Lab Members

The Blount Laboratory attracts people with diverse interests including microbiology, physiology, neuroscience, nanotechnology, and biophysics. Our research interfaces all of these disciplines, and thus leads to a interdisciplinary as well as exciting, and interactive training environment.

Paul Blount has a very diverse scientific history. Although his BA is in microbiology from UCSD, his Ph.D. was received from the neuroscience program in 1990 at Washington University in St. Louis. His thesis work was performed in the laboratory of John Merlie in the Pharmacology Department where he studied the processing, assembly and ligand-binding properties of subunits of the nicotinic Acetylcholine receptor.

Subsequently, he worked for a short time on tachykinin (G-protein-coupled) receptors in the laboratory of James Krause, who was then also at Washington University. He then moved on to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he worked with Dr. Ching Kung. It was there that he participated in the cloning, sequencing and characterization of MscL, the first gene shown to encode a mechanosensitive channel activity.

Paul Blount has been at U. T. Southwestern since 1998. Approaches used in his laboratory include microbial genetics, bacterial whole-cell physiology, liposome flux studies, and patch-clamp of both, microbial membranes and reconstituted liposome systems. His laboratory has many projects aimed at defining the molecular basis of microbial mechanosensitive channel gating. In addition, the laboratory interests are branching out into other studying eukaryotic mechanosensitive channels and using MscL as a drug an attempt to generate new antibacterial agents. He is a member of the Molecular Microbiology and Molecular Biophysics graduate programs, and has some affiliation with the Neuroscience graduate program. He has kept broad interests from microbial physiology to molecular neuroscience, which helps give the lab a multidisciplinary atmosphere and makes for a great training opportunity for its members.

Irene Iscla received her first degree in Biology, with specialization in animal physiology, from the Buenos Aires University, Argentina, in 1997. Her Ph.D. thesis work, performed in Lidia Szczupak's laboratory, was in neurobiology and involved studying the modulation of sensory-motor circuits in the central nervous system of the leech Hirudo medicinalis.

Yang Li-Min received her B.S. degree in medicine in 1995 from Henan Medical University in Zhengzhou, China. At Tongji Medical University in Wuhan, China, she received a M.S in 1998 from Department of Physiology and a Ph.D in 2001 from Department of Pathology, respectively. Her Ph.D thesis describes the mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

She joined Paul Blount's laboratory in June of 2001 to study the molecular mechanisms of mechanosensory gated proteins. She has interest in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic mechanosensitive channels.

From 2003 to 2007, she did her postdoctoral work on the regulation of epithelial sodium channel at Institute of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. She joined Paul Blountís laboratory in Sept. 2007. Her work now is to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the mechanosensitive channel MscL, as well as to investigate its potential uses in nanotechnology..

Robin Wray received a degree in biology from Texas A&M University. She started working as an undergraduate research assistant in behavioral biology. She came to U.T. Southwestern in 1996. Since that time she has worked in several areas including; neural regeneration, kinesin motor proteins, microtubule-associated proteins, and antibody production.

She joined Paul Blountís lab in October 2002 and has been involved with projects in the lab involving investigations of the molecular mechanisms of prokaryotic and eukaryotic mechanosensitive channels. She performs many of the labs molecular, physiological, and biochemical assays and screens, as well as generating protein for reconstitution or possible crystallization.

As lab manager she is responsible for maintaining a safe and organized workspace, as well as making sure resources are available for other lab members.

Christina Eaton received her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in May, 2007.† While at Texas Tech, she joined the HHMI-sponsored Undergraduate Research Program and spent four years in Dr. Nathan Collieís lab working on the Sodium/Iodide Symporter in Xenopus laevis and the Multidrug Resistance Pump (MDR1) in epithelial-derived ductile carcinoma cells.

She joined the Blount Lab in March 2008 and is now working on her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the Molecular Biophysics Program at UT Southwestern.† Her current interests are membrane transport and flux, and the effect of various membrane conditions on eukaryotic mechanosensitive channels.

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Dalian Zhong received her ph.D in 2006 from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China. From 2007 to 2010, she did postdoctoral research at the University of Kansas, where she focused on the biophysical and structural properties of PrgJ, the inner rod protein of type III secretion system of Salmonella typhimurium.

Dalian joined the Blount lab in May, 2010. She currently focuses on the function and the underlying mechanisms of Mechanosensitive channel of large conductance MscL.

Hannah R. Malcolm received a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 2006. Her Ph.D. thesis work was on the lipid interactions of MscS and the identification and characterization of the bacterial cyclic nucleotide gated (bCNG) ion channel family. This work was conducted with Joshua A. Maurer at Washington University in St. Louis.

She joined the Blount lab in May 2012 to continue her work with bCNG channels, specifically to study them using patch clamp electrophysiology. She is interested in studying how bacterial channels that encode for multiple stimuli gate in response to one or both of these stimuli. In particular, she is interested in studying how bCNG channels gate in response to both mechanical tension and cyclic adenosine monophosphate and how the two stimuli interplay.

Juandell Parker received her B.S. in Interdisciplinary studies/Biology from University of Texas at Arlington in May, 2010.† While at UTA, she was chosen as a McNair Scholar and worked in Dr. Laura D. Mydlarz lab for a year investigating The Influence of Environmental Temperature on the Virulence of Marine Pathogens.

She joined the Blount Lab in January 2011 and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the Molecular Microbiology Program at UT Southwestern. She is currently interested in the protein-lipid interactions important for MscS sensing and responding to membrane tension.