Glenn Cruse, PhD | Principal Investigator

Dr. Cruse completed his Ph.D. with Professor Peter Bradding at Glenfield Hospital, The University of Leicester, UK in 2009. He then moved to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, in January 2010 to start a visiting postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, NIAID, with Dr. Dean Metcalfe. In January 2015, Dr. Cruse was appointed as a Research Fellow in the same laboratory, and in January 2016, he joined the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at NC State University as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Cruse is a mast cell biologist who has authored and co-authored over 30 publications including articles in top journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Immunity. The Cruse lab is interested in the role that mast cells play in allergic and inflammatory diseases and identifying novel therapeutics that target mast cells. Since mast cells act as sentinel cells that participate in both innate and acquired immunity, particularly at biological barriers, emphasis on diseases in tissues at the interface with the environment such as the lung, skin, gastrointestinal tract and even the neuro-immune axis are the main focus of the lab.


Douglas Snider, DVM, MSc, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists | Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Snider has been a postdoctoral research fellow at NC State since 2017. In his current position, Dr. Snider is developing nanocarriers as drug delivery platforms to enable targeted delivery of therapeutic payloads, including small molecules, peptides, and oligonucleotides, to leukocytes.

Dr. Snider received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri, earned a Master of Science degree in Toxicology part-time while working as a Veterinary Diagnostician of Toxicology at Iowa State University and Instructor of Toxicologic Pathology at Michigan State University, and earned the credential of Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists by examination in 2017. He has completed multiple collaborative research projects with academic and industry partners resulting in award-winning presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Additionally, he has authored a chapter in the Encyclopedia of Toxicology.

Dr. Snider has a consistent track record for leadership in student body government and multiple college chapters of national organizations. He contributes to the organizations he joins by serving on the executive board and committees resulting in numerous honors and awards for leadership and service to these organizations. Additionally, he co-founded the alpha chapter of the Inspired by Teaching organization at Iowa State University. Dr. Snider is a member of several regional and national organizations including the North Carolina Society of Toxicology, Society of Toxicology, Society of Toxicologic Pathology, American College of Toxicology, and American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Currently, he serves as the NC State University Postdoc representative to the executive board for the Research Triangle Park–Drug Metabolism Discussion Group.


Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Barry Hedgespeth, BVSc | Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Hedgespeth joined the Cruse Lab in 2018 while still completing a Small Animal Internal Medicine residency at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine. His research focus in the Cruse Lab has been the investigation of MS4A genes of human and murine mast cells, including their role in mast cell degranulation and mechanisms for their inhibition.

After earning his veterinary degree from Massey University in 2015, Dr. Hedgespeth completed two veterinary internships before beginning his position as a Small Animal Internal Medicine Clinician Investigator resident at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2017. During his residency, he actively participated in several clinical trials focused primarily on canine immune-mediated diseases. He has also carried out research into risk factors associated with Tritrichomonas foetus infection in cats and has presented these results at numerous gastroenterological forums worldwide. In 2019, his presentation of this research won the Small Animal Internal Medicine Resident Research Award at the annual ACVIM conference in Phoenix, Arizona.


Katie Bitting, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar

Katie Bitting received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Sweet Briar College in 2013 and she conducted her graduate research at Duke University under the supervision of Dr. Qiu Wang where her research focused on the development of zinc amide bases for deprotonative zincation and functionalization of C-H bonds. Upon completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2018 along with a Certificate in College Teaching, she joined West Virginia State University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. In addition to teaching Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry courses, she supervised several undergraduate research students and was involved with science outreach and education. Dr. Bitting joined the Cruse lab in May of 2020 and is looking forward to studying the design and application of oligonucleotide therapeutics for treating mast cell-related diseases.




Cierra Smith, BS | Research Assistant and Lab Manager

Cierra joined the Cruse Lab in 2020. In addition to her research, she maintains several human and mouse cell lines and primary cell cultures, and she has received training in a variety of specialized techniques, including RT and qPCR.

Before joining the lab she completed her undergraduate studies in biology at Blackburn College, and worked as theVivarium Manager. She then has spent 5+ years in a laboratory environment.








Lab Alumni

Lauren Ehrhardt-Humbert, MR | Research Assistant and Lab Manager

Lauren joined the Cruse Lab in 2016 during her Master’s of Physiology (MR), which she graduated from in 2017. Since joining the lab, she has been studying MS4A genes in human and mouse mast cells and investigating their role in mast cell function. In addition to her research, she maintains several human and mouse cell lines and primary cell cultures, and she has received training in a variety of specialized techniques, including lentiviral generation and shRNA-mediated gene knockdown, mammalian cell transfection by electroporation, RT-PCR and qPCR, western blotting, mast cell activation assays and flow cytometry. She has also presented her research at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s annual research symposium, and she regularly contributes to hypothesis development and project design during lab meetings. Lauren is a valuable member of the team, and her work has featured in several grant proposals and journal articles that are currently under review for publication.

Before joining the team she completed her undergraduate studies in biology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and worked as a Teaching Assistant for Biochemistry. She has also volunteered as a Lab Data Triage Intern for Urban Ministries’ Open Door Clinic. Having amassed a variety of clinical and laboratory experience, she is currently enrolled in the MD degree program at Wake Forest medical school where she will pursue her longstanding goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

View Lauren’s LinkedIn profile here.



Greer Arthur, PhD | Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Dr. Arthur completed her Ph.D. in January 2016, in the same lab as Dr. Cruse at the University of Leicester, UK, also under the supervision of Professor Peter Bradding. She moved to North Carolina in June 2016 to join Dr. Cruse and continue her research in mast cell biology. In the Cruse lab, her research focused on mast cell activation and signaling pathways, and their contribution to the pathophysiology of allergic diseases, mastocytosis and canine mast cell neoplasia. Using splice-switching anti-sense oligonucleotides (SSOs) to elucidate gene and protein functions, she investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell activation, survival and proliferation, and the therapeutic potential for SSOs in the treatment of human and canine mast cell-driven diseases. Greer is currently a Global Health Specialist at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

For more information, view Greer’s LinkedIn profile.



Ariana Frey | Undergraduate Research Assistant

NCSU Undergraduate, Class of 2020; CMI SIRI student 2018.

Ariana’s current work focuses on developing 3D models for mast cell culture. In 2018, she received second prize for her CMI summer research project “Development of a Three-Dimensional In Vitro Model of Canine Mast Cell Neoplasia” at the CMI 2018 Annual Research Symposium, which she completed as part of the CMI’s SIRI program.


Cody Helm | Undergraduate Research Assistant

NCSU Undergraduate, Class of 2020; CMI SIRI student 2019.

Cody’s current work focuses on in vitro models of oligonucleotide delivery using synthetic microvessels embedded in extracellular matrix.





Sarah Michalets | Undergraduate Research Assistant

NCSU Undergraduate, Class of 2020; B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Sarah’s current work focuses on therapeutic targeting of receptors in immune and cancer cells using in vitro models. Sarah’s plan after graduation is to pursue graduate studies in immunology.

Heather Knox | Postbac Research Assistant 

Heather joined the Cruse lab as an undergraduate in 2018 to expand her skills in harvesting and fixing tissues, embedding and cutting frozen sections, and preparing slides for histological examination. She currently participates in several studies, including the development of osteoarthritis in mice and targeting mast cells in mouse respiratory epithelium. Having recently graduated from NC State with a Bachelor’s of Science in biology, she plans to continue her research in the Cruse lab and use this experience to transition into a Pathologist’s Assistant Graduate Program.

Brittany Schepak | Postbac Research Assistant 

Brittany joined the Cruse Lab in August 2018. She is a recent graduate from Central Michigan University with a major in general biology. Her previous laboratory experience includes neuroscience research with Dr. Kevin Park at Central Michigan University studying Alzheimer’s disease through amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of mice models. Currently, she is a full-time veterinary assistant, and with this experience and her laboratory research in the Cruse Lab, she hopes to be accepted into NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In the Cruse Lab, her main goal is to expand her understanding of immunology and develop laboratory and research skills. Brittany begins her professional coursework at The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine in Fall 2019.

Faith Jezioranski | Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Faith is a native of Raleigh and an undergraduate at NC State University, where she is studying Polymer & Color Chemistry with a Medical Sciences concentration. She has a strong interest in the immune system, immunotherapy and drug delivery systems. After graduation, she plans to go to graduate school for further training in biomedical sciences and join a lab that conducts cancer immunotherapy research. In the Cruse lab, she is developing important research skills that will help her prepare for the transition into graduate school. In particular, she is working on drug delivery for mast cell-driven diseases, especially allergic and inflammatory diseases. Faith begins her graduate studies and research at Johns Hopkins University in Fall 2019.


Alicia Schubert | Undergraduate Research Assistant

NCSU Undergraduate, Class of  2019.

Alicia joined the Cruse Lab in 2017. As part of her undergraduate project, she analysed the exon-intron structure of MS4A genes, learned how to design primers for each gene, and assessed MS4A gene expression in different human mast cell cultures using RT-PCR. After completing her work in the Cruse Lab, she joined the Schnabel Lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine as a 2018 CMI SIRI student. She is currently studying in the DVM program at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine to pursue her goal of becoming an equine veterinary specialist.



Sarah Gamcsik | Undergraduate Research Assistant

NCSU Undergraduate, Class of 2018.

Sarah joined the Cruse Lab in 2017. For her undergraduate research project, she investigated the impact of extracellular calcium on human mast cell activation and potential implications for allergic disease. During her time in the Cruse Lab, she received training in tissue culture, calcium signaling assays and mast cell activation assays. After graduating from her undergraduate degree in 2018, she started her doctor of pharmacy degree at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.