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Faculty and Staff

Mary Reyland, PhD

Professor and Student Advisor
Director, Cancer Biology Program
Contact Mary Reyland

Rebecca Schweppe, PhD

Associate Professor
Student Advisor
Contact Rebecca Schweppe

Sabrena Heilman

Contact Sabrena Heilman


The Program draws on faculty from many different departments within the medical campus and offers a wide range of research opportunities. The faculty below have an appointment in CANB.

Research Interest
Steve Anderson, PhD
My lab is interested in signaling pathways that regulate mammary gland development and tumorigenesis
David Bentley, PhD
Our research asks how the RNA polymerase II transcriptional machinery and RNA processing factors work together to achieve coordinated synthesis and maturation of messenger RNA (mRNA).
Benjamin Bitler, PhD

​​Dr. Bitler is committed to the fight against cancer through his work to elucidate the impact of cancer-related signaling and epigenetic regulation.

Andrew Bradford, PhD
My research interests focus on hormone/growth factor signaling and cancer
M. Cecilia Caino, PhD
Our group aims to understand how mitochondria reprogramming in tumors impact cellular behaviors that drive progressive and lethal cancer. We use a broad repertoire of biochemistry, cell biology, live cell imaging and animal models to study the impact of mitochondria shape, number and subcellular distribution in metastatic dissemination.
Diana Cittelly, PhD

​Deciphering the mechanisms underlying increased risk of brain metastases in young women with triple negative breast cancer. These include ovarian estrogen effects on reactive astrocytes that results in paracrine activation of EGFR and TRKB signaling in brain metastatic cells.

James Costello, PhD
Within the broad scope of systems biology, my lab focuses on 3 research areas: 1) Network inference for identifying drug targets, 2) Predicting drug sensitivity from -omics datasets, and 3) Modeling temporal effects of drug combinations
Scott Cramer, PhD
Prostate Cancer Tumor Suppressors, Stem Cells, Tumor Initiating cells, Signal Transduction, Receptor Signaling
James DeGregori, PhD
Studies to better understand the conditions that foster the initiation of leukemias and lymphomas are currently a major thrust of the lab
Jorge DiPaola, MD

​The DiPaola laboratory dedicates all efforts to scientific and clinical problems related to the effect that critical components of the hemostatic system, such as platelets and coagulation factors, have on human disease... Our ultimate hope is that through research we can contribute to the improvement of lives of individuals with bleeding and thrombotic disorders

Robert Doebele, MD, PhD
The focus of my laboratory is the study of signaling, biology, biomarkers, pharmacologic inhibition, and drug resistance relating to dominant oncogenes in lung and other cancers.  Currently these oncogenes include ALK, ROS1, RET, NTRK1/2/3, MET exon 14 and EGFR exon 20 insertions. Our lab uses patient-derived cell line and xenograft models as well as CRISPR/Cas9 mouse models.
Joaquin Espinosa, PhD
​Our main research goal is to understand how gene networks control cell behavior in homeostasis and human disease. Our two main focus areas are cancer biology and Down syndrome.
Lauren Fishbein, MD, PhD

​My research interests are to understand what causes neuroendocrine tumors to form (pheochromocytomas, paragangliomas, gastrointestinal and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors). I am particularly interested in studying the inherited and tumor specific genetic changes that lead to tumor formation. The long terms goals of my research are to identify markers to predict aggressive or metastatic disease which can ultimately be used to develop therapies for prevention and/or treatment of these tumors.

Heide Ford, PhD
Our laboratory focuses on a specific family of homeoproteins, the Six family, and their transcriptional cofactors, Eya and Dach. The Six1 homeobox gene is overexpressed in 50% of primary breast cancers and 90% of metastatic lesions, and its overexpression
Mayumi Fujita, MD, PhD

​The main focus of our current research is: (1) to understand subpopulations of cancer cells, such as cancer stem cells from human melanoma, (2) to study biological roles of inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules (particularly IL-1, IL-37 and AAT, inflammasome components) in the progression of human malignant melanoma, (3) to understand biological roles of a new cytokine, IL-37, (4) to identify melanoma-related and host response-related biomarker profiling from blood of melanoma patients, and (5) to identify metastasis-related genetic/genomic changes in human melanoma.  The experiments utilize in vitro methodologies (cellular and molecular biology, immunology, pathology) and in vivo animal study (xenotransplantation, direct in vivo xenograft and genetically-engineered mouse models).

Arthur Gutierrez-Hartmann, MD
Dr. Gutierrez-Hartmann’s laboratory focuses on two main projects: (1) elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing pituitary-specific gene expression; and, (2) determining the role of Ets transcription factors in breast cancer.
Bryan Haugen, MD
Thyroid Diseases; Endocrine Neoplasms
Lynn Heasley, PhD
My lab investigates signaling networks involving RTKs, GPCRs, and chemokine/cytokine receptors that function as oncogene drivers and acquired/intrinsic resistance pathways to targeted therapeutics in lung cancer, head and neck cancer and mesothelioma. Our approach blends in vitro and in vivo functional genomics approaches with human and murine cancer cell line models to define both cancer cell autonomous signals as well as tumor microenvironment-derived signals that contribute to the overall sensitivity of these cancers to targeted drugs and immune therapies.
Cheng-Jun Hu, PhD
To distinguish the role of HIF-1a and HIF-2a in cancer progression, our work has been focusing on these specific areas:
Britta Jacobsen, PhD

​Our research focuses on the biology of mucin secreting breast cancers

Paul Jedlicka, MD, PhD
Currently, our laboratory is broadly interested in further understanding the biology of Jumonji-domain histone demethylases in regulation of gene expression and cancer phenotypes in Ewing Sarcoma
Antonio Jimeno, MD
He has made a special emphasis in 1) developing better preclinical models, 2) determining predictors of response, and 3) devising ways to integrate that knowledge into clinical trials to individualize anti-cancer therapy.
Craig Jordan, PhD

​Dr. Jordan serves as the Chief of the Hematology Division and directs a research program focused on the development of novel therapies for the treatment of leukemia.

Peter Kabos, MD

​Dr. Kabos’ interest is in translating preclinical findings into novel treatments for patients with breast cancer. The Kabos lab focuses on the role of breast cancer stem cells and tumor microenvironment in
treatment resistance.

Sana Karam, MD, PhD
Dr. K​aram’s laboratory is focused on basic and translational research related to head and neck and CNS cancer
Robert Keith, MD

​Dr. Keith's main research interest is lung cancer chemoprevention and early detection. He was Principal Investigator (PI) of the NCI-sponsored Lung Cancer Biomarkers and Chemoprevention Consortium (LCBCC) Iloprost Chemoprevention Trial and is the PI of an ongoing VA lung cancer chemoprevention trial evaluating pioglitazone in high risk current and former smokers. He is also the co-PI on a recently initiated chemoprevention trial examining inhaled iloprost.

Katja Kiseljak-Vassiliades, DO

​My research interest is in endocrine neoplasia with focus on adrenocortical carcinoma. Our labs has generated first human adrenocortical carcinoma cell lines and patient derived xenografts in over three decades and are interested in new therapeutic targets. We have been exploring the targeting and mechanisms of several mitotic kinases, as well targeting immune checkpoints in our newly derived humanize mouse models of adrenal cancer.

James Lambert, PhD
Our laboratory is investigating the potential of the small molecule drug AMPI-109 as a novel therapeutic agent for triple-negative breast cancer.
Bolin Liu, MD
Our primary research interests focus on erbB receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs)-mediated signal transduction in breast cancer and miRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation of drug resistance and metastasis
Shi-Long Lu, MD, PhD
Role of PI3K/PTEN/AKT pathway in HNSCC progression.
M. Scott Lucia, MD
Director, Prostate Diagnostic Laboratory
Traci Lyons, PhD

​Dr. Lyons laboratory focuses on mechanisms of lymphatic mediated metastasis of breast cancer.  Specifically, utilizing mouse models to investigate developmentally regulated programs of inflammation and lymphangiogenesis that are utilized in the adult mammary gland and may be hijacked by breast tumor cells. The results of these translational studies have the potential to instruct therapy aimed at prevention of breast cancer metastasis.

Stephen Malkoski, MD, PhD
I am interested in the identification of cancer stem cells in lung squamous cell carcinoma and targeting of these stem cells in preclinical chemotherapeutic trials
Neelanjan Mukherjee, PhD

​Systems Biology of Human RNA Regulatory Networks

Raphael Nemenoff, PhD
My laboratory is focused on examining molecular pathways that regulate the progression and metastasis of lung cancer.
David Orlicky, PhD
The study of lipid accumulation in non-adipocytes and how that process is regulated in multiple tissues, and in normal and pathologic situations
Philip Owens, PhD

​The role of BMP signaling in tumor induced bone disease; The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated lymphatics; The role of BMP signaling in tumor associated myeloid cells.

Chad Pearson, PhD

​​Cell biology of the cytoskeleton: Centriole assembly and function

Eric Pietras, PhD

​Dr. Pietras is a scientist who supervises a research laboratory focused on understanding the signals and molecular mechanisms that allow blood-forming stem cells to tailor their output in response to inflammation and other physiological challenges. His laboratory is also involved in understanding how these  mechanisms contribute to deregulated blood production in chronic inflammatory disease and leukemia.

Rytis Prekeris, PhD
The role of cell polarity during cell division, epithelial tissue morphogenesis and cancer cell metastasis
Mary Reyland, PhD
Regulation of Cell Death by the Protein Kinase C Family: Implications for Tissue Damage and Tumorigenesis
Jennifer Richer, PhD
The focus of my research is on the role of estrogen and progesterone receptors in breast and gynecological cancers, mechanisms of resistance to hormone therapy, and the differences between hormone dependent and independent breast cancer
Dennis Roop, PhD
My laboratory has a long standing interest in identifying genes required for normal skin development and understanding how they function.
Carol Sartorius, PhD
Our laboratory seeks to determine mechanisms unique to luminal breast cancer that allow for this adverse progression
Isabel Schlaepfer, PhD

​Specifically, she is interested in using clinically safe drugs from the cardiovascular/obesity field to image and elucidate prostate cancer metabolic weaknesses that can be exploited in the clinic for more effective combinatorial therapies.

Rebecca Schweppe, PhD
The focus of my lab is to identify novel molecular targets relevant to papillary and anaplastic thyroid cancer (PTC and ATC) with the ultimate goal of advancing these studies to clinical trials for thyroid cancer patients who do not respond to standard tr
Robert A. Sclafani, PhD*
The main area of focus of the laboratory is the regulation and mechanisms of chromosomal DNA replication, mutagenesis and DNA repair in yeast and human cells.
Daniel Sherbenou, MD, PhD
Our lab specializes in translational research on multiple myeloma, a debilitating and incurable blood cancer. We are focused on developing new therapies, including both large-molecule immunotherapies and small-molecule pathway inhibitors. We are also developing approaches to personalize treatment through real-time monitoring of drug resistance development using ex vivo drug sensitivity testing.
Matthew J. Sikora, PhD
The overall goal of the Sikora Laboratory is to understand mechanisms of response and resistance to steroid hormones and anti-estrogen therapies in breast cancer, with a special emphasis on invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast.
Jill Slansky, PhD
Using an animal model for colon cancer, we are determining what substitutions in tumor antigen peptides improve antitumor immunity
Aik-Choon Tan, PhD
His lab develops and applies computational/machine learning and statistical methods to integrate high-throughout and complex biological data sources for biomarker discovery and the identification of aberrant signaling pathways in tumors.
Meredith Tennis, PhD
John Tentler, PhD

​​As part of the Developmental Therapeutics/GI Laboratory at UCD, my research is focused on pre-clinical studies of novel, rationally-based drugs for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, utilizing both cell culture and in vivo mouse model systems. These studies serve as a basis for therapeutic treatment options/choices for patients with advanced GI cancers in the UC Phase I Clinical Trials Program.

Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD
Working on a disease that has seen few advances in the last 30 years, Theodorescu has emerged as a leading translational bladder cancer researcher. Theodorescu is known for his work on the molecular mechanisms underlying bladder cancer and tools that determine drug response as well as discovery of new drugs for several cancer types.
Rajeev, Vibhakar, MD, PhD, MSPH

​My research focuses on genetic mechanisms by which normal brain cells become cancerous and how these genetic differences can be used to better diagnose and treat children with brain tumors

Jing Hong Wang, MD, PhD
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy in the context of B cell lymphomas, and head and neck cancers
Xiao-Jing Wang, MD, PhD
Molecular mechanisms of cancer: 1) Identification of biomarkers for diagnosis and therapy for human head and neck​ cancer; 2) the properties of cancer stem cells, transcriptional machinery, microRNA functions; 3) Experimental therapeutics of head and neck

* No Longer Accepting Students

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