Amrie Grammer, PhD


Amrie is a Translational Immunologist specializing in human Autoimmune Diseases. She trained at UVA, where she earned her BS in Chemistry & MS in Pharmacology as well as UTSW Medical Center at Dallas where she received her PhD in Immunology. Before moving to Charlottesville Virginia to establish AMPEL BioSolutions in the UVA Research Park, Amrie headed up the B Cell Biology Group in the Autoimmunity Branch of NIAMS at the NIH. She specializes in clinical trials, biomarkers, cell-cell interactions & the biochemistry of signaling cascades with expertise in primary lymphocyte biology, flow cytometry, and bioinformatics of gene expression & proteomics. Over the last three years, Amrie has been using her knowledge to reposition drugs for Lupus patients (LRxL-STATTM Lupus Drug Repositioning Initiative) and to identify novel therapeutic targets for lupus using meta-analysis of gene expression. She has received numerous awards during her career, including the NIH Director’s Award, “For outstanding research on signaling mechanisms induced by TNF-receptor family members expressed by B cells”. Amrie is a member of Sigma Xi and Sigma Delta Epsilon. She serves as a Chair of the UVA Alumni Board of the professional Chemistry Fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma. In December 2016, Amrie was elected to the Board of Directors of the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VA Bio).

Peter Lipsky, MD

CEO & Director of Clinical Operations

Peter is a Rheumatologist & Immunologist who immerses himself in basic & clinical research. He received his medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine, completed residency training at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York and his post-doctoral fellowship in NIAID at the NIH. After going to UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Peter rapidly advanced to become a professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology as well as the Director of the Harold C Simmons Arthritis Research Center, Co-Director of the Immunology Graduate Program, and Director of the Rheumatic Disease Division of the Department of Internal Medicine. He entered the new millennium as the Director of the Intramural Research Program & the Autoimmunity Branch of NIAMS at the NIH.

Peter is the co-founder of AMPEL BioSolutions LLC and directs its clinical operations. He is involved in the Lupus Clinical Investigator Network (LuCINTM) of the LRxL-STATTM Lupus Drug Repositioning Initiative. Peter has edited several journals including the Journal of Immunology, Nature Reviews Rheumatology and Arthritis Research & Therapy. Peter’s accolades include the Carol Nachman Prize, the American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award and the Arthritis Foundation’s prestigious Lee Howley prize.


Kate Vega

Director of Communication and Administration

Kate graduated from University of California San Diego with a BS in communications in 2003. She has over 10 years of experience in the field of communications with a focus on research communications. Her diverse background includes internal and external communications, event planning, outreach, social media, design, writing, grant writing, and public relations. She most recently moved to Charlottesville from St. Louis where she managed the communications and events for the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability, I-CARES, at Washington University in St. Louis. Kate joined AMPEL in 2015 as the Director of Communications and is currently working on her masters of communication from Johns Hopkins University.

Lori Reece

Bookkeeper/Administrative Assistant

Lori brings over 20 years of financial experience to AMPEL.  She has an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Health Information Management and is Certified in QuickBooks.  Lori is a Charlottesville native who now resides in Fluvanna County.  She has been involved in bookkeeping and administration for local companies such as GreenBlue Org & Teachstone.  Lori volunteers her time to many local organization including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Fluvanna County SPCA, the Women’s 4-Miler Training Program, and the Jefferson Area Food Bank. She is a natural leader and has been an officer in these organizations as well as assisting in event coordination and fundraising.   Lori joined AMPEL in 2017 as our bookkeeper and administrative assistant.

James Skylark-Dittman

Investigative Research Analyst &
Scientific Administrative Asst

James graduated in May of 2017 from The University of Virginia in 2017 with a BS in Chemistry and a certification from the American Chemical Society.

James joined AMPEL BioSolutions in 2016 as a Scientific Administrative Assistant and an Investigative Research Analyst focusing on identifying potential therapeutic targets for lupus patients that will be tested in lupus-prone mice through a collaboration with Dr. Derry Roopenian.

He is an Echols Scholar and Harrison Award Fellow. During his last three years at UVA, he conducted undergraduate thesis research with Dr. Ron Taylor in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, examining the mechanism of trogocytosis following treatment of CLL patients with biologics. James volunteers with several community organizations including the Charlottesville Free Clinic and the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department. James joined AMPEL BioSolutions in 2016 and works as an Investigative Research Analyst and Scientific Administrative Assistant.

Erika Hubbard

Investigative Research Analyst &
Scientific Administrative Asst

Erika graduated in 2017 from the Engineering School of the University of Virginia with a BS in Biomedical Engineering as well as minors in Business and Applied Mathematics. During her time at UVA, Erika conducted undergraduate research under the guidance of the late Dr. John Herr who founded a number of companies in Charlottesville including Neoantigenics that develops novel cancer “theranostics”, cancer therapies with companion diagnostics.  Erika completed her UVA Capstone thesis project with Dr. Herr, focusing on testing potential therapies for cancers positive for the metallo-endopeptidase SAS1B/ASTL.  Specifically, she designed and performed experimental assays testing the efficacy of a novel antibody-drug conjugate versus complement-dependent cytotoxicity in several different lines of human cancer cells with the aim of developing a targeted anti-cancer therapy. Outside of science, Erika is active in serving Grace Covenant Church in Charlottesville where she was a student leader for 2 years in their UVA student fellowship, and volunteers/fundraises for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention every year. Erika joined AMPEL in July 2017 as an Investigative Research Analyst and Scientific Administrative Assistant.  She is working with the Systems Biology and Bioinformatics teams to analyze the pathogenic genomic signature in synovial biopsies from patients with Lupus Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis.


Bridget Muckian

Clinical Operations Associate

Bridget graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a BA in Biology and a minor in French. She is fluent in French and is contemplating a career in biology, medicine or public health. During the summers of her undergraduate years, she worked with Drs. Arun Sharma and Earl Cheng at Northwestern Medical School on regenerative tissue research for spina bifida patients. Bridget volunteers her time to medical community development projects locally in Charlottesville through Madison House and in Peru with MEDLIFE. Bridget joined AMPEL in 2016 to assist in the development of the LuPROTM application for smart phones and watches that can be used in lupus clinical trials for remote patient monitoring and collection of patient reported outcomes.

Audrey Ogendi

Clinical Operations Associate

Audrey is a Gates Millennium Scholar  and a 2017 Masters in Public Health graduate of the University of Virginia, where she received her 2015 BA in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.  She is proficient in Swahili, Spanish and Kisii.  During her undergraduate years, Audrey did independent research with Dr. Linda Columbus following the kinetics of thermophilic organisms and characterizing their coupling enzymes.  Additionally, she received funding from the Jefferson Center for Global Health for her plan to travel to Limpopo, South Africa to develop an early childhood development program with culturally accepted assessment tools.  She presented her results at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health in 2015.  Audrey volunteers her time to community projects both locally and globally.  She helped raise over $2000 in Charlottesville to assist hospitals in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea treating people with the deadly Ebola virus.  Moreover, as part of the Young Woman Leadership Program, Audrey mentored young women in Charlottsville as well as at a sister site in Kumbo Cameroon.  Most recently in her graduate work, Audrey traveled to the island of St. Kitts and Nevis to work with a group of students, researchers and community partners to combat the growing risk of chronic disease in youth. During this time, she aided in developing a mixed method (qualitative & quantitative) study in analyzing youth (ages 12-16) health risk perceptions.  She enjoys reading clinical research and working with local communities to promote health.  Audrey is proficient in Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) and joined AMPEL in 2017 to assist with the creation of an online learning tool to teach lupus patients and the clinicians that care for them about the details of small, proof-of-concept clinical trials testing the efficacy of drugs respositioned for lupus.

Claire Dykas

Clinical Operations Associate

Claire graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a BA in Biology. During her undergraduate years, she worked in the lab of Dr. Michelle Bland on molecular mechanisms of inflammation and insulin signaling that regulate cell growth and metabolism. Specifically, Claire examined the effect of calorically restricted diets on lifespan in drosophila. She gained business experience from her internship with Nobel Capital Financial Research Markets where she assisted in the financial evaluation of biotechnology and healthcare companies by analyzing emerging drug candidates in various stages of drug development. Claire joined AMPEL’s Clinical Operations Team in 2017 to assist with contracts and budgeting for small, proof-of-concept trials testing the efficacy of drugs repositioned into lupus.

Brooke Williams

Clinical Operations Associate

Brooke graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a BA in Cognitive Science, a concentration in Neuroscience as well as a BA in Computer Science. She is proficient in Spanish and American Sign Language.  Brooke is an “algorithmic thinker” and can program in Java, C/C++, Unix as well as at the machine-level.  She has written code in MATLAB to simulate neural networks.  Brooke performed research during the summers of her undergraduate years with Drs. Rick Carliss and Kristin Knight (Carilion Research Lab) who were examining the feasibility of antisense gene therapy for patients with osteogenesis imperfecta. Additionally, Brooke was a research assistant for UVA’s Program for Anxiety, Cognition and Treatment and wrote software to track mouse movements & cognitive processes during approach-avoidance anxiety scenarios. Most recently, she worked as an ECORP analyst for Sentara Health system assisting hospital transition of EMRs to the Epic EHR system. Brooke volunteers her time through Madison House assisting patients & their families in the ICU of UVA Hospital and teaching Computer Science in the Albemarle County public schools.  Every year for the past ten years, she has donated her time to the Special Needs Retreat in Lynchburg.  Brooke’s personal interest in autoimmune diseases stems from her father’s rare condition, Stiff Person’s Syndrome. Brooke joined AMPEL in 2017 to streamline electronic data capture, clinical trial management and clinical data management using iMedNet.  She also is assisting with the study examining the effectiveness of Meditation and Mindfulness for patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Ricky Anjorin

Clinical Operations Associate

Ricky received her 2016 BA in Global Development Studies and her 2017 MPH from the University of Virginia.  She specialized in health policy, law and ethics classes during her MPH and her thesis work performed at AMPEL focused on the genomic and genetic differences in SLE patients classified by ancestry.

Ricky has received several awards during her academic career.  In 2012, she was named a Quest Scholar, a GE-Reagan Foundation Scholar and a Nido Qubein Scholar based on her exceptional high school achievements.  Ricky volunteers her time to community projects locally in Charlottesville through Alpha Phi Omega and the Curry School of Education as well as abroad through Global Medical & Dental Brigades in Honduras.  During her undergraduate years, she conducted independent research at the Jackson Laboratory examining the role of IL2Rgamma in the development and progression of glaucoma in DBA/2J mice.  Additionally, she worked as a research assistant in the UVA Biology Department, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the Virginia Department of Health.  Two years before receiving her bachelor’s degree, Ricky obtained a grant from the UVA Center for Global Health and a travel award from the Stephanie Jean-Charles Foundation to develop and implement a three-week investigation of the impact of short-term medical clinics in Iquitos, Peru with the People of Peru Project.  In her last year of college, Ricky received two prestigious awards from the Raven Society of the University of Virginia for her research endeavors.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading and traveling to new places. Ricky has also worked as a Medical Scribe at the UVA Emergency Department. She is proficient in the Statistics Analysis Software (SAS) program and is conversational in Spanish.  Ricky joined AMPEL in 2017 and is currently conducting research into minority subject participation in systemic lupus erythematosus clinic trials.

Rabia Malik

Senior CRA

“Rabi” has been in the healthcare field since 2004, is formally trained in science (BS Biology from Georgia Gwinnett College in 2010, MS in Biomedical Science from Larkin University in 2014) and has a breadth of experience in clinical research.  She is a certified Medical Assistant including phlebotomy and earned PACE certification from the American Society of Administrative Professionals.  Rabi is trained in Good Clinical Practices (GCP), Protection of Human Research Participants as well as Handling and Transportation of Dangerous Goods.  She is fluent in Urdu and Hindi.  Rabi’s experience spans many phases (II-IV) and several therapeutic areas including internal medicine, dermatology and cognitive science.  She specializes in project management, regulatory affairs, site management and clinical research coordination.  She is a dedicated worker who thrives at challenging tasks, has the ability to identify & creatively resolve problems efficiently and firmly believes that a positive attitude increases growth & productivity.  In 2017, Rabi joined AMPEL to support the small, proof-of-concept clinical trials testing the efficacy of drugs respositioned for lupus.  Specifically, she is focused on a Crossover Study to Compare RAYOS to IR Prednisone to Improve Fatigue and Morning Symptoms for SLE (RIFLE).

Debbie Scott

Senior CRA

Debbie is a seasoned clinical research professional with over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical clinical research industry.  A native Virginian, she graduated with honors from Longwood University with a B.S. in Sociology.  Debbie got her start in clinical trials as a research assistant at UNC’s Cancer Research Center where she witnessed her oncology research team’s excitement on the day the FDA approved a soon-to-become blockbuster drug for cancer patients with febrile neutropenia and she has been passionate about clinical research ever since!  Debbie has a breadth of global clinical trial experience that spans many phases (II-IV) across several therapeutic areas including autoimmunity, dermatology and infectious diseases.  She specializes in technical writing including Standard-Operating-Procedures (SOPs) and continuing education materials for CRAs.  Debbie’s expertise includes regulatory affairs, budget & contract negotiation, vendor qualification, site audits, IP study drug packaging & shipment, electronic data capture, project management including clinical trial monitoring as well as pharmacovigilance.  She has experience with Clinical Trial Management Systems (IMPACT, Oracle, Siebel and INFORM) as well as e-Trial Master File Systems.  In 2017, Debbie joined AMPEL to create and maintain SOPs for the AMPEL Clinical Operations Team.  In addition, she supports budgeting, contracting and eTMFs for the small, proof-of-concept clinical trials testing the efficacy of drugs repositioned for lupus.


Prathyusha Bachali

Bioinformatics of Pathogenic Pathways

Prathyusha Bachali joined AMPEL in 2015 as a Bioinformatician after receiving her Masters Degree in Bioinformatics & Genomics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is fluent in Telugu and Hindi. “Science has always been a miracle to her”. Prathyusha enjoyed studying biology since her childhood and concentrated on Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Immunology as an undergraduate. While at UNC, she was a research assistant in Dr. Anthony Fodor’s laboratory using high-throughput sequencing to examine microbial diversity. Specifically, Prathyusha examined human-associated microbial communities in rural and urban Chinese individuals and their association with the emergence of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in infants. Prior to her graduate work, she worked as a Research Associate in GVK Biosciences using Scibase to curate data for GOSTAR, a database containing published and patented inhibitors against most biological targets and their SAR data. Prathyusha enjoys writing well-organized Python scripts and is passionate about achieving novel solutions for bioinformatic questions by applying linear statistical concepts, Bayesian statistics, Hidden Markov Models and machine learning algorithms like SVM (support vector machine). She has experience analyzing Google analytics data and has developed visualizations for the growth of the ecommerce industry using Tableau and d3. Prathyusha’s long-term career overcome bioinformatic challenges and achieve novel solutions to bring precision medicine to the patient community.

Robert Robl

Bioinformatics of Pathogenic Pathways

Rob Robl graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Anchorage with a BS in Molecular Biology and a minor in Immunology. As a member of UAA Honors College, he received the Fran Ulmer Transformative Research Project Award for his thesis examining the role of NF90 in regulating influenza viral polymerase activity. During his early undergraduate years, Rob studied Business, International Relations & Marketing at Brown University before taking time off to found his own IT company specializing in database mangement and website design. Rob received bioinformatics training in the Naional Cancer Institute of the NIH before joining AMPEL in 2014 as a Bioinformatician focusing on pathogenic pathways in SLE. Rob continues to consult for AMPEL while he is pursuing his Medical Degree at St. George’s University.

Nick Geraci, PhD

Bioinformatics of Pathogenic Pathways/Investigative Research Analyst

Dr. Nick Geraci is an immunologist with diverse backgrounds in autoimmunity, genetic disorders, and infectious diseases. He worked in the Pulmonary Division of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as a post-bachelor’s research assistant performing in vitro experiments to examine the effectiveness of therapeutics in cystic fibrosis. During his MS degree at Purdue University, he examined the genomics of tick vectors, and went on to Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital to study the immunobiology of dermatomyositis and polymyositis in mouse models as a research associate. He received his PhD from Notre Dame in 2015 in Immunobiology for his work investigating human defense mechanisms to tropical parasites, and did his first post-doc at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he received training in bioinformatics techniques while researching host immune responses to various viral pathogens such as influenza, West Nile, and ebola. He has many accolades, including two graduate fellowships for genomics and global health, two AAI Young Investigator awards for conference presentations, and authored several peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. He joined AMPEL BioSolutions in 2016 as a Post-Doctoral Investigative Research Analyst specializing in Bioinformatics.

Brian Kegerreis

Bioinformatics of Pathogenic Pathways/ Investigative Research Analyst

Brian Kegerreis graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 as a Rodman Scholar with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and a BA in Physics. He writes in several computer languages including R and MATLAB. During his undergraduate years, Brian’s work with Dr. Jeffrey Holmes in the Cardiac Biomechanics Group led to an abstract presentation at the Biomedical Engineering Society meeting entitled “Modeling the Effect of Strain-Induced Collagen Damage on Tendon Scar Structure”. His undergraduate capstone project with Dr. Jason Kerrigan in the Center for Applied Biomechanics was focused on remotely monitoring femur bridge plates for signs of failure, and his undergraduate thesis supervised by Dr. Catherine Baritaud dealt with the potential effects of remote monitoring technologies on patient autonomy. Brian joined AMPEL in 2017 as a Bioinformatics Analyst of Pathogenic Pathways to investigate the role of neutrophils in lupus pathogenesis.

Michelle Catalina, PhD

Investigative Research Analyst

Michelle is an immunologist focused on drug development and drug placement. She graduated with a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois and received her PhD in Immunology from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Michelle’s early work focused on trafficking of T and B cells and the role of homing receptors in the development of an immune response. Later work as an instructor at the University of Massachusetts focused on the immune response to viruses and the development and maintenance of memory CD8 T cells. Additionally, Michelle developed HLA class I tetramer technology while at UMass and was essential for the founding and funding of a core tetramer facility. For two years Michelle served as a research analyst for private biotechnology firms, investigating and advising on drug development opportunities in the field of autoimmunity. In 2013 she became the consulting director of preclinical development for Protalex, a clinical stage biotech company focused on experimental candidates for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Michelle joined AMPEL in 2014 as an Investigative Research Analyst.

Adam Labonte, PhD

Investigative Research Analyst

Adam is an immunologist focused on the role of macrophages in infection and autoimmunity. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Adam received the honor of being selected to be an Echols Scholar. He graduated in 2011 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Throughout his undergraduate years, Adam examined bacterial microbiome genomics under the guidance of Dr. Martin Wu. Adam pursued Immunology in graduate school, receiving an MS in Microbiology in 2012 and a PhD in Immunology in 2016 as part of UVA’s Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology graduate program. Adam’s dissertation work with Dr. Young Hahn examining the role of macrophage polarization in hepatotropic viral infection was supported by the Infectious Disease Training Grant. He is a member of the professional Chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma and has several peer-reviewed publications. Adam joined AMPEL in 2016 as a Post-Doctoral Investigative Research Analyst to examine the role of myeloid cells in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Bryce Aidukaitis

Bioinformatics of Pathogenic Pathways/ Investigative Research Analyst

Bryce Aidukaitis graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with a BS in Biomedical Engineering. Early in his time at UVA, Bryce joined Dr. Jason Papin’s computational and systems biology laboratory as a web developer. Bryce has also developed software and published applications as part of the TECBio summer research program at the University of Pittsburgh. He later developed algorithms and web interfaces that extend the functionality of a novel platereader developed by Cerillo, LLC. Committed to serving others, Bryce is an Eagle Scout and volunteer organist, and he has served as a course assistant for two programming courses at UVA, tutoring in MATLAB, R, and Unix for high-performance computing. He first began to investigate bioinformatics in the fall of 2016, when he became an ambassador for UVA’s Center for Automata Processing, helping the lab or Dr. Stefan Bekiranov develop DNA motif searching algorithms on a special pattern-matching processor. Bryce joined AMPEL in 2017 as a Bioinformatics Analyst to investigate the effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms and potential eQTLs in lymphocytes from the periphery of patients with SLE.  In addition, Bryce leads AMPEL’s web development team.

Matthew Ryals

Investigative Research Analyst

Matthew Ryals graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a BS in Biochemistry & BA in Neuroscience. Throughout his time at UVA, he conducted undergraduate research as a Harrison Scholar & was a member of the professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma. During the summers of his undergraduate years, Matt had laboratory research experiences in the Salamanca Neuroscience Program and at Duke University. Matt graduated from UVA with a Distinguished Majors Thesis. Following graduation, Matt received a Junior Fellowship from the NIH as a Post-Baccalaureate IRTA and then worked in a biology laboratory in UCSD. He has several peer-reviewed publications & has made both oral and poster presentations at scientific meetings. Matt joined AMPEL in 2013 as an Investigative Research Analyst & is currently enrolled at John Hopkins University where he is pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology & Molecular Sciences.


AMPEL BioSolutions and its co-founders are proud members of these organizations: