Current Members

Kathleen Caron, PhD
Kathleen Caron, PhD

Kathleen M. Caron, Ph.D. is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Cell Biology & Physiology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—one of the nation’s largest, interdisciplinary physiology departments, consistently ranked in the Top 10 in NIH funding. Prior to her role as Department Chair, Dr. Caron served as Assistant Dean for Research in the School of Medicine. Dr. Caron graduated from Emory University with a BS in Biology and a BA in Philosophy. For her graduate work, she trained with Dr. Keith L. Parker in the Department of Cell Biology at Duke University where she elucidated the role of steroidogenesis in regulating sexual determination and adrenal and gonadal development using genetic mouse models. To gain more experience in gene targeting approaches, Dr. Caron pursued her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Oliver Smithies at UNC-CH, where she was the first to discover the essential role of adrenomedullin peptide for embryonic survival. Her laboratory currently uses sophisticated gene targeting approaches to model human disease in mice. With a special emphasis on vascular biology, the Caron laboratory has gained valuable insights into the genetic basis and pathophysiology of lymphatic vascular disease, preeclampsia and sex-dependent cardiovascular disease. Dr. Caron has received numerous awards including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, an Established Investigator Award and an Innovator Award from the American Heart Association, a Jefferson Pilot Award in Biomedical Sciences and a UNC-CH Mentoring Award. . She currently serves as Associate Editor for ACS-Pharmacology and Translational Science and holds multiple scientific advisory roles in academia, industry and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Caron is an accomplished teacher and mentor, having served as an advisor to over 50 graduate, post-graduate and clinical trainees. She is highly regarded for her impassioned drive for excellence and approach to individualized mentoring and career advising, as recognized by her participation in numerous symposia and articles related to professional development. Dr. Caron is married to Michael Datto, MD/PhD, Director of Clinical Laboratories for Duke Health Care System. They enjoy spending quality family time with their two children, Nicholas and Sophia. Publications Email: kathleen_caron at med.unc.edu

 


Liz Douglas

Liz Douglas earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. She spent nine years at Wake Forest University School of Medicine as a laboratory technician in various labs, with the majority being in Timothy Peters, MD lab in Pediatrics Infectious Disease. During this time she focused on studying the movement of the Influenza virus and other respiratory pathogens within the population. Her expertise while at Wake included cell culture techniques and nucleic acid extraction, purification, and analysis. She joined Dr. Caron’s lab as laboratory manager in August 2015. She continues to hone her skills in molecular biology and learning new in vivo techniques. While not in the lab, she enjoys time with her husband, Donte, two children, Dorian and Kayla, and quilting. Publications Email: liz_blakeney at med.unc.edu

 


Margeaux Wetendorf Marbrey, PhD

Dr. Margeaux Wetendorf Marbrey received her PhD at Baylor College of Medicine studying under the leadership of Dr. Francesco DeMayo. Her thesis work centered on the role of progesterone signaling in pregnancy in the determination of the narrow window of embryo implantation and maintenance of the healthy uterine state through the generation of unique mouse models. Dr. Wetendorf experienced the privilege of completing her thesis work at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences after a cross-country move of the DeMayo laboratory. She then joined the Caron laboratory in the fall of 2016 and is currently investigating the role of placental miRNAs in the regulation of adrenomedullin and the preeclamptic state. When Dr. Wetendorf is not exploring new scientific ventures above sea level, she enjoys scuba diving the underwater infinite abyss. Publications Email: margeaux_wetendorf at med.unc.edu

 


Nisan Hubbard

Dr. Nisan Hubbard completed his PhD in Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University. His focus was on understanding how developmental signaling pathways, such as Notch, are activated during the formation and growth of the ovarian follicle. Prior to completing his PhD, Dr. Hubbard earned his B.S. in Biology

with a minor in Chemistry at the Virginia Commonwealth University. While at VCU, he studied cancer biology, deciphering the different signaling pathways utilized for cancer progression and how one could inhibit progression through synergistic use of cancer therapeutics. Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, he worked with multiple outreach organizations to connect underrepresented students with science research and education programs. Within the SPIRE program and under the mentorship of Dr. Caron, Nisan is excited to continue to do research studying GPCR pathways in reproductive development while expanding on his training in mentorship and teaching. He looks forward to learning about different ways to facilitate access to science education in the classroom at all levels. Publications Email: Nisan_Hubbard at med.unc.edu

 


László Bálint, PhD

László Bálint received his PhD from Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary under the supervision of Zoltán Jakus. His focus was on characterizing the mechanisms that regulate the developmental program of the meningeal lymphatic vessels. He joined the Caron lab in the summer of 2021 and is interested in exploring the structural and functional heterogeneity of the lymphatic system and broadening our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms determining organ-specific lymphatic function. Publications When he is not in the lab, he enjoys discovering nature while cycling and hiking. Email: laszlo_balint at med.unc.edu

 

 


Audrey Gareneau, MD

Audrey Garneau obtained her medical degree from University of Tenneessee and completed a residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at University of Kentucky.  She is currently a fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility spending her research year the Dr. Caron’s lab.  When she is not working, she enjoys backpacking, car camping, learning to sail, exploring new places, and spending time with friends.

 

 

 

 


Natalie Harris

Natalie Harris graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She joined the Caron lab in the Spring of 2018 and now studies the molecular mechanisms of lymphatic identity and permeability. When she is not in lab, she enjoys reading, playing with her Pembroke welsh corgis, and painting.  Publications Email: nharris3 at email.unc.edu

 

 


Stephen Serafin

Stephen Serafin graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.S. in biology in 2010. He then completed a Master’s in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences (MMDS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in 2011, where he studied as a clinical lab scientist to both utilize and develop molecular diagnostic tools to aid in patient care. Following his Master’s education, Stephen became a Research Technician/ Laboratory Manager at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center (TARC) at UNC-CH. While at TARC, he investigated the regulation of various G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) implicated in rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis. Stephen started graduate school in 2017 at UNC-CH and joined the Caron lab in 2019, where his work focuses on identifying GPCR and their associated ‘receptor activity modifying protein’ (RAMP) pairings in healthy and cancer-specific contexts. Publications Email: dserafin at email.unc.edu

 


Hernán Méndez

Hernán G. Méndez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. The natural wonders of Puerto Rico instilled in him an inherent fascination for the biological world. This fascination directed him into pursuing a bachelor degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. During his time at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, he had the opportunity to explored different research areas thanks to research fellowships and three summer research internships. He is now a graduate student in the Cell Biology and Physiology department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is working in a fascinating project that is trying to elucidate distinct aspect of cardiac lymphatics. As a side note, Hernán’s advice for future students that may be reading this is: Be grateful about what you have and do not have, plan with the intention to be happy, approach life as a challenge that you have chosen to live and be positive about the journey. Publications Email: hernan at email.unc.edu

 


Nate Nelson-Maney

Nathan Nelson-Maney grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in biology. His undergraduate research focused on the evolution of complex traits within freshwater sunfish and mantis shrimp. After earning his degree, he worked as a lab manager and junior researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital studying the role of T cells in human inflammatory arthritis. While there, he also studied the role of monocytes in murine lupus-associated diffuse alveolar hemorrhage. Nate is an MD/PhD student who joined the lab in the spring of 2020 and is interested in applying what he learns from his medical training to his research in the Caron lab. When he is not in lab, Nate enjoys exploring the world around him, and finding new challenges in running, rock climbing, and practicing yoga. Publications Email: Nathan_Nelson-Maney at med.unc.edu