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Current Work

  • My current project involves the development of zebrafish models for screening of botanical compounds for biological activity. The main focuses of this project include glucose metabolism, appetite suppression, angiogenesis, and wound repair. We are in the process of developing a transgenic zebrafish expressing PEPCK-GFP for faster screening of potential targets of glucose metabolism.



  • 2003-2007 Ph. D. / Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

    • Thesis: The effect of all-trans retinoic acid on the inhibitor of DNA binding (Id) family of proteins in cell cycle and development.
  • 1999-2001 M. S. / Biology; New York University, New York, NY.

    • Thesis: A phylogenetic study of the order Malpighiales using phytochrome C sequencing.
  • 1995-1999 B. S. with Distinction / Biotechnology; Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.

    • Thesis: TGF-β signaling in A549 lung carcinoma cells.


  1. Rojo, L. E., Villano, C. M., Joseph, G., Schmidt, B., Shulaev, V., Shuman, J. L., Lila, M. A., and I. Raskin. Wound-healing properties of nut oil from Pouteria lucuma. J Cosmet Dermatol., Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 185-195, 2010.
  2. Hillegass, J. M., Villano, C. M., Cooper, K. R., White, L. A. Glucocorticoids alter craniofacial development and increase expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio). Toxicological Sciences, Vol. 102, No. 2, pp. 413-424, 2008.
  3. Hillegass, J., Villano, C. M., Cooper, K., White, L. A., 2007. Matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) is required for zebrafish development and is a target for glucocorticoids. Tox. Sci. 100: 168-179.
  4. Akintobi, A. M., Villano, C. M., White, L. A., 2007. 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) exposure of normal human dermal fibroblasts results in AhR-dependent and -independent changes in gene expression. Tox. Applied Pharm. 220: 9-17.
  5. Elo, B., Govorko, D., Villano, C. M., White, L. A., 2007. Larval zebrafish as a model for glucose metabolism: expression of phophoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPck) as a marker for exposure to anti-diabetic compounds. J. Mol. Endocrinology. 38: 433-440.
  6. Hillegass, J. M., Murphy, K. A., Villano, C. M., and White, L. A., 2006. The impact of aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling on matrix metabolism: implications for development and disease. Biol. Chem. 387: 1159-1173.
  7. Villano, C. M., and White, L. A., 2006. The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Signaling Pathway and Tissue Remodeling: Insights from the Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Model System. Tox. Sci. 92: 1-4.
  8. Villano, C. M., and White, L. A., 2006. Expression of the helix-loop-helix protein inhibitor of DNA binding-1 (Id-1) is activated by all-trans retinoic acid in normal human keratinocytes. Tox. Applied Pharm. 214: 219-229.
  9. Villano, C. M., Murphy, K. A., Akintobi, A., White, L. A., 2006. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induces matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and invasion in A2058 melanoma cells. Tox. Applied Pharm. 210: 212-224.
  10. Murphy, K. A., Villano, C. M., Dorn, R., and White, L. A., 2004. Interaction between the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and retinoic acid pathways increases matrix metalloproteinase-1 expression in keratinocytes. J. Biol. Chem. 279: 25284-25293.