Lab Members

Purushothama Rao Tata – Assistant Professor

Tata received his Ph.D. from University of Ulm in Germany and Postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. Currently he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Biology at Duke University Medical Center. Tata lab is affiliated with the Regeneration Next Initiative, Duke Cancer Institute and Center for Advanced Genomic Technologies at Duke University.

Aleksandra Tata (Aleks) – Assistant Research Professor

Aleks was born in a small town in Poland. She finished her high school education in her home town and joined Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland to pursue Master of Science in molecular biology (Department of Cell Biology). Then Aleks pursued her graduate work in the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Ulm, Germany followed by postdoctoral studies in Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School where she studied vascular network, signaling cascades in endothelial cells and blood brain barrier (BBB).

Satoshi Konishi – Postdoctoral Associate

Satoshi was born and raised in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. He attended Kyoto University School of Medicine and went on to become trained as a respiratory physician in Kurashiki city. He decided to study regeneration because he wanted to help patients with complicated lung diseases and returned to Kyoto University where he obtained his Ph.D. degree studying induction of functional airway multi-ciliated cells from hiPSCs. He continued his multi-ciliary research working as a respiratory physician in Japan in the Tsukita lab at Osaka University. He is interested in the plasticity of lung stem cells and disease modeling. Click here for a full list of Satoshi’s publications.

Preetish Murthy – Postdoctoral Associate

Preetish was born in India. He finished his schooling in Bangalore and obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He worked on understanding fluid flows in microchannels using Extended Transport Equations. With an interest in academic research he joined the graduate program at Cornell University. During his PhD, he realized his interest for life science research and worked on understanding epithelial tissues under homeostatic and pathologic conditions. Broadly, his current research interests lie in applying engineering tools and principles to answer biological questions.

Vishwaraj Sontake (Vishwa) – Postdoctoral Associate

Vishwa was born and raised in a small village in India. He received his Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from Kakatiya University. In 2008 he pursued a Masters in Biochemistry at Osmania University. He was awarded the CSIR research fellowship to pursue his doctoral degree, which focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of chronic tissue remodeling diseases in the lung and kidney.  In the Tata lab he studies the autonomous mechanisms of Alveolar Type2 stem cell self renewal and differentiation using CRISPR gene editing and NGS techniques.

Apabrita Ayan Das – Postdoctoral Associate

Apabrita is from West Bengal, India. He pursued his B.S in Zoology, Physics and Chemistry from Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan and then moved to Varanasi to pursue his M.S in Zoology from Banaras Hindu University. He completed his Ph.D from CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata. During his Ph.D, he studied the mechanism of atherosclerotic plaque progression in Coronary Artery Disease through qualitative and quantitative proteomics. Later, he became interested in cell-cell connectome analysis and its role in different diseases. Apabrita is currently working on the role of cell- cell connectome in lung homeostasis and repair. In his free time, he plays North Indian classical flute. He is also an avid trekker.

Michael Forrester – Pulmonary Fellow

Michael did his undergraduate at Northwestern where he worked on organic synthesis in Rick Silverman’s lab. He then moved to Duke for his MD and PhD where he studied NO biology, nitrosative stress and proteomics in the lab of Jonathan Stamler. After brief postdoctoral work on protein S-palmitoylation with Patrick Casey at Duke, Michael pursued internal medicine residency at Mass General Hospital. After residency he joined the clinical staff as a medical instructor of Harvard Medical School where he focused on teaching medical procedures to the residents (eg vascular access, lumbar puncture). In 2020, he moved back to Duke to pursue fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine. His research interests are in lung injury/repair, assay development and diagnostics. Michael is blessed with a family including his wife Christine who is a radiation oncologist, two energetic boys and two couch-potato dogs.

Arvind Konkimalla – MD/PhD Candidate (Duke – MSTP)

Arvind was born in India, but moved to New Jersey when he was just 4 years old. He received his BA in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Rutgers University in 2014, where he worked in the lab of Nancy Woychik, studying a Mycobacterium tuberculosis stress response mechanism. He joined the MD/PhD program at Duke University following his undergrad. After medical school rotations, Arvind decided to pursue pulmonary medicine, thus meandering his way into the Tata lab. Broadly, his research interests lie in lung cancer and regeneration.

Zac Farino – PhD Candidate

Zac is from Seattle, and graduated with his BS from Washington State University in 2013. He then went on to earn an MS from Columbia University, where he studied pharmacology and cell biology. After helping his PI relocate his lab to UPMC, he went on to work at a small biotech company in Manhattan called Kallyope, Inc. He moved to NC when his wife graduated with her MD from Columbia, and matched at UNC as a psychiatry resident. In the Tata lab, Zac is focusing on understanding the key cell types driving the disease pathology of pulmonary fibrosis in order to develop targeted therapeutic strategies. In his free time, he enjoys exploring the outdoors with his wife and dog, fostering shelter dogs, and working to restore his classic Mustang. 

Erin Fykes – PhD Candidate

Erin is originally from Salisbury, MD and received a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Politics from Washington and Lee University. Following graduation, she spent two years in at the NIH in Bethesda, MD in the Kreitman lab where she studied the various presentations and progressions of hairy cell leukemia. Once at Duke, she joined the Tata lab because it allowed her to pursue her interests in developing restorative therapeutics for chronic conditions and exploring the intersection of regenerative medicine and cancer research within the lung. Her current work focuses on elucidating the role of Sox4 in alveolar cell transitional states and, more broadly, lung homeostasis and repair. Outside of the lab she likes to cook and bake, play with goats, volunteer, and make good use of her Disney+ subscription.

Lauren Macadlo – Research Technician III

Lauren is from Northwest Indiana and earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Purdue University while working in a yeast epigenetics lab. After graduating she worked in a plant genetics lab, then traveled Europe for 7 weeks; visiting 7 countries! She started a position as a QC Microbiologist, but missed research and moved to NC.  She is currently helping with a DARPA funded project.  She hopes to further her education by taking classes at Duke and becoming a research assistant.  In her spare time she enjoys reading and playing volleyball. Her favorite part about being at Duke is the architecture and Duke gardens.

Erica Langan – Undergraduate (Sophomore)

Erica is a sophomore from Cincinnati majoring in Biology and minoring in Linguistics. She joined the Tata Lab because she was fascinated by the use of new technologies to mimic the functions of human tissue in the lab and to investigate a host of new research questions. She is also a Huang Fellow. After graduating, she hopes to apply to MD-PhD programs and pursue a career as a physician scientist. Outside of lab she plays violin in the Duke Symphony Orchestra and is Service Chair for the American Medical Women’s Association. In her free time she loves to write, cook, and explore the Duke Gardens.

Tata Lab Alumni

  • Hiro Katsura, Ph.D. – Former Postdoc. Hiro is currently working at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems and Dynamics Research, Laboratory for Lung Development in Japan!
  • Yoshihiko Kobayashi, Ph.D. – Former Postdoc. He is now an Assistant professor at Kyoto University studying tissue remodeling in pregnancy at the Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences in Kyoto, Japan!
  • Avani Desai – Former Undergrad. Avani is working this coming year as a Research Technician in the Sipkins Lab (Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy) at Duke before she plans on attending medical school.
  • Rebecca Lee – Former Undergrad. Rebecca is attending Yale to study for her Ph.D. in their Biological and Biomedical Sciences graduate program.
  • Robin Yeh – Former Undergrad. Robin is currently working on projects funded by the Benenson Award in the Arts she was awarded and will later be relocating to Atlanta, Georgia for work as a consultant at Accenture.
  • Samuel Liu – Former Undergrad.