Dr. Harris McFerrin received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology and Computer-Based Honors from the University of Alabama in 1995 and then a Master of Science degree in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Marchase at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Cell Biology Department in 1999. During this time, he was awarded the Buris Boschell Scholarship in Medicine and was a visiting scientist in the laboratory of Dr. Frans Nijkamp, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Upon completion of his Master’s degree, Dr. McFerrin moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University. In 2006, he earned is Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology under the guidance of Dr. Cindy Morris. His Ph.D. thesis project focused on the molecular mechanisms of cyclin-dependent kinase 9 and NF-κB in angiogenesis. For his postdoctoral training, Dr. McFerrin examined the vascular trafficking of human multipotent mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory of Dr. Darwin Prockop. Dr. McFerrin is currently an Assistant Professor at Xavier University of Louisiana and an adjunct Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University. He is also a member of both the Louisiana Cancer Research and the Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortia.
My research over the last ten years has focused tangentially on a number of topics: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV8/KSHV), diabetes, tumor angiogenesis and adult human stem cells. These topics are all linked by the vasculature. HHV8 co-infection with HIV increases the survival and growth of blood vessels to form lesions commonly known as Kaposi’s sarcoma. Diabetes negatively affects the vasculature, causing decreased blood flow and is linked to atherosclerosis and a number of other problems. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Darwin Prockop, we showed that the adult progenitor cells known as hMSC can help to form blood vessels in vivo. We and others have further demonstrated that hMSC directly interact with blood vessels, rolling in and adhering to the endothelium in a PSGL and alpha-4-integrin-dependent manner. Currently my laboratory is working on two projects. First, we are studying the role Cdk9 in tumor-associated blood vessel growth and survival. In collaboration with Drs. Deborah Sullivan and Cindy Morris in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University, we are focusing on the role of Cdk9 in Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus viral G-protein coupled receptor-mediated blood vessel growth in the formation of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Secondly, we are working with Dr. Earnest Chiu and Dr. Paul Friedlander in Tulane’s Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology Departments, to determine whether adult stem cells from adipose tissue increase blood vessel growth and/or metastasis of breast cancer and squamous cell carcinoma.