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  8. Azra Dad
  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

Staff Fellow — Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology

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Azra Dad, Ph.D.
(870) 543-7121

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About  |  Publications  |  Lab Members


Dr. Azra Dad received a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics from Peshawar, Pakistan. Dr. Azra joined the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (UIUC) for graduate studies in toxicology, receiving a Ph.D. Dr. Azra then joined the Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology (DGMT) at FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) postdoctoral fellow in 2016. She was converted to an FDA staff fellow in 2021. During her career, Dr. Azra has studied different toxicological and biomedical phenomena including the impact of water disinfection byproducts on cellular metabolism—including  glycolysis and mitochondrial enzymes—in mammalian cells, developing the Pig-a mutation analysis assay in neutrophils/granulocytes, molecular analysis and sequencing of all the genes in the Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor synthesis pathway, and studying the impact of conventional combustible tobacco cigarettes and E-cigarettes on in vitro human organotypic lung models exposed at the air liquid interface (ALI).

Dr. Azra has received several awards and fellowships including:

  • A fellowship from the government of Pakistan (UIUC faculty development program) for Ph.D. studies at UIUC (2011)
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Interdisciplinary Environmental Toxicology Scholarship (UIUC/NIEHS 2014) 
  • ORISE Postdoctoral Fellowship (FDA/NCTR 2016)
  • Outstanding Service Award (FDA/NCTR 2017) 
  • FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation Group Award by Commissioner Dr. Michael Gottlieb (2018)


Research Interests

Dr. Azra has worked on various projects as a Principal Investigator at NCTR. As an ORISE Fellow, she developed the Pig-a mutation assay in granulocytes, which provided very important information that contributed to the approval of a regulatory Test Guideline (TG470) for the in vivo Pig-a assay by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Her research analyzed the hypothesis that the Pig-a mutation assay measures mutations occurring in bone marrow precursor cells of exposed animals. She characterized and isolated the granulocyte population from rat bone marrow, identified and sorted Pig-a mutant cells through flow cytometry, and identified mutations in the sorted cells using next-generation sequencing.

As a staff fellow, Dr. Azra currently runs the DGMT in vitro inhalation toxicology lab and studies the impact of conventional combustible tobacco cigarettes and E-cigarettes on human lung tissue using organotypic primary human airway cultures exposed in vitro at the ALI. This study compares the toxicity and genotoxicity of smoke from conventional cigarettes with aerosols generated by puffing E-cigarettes. The aerosols are generated using robots that produce smoke and aerosols in a controlled, reproducible manner so that the effects on different cytological, respiratory, and genetic endpoints can be quantitatively and reproducibly evaluated. The work will develop tests that can be used by FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products in evaluating the products that they regulate.


Professional Societies/National and International Groups

Environmental Mutagen and Genomics Society
2011 – Present

Institute of in Vitro Sciences (IIVS) Evaluation of Tobacco Products Workgroup 
2022 – Present

Society of Toxicology
2018 – Present


Selected Publications

Pig‐a Gene Mutations in Bone Marrow Granulocytes of Procarbazine‐Treated F344 Rats.
Dad A., Revollo J.R., Pearce M.G., McKinzie P.B., Heflich R.H., and Dobrovolsky V.N.
Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. 2021, 62(4), 265-272. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/em.22430.

Molecular Analysis of GPI-Anchor Biosynthesis Pathway Genes in Rat Strains Used for the Pig-a Gene Mutation Assay.
Dad A., Dobrovolsky V.N., Heflich R.H., and Revollo J.R.
Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis. 2020, 858-860, 503256. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mrgentox.2020.503256.

Haloacetic Acid Water Disinfection Byproducts Affect Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Activity and Disrupt Cellular Metabolism.
Dad A., Jeong C.H., Wagner E.D., and Plewa M.J.
Environ Sci Technol. 2018, 52(3), 1525-1532. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b04290.


Lab Members

Contact information for all lab members:
(870) 543-7121

Mason Pearce
Biologist/Support Scientist

Rebecca Wynne
Biologist/Support Scientist

Contact Information
Azra Dad
(870) 543-7121
Technology & Discipline
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