Our program draws on faculty from many different departments within the medical campus and offers a wide range of research opportunities.

Name Research Interest
Steve Anderson, PhD

My lab is interested in signaling pathways that regulate mammary gland development and tumorigenesis.
Anderson Lab Website

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).
Bentley Lab Website

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.
Bitler Faculty Profile

Andrea Bonetto, PhD (he/him/his)

The Bonetto Lab investigates the molecular mechanisms responsible for abnormal muscle, bone and liver crosstalks in cachexia due to cancer and/or anticancer treatments. In order to achieve our goals, we leverage different in vitro and in vivo models, paired with a set of comprehensive molecular, metabolic, and pharmacologic tools to dissect the causes of musculoskeletal abnormalities associated with cancer.

Bonetto Faculty Profile

M. Cecilia Caino, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Caino Lab Website

Diana Cittelly, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Cittelly Lab Website

James Costello, PhD (he/him/his)

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.
Costello Lab Website

Scott Cramer, PhD

Prostate Cancer Tumor Suppressors, Stem Cells, Tumor Initiating cells, Signal Transduction, Receptor Signaling.
Cramer Lab Website

Eduardo Davila, PhD

Our long-term goals are to develop novel approaches for treating immunorefractory cancers and to develop predictive models and diagnostics to identify compounds that sensitize tumors to T cell-based therapies.
Davila Lab Website

James DeGregori, PhD (he/him/his)

Exploring the conditions that foster somatic evolution and discovering cancer vulnerabilities.
DeGregori Lab Website

Patricia Ernst, PhD (she/her/hers)

Our group focuses on epigenetic mechanisms regulating normal hematopoiesis and leukemia focusing on MLL-family histone methyltransferases.
Ernst Lab Website

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.
Espinosa Faculty Profile

Lauren Fishbein, MD, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Fishbein Lab Website

Heide Ford, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Ford Lab Website

Mayumi Fujita, MD, PhD

My lab has investigated biological roles and molecular regulations of 1) IL-1, inflammasomes and autoinflammation in human melanoma and skin diseases; 2) IL-37 and immune tolerance; 3) Tumor heterogeneity and plasticity in melanoma and its therapeutic resistance; and 4) ALDH2 and melanocyte activation and melanoma.
Fujita Faculty Profile

Bryan Haugen, MD (he/him/his)

Dr Haugen is a physician-scientist who sees patients with thyroid cancer and does basic/translational and clinical research on thyroid cancer therapeutics.  More recently, his research group and collaborators have been using multi-omic approaches and single cell RNA sequencing to better understand advanced thyroid cancer in humans and animal models.
Haugen Faculty Profile

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.
Heasley Faculty Profile

Cheng-Jun Hu, PhD

To distinguish the role of HIF-1a and HIF-2a in cancer progression, Molecular Mechanisms of Hypoxic Transcriptional Response.
Hu Faculty Profile

Paul Jedlicka, MD, PhD

Mechanism and targeting of aggressive properties of pediatric sarcomas.
Jedlicka Lab Website

Antonio Jimeno, MD, PHD

Dr. Jimeno’s laboratory and clinical research efforts aim at discovering new therapies and improving the outcomes of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). He has developed PDX and humanized models to study cancer, and their application in new drug testing.  He serves as the Director of the Colorado HNC SPORE, Director of the HNC Program, and co-Director of the Phase One Developmental Therapeutics.
Jimeno Lab Website

Craig Jordan, PhD (he/him/his)

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.
Jordan Lab Website

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.
Kabos Lab Website

Sana Karam, MD, PhD

Dr. Karam’s laboratory is focused on basic and translational research related to head and neck and pancreatic cancer.
Karam Lab Website

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.
Keith Faculty Profile

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.
Kiseljak-Vassiliades Faculty Profile

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.
Lambert Lab Website

Ryan Lanning, MD, PhD*

The Lanning lab uses optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI) to elucidate in vivo longitudinal and microscopic changes in the tumor microenvironment (TME).
Lanning Lab Website

Shi-Long Lu, MD, PhD

Role of PI3K/PTEN/AKT pathway in HNSCC progression.
Lu Faculty Profile

Traci Lyons, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Lyons Lab Website

Siddhartha Mitra, PhD

Immune microenvironment regulation and immune evasion in brain tumors.
Mitra Faculty Profile

Jeff Moore, PhD (he/him/his)

Molecular regulation of the microtubule network in cell division and disease.
Moore Lab Website

Neelanjan Mukherjee, PhD

Systems Biology of Human RNA Regulatory Networks.
Mukherjee Lab Website

Raphael Nemenoff, PhD

My laboratory is focused on examining molecular pathways that regulate the progression and metastasis of lung cancer.
Nemenoff Faculty Profile

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.
Orlicky Faculty Profile

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.
Owens Lab Website

Chad Pearson, PhD (he/him/his)

Centrosome and cilia biology in cell division, motility, and disease.
Pearson Faculty Profile

Eric Pietras, PhD

Interplay between inflammation and metabolism as a driver of leukemia development; targeting of pre-malignant and malignant blood-forming stem cells.
Pietras Lab Website

Rytis Prekeris, PhD

The role of cell polarity during cell division, epithelial tissue morphogenesis and cancer cell metastasis.
Prekeris Lab Website

Mary Reyland, PhD

Regulation of Cell Death by the Protein Kinase C Family: Implications for Tissue Damage and Tumorigenesis.
Reyland Faculty Profile

Jennifer Richer, PhD (she/her/hers)

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.
Richer Lab Website

Mercedes Rincon, PhD

The major areas of our research currently are: 1. Understanding how metabolism contributes to cancer chemoresistance and developing approaches to overcome chemoresistance; 2) Investigating MCJ as a target to enhance CD8 T cell mitochondrial metabolism and efficacy of CAR-T immunotherapy.
Rincon Faculty Profile

Carol Sartorius, PhD (she/her/hers)

Our laboratory studies the role of hormone receptors (estrogen, progesterone, glucocorticoid, etc.) in breast cancer gene regulation and progression to endocrine resistance and metastasis.
Sartorius Lab Website

Rebecca Schweppe, PhD (she/her/hers)

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 treatment.
Schweppe Faculty Profile

Yiqun Shellman, PhD

Our lab is interested in pigment-producing cell in health and disease, with the ultimate aim from bench-to-bedside for melanoma, pigmentation disorders and aging.
Shellman Faculty Profile

Daniel Sherbenou, MD, PhD (he/him/his)

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.
Sherbenou Lab Website

Matthew J. Sikora, PhD (he/him/his)

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.
Sikora Lab Website

Jill Slansky, PhD (she/her/hers)

Using an animal model for colon cancer, we are determining what substitutions in tumor antigen peptides improve antitumor immunity.
Slansky Faculty Profile

Meredith Tennis, PhD (she/her/hers)

The overall research focus of the Tennis Lab is investigating signaling pathways in premalignant lung lesions and developing lung cancer chemoprevention. Our current projects include response prediction and monitoring biomarkers for targeted lung cancer chemoprevention, characterizing mouse models of early lung cancer progression, and the role of Frizzled 9 in early lung lesions and chemoprevention.
Tennis Lab Website

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.
Tentler Faculty Profile

Tamara Terzian, PhD* (she/her/hers)

My lab is focused on deciphering the role of the tumor suppressor and transcription factor p53 in developmental malformations, pigmentary disorders and in tumorigenesis. For this we are using unique and extant mouse models of the p53 pathway and 3D primary cell cultures.
Terzian Faculty Profile

Arianne Theiss, PhD (she/her/hers)

The overall goal of the Theiss Lab is to elucidate the role and mechanism whereby mitochondrial signaling pathways in intestinal epithelial cells contribute to gastrointestinal diseases, specifically inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), colitis-associated cancer, and colorectal tumorigenesis.
Theiss Lab Website

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,
Vibhakar Faculty Profile

Matthew Witkowski, PhD (he/him/his)

The Witkowski laboratory is dedicated to collaborative research investigating B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) - the most common cancer in children. We aim to uncover how the immune system is remodeled by B-ALL cells to foster their survival throughout therapy. Ultimately, we will endeavor to develop novel treatment approaches that modulate components of the leukemic immune microenvironment to improve B-ALL treatment outcomes.

Witkowski Lab Website

Rui Zhao, PhD

My lab studies the role of the Six1/Eya transcriptional complex and splicing in cancer. We are also developing small molecule or RNA-based approaches to target the Six1/Eya complex or splicing as potential cancer therapeutics.

Zhao Faculty Profile

Yuwen Zhu, PhD

My research interest in cancer immunotherapy focuses on 1) identifying novel immune checkpoints, 2) characterizing pathways that limit intratumoral T cell infiltration. 
Zhu Faculty Profile

* indicates Associate Faculty Members