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Meet the Norris Lab

People Driving Discoveries

Dr. Russell (Chip) Norris, PhD

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Find his complete publications:

Dr. Norris is a professor in the department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology at MUSC, with clinical appointments in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Medicine/Cardiology. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he graduated from MUSC in 2000 with a PhD in biomedical sciences with a focus on genetics and molecular biology. Following two postdoctoral fellowships at MUSC, he was recruited in 2007 to stay at MUSC and open his research lab.  In the past 15 years, Dr. Norris rose precipitously through the ranks and has now become a tenured professor in the Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology. His large and integrated lab has orchestrated significant breakthroughs in the fields of genetics and connective tissue disease with papers in Science, Circulation, Nature Genetics and Nature. Through trans-Atlantic collaborations, Dr. Norris has become recognized globally for his work and vision and is frequently a sought after speaker. He has published over 100 scientific articles and has given >200 talks globally. He has a strong dedication to student training and has mentored >100 students either directly or in his capacity as former graduate coordinator. He has a 100% success rate for independent student funding and nearly all graduates have gone on to obtain impressive leadership positions in both academia and industry.

Current Lab Members

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Lilong (Leon) Guo, MD, PhD

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Dr. Guo is a postdoctoral scholar in the Norris Lab and previously got his MD in China. He received his Ph.D. in the Norris lab in 2021. His research interests are in hEDS and cardiac valve development.

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Cortney Gensemer, PhD

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Dr. Gensemer is a postdoc with a BS in pharmaceutical product development from West Chester University and a PhD in biomedical sciences from MUSC. Her research is focused on the genetic and molecular mechanisms of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes and hypermobility spectrum disorders. In addition to her scientific pursuits, Dr. Gensemer is passionate about science communication, chronic illness and rare disease awareness and disability advocacy. Combining her scientific expertise and personal experiences as a patient, Dr. Gensemer strives to bridge the gap between research and the lived reality of individuals with EDS to make a meaningful impact on patients.

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Jordan Morningstar

MD PhD Student

Jordan is a sixth year MD-PhD student in the Norris lab from Ann Arbor, Michigan. His research investigates how biomechanical forces stimulate connective tissue synthesis and scar formation in the heart. This irreversible condition, known as cardiac fibrosis, is poorly understood, has no therapy, and is a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality. As a future preventative cardiologist, Jordan hopes to take discoveries made in the Norris lab and bring them to the clinic to help prevent or reverse heart disease, improve quality of life, and save lives.

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Taylor Petrucci

PhD Student

Taylor is a PhD candidate from Walpole, Massachusetts. She graduated from Clemson University in May of 2021 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Taylor’s current research utilizes proteomics approaches to define molecular mechanisms of hEDS. She is interested in genetics and the various comorbidities associated with EDS.

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Kathryn Byerly

MD PhD Student

Kathryn is a third year MD-PhD student from Mason, Ohio. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Medical Humanities from the Ohio State University. Her research in the Norris lab is focused on cardiovascular development and how it can be influenced by cell-to-cell interactions. Her other involvements include Aprendiendo Juntos, Center for Global Health Student Advisory Council, and Alliance for Hispanic Health.

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Rebecca Byrd

MD Student

Rebecca is a native of the Charleston area. She graduated from Wofford College in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. After spending a gap year involved with orthopedic research, Rebecca is now a second-year medical student interested in the complications of joint hypermobility in hEDS. She is passionate about patient advocacy, increasing physician awareness, and identifying potential treatments for those with hEDS.

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Erika Bistran

Research Specialist

Erika is from Dunmore, Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor's in Biology from Marywood University in Scranton, PA. She is currently taking a gap year and has decided to move to SC to pursue working in research. She decided to join the Norris lab because of her interest in cardiovascular studies and learning more about EDS. She is currently working as a Research Specialist in hopes of returning for her PhD in the future.

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Kim Sutton

Research Specialist

Kim is from Greenville SC, has a degree in Biology from the University of South Carolina and has settled in Charleston. Kim joins the lab bringing a 35-year background in cardiovascular, molecular, developmental, and bioengineering research from here at MUSC and Ralph H Johnson VAMC. She also is an experienced clinical coordinator and laboratory manager. She is working with novel polymer molecules as protective cellular agents as a collaborative project with in-state institutions. These polymers might prove beneficial for many future clinical therapies.

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Gyda Beeson

Research Specialist

Gyda immigrated from Germany to Monterey, Ca. She followed her love of animals and was accepted into the UC Davis Veterinary School. A catastrophic back injury forced her to move into the clinical laboratory. When she moved with her husband to South Carolina their dream of working together came true. Gyda started working with Seahorse instruments, which led to the formation of the original Seahorse Core and her working with students and faculty across the campus. She oversaw the restructuring of the Seahorse Core into the Bioenergetics Core before leaving for the Norris Lab to follow her interest in metabolic changes in cardiac disease models.

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Molly Griggs

Research Specialist

Molly is a native of Charleston, SC. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Furman University in 2006 and a Masters of Education in Applied Child Studies from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 2008. Her current research interests include the neuropsychiatric comorbidities of hEDS and the role of mast cells in the progression of symptomatic hEDS and related comorbidities.

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Victoria Daylor

Clinical Coordinator

Victoria grew up dancing in Houston, received a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance from The Boston Conservatory, and had a career performing around the U.S. and abroad. As she was diagnosed with hEDS, her parallel and lifelong interest in medicine compelled her to complete the Postbac Premedical Program at Columbia University. She was a HIP summer intern with the Norris Lab in 2022 and is grateful to be continuing her role this year. Next, she plans to attend medical school and one day blend her background as an artist with her drive to treat patients with connective tissue disorders, such as hEDS.

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Sydney Severance

Student

Sydney is a freshman at the College of Charleston planning to major in biology on a pre-med track. She is fascinated by genetics and loves to learn about the role of biology in hEDS and its co-morbid conditions. Sydney is specifically interested in exploring the GI manifestations often seen in hEDS and one day hopes to attend medical school. Her interests include spreading awareness, health care ethics, and patient advocacy.

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Charlotte Griggs

Student

Charlotte is a high school sophomore from Charleston, SC, with a passion for biology and a desire to change the medical landscape for patients with hEDS. She began volunteering at the Norris Lab in 2022. After graduation, she plans to attend college for biology and continue her work in biomedical research with either an MD or PhD. Outside of the lab, Charlotte is passionate about patient advocacy, loves to swim, and is active in her church youth group.

Prior Lab Members

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