

Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, is physician-in-chief at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine. In addition to these roles, Dr. Salazar is professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the School of Medicine and academic division head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and director of the Pediatric and Youth HIV program at Connecticut Children’s.

Dr. Salazar joined Connecticut Children’s and UConn in 1998. He is NIH funded and actively engaged in translational infectious disease research at UConn Health. He also collaborates with translational and clinical researchers in Southern China and in Cali, Colombia. In addition, Dr. Salazar is the current chair of the Board of Directors of the Child Health and Development Institute and a member of the Board of the Children’s Fund of Connecticut.

Dr. Salazar received his medical degree from the Universidad Javeriana, in Bogota, Colombia, and a Master’s in Public Health, from the University of Minnesota. He completed his residency in pediatrics at UConn Health, where he served as chief resident, and a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota.

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Sarah Benjamin

Sarah Benjamin, Graduate Student

Sarah graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in 2012, and a Master of Science in 2013. Both degrees are in biochemistry, and her Masters thesis focused on virology and vaccine development through genetic modification. Before coming to UConn Health, she spent three years as a research assistant at Inviragen, Inc. (now part of Takeda Vaccines) working with dengue virus. Her doctoral thesis research focuses on identifying signaling pathways emitted from Bb-containing phagosomes in macrophages, and how this signaling contributes to the innate immune response and facilitates bacteria recognition and clearance.

Kelly L. Hawley, Ph.D.

Kelly L. Hawley, Ph.D.

Kelly L. Hawley obtained her B.S. degree in Veterinary and Animal Sciences from the University of Massachusetts in 2009.  In September of 2012, she received her Ph.D. degree in Animal Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Massachusetts.  Her dissertation research investigated the molecular mechanisms that regulate Complement Receptor 3-mediated phagocytosis of B. burgdorferi. She is the proud recipient of the 2013 Snoeyenboes Excellent in Research Award. Her postdoctoral research focuses on macrophage-T. pallidum interactions ex vivo to understand the paradox of human syphilis.  Dr. Hawley was awarded the 2016 Robert E. Leet & Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust Fellowship.  The two-year fellowship concentration on elucidating the innate and adaptive immune interplay in human syphilis using laser-capture microscopy and RNA sequencing from secondary syphilitic skin biopsies.

Carson Karanian

Carson Karanian

Ms. Karanian obtained a bachelor's degree in general science with an environmental studies track in 1995 from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She previously worked as a laboratory assistant at Pfizer in New London, Connecticut. Since 2003, she has worked as a research assistant II/lab manager in the Spirochete Research Laboratories. She is an expert in T. pallidium rabbit passaging, Borrelia burgdorferi culture, human and murine flow cytometry, epifluorescent and confocal microscopy, human monocyte and murine macrophage ex vivostimulation techniques and a variety of molecular techniques.

Paola Vera-Licona Ph.D.

Paola Vera-Licona, Ph.D.

Paola Vera-Licona leads the Computational Systems Medicine research group at the Center for Quantitative Medicine (CQM). Her research group focuses on the design, software development and application of mathematical algorithms for the modeling, simulation and control of biological networks such as gene regulatory networks, signal transduction networks and functional brain networks. While the mathematical tools employed vary, many of the approaches developed have a flavor of fields such as discrete mathematics, algebra and computational algebra. Current application areas include: (1) control and target identification in triple negative breast cancer (in collaboration with Liu’s lab at JAX-GM and Laubenbacher's lab at UConn Health); (2) molecular mechanisms of macrophages as part of the innate immune response to Borrelia burgdorferi/Lyme disease (in collaboration with Salazar's lab, UConn Health and CCMC); (3) regulatory mechanism of long non-coding RNA (lncRNAs) in different tissue-resident macrophages and CD8 T cells in vivo (in collaboration with Khanna's lab at UConn Health)  and, (4) dynamic connectivity in neural networks engaged for emotion regulation (in collaboration with Stevens's lab at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center and  Laubenbacher's lab at CQM).