Principal Investigator

Dr. Girish C. Melkani

Associate Professor
Department of Pathology
UAB Heersink School of Medicine | Biomedical Research Building-II, #436
Phone: 205-996-0591, Email:

Jonathan Roth, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Jonathan Roth recently completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the Department of Neurology at UAB in Dr. Erik Roberson’s lab, where he studied the role of Tau and its interaction partners in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). He was awarded a National Research Service Award F31 from the National Institute of Aging to fund his research. During his Ph.D., Jonathan was also a teaching assistant for many classes at UAB, completed a Center for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) Practitioner teaching certificate, and published an education manuscript based on his experience.
Jonathan joined Dr. Girish Melkani’s lab studying genetic contributions to circadian dysfunction in AD using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) models of AD. He will test the impact of genetic or environmental circadian rhythm disruption on the onset and severity of AD pathology. Conversely, to restore aspects of circadian rhythm in older flies, he will subject flies to time-restricted feeding (TRF) in which food is provided only during the day. To test the molecular pathways mediating the opposite effects of circadian rhythm dysfunction and TRF on AD pathologies, time-series transcriptomes from these flies will be analyzed to find candidate pathways. The functional significance of these pathways will be tested by expressing the genetic gain of function and loss of function alleles in AD models. Successful completion of this project will provide a deeper molecular understanding of the interaction between circadian rhythm and the genetic risk of AD. Most importantly, this research will assess the efficacy of a behavioral intervention with a high potential for human adoption.

Ruan Moraes, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Ruan Moraes holds a Ph.D. in Human Physiology, with a major in neurophysiology, at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences from the University of São Paulo (Brazil). During his Ph.D. he researched the metabolism of complex B vitamins and bioenergetics in models of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. During his Ph.D. he was awarded a fellowship (CAPES-PDSE) at the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DiFE) to conduct part of his experiments. He is constantly interested in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism and has collaborations in studies involving drug development and pre-clinical tests of metabolic modulator drugs to treat diabetes and fatty liver disease. His experiences also include research on menopause, intermittent fasting, and exercise performance. Ruan joined Melkani’s lab to investigate the role of Lamin (LamC) gene mutations in cardiometabolic and neurodegenerative diseases using Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit fly) models, as well as to investigate the bioenergetic effects of time-restricted feeding and circadian rhythm disruption in models of neuropathologies.


Poonam Saharan, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Poonam Saharan got her Ph.D. from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. During her doctoral studies, her research focused on patients with intracranial aneurysms (IA). The spectrum of diseases associated with IA includes unruptured aneurysms, ruptured aneurysm (aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage), and the progression toward cerebral vasospasm. Dr. Saharan conducted comprehensive metabolic profiling, employing both untargeted and targeted approaches, to gain insights into the disease’s molecular mechanisms and identify specific molecules that could be linked to its pathological progression. Recently, Dr. Saharan joined the laboratory of Dr. Melkani, where she is currently involved in lipidomic analysis of patients with resistant hypertension. Her research endeavors will extend to investigating the connections between obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease using human plasma/tissue samples and using Drosophila models. To study human diseases, she will collect plasma samples from racially diverse groups of Alzheimer’s and obesity patients, followed by lipidomic analysis. She will employ Drosophila genetics, physiological assessments, and cell molecular biology techniques to investigate various aspects such as cardiac function, skeletal muscle physiology, sleep/activity patterns, and neurological assays. 


Yiming Guo, MS, GBS, Graduate Student

Yiming is currently researching potential underlying mechanisms of cardiac and intestinal aging under metabolic challenges, and the understanding mechanism underlying TRF-mediated benefits on cardiac and intestinal function. Her other project is linked with lipid storage myopathy and she has generated CRISPR models for understanding the pathophysiological basis of lipid storage myopathy in a Drosophila model.

Christopher Livelo, MS, GBS, Graduate Student

Christopher’s research involves exploring skeletal muscle function as a key metabolic organ and how interventions such as time-restricted feeding (TRF) protect muscle function against metabolic challenges. Additionally, he is also involved in studying the potential role of the microbiome in mediating skeletal muscle function upon TRF intervention.

Farah Abou Daya, MS, GBS, Graduate Student

Farah’s project revolves around identifying the genetic link between insomnia and cardiovascular disease, using human genome studies and fly models. She is modulating Drosophila orthologs of causal human insomnia genes to outline biological pathways linking cardiovascular disease with insomnia. She is also testing if improved sleep through genetic, lifestyle, or small-molecule interventions improves cardiovascular function. 

Aniket Pant, Engineering Undergraduate at Georgia Tech & Researcher at the UAB

Aniket is a Researcher I in the lab. His research focuses on developing methods for automated analysis of high-speed Drosophila cardiac recordings. In addition, he develops laboratory methods for analyzing Drosophila sleep data, as well as managing the lab website.

Yash Melkani, Engineering Undergraduate at UC Berkeley & Researcher at the UAB

Yash is a Researcher I in the lab. He is developing software for performing automated analysis of high-speed Drosophila cardiac recordings. His research focuses on machine learning and computer vision techniques.

Vasanthi Rajeskaran, B Com, Researcher

Vasanthi is a Researcher II in the lab and familiar with several lab techniques, including cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology, making genetic crosses and aging, immunoblots, and qRT-PCR. She is helping with several lab projects utilizing these techniques on a routine basis. 

Fatma Oduk, Researcher I

Fatma’s duties include coordinating lab duties on a daily and long-term basis. These lab coordinating duties include maintaining lab stocks, genetic crosses, ordering lab reagents, and complacence with lab safety. Fatma also helps with vital lab research projects, in association with PI and lab personnel.

Dave Melkani, Student Assistant and Undergraduate at Emory

Dave is pursuing his undergraduate degree in Applied Math and Computer Science at Emory University. Along with Yash and Aniket, his projects involve, building ethoscopes for Drosophila sleep/activity analysis and circadian behavior. He is initializing the installation of the ethoscope software through Linux (Arch Linux & Ubuntu) based command.

Lily Ober, Student Assistant & Undergraduate Bioengineering major

Lily works with Farah Abou Daya (Current doctoral candidate) on determining the genetic link between insomnia and cardiovascular disease. We aim to find the physiological link between the two using high-speed cardiovascular videography and the DAM system.

Dev Patel, Student Assistant & Undergraduate Neuroscience major

Dev is working with Farah Abou Daya (Current doctoral candidate), on a project which shows how genes for insomnia and cardiovascular disease are related to each other.

Brittney Xu, Undergraduate, Neuroscience major

She works with Dr. Jonathan Roth (Current Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab), to investigate the roles of genetic risk factors in Alzheimer’s disease by creating genetic crosses of Drosophila models of Alzheimer’s disease and performing the behavior and biochemical assays. 

Savannah Crawley, Undergraduate, Neuroscience major

Savannah is currently a senior majoring in Neuroscience at UAB. She works with Dr. Jonathan Roth (Current Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab). Savannah is working to understand the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and circadian rhythm using the Drosophila model.

Hailey Mao, Undergraduate, Neuroscience major

Hailey works with Dr. Ruan Macedo (Current Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab). Hailey is studying the effects and mechanisms of Apolipoprotein on the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Behavioral experiments like the geotaxis and the flight test as well as analyzing circadian rhythm will study the flies.

Jagathnarayan Madhanagopal, Undergraduate, Premed, Cancer major

Jagathnarayan is working with Christopher Livelo (Current doctoral candidate) on skeletal muscle dysregulation associated with metabolic challenges. His work focused on making genetic crosses, maintaining stocks, and helping with muscle-related assays.

Shipping Information

Fatma Oduk
Biomedical Research Building 2 (BMR2-442)
UAB Heetsink School of Medicine
901 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294
Lab Phone: 205-996-1784

Lab Alumni

Recent Graduates

Christopher Livelo
Jesus (Eric) Villanueva
Shruti Bhide
Shaana Chandran

Other Researchers

Mary Doamekpor
Henry Ogbonna
Brendon Woodworth
Jay Vyas
Dalton Bannister
Shweta Varshney 
Ariel Docuyanan