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Mi-Kyung Shin, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Dr. Shin has been part of the laboratory since 2011, with a research interest in the systemic effects of hypoxia on cardiovascular and lipid metabolism.  She has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding animal surgeon and molecular biologist.  She is currently examining the effects of leptin signaling in the carotid body on breathing and cardiovascular physiology.

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Chenjuan Gu, M.D. Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Gu is a pulmonologist with a long-standing interest in the interaction between sleep, breathing and metabolism.  She joined the lab in April 2017 to examine metabolic impacts of sleep and circadian disruption.  She is currently focusing on metabolic impacts of CPAP withdrawal in patients with sleep apnea, effects of sleep and circadian misalignment on substrate metabolism and respiratory effects of diet modification.

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Carla Freire, M.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Freire is a Otolaryngologist and Craniofacial Surgeon with clinical and surgical expertise in the treatment of OSA. She joined the lab in 2018 to study approaches to mitigate sleep disordered breathing. She is currently examining the development and management of sleep disordered breathing induced by opioids and the role of leptin on ventilation and upper airway obstruction.


Lenise Kim, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Kim joined the group in 2018 with a research interest in novel mechanisms by which leptin, an adipocyte-produced hormone, acts peripherally in the carotid bodies to induce sleep disordered breathing in obesity. The long-term goal of Dr. Kim’s research is to identify peripheral molecular targets in the carotid bodies for the pharmacotherapy of metabolic syndrome and sleep disordered breathing observed in obese patients.


Mateus Amorim, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Amorim has a background in integrative physiology with special attention to the neural control of cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as their physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms. He concluded his Master's and Ph.D. in Physiology at the School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto - University of São Paulo - Brazil. He joined the lab in 2019 to study the neural mechanisms involved in sleep-disordered breathing. He is currently working with chemogenetic techniques in brain areas affected by sleep-disordered breathing in obesity.


Shannon Bevans-Fonti

Senior Research Specialist

Shannon has worked in the Polotsky lab for over 16 years, and has a diversified skill set covering molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemical techniques as well as clinical trials and laboratory management and maintenance. A few of her predominant skills include RT-PCR, ELISA, immunoassays and immunoblotting.

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Huy Pho, B.S.

Senior Research Specialist

Huy joined the lab in March 2012 after graduating with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry. He is currently investigating the development and management of upper airway obstruction in the murine model. He is examining the role of leptin on control of breathing and ventilation while developing techniques to detect sleep-disordered breathing.


Stone Streeter

Undergraduate Researcher

Stone joined the team in the Spring of 2019. He has worked alongside Huy and Dr. Freire, primarily assisting with the investigation on the role of intranasal leptin in preventing opioid induced respiratory depression in a mouse model. Stone recently received the PURA Grant from the Hopkins Office for Undergraduate Research to continue his research. Stone is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. He is also involved in the volunteer program in the Adult Emergency Department at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and is a member of the Hopkins Varsity Soccer team. Once he completes his Bachelor's degree, Stone plans on attending Medical School.


Jessica Barmine

Research Technologist

Jessica joined the lab in January 2020 as a research technician. She primarily works alongside Dr. Freire and Dr. Curado, assisting with the implementation of studies investigating the potential of leptin as a respiratory stimulant during opioid-induced respiratory depression as well as chemogenetic approaches to stimulating motoneurons in the brain as a treatment for ventilatory complications from spinal cord injury. Jessica was a Life Sciences Scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park where she graduated with bachelors degrees in Public Health Science and Spanish. She plans to attend medical school in the future and in her free time loves to rock climb and hike with her dog, Archer.

Lab Staff: Team Members


Jianguo Li, MD, Research Scientist, E- SAC, Inc., Rockville, MD

Vladimir Savransky, MD, PhD,  Principal Scientist, Emergent BioSolutions, Rockville, MD

Christian Reinke, MD, Physician at Philipps University, Marburg, Germany 

Luciano Drager, MD, PhD, currently Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Saõ Paulo, Saõ Paulo, Brazil

Omar Mesarwi, MD,  Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA

Qiaoling Yao, MD, PhD, Lecturer , Xinjiang Medical University, Urumqi, China

Kathrin Fricke, MD

Angelica Vivero, medical student at Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico

Shaun-Pierre Hall, medical student, Florida State Medical School, Tallahassee, FL.

Edwin Ostrin, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pulmonary Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Edmarie Guzman-Velez, Ph.D. student in Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

Dileep Unnikrishnan

Swati Chopra

Ron Devera

Shrea Kapoor

Aman Rathore

Haris Younas

Lab Staff: Headliner
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