Biomedical Research


Hershel Raff

Hershel Raff, PhD

Scientific Director and Clinical Supervisor, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center

Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin. Endocrinology – Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center

Hershel Raff received his PhD in Environmental Physiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1981. He did a post-doctoral fellowship in Endocrinology at the University of California San Francisco (USCF) from 1980 to 1983. He joined St. Luke’s Hospital (now Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center) in 1983 to establish the Endocrine Research Laboratory. Dr. Raff is also a professor (with tenure) of Medicine, Surgery, and Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His basic research focuses on the adaptation of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and metabolic control systems to hypoxia in the neonate and adult. The current research is focusing on a model of the apnea of prematurity using intermittent hypoxia in newborn rats. His clinical research focuses on using salivary cortisol and alpha amylase as indices of the stress response in humans. The current collaborative projects include studies of cyclic vomiting syndrome in children and adults. He just completed a major study on the HPA axis in patients with end-stage renal disease designed to establish that late-night salivary cortisol is a useful method to rule out Cushing’s syndrome. He also is involved in developing new diagnostic approaches to disorders of the HPA axis. Dr. Raff is the co-author of two leading physiology textbooks – Vander’s Human Physiology and Medical Physiology: A Systems Approach (both published by McGraw-Hill). Hershel Raff Bio (PDF, 33 KB)

Ashley Gehrand

Ashley Gehrand, MS

Research Associate

Ashley received her BS in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics and MS in Applied Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin - Parkside. She has five years’ experience in biomedical research prior to joining the Endocrine Research Laboratory in 2013.

Peter Homar

Peter Homar

Chief Research Assay Technician

While earning his BS in Biology from UW-Green Bay, Pete also worked as a quality control technician at Proctor & Gamble. He has worked as a clinical and research assay tech at Aurora for the past 12 years.

Barbara Jankowski

Barbara Jankowski, MS

Research Laboratory Technologist

Barbara received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Physiology and MS in Paleobotany from the University of N. Copernicus in Poland. She has more than 25 years of experience in endocrine research lab-based clinical assays and basic research projects, and is an expert in macro- and microsurgical techniques.

Johnathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips

HPLC Mass spectrometry Technician

Jonathan graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a BS in Chemistry. He has more than 10 years of HPLC experience in the pharmaceutical industry and is currently developing a testosterone analysis method for LC/MS.

Catherine Warner

Catherine Warner

Laboratory Assistant

Kate received her BA at St. Norbert College and did additional education at UW- Milwaukee. She has been a laboratory assistant for two years.

Immunology Research Staff

Martin Oaks

Martin Oaks, PhD

Diplomate, American Board of Histocompatability and Immunogenetics

Director, Biomedical Research

Martin Oaks received his PhD in Experimental Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1984. Dr. Oaks received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Microbiology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He joined Aurora in 1989 to establish a Clinical Histocompatibility Laboratory in support of the Cardiac Transplant Program. Since then, his clinical laboratory has grown to include support of multi-organ transplantation including: heart, liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation. The clinical lab is accredited by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI), and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Dr. Oaks’ basic research is focused on the role of glycosylation of IgG molecules and its functional significance in the human immune system. His clinical research is focused on identification of antibodies that effect transplant rejection and development of algorithms that improve patient access to organ transplant offers.

Eric Bruder

Eric Bruder, MS

Chief Research Laboratory Technologist (Sr.)

Eric received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison and an MS in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has 15 years experience at the Endocrine Research Laboratory and more than 25 peer-reviewed publications and 20 abstracts presented at various scientific meetings. Eric joined the Oaks&rquo; Lab in June, 2014.

James Shaffer

James Shaffer, MS

Senior Research Associate

Jim received a BS and MS in Applied Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Parkside. He has been with Aurora Health Care for eight years.

Immunotherapy Research Staff

John Richards

John Richards, PhD

Research Scientist Senior

John Richards received his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arizona in 2002.  He did a post-doctoral fellowship in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan from 2002-2003. He did a second post doctoral fellowship in Pathology at The Ohio State University from 2003-2006. He worked in the biotech industry at Xencor, Inc. from 2006-2009 where he helped develop therapeutic antibodies with enhanced effector function against cancer. He came to Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in 2009 to establish tumor infiltrating lymphocyte research. His basic research focuses on:  tumor immunology with specific interests in activating the immune system against cancer, and understanding how tumors influence the immune response. Additional interests include the development of primary tumor models that allow for tumor characterization and to evaluate different therapeutics that target tumors or modulate the immune response.

Alex Albers

Alex Albers

Research Associate

Alex received a BS in Biology from the St. Norbert College. He has one year of experience in an immunology laboratory.

Karen Kozinski

Karen Kozinski

Research Associate Senior

Karen earned a BS in Chemistry and Biology from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has 18 years experience working in research at Aurora Health Care in laboratory and supervisory roles. During this time, she has contributed to 5 peer-reviewed publications and 1 abstract.

NeuroOncology Research

Santhi Konduri, Ph.D

Santhi Konduri, Ph.D

Research Scientist Senior

Dr. Konduri received her PhD in human genetics from Andhra University, India, and later she trained as a Research Associate at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, one of the premier Institutes in India. During her graduate program, she worked on human genetic diseases and the identification of molecular mutations in inborn errors of metabolic diseases. Dr. Konduri came to the United States in 1998 and joined as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. She worked on brain tumors, in particular, glioblastoma multiforme, gaining significant experience in cell biology, cancer biology, molecular biology, and gene transcription. In 2002, she joined as a Research Affiliate in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY. There, she worked on protein-protein interactions and protein-DNA interactions in breast cancer progression. In 2006, she was recruited to MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando as an Assistant Professor. She is currently focusing on targeted therapies to treat brain, breast and pancreatic cancers. Dr. Konduri recently joined Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center to lead cancer research programs. Dr. Konduri is a translational cancer researcher and currently involved in cancer therapeutics – drug resistance, drug discovery and development. Her area of research interest includes: cell signaling, apoptosis, angiogenesis, tumor proliferation, invasion and metastasis and protein-protein interactions. She is also interested in combination therapies (chemo/radiation) to treat cancer and she is interested in identifying and characterizing the genes that cause cancer and drug resistance and the application of this knowledge to the management of cancer patients. The current main focus of the Aurora St. Luke’s lab is to develop new mechanism based drugs to treat various cancers. The goal is to develop new approaches to prevent or treat cancers through a better understanding of the genes and pathways underlying their pathogenesis. In the end, she hopes to provide novel therapeutic strategies, which will avoid and overcome drug resistance and, most importantly, prolong the lives of cancer patients.

Collaborators: George Bobustuc, M.D.