Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

University of Iowa


Henry Laboratory Members

michael henry

Principal Investigator

Michael Henry, Ph.D.

A native of Missouri, I earned my BS in Genetics from the University of Georgia and a PhD in Biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following postdoctoral studies with Dr. Kevin Campbell at the University of Iowa, I worked for five years as a Senior Scientist in Cancer Pharmacology at Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA. In 2004, I returned to the University of Iowa as an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. I also currently serve as Deputy Director for Research in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Outside of the lab, I enjoy time spent with my family and pursuing fish in wild places with a flyrod. Download my biosketch HERE.

qin huang

Postdoctoral Fellow

Qin Huang

Qin received her Ph.D. at Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, where she worked on the characterization of PHF14,a novel PHD finger protein, and its role in lung carcinogenesis and epigenetic regulation. After joining the Henry Lab in 2011, her focus here is on the molecular mechanism of gene regulation of LARGE2 in cancers. Outside lab, she enjoys badminton, travelling, reading and cooking.


Postdoctoral Fellow/Otolaryngology Resident

Marisa Buchakjian

Marisa received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry, Biology, and Spanish from Case Western Reserve University in 2003. After college she enrolled in the MD-PhD program at Duke University School of Medicine and performed doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Sally Kornbluth. Her thesis work involved studying the metabolic regulation of caspase-2 in programmed cell death in a Xenopus laevis model system. She completed her MD-PhD in 2011 and is currently an Otolaryngology resident at UIHC and has performed postdoctoral work in the Henry lab since 2012. Outside of the laboratory she enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, running, and cooking.

jones nauseef

Graduate Student

Jones Nauseef

Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Swarthmore College in 2006. He confirmed his interest in laboratory science while serving as a Research Assistant at Weill Cornell Medical College. In 2008, he enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD-PhD) at the Carver College of Medicine. He pursued his interest in cancer research by joining the Henry Lab in 2010. As the recipient of the Hugh Vollrath Ross scholarship, his current interests are in the study of molecular and biophysical properties of circulating tumor cells to improve clinical prognostics and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Outside of the laboratory, Jones enjoys running, cycling, playing the drums, and rooting for Chicago sports teams.

michael miller

Graduate Student

Michael Miller

Michael received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University in 2005. During his time there he worked on several projects as an undergraduate focusing most of his work on DNA repair proteins and their functional implications in cancer. His passion for science and medicine led him to enroll in the Carver College of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MD, PhD) in 2005. His research interests took him to the laboratory of Michael Henry where his work focuses on the role of dystroglycan in prostate cancer progression and metastasis. When not in lab, Michael enjoys golfing, cycling, rugby, and is a budding cinephile.

nadine bannick

Research Assistant II

Nadine Bannick

Nadine graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in cell and molecular biology. She began her science career at the University of Michigan as a research technician in the labs of Dr. Kohrman and Dr. Lomax studying hearing loss and deafness. In August 2010 she joined the lab of Dr. Michael Henry at the University of Iowa as a research assistant/lab manager. Her projects include research on the effects of organophosphorothioate pesticides in prostate cancer. Outside of the lab, Nadine loves spending time with her husband and two boys in addition to scrapbooking, dog agility training, riding horses, and Zumba classes.


Undergraduate Assistant

Ashley Sharp

Henry Lab Alumni

Alison Esser

Alison received her BS in Biology and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University. Following graduation she was employed for one year as a research associate at Pioneer Hi-Bred International working on maize genetics. She then went on to receive her MS in Pathology at the University of Iowa in the lab of Dr. Michael Henry where she remained for her PhD studies. Alison’s doctoral work focuses on the role of the extracellular matrix receptor dystroglycan in the prostate epithelium and in prostate cancer progression. Her hobbies include spending time with her dog, cooking and playing tennis.

Matt Barnes

Matt received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology at Idaho State University, where he discovered his interest in research while studying the response of microbes to radiation. In 2005, he came to the University of Iowa where he joined the Henry lab and began investigating the cellular and molecular basis for cancer metastasis. During his time in Michael’s lab, Matt gained teaching experience lecturing human physiology courses and was later awarded the Byron A. Schottelius award for excellence in teaching. In 2011, Matt successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled “Influence of the fluid and matrix microenvironment on cancer cell migration, survival, and metastasis”. As a Department of Defense fellowship recipient, Matt is currently working in Michael’s lab in a postdoctoral position. His outside interests include hunting, fishing, and college and professional sports.

Rob Svensson

Rob's research in the Henry Lab focused on developing novel mouse models to be used as tools to help understand the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer progression and to aid as pre-clinical models for prostate cancer therapeutics. He focused on incorporating bioluminescence imaging (BLI) into these models to facilitate longitudinal non-invasive assessment of cancer progression and response to therapy.

Rob now has a post-doctoral appointment in the Laboratory of Reuben Shaw at the Salk Institute, where he focuses on cancer metabolism and trying to elucidate the role of the LKB1-APMK pathway, a key metabolic signaling axis, in the progression of lung cancer.

Justin Drake

During his time in the lab of Dr. Henry, Justin investigated the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer metastasis. One step within the metastatic cascade is the ability of cancer cells to enter (intravasation) or leave (extravasation) the circulation. To evaluate this aspect of metastasis, Justin established an in vitro model of cancer cell migration through an endothelial monolayer (termed transendothelial migration). His work focused on the role of an EMT transcription factor, Zeb1, during transendothelial migration of a subpopulation of PC-3 prostate cancer cells. He found that this transcription factor not only significantly enhanced transendothelial migration of prostate cancer cells, but also regulated epithelial polarity and extracellular matrix production of these cells, altering both migration and invasive properties of these cells.

Another of Justin's projects was to investigate the role of endothelin-1 in prostate cancer metastasis. Using the 22Rv1 cell line and bioluminescence imaging, He was able to establish a mouse model of prostate cancer metastasis, including colonization and establishment of prostate cancer cells to bone. He used this model system to evaluate the ability of an endothelin A receptor antagonist, atrasentan, to inhibit growth and colonization of prostate cancer cells, especially to the bone. Atrasentan was found to inhibit growth of prostate cancer cells to bone, but not to soft tissue sites such as the liver and adrenal gland, indicating the activity of this compound might be restricted to patients with bone only metastases.

Additional Laboratory Alumni