Past Cancer-Focused Trainee Teams

The TICaRT Program concept of team-based cancer research is largely modeled on the highly-successful Clinical and Translational Science Institute TL1 Predoctoral Training Program, led by Dr. Wayne McCormack. Examples of cancer-focused TL1 teams, as well as a PhD student–Postdoctoral Fellow team focused on cancer research, are described briefly below.

I had the opportunity to work with an engineering team and learn how mechanical engineers contribute to translational science. Through our project specifically, I learned about obtaining patents and understanding how, when and in what direction you push projects forward for translational science.

– Henrietta Fasanya, M.D., Ph.D. student

Team Project: Integrating Mathematical and Biological Models to Target Myeloid-Derived Immune Cells in GBM

Gregory Takacs, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Jeffrey Harrison, Ph.D., Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Dissertation Project: Investigating mechanisms of CCR2+ myeloid cell-derived immune suppression in glioblastoma

Hannah Anderson, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Libin Rong, Ph.D., Mathematics
Dissertation Project: TBD

Team Project: Tailored Web-based Intervention to Increase Florida Smokers’ Enrollment in a Research Registry

Rachel Damiani, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Janice Krieger, Ph.D., Advertising
Dissertation Project: Examining the Efficacy of an Online Tailored Message Intervention to Reduce Rural Smokers’ Behavioral Intentions to Smoke Cigarettes


Nioud Gebru, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Robert Leeman, Ph.D., Health Education & Behavior
Dissertation Project: Web-based brief motivational intervention for Smoking Relapse Prevention

Team Project: Detection of Metastases in Osteosarcoma Patients Using Microfluidic Devices


Henrietta Fasanya, M.D., Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Dietmar Siemann, PhD, Radiation Oncology
Dissertation Project: Utilization of Cathepsin Targeting in Metastatic Osteosarcoma

Pablo Dopico, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Z. Hugh Fan, Ph.D., Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Dissertation Project: Microfluidic Devices for Tumor Cell Removal

Team Project: Cancer Cell to Dendritic Cell Conversion


Matthew Sebastian, M.D., Ph.D. Student
Mentor: David Tran, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgery
Dissertation Project: Direct Cancer Cell to Antigen-Presenting Cell Conversion: A Novel Immunotherapy in Glioblastoma


Sarah (Tori) Ellison, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Thomas E. Angelini, Ph.D., Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Dissertation Project: TL1 Team Approach for Cancer Cell to Dendritic Cell Conversion

Team Project: A Novel Tumor Microenvironment Model that Combines Bioprinting and Tissue Culture to Investigate Cancer Cell and Microvascular Interactions


Samantha Dykes, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate
Mentor: Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D., Radiation Oncology
Research Project: Role of cathepsin L in the macrophage-mediated metastatic phenotype of triple-negative breast cancer


Ariana Suarez-Martinez, Ph.D. Student
Mentor: Walter L. Murfee, PhD, Biomedical Engineering
Dissertation Project: Development of an Ex Vivo Mouse Tissue Culture Model for Investigating Cell Dynamics during Microvascular Remodeling

Alumni Outcomes

tRAINEE fACulty mentor Degree(s)/Training Publications Current Position
Samantha Dykes, Ph.D. Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D. Ph.D. 2016; Postdoc 2019 5 Scientist, GenCure
Henrietta Fasanya, Ph.D. Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D. Ph.D. 2020 6 Completing MD training
Matthew Sebastian David Tran, M.D., Ph.D. Ph.D. 2020 4 Completing MD training
Ariana Suarez-Martinez, Ph.D. Walter L. Murfee, Ph.D. Ph.D. 2020 7 Freelance Editor, Cactus Communications

Selected Publications

  • Suarez-Martinez AD, Sole-Gras M, Dykes SS, Wakefield ZR, Bauer K, Majbour D, Bundy A, Pampo C, Burow ME, Siemann DW, Huang Y, Murfee WL. Bioprinting on Live Tissue for Investigating Cancer Cell Dynamics. Tissue Eng Part A. 2020 Nov 18. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2020.0190. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33059528. Link.
  • Morley CD, Ellison ST, Bhattacharjee T, O’Bryan CS, Zhang Y, Smith KF, Kabb CP, Sebastian M, Moore GL, Schulze KD, Niemi S, Sawyer WG, Tran DD, Mitchell DA, Sumerlin BS, Flores CT, Angelini TE. Quantitative characterization of 3D bioprinted structural elements under cell generated forces. Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 10;10(1):3029. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10919-1. PMID: 31292444; PMCID: PMC6620298. Link.
  • Fasanya HO, Dopico PJ, Yeager Z, Fan HZ, Siemann DW. Using a combination of gangliosides and cell surface vimentin as surface biomarkers for isolating osteosarcoma cells in microfluidic devices. Journal of Bone Oncology, accepted 2021.
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