Dr. Merry-Lynn McDonald is the Director of Integrative ‘Omics and an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. She is a genetic epidemiologist with interests in the analysis of complex traits and diseases including COPD, cachexia, sarcopenia, osteoarthritis and smoking behaviors such as menthol. Her lab is involved with some of the most cutting-edge studies including the Million Veterans Program (MVP) and the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Initiative.
Originally from Canada, Dr. McDonald received her undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo, MSc from the University of Saskatchewan and her PhD from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. She completed post-doctoral training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/ Harvard School of Medicine.
Dr. McDonald is also passionate about training and teaching. Her lab is actively recruiting students and fellows. See “Join our team” for more details.
Ashwathy Nair, MS is a Bioinformatician II, at the UAB Department of Medicine. She graduated from Northeastern University, with a Masters degree in Bioinformatics. She has experience in analyzing large-scale genetic data, Next Generation Sequencing data and understanding of Data Mining and Machine Learning techniques. Currently, she is working on analysis of data derived from genomics and transcriptomics studies as well as microbiome analysis
Ava Wilson, MS is PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health. She has an MSc degree in Epidemiology from UAB. Her research focus is on the application of integrative ‘omics methods to transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics data.
Alison Rocco is a research intern and an undergraduate student in the School of Public Health. She has developed great expertise programming in R and python. Her projects currently including implementing methods to impute transcriptomics data from genetic summary statistics and examining the relationship between chest computed tomography scan biomarkers with cachexia in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Dr. Joe Chiles is a second-year clinical pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. He completed medical school at the University of Kentucky and residency in internal medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center before coming to UAB for fellowship. His projects in the lab center around the genetics of COPD and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and he is pursuing clinical research on ARDS, especially in the context of the recent Covid-19 epidemic.
Rachel Tindal is a second-year medical student in the School of Medicine at UAB. Her research is focused on studying the relationship between muscle fiber type distribution with COPD cachexia.
Former Lab Members
Preeti Lakshman Kumar, MS is a Bioinformatician II with extensive expertise perform complex analyses of ‘omics data. She completed her MSc in Bioinformatics at Boston University.
Sarah “Allie” Pinson was a research intern and is now a graduate student attending Saint Louis University. She is pursuing her MPH degree in Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health. While in the McDonald lab she made important contributions to several projects using her python and R programming skills. (2020)
Dr. Darvi Michell Sergio, DVM, MPH, MBA, DACLAM was a research intern during his MPH degree from the School of Public Health. He is a senior clinical animal lab veterinarian at UAB. (2019)