Makowski Lab Bios

Liza Makowski

Liza Makowski-Hayes, Ph.D., Principal Investigator.
Dr. Makowski is currently a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology at the Univ of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. She earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in the Division of Medical Sciences. She also received a Masters in Medicine concurrent with her Ph.D. studies as a Lucille P. Markey Fellow from Harvard Medical School. She completed postdoctoral studies in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at the Duke University Medical Center in the Stedman Center for Nutrition and Metabolism. After 8 years as faculty at UNC Chapel Hill, she moved to Memphis to join the University of TN Health Science Center. The Makowski lab studies immune cells in obesity, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Her research focuses on immunometabolism, primarily bioenergetics, and metabolic reprogramming of macrophages in the adipose and tumor microenvironment. She has published manuscripts and reviews in journals such as Molecular Metabolism, Breast Cancer Research Treatment, JBC, Obesity (cover), and eLife. She has served on planning committees at AACR (obesity and cancer), South East Lipid Research Conference Organizing committee, and The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)/EB. Graduate students (4) and fellows (3) have received funding from NIH (NIH NRSA F32, NIH Integrative Vascular Biology T32 slot), industry (Sanofi-Aventis), and/or internal merit-based (University of North Carolina Chancellor’s Fellowship, Royster Society of Fellows). Undergraduates trained have gone to Harvard Med, Wash U Med, UNC Med, UNC Dental, and Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Finally, she has served on several study sections including Tumor Microenvironment (TME) and a special emphasis panel for National Cancer Institute’s Provocative Questions as well other foundations including The American Heart Association and The Mary Kay Foundation.

Ajeeth Pingili

Ajeeth Pingili, Ph.D.
Dr. Ajeeth Pingili is currently a Sr. Research Specialist in Dr. Makowski lab in Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Pingili earned his PhD in Department of Pharmaceutical sciences in School of pharmacy at North Dakota State University. He completed his Postdoctoral studies in Department of Pharmacology at University of Tennessee Health Science Center where he studied the role of sex hormones and gender differences in cardiovascular and renal diseases and published articles in in journals such as Hypertension and American Journal of physiology. Dr. Pingili is expert in breeding, maintenance of rodents, performing of surgeries, drug and metabolism studies in mice. His future research is focus on developing new immunotherapies for triple negative breast cancer. Dr. Pingili has presented at many international conferences and won awards from American Heart Association and American Physiological society. Dr. Pingili was also awarded outstanding postdoctoral fellow and also Leonard share young investigator award for excellence in research.

Bin Teng

Bin Teng, Ph.D.
Dr. Teng is a research associate in the Makowski lab since 2017. She has extensive experience in molecular biology, primary cell isolation, and biochemistry.


Laura Sipe

Laura Sipe, Ph.D.
Laura Sipe grew up in Maryland and attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Laura received her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Virginia where she studied the contribution of the sympathetic nervous system in weight loss. She recently joined the Makowski lab to study the interplay between adipocytes, macrophages, and tumor cells. In addition to research, Laura pursued teaching and earned the Distinguished Teaching Fellowship and taught her own course in metabolism and weight loss. ORCID link 

Emily Miller

Emily Miller
Emily Miller is a student researcher and current medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She obtained a B.S. in Honors Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB) from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was selected as the Outstanding Graduate from BCMB by faculty. Her undergraduate thesis focused on the morphological consequences of dysfunctional GPI-anchors in Arabidopsis thaliana. For this research, she was recognized with the BCMB Undergraduate Research Scholarship and received first place in the poster exhibition for her college. Emily has a long-standing interest in the field of oncology and is excited about the ways in which the growing arsenal of immunotherapies will change the treatment landscape. As a first year medical student, Emily was awarded a fellowship in the 2018 West Cancer Clinic/UTHSC Summer Cancer Research Program. ORCID link 

Jared Clements
Jared is a first year medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He received his B.S. in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His research interest focused on Cas9 targeting of essential genes in bacterial species as well as developing oil waste remediating genetic constructs in E. coli. Jared was awarded a 2019 West Cancer Clinic/UTHSC Summer Cancer Research fellowship for his planned project on obesity and triple negative breast cancer.

Jared Clements


Rhodes Undergraduates

Arati Joshi
Arati Joshi is from Memphis, TN. She is an undergraduate student at Rhodes College and is double majoring in Biology and Anthropology/Sociology. She also works in a microbiology lab at Rhodes College, studying centromeric transcripts in fission yeast. She has been working in the Makowski Lab since the start of the summer of 2018 on the role of the immune microenvironment in breast cancer.

Emma Nichols
Emma Nichols is from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is a junior undergraduate student at Rhodes College and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She plans on attending medical school after graduation, and she has been working in the Makowski Lab since the summer of 2018. She is interested in the microbiome and effects on cancer biology.