People

  • Louise Hecker, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor, Medicine
    Research Investigator, Southern Arizona VA Health Care Systems

    Dr. Hecker received her B.A. in biology from Hartwick College (2000), M.A. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from Binghamton University (2002), M.S. in Cell and Developmental Biology (2007) and Ph.D. in Applied Physics (2008) from the University of Michigan. Dr. Hecker’s broad research interest is in regenerative biology and medicine – a common theme that spans all of the diverse projects within her research portfolio. In 2014, Dr. Hecker initiated her first independent laboratory at the University of Arizona. She has published in high impact journals including Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. She is currently the PI of funded awards from the NIH, DoD, Dept of Veterans Affairs, and pharmaceutical industry. She is an inventor on 6 patents and is the founder of 2 companies. Dr. Hecker attributes her success to being an “outside the box” type of scientist, as she takes pride in her unique approaches to science as well as how she runs the lab. In addition to her research goals to translate scientific findings into the clinic, she strives to be an effective mentor/leader through research/teaching and to positively impact the community. 

  • Kosuke Kato, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor


    Will be updated  

  • Sunny Palumbo, Ph.D.

    Associate Scientific Investigator


    Dr. Palumbo obtained her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Arizona and finished her post-doctoral training in aging of human stem cells at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined Dr. Hecker’s laboratory in 2014, where her main project is focused on elucidating the role of Nox4 and its splice variant Nox4D in age-dependent acute lung injury. She is the recipient of the 2017 Hecker lab “MVP award”, for her role as the all-around problem solver and ability to perform technically difficult experiments within the group. Dr. Palumbo is passionate about improving current diagnostic and therapeutic options for people suffering from life-threatening diseases and therefore plays a lead role on biotech/industry related projects in the Hecker lab. 

  • YoonJoo Shin, M.S.

    Senior Lab Manager


    Yoon received her M.S. from the Life Sciences Department of Ajou University in South Korea. She joined the University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy in 2007, and with 7 years of research experience in drug discovery, she joined Dr. Hecker's lab. In her major role as the Laboratory Manager, Yoon oversees all day-to-day laboratory activities, workflow, and team dynamics. She is known within the group as the “lab mom” for her diverse roles throughout the lab as well as her caring nature. Her main research project is focused on understanding myofibroblast de-differentiation and how this is compromised in aging. One of Yoon’s goals is to continue to be an effective role model that demonstrates research ethic and work integrity.

  • Seongmin Hahn, M.S.

    Assistant Scientific Investigator


    Min plays a critical role in the Hecker lab as our dedicated "animal guy" - He is responsible for the coordination of all animal studies. This includes maintenance, genotyping, functional testing, and record keeping.  

  • Yvonne Oliphant, MBA

    Administrative Associate


    Yvonne plays an essential role in the Hecker lab by leading all administrative and financial aspects of the team.  Above and beyond her job responsibilities, Yvonne brings warmth, patience, and maturity to our team. Overall, she provides invaluable support that ultimately make all of our jobs a lot easier.  

  • Johnny Trinh

    Research Technician


    Raised in Glendale, Arizona, Johnny received his bachelors at the University of Arizona. He joined Dr. Hecker's Lab at the beginning of 2018 with a goal to advance his scientific knowledge in human diseases. Johnny plays a supportive role in the lab by assisting his doctoral colleagues in experiments, statistical analysis and other aspects of research, He plans to continue to contribute in the lab beyond the research focus by playing on his strengths in improving team synergy and work environment. With a passion to work with underrepresented communities, Johnny plans to attend medical school and become an impactful member of the Arizona communities.

  • Adam Knox, MSF

    Medical Student I


    Adam joined Dr. Hecker's Laboratory in February 2015 as an Undergraduate Student majoring in Chemistry. During his three years, he achieved independent funding through the Spirit of Inquiry and his research significantly contributed to the lab's recent $5 million Department of Defense grant. He is the lead author on a manuscript in preparation related to screening of Nox4 inhibitor drug candidate - this would be the first selective Nox4 inhibitor identified. After his undergraduate degree, Adam completed his Master's Degree in Finance and recently was accepted to the University of Arizona. Adam plans to continue his research in Dr. Hecker's Lab during medical school.

  • Stefan Koester

    Undergraduate Student


    Stefan is currently a Junior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Physiology. He has started Wearable Health Technologies, a company that looks to promote life-saving technology with already-existing smartwatch capabilities. Stefan joined Dr. Hecker's lab during his freshman year and has contributed to the drug discovery project, where he is focused on identifying Nox4 inhibitor drug candidates with increased efficacy and selectivity for the treatment of fibrotic diseases. One of Stefan’s immediate goals is to become proficient in writing scientific manuscripts, as he is working toward his first as a lead author.

  • Sydney Rummel

    Undergraduate Student


    Sydney is a Sophomore majoring in Physiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Religious Studies for Health Professionals at the University of Arizona, Honors College. Sydney joined Dr. Hecker's Laboratory in March 2018, and is now taking part in researching the development of age-related fibrotic diseases. Currently, she is working on developing a more specific method to screen compounds to find potential candidates for drug development. Sydney hopes to attend medical school and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon. 

  • Joseph Irish

    Undergraduate Student


    Joseph is a native Tucsonan studying Chemistry at the University of Arizona, Honors College. He joined Dr. Hecker’s laboratory in pursuit of his passion to contribute to meaningful medical research that translates to improved quality of life to those afflicted with life-altering diseases. Currently, he is working on high through-put screening to identify “hits” as a starting point for novel drug candidates. Joseph hopes to earn a Medical Degree from the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, and pursue his dream of providing aid to those lacking adequate medical care within the Tucson community.

  • Skye Rounseville

    Undergraduate Student


    Skye is a Sophomore and science enthusiast majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona, Honors College. He has taken numerous independent research projects to competitions based in Arizona, and has received placement and awards from the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Skye’s major project involves evaluating Nox4 drug candidates using various cell types in order to better understand how these drug candidates affect different cell populations in the lungs. His goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, as he hopes to one day work closely with the pharmaceutical industry to develop novel drug treatments.

  • Reena Chawla, Ph.D.

    Post-doctoral Research Associate I



    Dr. Chawla started her research training in organic synthesis and methodology development. Her current focus in Dr. Hecker's lab is on the design and synthesis of receptor-targeted therapeutics (NADPH-oxidase inhibitors) with pharmacodynamic properties that will enable consequent drug development for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Dr. Chawla's goals are to become a successful professor and to have her own well-established lab that she hopes to continue to discover and design biologically active compounds.  

  • Gajanan S Inamdar, Ph.D.

    Post-Doctoral Research Associate I


    Dr. Inamdar has thirteen years of pre- and post-doctoral research experience in analytical, synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry. His doctoral research was focused on the design, synthesis and pharmacological evalulation of thiazole-based antagonists for the adenosine receptors. He joined Dr. Hecker’s lab in 2017, where he is involved in designing and synthesizing novel small molecule inhibitors targeting Nox4. Dr. Inamdar's goal is to be involved in early- and late-stage of the drug discovery process.