Current Lab Members


Stacy Horner, PhD Principal investigator

Stacy grew up in Minnesota, and she received her BA in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College there. She received her Ph.D. in 2007 from Yale University, where she studied human papillomaviruses under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel DiMaio. Her postdoctoral research, sponsored by Irvington Institute Fellowship Program of the Cancer Research Institute, was with Dr. Michael Gale at the University of Washington, and focused on hepatitis C virus regulation of antiviral innate immunity. Stacy opened her lab at Duke in 2013. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Medicine, and also the Co-Director of the Duke Center for RNA Biology. Stacy has received the Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award from the American Society for Virology, the ASM Microbe Junior Investigator Award, and both the Milstein Young Investigator Award and the Christina Fleischmann Award from the Cytokines Society. She is also Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease. Stacy lectures in the Graduate Virology & Viral Oncology (MGM 552) and RNA Biology (BCH 668) courses. Stacy’s favorite thing to do in the lab is molecular cloning.


Christine Vazquez, MS – Graduate Student (MGM)

Christine was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and left the Garden State to pursue her BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Johns Hopkins University. While an undergraduate, she studied the roles of microRNAs in progression to inflammatory bowel disease-related cancer in the lab of Dr. Stephen Meltzer. She earned her MS in Biotechnology/Biodefense at Johns Hopkins University and during this time, she was also a research technician in the lab of Dr. Valeria Culotta. In the Culotta lab, Christine worked on identifying targets of manganese toxicity using metabolomics in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and also worked on characterizing superoxide dismutase activity in the Lyme disease pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi. Here at Duke, she joined Dr. Stacy Horner’s laboratory, where she studies the mechanisms by which hepatitis C virus evades and regulates the host innate immune response during early times of infection through the actions of the NS3-NS4A protease complex. Christine has developed and generated multiple CRISPR knock-out cell lines, including MAVS and RIG-I, for her thesis work and for the lab. When not in lab, Christine loves reading, watching Netflix, volunteering, rooting for the Yankees and Jets (true fans stick with their teams for consecutive losing seasons and butt fumbles), and rolling her eyes at the online content Mike distributes.


Nandan Gokhale, BS – Graduate Student (MGM)

Nandan was born and raised in the city of Pune in India. He moved to the United States in 2009 to study microbiology at Ohio State University. At OSU, he spent more than three years in the laboratory of Dr. Joanne Turner at the Center for Microbial Interface Biology studying the role of age-related inflammation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. He also spent a summer at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, in Dr. Melanie Blokesch’s lab, studying the regulation of an extracellular nuclease by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Over the course of his PhD in the Horner lab, Nandan has been studying the role of the RNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) on Flaviviridae infection. Nandan found that the RNA genomes of Flaviviridae contain m6A, and that this modification regulates hepatitis C virus particle assembly. He is currently investigating the regulation and function of m6A on cellular mRNAs during Flaviviridae infection. His work is supported by an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. Outside of lab, Nandan is a raging soccer fanatic – whether it be playing, talking about or watching his favorite team Arsenal. He also enjoys hiking, reading, good food, long discussions about history, and bad bad puns.


Dia Beachboard, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow

Dia is from Tennessee, and she received her BS in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee in 2006. She received her PhD in 2015 from Vanderbilt University, where she characterized the the role of a viral non-structural protein in virus induced membrane modifications and viral fitness, under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Denison. In the Horner lab, Dia studies regulation of antiviral innate immune signaling.  She has identified that the GTPase RAB1B interacts with TRAF3 to facilitate TRAF3 interactions with MAVS to promotes RIG-I pathway signaling. Dia’s work is supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Cancer Society. Outside lab, Dia enjoys crafting (crochet, cross stitch, and sewing) and spending quality time with her three cats. Additionally, Dia is the lab expert on making sweaters for goats.


Michael McFadden, BS – Graduate Student (MGM)

Mike grew up in Michigan and received his BS in Genomics and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University in 2014. While studying at MSU, Mike was involved in research in Dr. Zhiyong Xi’s lab, where he studied vector control strategies for diseases like dengue and malaria through the bacterium Wolbachia. Mike started his graduate training at Duke in 2015 and joined the Horner lab in the spring of 2016. His research in the Horner lab is primarily focused on RNA regulatory controls of antiviral gene expression. In addition to this, he has also developed new methods for tracking Zika virus infection. Mike has had nothing short of legendary careers in both flip cup and kickball since arriving in Durham. He is the lab’s dry ice bomb technician and top distributor of online content that only he finds entertaining.


Moonhee Park, BS – Research Technician and Lab Manager

Moonhee was born in Hongsung, South Korea and received her degree in Library and Information Science from Soong Eui Women’s College in Seoul. After emigrating to the United States, Moonhee obtained a BS in Chemistry from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a research technician for ten years at the UNC Department of Dermatology. In 2017, she joined Dr. Horner’s lab at Duke University as a research technician and lab manager. Her first paper was published in 2010 with subsequent papers in 2015 and 2017. Moonhee supports the lab’s never ending need for research material inventories and helping graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She is interested in generating CRISPR knockout cell lines. Outside the lab, Moonhee enjoys painting, reading, cooking Korean food and gardening. She has seven thriving Orchids and an indoor hydroponic garden. She dreams of killing all mosquitoes with fire.  .


Matthew Sacco, BS – Graduate Student (MGM)

Matt was born and raised in Connecticut and received his BS in Microbiology and Genetics from Purdue University. While a student at Purdue, Matt worked under Dr. Laszlo Csonka studying mechanisms of osmoregulation of the proU promoter in Salmonella Typhimurium. Matt arrived at Duke in the fall 2016 and started in the Horner lab the following spring. His research in the Horner lab is focused on the mechanisms involved in the regulation of hepatitis C virus by the post transcriptional modification N6-Methyladenosine (m6A). In his free time he enjoys baking in his attempt to follow his true calling as the next Great British Baking champion.


Graham Williams, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow

Graham received his BA from DePauw University (2010) and PhD at Washington University in Saint Louis (2017). During his doctoral studies, he focused on the evolution, reassortment, and genome packaging of influenza A virus and how this impacts viral replication, pathogenesis, and the host immune responses during infection. He joined Dr. Horner’s lab in 2017 to examine host responses to viral infection and innate immune mechanisms. Infection induces a host transcriptional burst, including the induction of hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes. These genes must be heavily regulated to successfully contain pathogens, but also minimize subsequent immunopathology. How post-transcriptional regulation of host RNAs, RNA modifications, and innate immunity interface during virus-host interactions is currently incompletely understood. Graham’s work on these topics is funded by an F32 from NIAID. Graham has recently contributed to studies in the Horner lab focused on the impact of host genetic diversity on viral infection and proteins that modulate antiviral signaling. Outside of lab, he enjoys soccer, competitive kickball, cycling, and Sriracha on almost everything.


Daltry Snider, BS – Graduate Student (MGM)

Daltry earned her BS in Biomedical Sciences from Tarleton State University located near her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. While completing her undergraduate degree, Daltry’s research in Dr. Dustin Edward’s lab was focused on retroviruses, specifically, structural analysis of the HTLV-1 HBZ protein. She also spent a summer at Baylor College of Medicine studying antibody recognition of the rotavirus VP8 protein in the lab of Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad. After arriving at Duke in 2017, Daltry joined the Horner Lab where she is interested in studying the role of post-translational modifications in regulating antiviral innate immunity. Daltry is the lab expert on 3D-printing and in her free time enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, reading, and watching Netflix with her two cats.


Michelle Kim – Duke Undergraduate

Michelle is from Poughkeepsie, New York and began studying at Duke in 2017. She is currently a biology major and a computer science major. Michelle joined the Horner Lab as an undergraduate student in the summer of 2018. Michelle has been working with Graham Williams in the lab to study the role of interferon-induced RNA binding proteins during antiviral innate immunity. Outside of lab, Michelle enjoys reading, playing cello, and watching Netflix. She is the lab expert in eating hot cheetos and drinking bubble tea.


Cole luther – Duke Undergraduate

Cole grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has been a Duke student since 2018, where he is currently studying mathematics and history. Cole joined the Horner Lab in 2019 to assist with Dia in studying new protein modifications that regulate antiviral innate immunity. When he is not competing on the club ice hockey or golf team (or working in lab!), Cole enjoys playing classic rock on his Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe (silver-burst, of course) and taking long naps.

Previous Lab Members


  • Madhuvanthi Vijayan: postdoc from 2017-2018, now a postdoc with Aravind Asokan at Duke.

Graduate students

  • Allison Roder: graduate student (Molecular Genetics and Microbiology program) was a full-time lab member from 2014-2018. Now she is a postdoc with Elodie Ghedin at NYU.

Lab staff

  • Jason Willer: research technician and lab manager, 2015-2016

  • Mounavya Aligeti: research technician and lab manager, 2013-2015. Now she is an Associate Scientist at WuXi AppTec, Philadelphia.


  • Kevin Labagnara: 2016-2018. Now a medical student at Albert Einstein Medical School.

  • Dillon Fernando: 2016- 2017. Now working in NYC in communications/TV.

  • Sydney Stanley: 2017-2018. Now a PhD student at Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Sirena Tran: Summer, 2017. Now a PhD student at Vanderbilt.

  • Graham (Mawuli) Attipoe: 2015-2017. Now a medical student at Vanderbilt.

  • Bianca Lupan: 2014-2017. Now a PhD student in the Duke Molecular Genetics and Microbiology program in Debby Silver’s lab.

  • Alie Fink: 2016-2017. Now doing undergrad research in neuroscience at Duke.

  • Matt Lanahan: Summer, 2014-15. Now a PhD student at UTSW in Julie Pfeiffer’s lab.