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Our Scientists


Michael Verneris, MD


Professor of Pediatrics
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Children’s Hospital Colorado
Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Program Leader of Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapeutics
The Barton Family Endowed Chair of Bone Marrow Transplant
michael.verneris@ucdenver.edu 

Dr. Michael Verneris is a Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Colorado. His clinical interests include hematopoietic cell transplantation for acute leukemias, prevention of graft-versus-host disease and graft-versus-leukemia.

He received his medical degree in 1992 from the Dartmouth-Brown Program in Medicine (Hanover, New Hampshire and Providence, Rhode Island). He completed his Pediatric Internship and Residency at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and his Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship was completed at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, where he was a staff physician from 1998-2002 and Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation from 2002-2015, prior to joining the faculty at the University of Colorado. He is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Dr. Verneris' clinical interests include hematopoietic cell transplantation for acute leukemia, double umbilical cord transplantation and graft-versus-leukemia. His clinical research studies are aimed at developing methods to reduce leukemia recurrence by enhancing immune recovery and by more effectively treating sites of leukemia (with a newly developed method of bone marrow irradiation). His laboratory studies focus on natural killer cells and how they develop from stem cells and how they recognize leukemia after hematopoietic cell transplantation.

Ashley Yingst


Sr. PRA/Lab Manager

Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Education: Iowa State University, BS in Genetics, 2012; MS in Biomedical Science, Des Moines University 2014.

Research: As the lab manager, I often say I have my hand in all of the cookie jars. I assist in nearly every person’s project in some way or another, so my research involves the entire umbrella of the Verneris lab.

Laura Cobb, MD


Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellow

Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA & Tampa, FL

Education: University of Florida, B.S. Cell & Molecular Biology (2009) and Florida State University College of Medicine, M.D. (2015)

Research: Clinical interests include immune dysregulation syndromes such as HLH as well as autoimmune conditions such as IBD and the use of bone marrow transplantation in the treatment of such conditions. Her primary laboratory project will focus on the development of mouse models to evaluate use of bone marrow transplantation for Crohn’s disease.

Publications: 


Dallas Jones, PhD


Post Doctoral Fellow

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

Education: University of Nebraska Kearney, BS Psychobiology (2007) and University of Nebraska Medical Center, Ph.D. Microbiology (2015)

Research: My current research analyzes alterations in the immune system in individuals with Down’s Syndrome. Individuals with Down’s Syndrome are practically immune to solid tumors, yet they are 50X and 500X more likely to develop ALL and AML, respectively. My studies will investigate the NK and ILC compartment in Down’s Syndrome and hopefully provide novel insights into why they are resistant to solid tumors but extremely more susceptible to blood borne malignancies.

Publications: Link


Jessica Lake, MD 


Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Fellow

Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida

Education: University of Florida, Bachelor of Music (2004); Drexel University, MPH Epidemiology (2007); Pennsylvania State University, M.D. (2013)

Research: Re-engineering natural killer cells using chimeric antigen receptors and improving in vivo persistence, homing and targeting to create an “off the shelf” immunotherapy for pediatric sarcoma.


Madeline Larson


Student Assistant 

Hometown: Denver 

Education: University of Colorado Denver, working on BS (student), Biology, 2020


Tyler Shank


Professional Research Assistant

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Education: Penn State University – State College, PA, B.S. (Biology), Psychology Minor (2013)

Research: Currently I am researching embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells and their potential to differentiate into Natural Killer cells for use in immunotherapies.  I am also primarily responsible for processing and banking leukemic patients’ bone marrow samples and maintaining the database to enable fellow researchers to quickly find samples that fit their studies.


Seonhui (Sunny) Shim, PhD


Post Doctoral Fellow

Education: Seoul National University, PhD, Cancer Biology, 2009

Research:

  • Expand of off the shelf ES-derived HSCs (Hematopoietic stem cells) which shows increased bone marrow engraftment.
  • Prove of ILC (Innate lymphoid cell) trajectory with epigenetic modification
  • Mechanism of adaptive NK cell immunology


Dejene M Tufa, PhD


Post Doctoral Fellow

Hometown: Waliso, Ethiopia 

Education: Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, DVM (2007), MSc in Microbiology (2010); Hannover Medical School, Germany, PhD in Biomedicine (2015).

Research: Main focus of my research is understanding the development of human innate lymphoid cells (ILCs- including NK cells, ILC1, IlC2 and ILC3) with the ultimate goal of application of ILCs in immunotherapy. I also study immune cell communications such as cross-talk within the ILCs, and ILCs interactions with the other immune cells.

Publications: Link​


Renee Woods


Professional Research Assistant

Hometown: Denver

Education: University of Colorado-Denver, B.S. Biology (2018)

Research: My research is focused on improving hematopoietic stem cell engraftment for future bone marrow transplants. My projects include differentiating induced pluripotient stem (iPS) cells and embryonic stem (ES) cells into hematopoietic stem cells, natural killer (NK) cells, and innate lymphoid cells (ILC).