Research Areas of Strength

Drug Discovery

The MSU Drug Discovery Program, led by Richard Neubig, works towards the discovery and development of drugs and chemical technologies with applications for human health, animal health and agricultural use.

Richard Neubig's lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms of GPCR (G-Protein Coupled Receptor) signaling and has discovered: series of compounds that inhibit the MRTF/SRF signaling axis and have found therapeutic benefits in melanoma and fibrosis; and involvement of TGF-beta in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Christopher Waters's lab studies bacterial signaling in Vibrio Cholerae and inhibition of bacterial biofilm formation with the development of new antibiotic adjuvants as lead development for drug discovery.

Stephanie Watts' lab focuses on 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT, perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), peptide chemerin, and their contribution to hypertension, obesity and obesity associated hypertension. The development of 5HT7r agonist is currently in as lead development in the drug discovery program.

Min-Hao Kuo's lab has been funded by NSF and NIH to study the cellular lifespan regulation by intracellular triacylglycerol and Alzheimer’s disease drug discovery.

Global Health

Cerebral Malaria

Terrie Taylor, is an internationally recognized scientist and physician who has waged a 33-year battle against malaria. Her research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, determined swelling of the brain and pressure on the respiratory center as the cause of death in pediatric patients. She has authored or co-authored well over 200 peer-reviewed publications and has received over $35 million in grant awards.


Michelle Kvalsund, is a global health neurologist and has received an NIH grant for her work in Zambia, identifying potential causes of Distal Symmetric Polyneuropathy, which is prevalent among certain clinical populations in the region.

Psychiatry and Neurodevelopment

The THRIVE Always neuropsychiatry research division led by Michael Boivin, is comprised of leading experts, Alla Sikorskii, Amara Ezeamama, Itziar Familiar-Lopez, and Horacio Ruisenor Escudero, in neuropsychiatric research pertaining to interventions and outcomes assessment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Health Services and Preventive Medicine Research

Alla Sikorskii is a methodologist and statistician, and has built a program of research in symptom management and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and design and evaluation of interventions to improve these outcomes among people with chronic conditions, especially in cancer patients. She has designed numerous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including the sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART) allows to build the evidence base for multi-staged interventions. She has authored or co-authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications with 3536 citations and has been a principal or co-investigator on numerous NIH RO1 grants.

Furqan Irfan is a physician-scientist and has carried out Population health and Preventive Medicine studies across a broad spectrum of diseases including cardiovascular diseases (cardiac arrest/stroke) and cancer. He has been externally funded for work with colleagues at the Veteran Affairs Healthcare system, the largest integrated healthcare system, in the US, on improving clinical outcomes in veterans. He has also developed machine learning clinical predictive outcome systems, most recently on predicting mortality in COVID-19 patients.

Clare Luz is a nationally recognized gerontologist and founding director of AgeAlive program, and the principal investigator for the HRSA-funded Building Training…Building Quality ™ (BTBQ™) project, a comprehensive personal care aides training program, and Integrated Model for Personal Assistant Research and Training (IMPART), funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

Imaging Research

Erik Shapiro heads the Molecular and Cellular Imagiong Laboratory (MCIL) that is focused on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) for molecular and cellular imaging of biological phenomena, regenerative medicine, and early detection of disease. Working at the intersection of chemistry, physics and biology, Dr. Shapiro’s laboratory has three main cores: developing novel nanoparticle contrast agents for MRI and CT; using molecular and cellular imaging for monitoring cell migration, such as after stem cell transplant; and using targeted contrast agents to detect specific molecular epitopes, such as in cancer.

Jill McMahon has been NIH funded to investigate the effects of exercise on reversing diabetic peripheral neuropathy and the effects of statin medications on muscle function using MRI  to examine muscle size and muscle damage and Magnetic resonance spectroscopy to examine phosphorus metabolites. She also explores the influence of age and exercise on vascular function using MRI to examine microvascular function with fMRI, MRI CINE PC and ultrasound to examine blood flow in the leg artery and veins.

Chunqi Qian's research is focused on the development of advanced detection technologies for MRI and biosensing, and the development of multiphysical theranostic methods to study vasculature diseases related to kidney, heart and brain.

Osteopathic/Biomechanics Research

Clarence Nicodemus is Director of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Clinical Research. He co-authored Chapter 8 on Biomechanics for the 4th edition of Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine and contributed to the 5th edition of Greenman’s Principles of Manual Medicine. His research focus in understanding the role of sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction in the mechanics of lumbosacropelvic motion as a major cause of Chronic Low Back Pain. This research includes 3D motion capture with EMG measurement, cadaver dissection, 3D modeling and FEA from cadaver CT scans, SI ligament strength testing.

Jacek Cholewicki is a Walter F. Patenge Endowed Professor in spinal biomechanics and is Director of the Michigan State University Center for Orthopedic Research (MSUCOR). His research has been funded by NIH to investigate the areas of lumbar and cervical spine function, spine injury mechanisms, tissue loading, and biomechanical modeling.

John Michael Popovich has a multi-disciplinary approach to investigating the mechanics, control and function of the spine has received post-doctoral funding from the NIH and funding from prestigious spine-related societies, including an Exploratory Research Grant from the Scoliosis Research Society and a Young Investigator award from the North American Spine Society.

Roger C. Haut is a University Distinguished Professor and Director of Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratories at MSU. His research has been funded by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control for research on blunt knee insults causing post-traumatic osteoarthrosis.

Feng Wei is the Assistant Director of Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratories and his research interests are human musculoskeletal system modeling, sports injury prevention and rehabilitation, pattern classification and recognition, imaging, lower extremity electromyography (EMG) in pathological gait, mechanotransduction in articular cartilage, and locomotor adaptation.

Richard C. Hallgren's research is focused upon investigating the effects of whiplash-type injuries upon the rectus capitis posterior (RCP) muscles. He is developing a biomechanical model that characterizes the functional relationship between RCP muscles and structures of the upper cervical spine such as the atlas and the spinal dura.