Lab Members

Peter Vitiello

Randy Faustino, PhD (Principal Investigator)
Randy made the move to South Dakota and joined Sanford Research in 2016, where his lab is focused on exploring the role of nuclear biology in pluripotency and cardiac development. Before joining Sanford, Randy earned his BSc (microbiology) from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. He stayed on at the U of M, and began graduate studies under the mentorship of Dr. Grant Pierce, where he studied the role of nuclear transport in smooth muscle cell biology and its role in atherosclerosis. After being awarded his PhD in Physiology, he continued his postdoctoral training in cardiac development, transcriptome analysis and stem cell biology at Mayo Clinic in the laboratory of Dr. Andre Terzic. His lab’s interests are focused on the potential epigenomic functions of nucleoporins in controlling stem cell and cardiac biology, as well as characterizing the systems biology impacts of nucleoporin mutations in development and disease.


Claudia Preston, MD (Staff Scientist)
Claudia is originally from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She received her medical degree in 2004 from La Salle University in Mexico City, Mexico. She then did a research trainee year (2004-2005) followed by two postdoctoral fellowships (2005–2014) at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. During her time at Mayo she gained skills and experience in cellular biology, microscopy and bioinformatics. Her work in the Faustino Lab is focused on imaging nucleoporin mobility in stem cells and cardiomyocytes, and bioinformatic analysis of transcriptome dynamics.


Emily Storm (MD/PhD candidate, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota)
Emily received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. In 2014, she earned an Master of Science in comparative pathology from the University of California, Davis. She is currently enrolled as a graduate student in the MD/PhD program within the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota. Emily’s graduate research will investigate the molecular relationship of NUP155 and HDAC4, and how this interaction affects chromatin access and dynamics in cellular and physiological models of cardiac development.


Riley Leonard (Undergraduate SPUR Scholar 2017)
Riley Leonard is a junior in the Bachelor of Science (biology) program at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. Originally from Eden Prairie, MN, Riley spent his first summer as a 2017 SPUR Scholar in the Faustino Lab, where he worked on developing the tools needed to create stem cell models to study heart disease. His work included identifying damaging mutations in the NUP155 gene using bioinformatic analyses and online database mining, culturing mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) in preparation for differentiation into stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, transfection of fluorescently-tagged NUP155 protein into HeLa cells to track its endogenous distribution and immunoblotting to measure levels of NUP155 protein present in different cell types. Throughout the school year, Riley will continue building his bioinformatics skill in preparation for continuation of his work in 2018, where he plans to use genome editing techniques to introduce a specific clinical NUP155 mutation (R672G) into stem cell lines to study its effects on cardiac differentiation.