Personnel Biographies

Gianrico Farrugia, M.D.
Principal Investigator
Consultant, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Dr. Farrugia received his undergraduate training at St. Aloysius' College, Malta, and in 1987 received his M.D. from the University of Malta Medical School. He is currently a consultant in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and holds the academic rank of professor of medicine and physiology.

Dr. Farrugia is a member of the Minnesota Medical Association, the International Motility Society, the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

His current research interests include mechanosensitive ion channels, ion channel regulation in gastrointestinal smooth muscle, the treatment of disorders of gastrointestinal motility, and the role of interstitial cells of Cajal in the regulation of gastrointestinal motility in health and disease states. View Dr. Farrugia's publications on PubMed.

Simon Gibbons, Ph.D.
Professional Associate in Research

Dr. Gibbons is a professional associate in research at Mayo Clinic and holds the academic rank of assistant professor of medicine and physiology. He also holds teaching and examining privileges in biomedical engineering in Mayo Graduate School. After earning a Bachelor of Science with honors in pharmacology in 1986 from the University of Bristol, U.K., he completed his Ph.D. in neuropharmacology at the University of Southampton, U.K., in 1990. Before arriving at Mayo Clinic in 1998, Dr. Gibbons held postdoctoral fellowship positions at the University of Chicago (1990-1994) and Tufts University (1995-1998).

Current research interests of Dr. Gibbons include:

  • Maintenance and fate of cells within the gastrointestinal tract in healthy aging and disease, with a particular focus on diabetic gastroenteropathy
  • Basic mechanisms by which Na+ and Ca2+ ion fluxes regulate cellular excitability and contractility
  • Development of novel cellular imaging techniques and analyses for studying ionic homeostasis in living cells and the morphology of those cells in fixed tissues

Research collaborators include:

  • Dr. Roberto De Giorgio, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Dr. Pieter Vanden Berghe, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • Dr. Maria Simonetta Faussone-Pellegrini, University of Florence, Italy
  • Dr. Onesmo Balemba, University of Idaho

Dr. Gibbons chose a career in biomedical science because "somebody would pay me to go anywhere in the world to do something that I loved doing." View Dr. Gibbons' publications on PubMed.

Kyoung Choi, Ph.D.
Research Associate

A research associate at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Choi earned his diploma in 1995 from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and his Ph.D. in 1998 from the Free University of Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin. Following postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo (1998-1999), and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (1999-2004), Dr. Choi joined Mayo Clinic in 2004 and holds the academic rank of assistant professor of medicine.

Dr. Choi's research is aimed at understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the development of diabetic gastroparesis. In a NOD/ShiLtJ mouse model, it was recently found that heme oxygenase-1 (HO1) is a key molecule for the development of diabetic gastroparesis. He and colleagues also discovered that the development of diabetic gastroparesis is associated with the loss of CD206-positive M2 macrophages, and that CD206-positive macrophages are the major source of HO1 expression. His team is interested in finding of therapeutic options for inducing HO1 and in translating the work from animals to humans. View Dr Choi's publications on PubMed.

In 2007, Dr. Choi received the Young Investigator Award from the American Motility Society. When not in the lab, he enjoys meditation. He went into biomedical science because "it is a continually changing and dynamic profession."

Amelia Mazzone, Ph.D.
Research Associate

After receiving her Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Bari, Italy, Dr. Mazzone came to Mayo Clinic in 2003. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nicholas F. LaRusso, M.D., from 2003-2005 and then joined Dr. Farrugia's laboratory. Dr. Mazzone is now a research associate and holds the academic rank of instructor of medicine.

Her research is focused on the characterization of Ano1, a calcium-activated chloride channel that in the GI tract is selectively expressed in interstitial cells of Cajal, and its role in the pathophysiology of motility disorders such as gastroparesis. She is also interested in the interaction of the small protein telethonin with mechanosensitive ion channel Nav1.5 in gastrointestinal smooth muscle. View Dr. Mazzone's publications on PubMed.

Her collaborators include:

  • Dr. Georgine Faulkner, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste, Italy
  • Dr. Luis Galietta, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova, Italy

Dr. Mazzone in 2004 received the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award from the American Liver Foundation. When not in the lab, she can be found enjoying life or movies.

Jinhua Wu, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

A research fellow in Dr. Farrugia's laboratory, Dr. Wu joined Mayo Clinic in 2008. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biopharmaceutics from Nanjing University, China (1998); a Master of Science in molecular biology and biochemistry from Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (2003); and a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Florida Atlantic University (2008).

Dr. Wu's main research interest is working to understand how the calcium-dependent chloride channel Ano1 regulates interstitial cell of Cajal proliferation.

He received the Marla Kace Siegel Memorial Scholarship in 2005 in recognition of outstanding academic performance, and the Presidential Fellowship from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2003. Dr. Wu was drawn to biomedical science because it "has helped and will continue to help us understand how our own bodies work, and it will allow us to overcome defects and diseases." He enjoys new ideas and discoveries and hopes to be able to contribute to improving peoples' lives.

Arthur Beyder, M.D, Ph.D.
Instructor of Medicine

Dr. Beyder received his M.D. and Ph.D. in 2007 from the State University of New York at Buffalo and joined Mayo Clinic that same year as a resident. Following the completion of his residency in 2010, Dr. Beyder became a General Mills Foundation Clinician-Investigator fellow at Mayo.

As many pathologies are related to motility disturbances, Dr. Beyder's research focuses on the role of ion channels — membrane-spanning proteins that allow the passage of ions — in gastrointestinal motility in health and disease. During the contractions and relaxations in the gastrointestinal tract, the stretch on the cell membranes significantly alters the function of some ion channels, and he and colleagues have been exploring this mechanoelectrical coupling at the molecular level by studying single channels. View Dr. Beyder's publications on PubMed.

Honors and awards received by Dr. Beyder include:

  • General Mills Foundation Clinician-Investigator fellow at Mayo Clinic (2010 to present)
  • National Institutes of Health Extramural Loan Repayment Program (2010 to 2012)
  • National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (NASA) (1997 and 1998)
  • National Nanofabrication Users Network Research Experience for Undergraduates (1997)
  • NASA/Cornell Space Grant for Summer Research (1996)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Research Fellows Program (1995)

When not in the lab, Dr. Beyder enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. As to why he chose to pursue biomedical science, he says, "The scientific discoveries made during the last century have transformed our lives — doubling life expectancy, and providing food and medicines throughout the world. Who would not want to be a part of such efforts?"

Madhusudan (Madhu) Grover, M.B.B.S.
Instructor of Medicine

Dr. Grover received his medical degree from Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India, and he has also spent time at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. Dr. Grover arrived at Mayo Clinic in 2009 and is currently a resident in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Research interests of Dr. Grover include translational aspects of human diabetic and idiopathic gastroparesis. He collaborates with the Gastroparesis Clinical Research Consortium, as well as the Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. View Dr. Grover's publications on PubMed.

Dr. Grover is the recipient of these honors and awards:

  • Salix Pharmaceuticals Fellowship 2 Leadership Award (2011)
  • American Motility Society Young Investigator Award (2009)
  • Travel award for the sixth annual Functional Brain-Gut Research Group Forum (2008)

Cheryl Bernard
Supervisor and Research Technologist

After earning an A.A.S. degree from the University of Minnesota Waseca in 1985, Bernard joined Mayo Clinic in 1989. Today, she is a research technologist and supervisor in Dr. Farrugia's laboratory and in the past has worked in neuroimmunology.

Her research interests are gastrointestinal motility and gastroparesis. View Bernard's publications on PubMed.

Seth Eisenman
Research Technologist

Eisenman joined Mayo Clinic in 2006 and is a research technologist in Dr. Farrugia's laboratory. Previously, he worked as a technical specialist in clinical autoimmune neurology. Eisenman's research interests are Ano1 (TMEM16A) and its role in regulation of interstitial cells of Cajal.