Current Students

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Mahmuda Akter

Faculty Research Mentor: Shuang Huang, Ph.D.

Research Project TBD:

Madison Carelock

Faculty Research Mentor: Weizhou Zhang, Ph.D.

My research focuses on determining the role of BCL-XL in breast cancer metastasis by using in vitro and in vivo models to understand the complex function of BCL-XL in cancer cells and in immune regulations. In addition, we will investigate therapeutic regimens to effectively target BCL-XL by testing different PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACS). 


Siddhi Chitre

Faculty Research Mentor: Christian Jobin, Ph.D.

Campylobacter jejuni is the major risk factor for gastroenteritis over the world. Using a mouse model, Jobin’s lab recently demonstrated that C. jejuni has the potential to cause colorectal cancer. My research focuses explicitly on unraveling the mechanism underlying C. jejuni-mediated colorectal tumorigenesis.

Anna DeVries

Faculty Research Mentor: Elias Sayour, M.D., Ph.D.

Our lab has developed a unique RNA lipid nanoparticle vaccine encoding tumor specific antigens. The purpose of my current research is to investigate the innate immune activation mechanism of the vaccine by identifying important signaling pathways and compensatory axes affecting the anti-tumor response.

Michael Dougherty

Faculty Research Mentor: Christian Jobin, Ph.D.

My project focuses on elucidating a role for the pks enzyme ClbS, which is encoded in the pks cluster and phenotypically confers colibactin resistance through an unknown mechanism. Clarifying a role for ClbS in cytotoxin resistance may inform strategies to inhibit pks+ E. coli-associated colorectal cancer and provide insight into the functional roles of cyclomodulins in tumorigenesis.

Laura Falceto Font

Faculty Research Mentor: Catherine Flores, Ph.D.

My research focuses on how to improve immunotherapies for malignant brain tumors such as Glioblastoma. To achieve this, we use hematopoietic stem cells to modulate the tumor microenvironment and boost the efficacy of immunotherapies such as adoptive cellular therapy and checkpoint blockade.

John Figg

Faculty Research Mentor: Catherine Flores, Ph.D.

I am currently investigating cellular mechanisms of adoptive cellular therapy in models of brain cancer, a novel therapeutic platform that has demonstrated preclinical efficacy against medulloblastoma, brain stem glioma and high-grade glioma. I am interested in modulating host conditioning using radiotherapy in conjunction with adoptive cell therapy to improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with solid tumors that are refractory to conventional management. 

Tanya Ghosh

Faculty Research Mentor: Loic Deleyrolle, Ph.D.

Research Project TBD:

Zeng Jin

Faculty Research Mentor: Ryan Kolb, Ph.D.

My research focuses on the tumor microenvironment, a special niche created by the cancer cells, plays an important role in both drug resistance and metastases. My current project involves learning the role of ANGPTL4 in regulating angiogenesis, immune cell infiltration, and resistance to current anti-VEGF therapy in renal cell carcinoma.

Charlotte Leonie Kaestner

Faculty Research Mentor: Jonathan Licht, M.D.

Research Project TBD

Chayil Cyan Lattimore

Faculty Research Mentor: Kristianna Fredenburg, M.D., Ph.D.

Our lab is involved in racial health disparities research aimed at better understanding the disease burden experienced by black patients with laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC). My project specifically focuses on using various computational methods to investigate the molecular pathways that are potentially modulated by the differential expression of miRNAs in black versus white patients with LSCC.

Tianqi Li

Faculty Research Mentor: Mingyi Xie, Ph.D.

The Integrator complex has been identified as a key regulator of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription with the processing of small nuclear RNAs(snRNA). There is relatively little known about the function of Integrator, how it controls RNA metabolism and how these RNAs operate within cells. My current work focuses on identifying the subunit of the Integrator complex crosslink the RNA of interest.

Natalie Martinez

Faculty Research Mentor: Scott Tibbetts, Ph.D.

Research Project TBD

Claudia Mercado Rodriguez

Faculty Research Mentor: Christian Jobin, Ph.D.

My research focuses on investigating the relationship between the intestinal microbiota and DNA methylation modifications in the host, an the impact that this has in pathologies such as colorectal cancer (CRC). To do this, I use different CRC mouse models that are colonized with either commensal or pathogenic bacterial strains. I assess phenotypes using techniques like IHC and H&E staining, changes in DNA methylation using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) and changes in gene expression through RNA-seq. My ultimate goal is to draw a link between different colonization conditions, phenotype, DNA methylation and gene expression. 

Rachel Newsome

Faculty Research Mentor: Christian Jobin, Ph.D.

My research currently focuses on host-microbe interactions in regards to inflammation and cancer. I use bacteria, mice, and zebrafish models in conjunction with sequencing, gavage, injections, immunohistochemistry, and qPCR to study the immune response to intestinal microbes and the role of bacteria in cancer immunotherapy treatment.

Kimberly Pereira

Faculty Research Mentor: Jonathan Licht, M.D.

Epigenetic abnormalities have frequently been seen to contribute to cancer. Hence, I am studying the role of the histone H2B-E76K mutation on the pathogenesis of lung cancer.

Xzaviar Solone

Faculty Research Mentor: Lizi Wu, Ph.D.

The Wu lab investigates aberrant CRTC-CREB signaling as a vulnerability in non-small cell lung cancer (NSLCL). In these cancer subtypes, the salt-inducible kinase (SIK) family may have differential roles that promote the constitutive activation of the CRTCs and subsequent lung cancer progression. My research focuses on elucidating the general relevance and mechanism of these SIK members in LKB1-inactive and LKB1-wildtype NSCLCs. 


Gregory Takacs

Faculty Research Mentor: Jeffrey Harrison, Ph.D.

The current focus of the Harrison lab is aimed at better understanding how myeloid cell populations contribute to the immune-suppressive microenvironment that is characteristic of high-grade brain tumors such as glioblastoma (GBM). My current work is directed at characterizing chemokine systems with the goal of translating our results into new therapeutic approaches for this malignant brain cancer.

Beatriz Veronese

Faculty Research Mentor: Zhe Ma, Ph.D.

My research focuses on KSHV and its associated cancers, such as Kaposi sarcoma (KS). I investigate the role of specific KSHV proteins in virus replication, immunomodulation, and pathogenesis.

Mu Yu

Faculty Research Mentor: Lizi Wu, Ph.D.

My project focus on studying the CRTC-CREB mediated transcriptional signaling pathway in LKB1-null non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). I’m interested in the regulators of CRTC function, including activation and degradation, in different cellular distribution and how they contribute to the NSCLC generation, proliferation, and metastasis.

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