Mel Pilar Espaillat, PhD

Mel Pilar Espaillat

M.S. Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 2012, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
B.S. Bioscience Research, 2007, SUNY Farmingdale College, Farmingdale, NY
Ph.D., 2017, Stony Brook University
Advisor: Lina Obeid 

Current Position

Postdoctoral Associate, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Research Interests

My dissertation research project focuses on elucidating the role and regulation of bioactive sphingolipids in ulcerative colitis and innate immunity. Ulcerative colitis - one of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease - is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the colon mucosa and represents a significant risk factor for the development of colorectal cancer. Although complete understanding of the etiology of IBD is lacking, the current model points to a complex interplay between environmental factors that trigger chronic intestinal inflammation in a genetically susceptible host. I aim to further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of sphingolipid-mediated inflammation and to elucidate the role of the sphingolipid metabolic enzyme acid ceramidase in regulating the inflammatory response in ulcerative colitis. 

Honors and Awards

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) Predoctoral Fellowship (F31), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIH/NIDDK), 2015-2019.

W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship, Stony Brook University, 2012-2017


Espaillat, M.P., Snider, A.J., Qiu, Z., Channer, B., Coant, N., Schuchman, E.H., Kew, R.R., Sheridan, B.S, Hannun, Y.A., and Obeid, L.M. (2018). Loss of acid ceramidase in myeloid cells suppresses intestinal neutrophil recruitment. FASEB Journal doi/10.1096/fj.201700585R.

Espaillat, M.P., Kew, R.R., and Obeid, L. (2017). Sphinogolipids in neutrophil function and inflammatory responses: mechanisms and implications for intestinal immunity and inflammation in ulcerative colitis. Advances in Biological Regulation 63: 140-155. 

Espaillat, M.P., Mohamad, S., Adada, M., Shamseddine, A.A., Hannun, Y., and Obeid, L. (2015). Ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate in cancer, two faces of the sphinx. Translational Cancer Research. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2218-676X.2015.10.01

Martin, C.A., Espaillat, M.P., and Santiago-Schwarz, F. (2015). IL-10 restricts dendritic cell (DC) growth at the monocyte-to-monocyte-derived DC interface by disrupting anti-apoptotic and cytoprotective autophagic molecular machinery. Immunologic Research.  doi:10.1007/s12026-015-8700-y.

Santiago-Schwarz, F., Lubin, J.B., Espaillat, M.P., Martin, C.A., and Kurkowski, D.L. (2008). IL-10 is a death signal for newly committed monocyte-dendritic cell precursors. FASEB Journal 22:1068.2121

Gifford, A.N., Espaillat, M.P., and Gatley, S.J. (2008). Biodistribution of radiolabeled ethanol in rodents. Drug Metabolism and Disposition Fast Forward. 10.1124/dmd.107.020271


Espaillat, M.P. The Lipids in Your Gut: Defining the Role of Sphingolipids in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Research Café Series, Center for Inclusive Education. March 21, 2016. Stony Brook, NY.

Espaillat, M.P. Defining the role of acid ceramidase in ulcerative colitis and the inflammatory response, International Ceramide Conference/Sphingolipid Club Joint Meeting. Izmir, Turkey, 2015.