Principal Investigator

Sanjana Dayal photo

Sanjana Dayal, PhD, FAHA

Contact Information:
EMRB 100 (laboratory)
EMRB 100-D (office)

Dr. Dayal earned her PhD from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. Thereafter she joined the laboratory of Dr. Steven Lentz in the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, for postdoctoral studies. She pursued her research interests in delineating mechanisms of thrombosis associated with cardiovascular risk factors and developed an independent research program in aging and obesity/prediabetes associated platelet activation and thrombosis. She is also actively studying COVID-19, long COVID and cancer as the mediators of thrombosis. Her husband Abhas Kumar is a software engineer. She has a daughter Deeksha, with a computer science major, who loves Indian dancing, western music and teaching/training younger kids. Her son Aadarsh is studying Finance and Business and enjoys playing bansuri (Indian flute), western music and discussions on political agenda and world economy. Dr. Dayal is a big fan of Indian ethnic arts/fabric and enjoys international traveling, designing, and supporting her children’s activities.

Positions and Affiliations

Current Postdoctoral Fellows

Ajaz Ahmed photo

Azaj Ahmed, PhD

Contact Information:

Dr. Azaj Ahmed is from Islampur, West Bengal, India. He studied Biochemistry at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India, earning his Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD degrees. Following his PhD, Dr. Azaj pursued his first postdoctoral training at China Medical University, Taiwan, and later at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, India. Eventually, in 2021, he became part of Dr. Dayal's lab at the University of Iowa. In this position, his research focuses on hematology, particularly studying thrombosis as a disease model. He investigates platelet bioenergetics and signaling mechanisms associated with thrombosis in in vivo mouse models and clinical settings. His attention is on risk factors like aging, viral infections, overweight/obesity, and prediabetes, which are known to increase susceptibility to thrombotic complications. He lives in Iowa City. He likes spending time with his friends.

Gokul Patil photo

Gokul Patil, PhD

Contact Information:

Dr. Patil has received his PhD from Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, Maharashtra, India with profound focus on hemostasis and the development of nano-formulations for therapeutic applications. Currently, his research at the Dayal lab centered around the clinical aspects of thrombosis in various disease conditions. Beyond his academic pursuits he finds joy in the art of dance, the thrill of playing cricket, and the world of cinema.

Izola Morais de Medeiros Ramalho photo

Izola Morais de Medeiros Ramalho, PhD

Contact Information:

Dr. Izola Ramalho earned her PhD in Health Science at the University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. She recently joined Dr. Dayal’s group and is pursuing a project to further her understanding of the mechanistic pathways of vascular cognitive impairment while using various transgenic strains of mice. Izola and her husband, Jordan, live in Cedar Rapids. Izola enjoys gardening, outdoor activities, weightlifting, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Meena Kumari Palani Kumar photo

Meena Kumari Palani Kumar, PhD


Dr. Meena Kumari obtained her PhD in Biological Sciences from CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysuru, India. Her main research interest lies in comprehending alterations in the gut microbiome and its metabolites across various disease states. She investigates how interventions such as probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics can mitigate metabolic disorders. She joined Dr. Dayal’s team in March 2024, focusing on unraveling changes in gut microbiome composition during aging and exploring gender influences. At present, she resides in Iowa City with her husband, Gowtham. She enjoys spending time with herself & family, cooking, and sketching.

Current Graduate Student

Shreyashree Sarkar photo

Shreyashree Sarkar, MS

Contact Information:

Shreyashree earned her M.S in Biotechnology (Gold Medalist) from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She worked as a Research Associate focusing on the development of biosimilars for cancer and other diseases at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories P. Ltd., Hyderabad, India before starting her graduate school at The University of Iowa. Currently, her research at the Dayal lab is centered upon elucidating the mechanisms of colorectal cancer associated thrombosis. Outside of the lab she enjoys creating art and reading books.

Medical Student

Srija Manchkanti photo

Srija Manchkanti

Contact Information:

Srija Manchkanti graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2021 with a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology. She is now a third-year medical student at the University of Iowa with an interest in Hematology/Oncology. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, making art, doing puzzles, and going to the gym.

Post-Bacc Trainee

Kassandra Sanchez photo

Kassandra Sanchez, BS

Contact information:

Kassandra (Kass) graduated from Briar Cliff University in 2022 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She grew up in Coachella, California.

Research Assistant/Lab Manager

Melissa Jensen photo

Melissa Jensen, BS

Contact information:

Melissa Jensen obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. She has worked in agricultural, environmental, and biomedical research in both Iowa and North Carolina. In 2006, she began working in the labs of Dr. Steven Lentz and Dr. Sanjana Dayal. Her expertise is in murine thrombosis models. Melissa and her husband Ben have three daughters, Alena, Nora, and Edith, and they reside in Cedar Rapids, IA. She enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time outdoors.

Undergraduate Students

Willie Zheng photo

Willie Zheng

Contact information:

Willie Zheng is currently an honors second-year undergraduate here at the University of Iowa studying pharmacy in the Pharmacy Assured Admissions Program Track. On top of being an Undergraduate Research Student in the Department of Internal Medicine, Willie is also a Resident Assistant in Mayflower Hall, a First Gen Hawks Peer Mentor, and serving as the First-Generation Constituency Senator in the Undergraduate Student Government.

Shreya Kulkami photo

Shreya Kulkarni

Contact Information:

Shreya Kulkarni is currently a first-year student in the Honors Program here at the University of Iowa majoring in Biomedical Engineering (premed track) with a minor in Psychology. In addition to working at the lab under Dr. Sanjana Dayal and Dr. Azaj Ahmed, Shreya is involved in orchestra, Dance Marathon, BMESS, SWE, BIO, and Medicus.

Past Postdoctoral Fellows

Vijay Sonkar, PhD
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Banaras Hindu University, India

Rahul Kumar, PhD
Current position: Assistant Professor, Gitam University, India

Sean Gu, MD, PhD
Current Position: Clinical Instructor, Yale School of Medicine

Krishan Iyer, MD, PhD
Current Position: Postdoctoral Scholar at Yale School of Medicine

Mitali Viraj Solanki, MD
Current Position: PGY 3 resident physician at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

Jagadish Swamy, PhD
Current Position: Assistant Professor, UOM, Mysuru (Mysore), India

Alicia Eustes, PhD
Current Position: Industrial Clinical Trials Researcher

Past Undergraduates

Priya Patel