FACULTY

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

Note: CANB Associate Faculty are not able to serve as primary thesis mentors.

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Michael Alberti MD, PhD

(he/him/his)
Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Gene Regulation Genomics Bioinformatics Stem Cells
The Alberti lab is working to better understand the genetic and molecular basis of splicing factor gene mutations in the initiation, development, and progression of clonal hematopoiesis and myeloid malignancies, such as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Maria Amaya MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Our lab is interested in studying metabolic properties of myelodysplastic syndrome cells in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies.

Benjamin Bitler PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology
Dr. Bitler is committed to the fight against cancer through his work to elucidate the impact of cancer-related signaling and epigenetic regulation.

Andrea Bonetto PhD

(he/him/his)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Aging Cancer Biology Molecular Nutrition & Metabolic Systems
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.

M. Cecilia Caino PhD

(she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Cell Biology Cellular Structure Signal Transduction
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

(she/her/hers)
Associate Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Inflammation Neuropharmacology Signal Transduction
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

(he/him/his)
Associate Professor Director, Pharmacology Program
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Genomics Bioinformatics
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

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Genomics Bioinformatics
Prostate Cancer Tumor Suppressors, Stem Cells, Tumor Initiating cells, Signal Transduction, Receptor Signaling.

Eduardo Davila PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Immunotherapy
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.

James Degregori PhD

(he/him/his)
Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Cell Biology
Exploring the conditions that foster somatic evolution and discovering cancer vulnerabilities.

Patricia Ernst PhD

(she/her/hers)
Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Gene Regulation
Our group focuses on epigenetic mechanisms regulating normal hematopoiesis and leukemia focusing on MLL-family histone methyltransferases.

Joaquin Espinosa PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology
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

(she/her/hers)
Associate Professor
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

(she/her/hers)
Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Gene Regulation Genomics Bioinformatics Signal Transduction
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.

Jena French PhD

Associate Professor CANB Associate Faculty
Our research is focused on understanding mechanisms of resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors in low-mutation burden tumors using thyroid cancer as a model. We investigate the immune response in thyroid cancer using both fresh and archival human samples and transgenic mouse models of advanced disease. Our goal is to develop effective combination therapies, including immune-based approaches, to improve patient survival.

Mayumi Fujita MD, PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Inflammation Molecular
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.

Bryan Haugen MD

(he/him/his)
Professor
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.

Lynn Heasley PhD

Professor
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

Associate Professor MOLB Non-Training Faculty
To distinguish the role of HIF-1a and HIF-2a in cancer progression, Molecular Mechanisms of Hypoxic Transcriptional Response.

Paul Jedlicka MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Mechanism and targeting of aggressive properties of pediatric sarcomas.

Antonio Jimeno MD, PhD

Professor
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.

Craig Jordan PhD

(he/him/his)
Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Developmental Biology
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

Associate Professor
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

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
Dr. Karam’s laboratory is focused on basic and translational research related to head and neck and pancreatic cancer.

Robert Keith MD

Professor CANB Associate Faculty
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

Associate Professor CANB Associate Faculty
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

Associate Professor
Our laboratory is investigating the potential of the small molecule drug AMPI-109 as a novel therapeutic agent for triple-negative breast cancer.

Ryan Lanning MD, PhD

Assistant Professor CANB Associate Faculty
The Lanning lab uses optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI) to elucidate in vivo longitudinal and microscopic changes in the tumor microenvironment (TME).

Shi-Long Lu MD, PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cell Biology
Role of PI3K/PTEN/AKT pathway in HNSCC progression.

Traci Lyons PhD

(she/her/hers)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Development
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.

Siddhartha Mitra PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
Immune microenvironment regulation and immune evasion in brain tumors.

Jeffrey Moore PhD

(he/him/his)
Associate Professor Director, Cell Biology, Stem Cells & Development Program; Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Chromosome Biology Genomics Bioinformatics
Molecular regulation of the microtubule network in cell division and disease.

Raphael Nemenoff PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Signal Transduction
My laboratory is focused on examining molecular pathways that regulate the progression and metastasis of lung cancer.

David Orlicky PhD

Associate Professor CANB Associate Faculty
The study of lipid accumulation in non-adipocytes and how that process is regulated in multiple tissues, and in normal and pathologic situations.

Chad Pearson PhD

(he/him/his)
Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Cellular Structure Macromolecular Structure
Centrosome and cilia biology in cell division, motility, and disease.

Eric Pietras PhD

Associate Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Cell Biology Development Developmental Biology Inflammation Molecular Nutrition & Metabolic Systems Stem Cells
Interplay between inflammation and metabolism as a driver of leukemia development; targeting of pre-malignant and malignant blood-forming stem cells.

Todd Pitts PhD

Associate Professor CANB Associate Faculty
The Pitts (GI Translational Research) Lab is focused on developing new novel therapies for colorectal and pancreatic cancers. The lab is interested in finding rational combination partners for molecularly-targeted anticancer and immunotherapy agents. The Pitts lab has a special interest in predictive biomarker and resistance mechanisms using correlative biological assays for early phase clinical trials.

Nikita Pozdeyev MD

Assistant Professor CANB Associate Faculty
We use informatics to solve clinically relevant problems in thyroid cancer, such as risk assessment based on the analysis of thyroid ultrasound images and genetics, personalized thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and understanding thyroid cancer development and response to treatment at the level of a single cell. We employ methods of clinical informatics, artificial intelligence/machine learning and population genetics to address problems encountered while taking care of patients with thyroid cancer.

Rytis Prekeris PhD

Professor Director, Molecular Biology Program; Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Cell Biology Cellular Structure Development Developmental Biology
Regulation of cell division, cell polarity and cell migration.

Mary Reyland PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
Regulation of Cell Death by the Protein Kinase C Family: Implications for Tissue Damage and Tumorigenesis.

Jennifer Richer PhD

(she/her/hers)
Professor MOLB Non-Training Faculty
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Cell Biology
The focus of my research is on the role of sex steroid receptors in breast and gynecological cancers, mechanisms of resistance to hormone therapy, and the differences between hormone dependent and independent breast cancers.

Mercedes Rincon PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Molecular Nutrition & Metabolic Systems
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.

Carol Sartorius PhD

(she/her/hers)
Professor Completed Mentor Training Course
Research Focus: Accepting Students Breast Cancer Cancer Biology
The Sartorius laboratory studies the role of sex steroid hormones and their cognate receptors (i.e. estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR)) in breast cancer.

Rebecca Schweppe PhD

(she/her/hers)
Professor Director, Cancer Biology Program
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Signal Transduction
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.

Yiqun Shellman PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Cell Biology Macromolecular Structure Other Systems Signal Transduction Stem Cells Structural Biology
My research focuses on melanocyte (pigment-producing cells) and melanocyte-related diseases, including melanoma and pigmentation disorders, with the aim of developing treatments and moving our research from bench to bedside. For melanoma research, we aim to improve patient survival by better understanding tumorigenesis and progression of melanoma, and host factors of antitumor immunity, and by developing melanoma treatments. For studies of melanocyte biology, we focus on SASH1, a novel pigmentation protein we identified, by studying a Hispanic family with an inherited pigmentation disorder.

Daniel Sherbenou MD, PhD

(he/him/his)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
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 Sikora PhD

(he/him/his)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology
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

(she/her/hers)
Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
Using an animal model for colon cancer, we are determining what substitutions in tumor antigen peptides improve antitumor immunity.

Meredith Tennis PhD

(she/her/hers)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Lung Cancer
The Tennis lab is primarily focused on translational lung cancer prevention research, including chemoprevention and interception of premalignant lesion progression. We have published work on markers for targeted application of lung cancer chemoprevention, signaling pathways in lung cancer, and premalignant lung lesion biology. We are interested in developing preclinical models for premalignant lesions, investigating the biology of premalignant lung lesions and progression to tumors, and conducting correlative studies related to chemoprevention trials. We also have a strong interest in education and outreach, including running CU Science Discovery Anschutz programs, and are committed to supporting the development of diverse scientists-in-training through cancer research experiences in our lab.

John Tentler PhD

Associate Professor CANB Associate Faculty
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.

Tamara Terzian PhD

(she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor
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.

Arianne Theiss PhD

(she/her/hers)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology Cardiovascular/Pulmonary/Renal/GI Physiology Cell Biology Cellular Physiology Host-Pathogen Interactions Inflammation Innate Immunity Stem Cells
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) and colorectal cancer.

Rajeev Vibhakar MD, PhD, MPH/MSPH

Professor
Research Focus: Cell Biology
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,

Margaret Wierman MD

Professor
Research Focus: Endocrinology Neuroendocrinology Reproductive Biology
I am interested in Reproductive Endocrinology, Neuroendocrinology, Pituitary Disease, Disorders of Adolescence and Menopause and Hypogonadism in Men and Women.

Matthew Witkowski PhD

(he/him/his)
Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Cancer Biology
We are dedicated to collaborative research investigating B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) - the most common cancer in children. Many B-ALL patients will succumb to disease resistant to existing chemotherapy and immunotherapies, such as CD19-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. We aim to uncover how the immune system is remodeled by leukemic cells to foster their survival throughout therapy. Ultimately, we will endeavor to develop novel treatment approaches that modulate components of the leukemic immune microenvironment in order to improve B-ALL treatment outcomes.

Rui Zhao PhD

Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Gene Regulation Macromolecular Structure RNA Bioscience
My lab studies the mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing and the role of the Six1/Eya transcriptional complex in cancer. We are also developing small molecule or RNA-based approaches to target splicing or the Six1/Eya complex as potential cancer therapeutics

Yuwen Zhu PhD

(He/Him)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Immunology
My research interest in cancer immunotherapy focuses on 1) identifying novel immune checkpoints, 2) characterizing pathways that limit intratumoral T cell infiltration.
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