I would like to thank my major professor Dr. Konstantin Gus Kousoulas expressing my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the many opportunities given to me as a graduate student to gain experience in the scientific field. His guidance that maintained my focus and the freedom to develop and express my own scientific ideas was of great importance to me to raise my individual abilities. Special gratitude is due to my committee members, my graduate advisor Dr. Jim Miller, Dr. Shulin Li, and Dr. Neal Mauldin for the encouragement, teaching and assistance that made the pursuit of a master’s degree very instructive. I take this opportunity to extend my most sincere gratefulness to Ms. Li Huang for her patience, expertise and helpful insights on this project. Her advice and endless moral support helped to alleviate many transitions in my life during all this period. Special thanks to my fellow graduate student Rafael Luna for his generous help, advice and moral support during our time in the same laboratory, to Maura Egan for her help with the infinite aliquots of patient samples, and to Vladimir Chouljenko for his constant readiness to help and give technical advice for any question
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