Lab Members

Samir Softic, MD

For educational experiences and training please see PI bio, College of Medicine profile, or UK HealthCare profile.

I enjoy spending time with his family. Norah and I have been together since 2005. We have two children Leila and Arif and two dogs Lexi (Cocker Spaniel) and Lufty (Miniature Poodle). Arif has interest in many sport and Laila loves Disney princesses. If I start talking about these two topics now you know why. I also enjoy traveling, gardening and fixing things around the house.

Sehyung Park, PhD

Research Scientist II

I graduated from Chungbuk National University in South Korea with Bachelor Degree and a Master of Scince degree in Veterinary Medicine. I received a Ph.D. in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences from the University of British Columbia in Canada. Prior to joining the Softic lab as a scientist/lab manager in 2019, I worked as a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr. Peter Zhou lab and Dr. Changcheng Zhou lab at the University of Kentucky.

During my leisure time, I enjoy going to concerts, camping outdoors, and fishing with my family on weekends.

Steven Presnell, PhD

Research Scientist I

I graduated from Vanderbilt University with my Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology. I was then a high school teacher for 5 years, and after surviving that somewhat unscathed, I pursued my PhD in Chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since then, I have worked in labs where Ive done less chemistry and more biology. This is a good thing….I think. Now real excited to work on projects related to metabolism and the mitochondria.


Leisure time: I like reading chemistry textbooks and sleeping in. Really.

Robert (Nate) Helsley, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I graduated from Miami University (OH) in 2011 with my Bachelors of Science in Zoology. From there, I pursued my PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky (defended in 2016) under the guidance of Changcheng Zhou. From 2016-2017, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in the laboratory of Dr. J. Mark Brown. After a few years of serving as a Clinical Trial Manager in Industry and Academia, I moved back to Lexington to further pursue a career in academics.

I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors (fishing, hiking), sports, and hanging out with friends and family.

Taghreed Fadhul

PhD Student in Nutritional Sciences

I graduated from Umm Al Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Nutrition. Subsequently, I have obtained a Master of Public Health degree in Nutrition from the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA. Currently, I am working towards receiving my PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Kentucky. I joined Dr. Softic’s lab in the Spring Semester 2021.

During my leisure time, I enjoy reading, traveling, and going out with my family.

Berina Halilovic

Undergraduate student

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. I’m majoring in Biology on the pre-med track with hopes of going into medical school following undergraduate studies.

I initially shadowed Dr. Softic in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Clinic in March of 2020. Subsequently, I was offered a position in the lab in November of 2020.

In my free time, I enjoy going on hikes, traveling, and hanging out with my family and friends.

Francois Moreau, PhD

Co-Mentored with C. Ronald Kahn

I am a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of C. Ronald Kahn. I started working with Dr. Softic when he was at Joslin Diabetes Center. Together we are studying the effects of FGFR4 on bile acid signaling as it pertains to lipid accumulation and insulin resistance in the liver. My work on this project is funded in part through NORCH grant awarded to Dr. Softic. I am having bimonthly Zoom meetings with Dr. Softic.


Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

I started working with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in 2014. My initial collaborator at Alnylam was Kevin Fitzgerald, PhD. Alnylam is making siRNA compounds for my research to target fructose metabolism in the liver.

Alnylam Home

Jeremie Boucher, PhD

Jeremie and I began working together in 2012 where we were both fellows in C. Ronald Kahn’s Laboratory. Currently Jeremie is a Principal Scientist at AstraZeneca and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at University of Gothenburg. Jeremie and Kristina Wallenius, PhD.,  are providing small molecule inhibitors of ketohexokinase for our studies.

Jeremie Boucher Lab