Leadership Team

Piedrahita-Jorge_5x7-150x150Dr. Jorge Piedrahita, (919-515-7407, japiedra@ncsu.edu) Co-Director

Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Translational Medicine and Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professor

Dr. Piedrahita is charged with managing a research institute involving faculty representing multiple departments and several colleges across within NC State, plus Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest. He supports interactions between clinical and basic research groups by developing mechanisms that encourage and facilitate those interactions. When investigators come together, learn about each other’s research, and discover areas of collaboration, veterinary and human patients receive the benefits of this scientific community.




Joshua Pierce (919-513-1480, jgpierce@ncsu.edu) Co-Director

LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar University Faculty Scholar and Leader, Natural Products to Drugs Initiative (Comparative Medicine Institute, NC State)

Dr. Pierce employs synthetic chemistry to tackle problems in chemical biology and drug discovery. Through the development of novel reactions he aims to synthesize complex natural products and use targeted modifications to lend insight into their biological mechanism of action. Ultimately, these efforts will uncover novel drug lead compounds for further development. will lead the Drug Discovery Initiative.  Dr. Pierce also heads up the CMI Drug Discovery Initiative and the Summer Interdisciplinary Research Initiative.




Dr. Liara Gonzalez (919-513-6919, lmgonza4@ncsu.edu) and Dr. Scott Laster (919-515-7958, smlaster@ncsu.edu) Associate Directors, Translational Pharmacology & Physiology

As joint Associate Directors for the CMI, Dr. Liara Gonzalez and Dr. Scott Laster bring an excellent balance of basic and clinical research experience to the TPP.  Dr. Gonzalez is a veterinarian, specialty trained in large animal surgery, with a clinical and research focus on intestinal disease. Dr. Gonzalez’ research has aimed to develop and utilize large animal models to translate lab bench findings into clinically relevant therapeutic interventions that benefit both human and veterinary patients.   Dr. Laster is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and his work focused on defining new treatments for the damaging inflammatory response that often accompanies infection. The Laster lab is also investigating the mechanisms underlying food allergy, specifically the effects of certain food allergens on cytokine production by dendritic cells. Combined, Dr. Gonzalez’ and Dr. Laster’s role is to look for opportunities and initiatives that will assist basic and clinical researchers to collaborate in the transition of basic discovery to ‘cage side’ or ‘bed side’ clinical/drug therapies.


Dr. Lauren Schnabel (919-515-7410, lvschnab@ncsu.edu) and Dr. Rohan Shirwaiker (919-515-6416, rashirwa@ncsu.edu)

Together, Dr. Lauren Schnabel and Dr. Rohan Shirwaiker will lead the Functional Tissue Engineering Program as Associate Directors.   Dr. Lauren Schnabel is an Associate Professor of Equine Orthopedic Surgery and her research emphasis is in regenerative therapies for the treatment of equine musculokeletal disorders.  Dr. Schnabel’s expertise will be complemented by Dr. Shirwaiker, an Associate Professor in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial Engineering.  He will bring knowledge in 3D Tissue Manufacturing focusing on the advancement of science and technology of scalable manufacturing of engineered tissues to products to address clinical needs.


Dr. Erin Baker (ebaker@ncsu.edu), Associate Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, College of Sciences

Dr. Cristina Lanzas (clanzas@ncsu.edu), Associate Professor of Infectious Disease, Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Baker uses advanced techniques to evaluate molecules present and changing in biological and environmental systems, focusing on development of technologies which will allow for study of a greater number of samples in a shorter time span. Dr. Lanzas analyzes infectious diseases data to study transmission mechanisms, and to identify and design control measures to reduce the public health burden associated with infectious diseases. Together, Dr. Lanzas and Dr. Baker will bring their expertise to the Emerging and Infectious Diseases unit of CMI, helping to make sample study and analysis more effective across disciplines, leading to more-efficient application of discoveries.


Eleanor Hawkins Dr. Eleanor Hawkins (919-513-7727, echawkin@ncsu.edu) Clinical Studies Core Leader

Dr. Hawkins is a Professor of Internal Medicine and a member of the CMI executive committee.  Dr. Hawkins’ research is concentrated on the study of chronic bronchitis in dogs.  Additional areas of study include the development of practical pulmonary diagnostic tests (particularly bronchoalveolar lavage), and the use of bronchoalveolar lavage to investigate drug disposition and immune function with the lung.  As Head of the Clinical Studies Core, she is especially keen to help NC State faculty form new collaborations with other institutions and industry partners, and help researchers utilize the specialized services offered by the core facility.


Dr. Matthew Fisher (919.515.5242, mbfisher@ncsu.edu) Musculoskeletal Group Head.

Dr. Fisher is an Assistant Professor in the joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill.  “His long-term research goal to utilize quantitative metrics and engineering principles to understand why individual tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches succeed within the body and to employ this knowledge to develop superior technologies with a strong focus on orthopaedic soft tissues.”  As, Head of the Musculoskeletal Group, he will work to strengthen the ties between the different musculoskeletal researchers across campus.




Lori Kazura
Executive Assistant