Current KURe Scholars

Bin Ni

Bin Ni, MD-PhD
Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases
Department of Medicine
Duke University

Dr. Ni is a Transplant Infectious Diseases Fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases where she is gaining expertise in the care of transplant/immunocompromised hosts and continuing her training as a physician-scientist. She received her MD and PhD through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Ohio State University, where her dissertation research explored effects of microRNA alterations in human macrophages during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. She subsequently completed internal medicine training at Ohio State University, followed by infectious disease fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

As a KURe scholar, Dr. Ni seeks to address BK virus-associated complications in renal transplant recipients, including BK virus-associated ureteral stenosis and nephropathy, which are important causes of graft injury and loss. By integrating clinical factors and polyfunctional T-cell signatures associated with BK virus reactivation, her goal is to create validated risk prediction models to identify patients at risk for BK virus-related complications after renal transplantation, ultimately enabling tailored screening and immunosuppression strategies to improve outcomes. Her broader research interests extend to understanding interactions at the host-pathogen interface, with the ultimate goal of developing novel diagnostics and host-directed therapies for infectious diseases.

Em Abbott

Em Abbott, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Duke University

Dr. Abbott is a preclinical scientist whose interdisciplinary career has bridged engineering and physiology throughout her training. At UC Irvine she completed her PhD in 2017 with a dissertation that added tendon mechanics to the traditional study of muscle physiology. This research opened questions about sensory feedback which Dr. Abbott pursued as a postdoctoral associate in the Physiology of Wearable Robotics (PoWeR) Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology. There, Dr. Abbott measured how muscle stiffness affects mechanoreceptor response with novel electrophysiology experiments. To expand her electrophysiology skillset, Dr. Abbott joined the Lemay Lab at Temple University and investigated how to re-engage locomotor centers after spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury nearly always elicits neurogenic bladder for which there are few effective treatments. One promising therapy is neuromodulation which is studied extensively in the Grill Lab at Duke University. In 2022, Dr. Abbott joined the Grill Lab to lead a spinal cord injury study that applies high-frequency spinal cord stimulation to restore bladder function. Effective bladder function relies on appropriate compliance of the detrusor muscle. As a KURe scholar, Dr. Abbott is excited to investigate how compliance of the neurogenic bladder may limit or enhance neuromodulation. This research aims to develop a mechanistic framework that will guide development of individualized diagnostics and treatments to improve the lives of people living with neurogenic bladder.

Odom KURe

Michael R. Odom, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Surgery, Division of Urology
Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Odom began his career as a paramedic and obtained a BS in Emergency Medical Care from Western Carolina University before transitioning into basic science research. He then earned a PhD in Physiology from East Carolina University where his research focused on neurovascular mechanisms responsible for erectile dysfunction following prostate cancer treatment. In 2020, he joined the Duke University Urinary Dysfunction Laboratory as a postdoctoral associate.

Dr. Odom’s current research focus is diabetic bladder dysfunction. Inflammation mediated through NLRP3 inflammasome activation directly contributes to the progression of diabetic bladder dysfunction through unknown mechanisms. Dr. Odom strives to determine these physiologically relevant mechanisms under the guidance of Dr. J. Todd Purves and Dr. Francis “Monty” Hughes. Currently, there are no effective treatments for diabetic bladder dysfunction and NLRP3 inhibition is a promising potential therapeutic intervention.

Advani KURe

Sonali D. Advani, MBBS, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health
Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Advani is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University School of Medicine, and the Associate Director of Duke Infection Control Outreach Network. She did her internal medicine and infectious disease training at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to this, she earned her Master of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and pursued a research fellowship in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dr. Advani’s current research focuses on leveraging urinalyses criteria to improve the diagnosis of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in elderly patients. UTIs in older adults pose a diagnostic dilemma to most clinicians. The high incidence of asymptomatic bacteriuria and inability to express genitourinary symptoms increases the risk of inappropriate culturing and adverse events in this group. Dr. Advani’s proposal for developing urinalyses criteria predictive of infection in older adults will help reduce patient harm from inappropriate antibiotic use.


Dr. Cassandra Kisby

Cassandra Kisby, MD
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Ob/Gyn
Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Kisby completed her undergraduate education at Duke University, majoring in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Chemistry and Spanish. She continued her training at Duke University Medical Center for both medical school and residency. During her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency, she was recognized for both her surgical excellence and dedication to teaching. Dr. Kisby went on to complete a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Mayo Clinic Rochester. She discovered an interest in translational research early in her career, conducting her first randomized controlled trial in residency. She has continued to establish a fruitful research career, earning a Master's in Biomedical Research and Certificate in Clinical and Translational Research. During fellowship, she developed a skillset in regenerative medicine and her research focused on women's health applications of a cell-free exosome platform.

As a KURe scholar, Dr. Kisby will continue her work in women's health regenerative medicine, with the goal of translating regenerative medicine technologies to the bedside to fulfill unmet patient needs. Dr. Kisby's clinical interests include congenital anomalies, mesh complications following pelvic reconstructive surgery, postpartum pelvic floor disorders, pelvic organ prolapse, and urinary incontinence. She is also involved in efforts to create a diverse and inclusive work and patient care environment, as well as equity for women in medicine/science.