Graduate Student Profiles

Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Brooke Brauer

Brooke received her bachelor's from Wittenberg University in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Mathematics. She received the E. Lucile Smith Award for Excellence in Biochemistry in 2019.
Brooke is currently working on two projects. First, she is using mass spectrometry and phosphoproteomics to identify and characterize new substrates and interacting proteins of the protein phosphatase Calcineurin. In her second project, she hopes to use a phosphatase inhibitor bead assay that she developed to identify differences in phosphoprotein phosphatase expression in breast cancer subtypes. Brooke's hobbies include horseback riding, reading, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, Historical European Martial Arts, playing videogames, and she affectionately calls herself a professional plant mom.

Selected publications:
Brauer BL, Moon TM, Sheftic SR, Nasa I, Page R, Peti W, Kettenbach AN. Leveraging New Definitions of the LxVP SLiM To Discover Novel Calcineurin Regulators and Substrates. ACS Chem Biol. 2019 Dec 20;14(12):2672-2682. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.9b00606. Epub 2019 Nov 1. PMID: 31633908; PMCID: PMC6925343.

Traphagen NA, Hosford SR, Jiang A, Marotti JD, Brauer BL, Demidenko E, Miller TW. High estrogen receptor alpha activation confers resistance to estrogen deprivation and is required for therapeutic response to estrogen in breast cancer. Oncogene. 2021 May;40(19):3408-3421. doi: 10.1038/s41388-021-01782-w. Epub 2021 Apr 19. PMID: 33875787; PMCID: PMC8122072.

Brauer BL, Wiredu K, Mitchell S, Moorhead GB, Gerber SA, Kettenbach AN. Affinity-based profiling of endogenous Phosphoprotein Phosphatases by mass spectrometry. Nat Protoc. 2021 May; (Accepted).

Adrianna De La Torre

Adrianna received a bachelor's in science in Psychobiology from UCLA. She is a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) and has an Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31) for 2019-2021. She also received the Helmsley Charitable Trust Scholarship in 2019 from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and became an Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias (ADRD) Summit 2019 Trainee Travel Scholarship Fellow. Presently she is an EE Just Graduate Student Fellow (2015-present). Adrianna's work in the Chang lab is focused on developing nanoparticles to target cholesterol storage enzymes as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease [AD]. Thus far, she has optimized the nanoparticle composition and completed pharmacokinetic studies. Current work is focused on determining the therapeutic efficacy of these nanoparticles in an AD mouse model. In her free time, Adrianna likes hiking, cycling, crocheting and reading. 

Selected Publications:
Gilli, F, De La Torre, A, Royce, D,Pachner, A. "Interaction of Pegylated interferon-beta with antibodies to recombinant interferon-beta." International Immunopharmacology 62, 1-6 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2018.06.030. Epub 2018 Jun 27.  
Izquierdo, A, Pozos, H, De La Torre, A, DeShields S, Cevallos J, Rodriguez J, Stolyarova, A. "Sex differences, learning flexibility, and striatal dopamine D1 and D2 following adolescent drug exposure in rats." Behavioural Brain Research 308, 104-114 (2016). doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.04.028. Epub 2016 Apr 26. 

Tak Shun Fung

Tak Shun received a BEng (Chemical Engineering) from the National University of Singapore. He is a recipient of the 2019-2020 John H. Copenhaver, Jr. and William H. Thomas, MD 1952 Fellowship, at Dartmouth College. He is in the Higgs lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. Tak Shun is interested in understanding the relationship between actin dynamics and mitochondrial dynamics in mammalian cells. Recently, he found that there are two distinct actin filament populations with different effects on the mitochondria. The first is a calcium-induced actin assembly, mediated by an actin assembly factor called INF2, and results in mitochondrial fission. The second is a mitochondrial depolarization-induced actin assembly, governed by another actin assembly factor, Arp2/3 complex. Acute depolarization of the mitochondrion leads to rearrangements of the inner mitochondrial membrane and not mitochondrial fission, as previously thought. Tak Shun found that the rearrangements are mitochondrial protease OMA1-dependent. Furthermore, he discovered that actin assembly can protect the mitochondria from undergoing these rearrangements. He is currently determining other physiological roles of depolarization-induced actin assembly, especially in the domain of mitophagy and cellular metabolism. Tak Shun enjoys reading, listening to podcasts and running.

Selected publications:
Fung TS, Ji WK, Higgs HN and Chakrabarti R (2019) Two distinct actin filament populations have effects on mitochondria, with differences in stimuli and assembly factors. Journal of cell science, pp.jcs-234435. (PMID: 31413070)

A M, Fung TS, Francomacaro LM, Huynh T, Svindrych Z, and Higgs HN (2019) Regulation of INF2-mediated actin polymerization through site-specific lysine acetylation of actin itself. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dec 2019, 201914072; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.191407211 (PMID: 31871199)

A M, Fung TS, Kettenbach AN, Chakrabarti R, and Higgs HN (2019). A complex containing lysine-acetylated actin inhibits the formin INF2. Nature Cell Biology,21(5): 592-602 (PMID: 30962575)


Nicholas Gill

Nicholas received his B.A. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Hendrix College. He was appointed as a trainee for the MCB training grant, served as an elected student representative for the MCB Graduate Committee and was selected as a Fellow of the Albert J. Ryan Foundation. Nicholas is in the Madden lab in our Biochemistry and Cell biology department where he utilizes an array of biochemical, structural, and computational techniques to develop peptide- and small molecule-based inhibitors of CAL, a scaffolding protein implicated in the disease cystic fibrosis. Nicholas enjoys being outside with his wife and dog and spending time skiing.

Selected Publications:
Seisel Q, Rädisch M, Gill NP, Madden DR, Boisguerin P. (2017). Optimization of the process of inverted peptides (PIPEPLUS) to screen PDZ domain ligands. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 27, 3111–3116.

Holt GT, Jou JD, Gill NP, Lowegard AU, Martin JW, Madden DR, Donald BR. (2019). Computational analysis of energy landscapes reveals dynamic features that contribute to binding of inhibitors to CFTR-associated ligand. J. Phys. Chem "B". 123, 10441-10455.

Taylor Harned

Taylor received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Eckerd College. He is in the Chang lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. Taylor studies cholesterol metabolism in the context of Alzheimer's Disease. Using lipid biochemical techniques, he determines molecular responses to the inhibition of cholesterol metabolism enzyme ACAT1. By characterizing changes in cellular cholesterol distribution as well as bulk lipid metabolism, he aims to find the molecular drivers behind the benefits of ACAT1 inhibition as seen in Alzheimer's Disease models. Taylor's hobbies include all things outdoors with his dogs, with a special interest in fishing during the summer and skiing during the winter

Kenneth Mark

Graduating from the University of Washington, Kenneth received a B.S. in Biochemistry and minored in both Microbiology and Chemistry. Within the Supattapone laboratory in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology department, Kenneth's research revolves around using CRISPR-Cas9 genome-wide screens to identify novel regulators of organelle biogenesis and degradation. Not much is known about the cell biology of how organelles are made and degraded in a regulated fashion. Kenneth is also interested in answering other fundamental questions in cell biology including how mammalian cell size is regulated. Kenneth is currently President of the Dartmouth Graduate Consulting Group. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, listening to a lot of podcasts and trying to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist.

Selected publications:
Burke CM, Mark KMK, Walsh DJ, Noble GP, Steele AD, Diack AB, Manson JC, Watts JC, Supattapone S. Identification of a homology-independent linchpin domain controlling mouse and bank vole prion protein conversion. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Sep 8;16(9):e1008875. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008875. eCollection 2020 Sep.  

Chidawanyika T, Mark KMK, Supattapone S. A Genome-Wide CRISPR/Cas9 Screen Reveals that Riboflavin Regulates Hydrogen Peroxide Entry into HAP1 Cells. mBio. 2020 Aug 11;11(4):e01704-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01704-20.  

Mark KMK, Varn FS*, Ung MH, Qian F, Cheng C. The E2F4 prognostic signature predicts pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. BMC Cancer. 2017

Hieu Nguyen

Hieu received his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at University of New Hampshire. He is a recipient of the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship and received an MCB Mentorship Award. Hieu's thesis research in the Kettenbach lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology utilizes mass spectrometry to characterize substrate binding and dephosphorylation mechanisms for the major phosphatases PP1 and PP2A. Here in New Hampshire, Hieu enjoys everything it has to offer. In the summer, he likes to go hiking, camping, kayaking, hammocking, and swimming in the rivers and lakes that are abundant to area. In the winter, he is an avid cross-country skier. And year round he works out and sings.  In his downtime he enjoys video games, visiting new places and hanging out with friends.

Selected Publications:
Kruse, T, Gnosa, SP, Nasa, I, Garvanska, DH, Hein, JB, Nguyen, H, Samsøe-Petersen, J, Lopez-Mendez, B, Hertz, EPT, Schwarz, J, Pena, HS, Nikodemus, D, Kveiborg, M, Kettenbach, AN, Nilsson, J. Mechanisms of Site-Specific Dephosphorylation and Kinase Opposition Imposed by PP2A Regulatory Subunits. EMBO J. 2020 Jul 1;39(13):e103695. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019103695. Epub 2020 May 13.
Williams, TL, Senft, SL, Yeo, J, Martin-Martinez, FJ, Kuzirian, AM, Martin, CA, DiBona, CW, Chen, CT, Dinneen, SR, Nguyen, HT, Gomes, CM, Rosenthal, JC, MacManes, MD, Chu, F, Buehler, MJ, Hanlon, RT, Deravi, L. Dynamic Pigmentary and Structural Coloration within Cephalopod Chromatophore Organs. Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 1;10(1):1004. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08891-x.

Melissa Parks

Melissa is a graduate of University of New Hampshire where she majored in Biology.  She is in our Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program as a member of the Compton lab. Melissa studies how chromosomes move and correct errors to ensure proper cell division. Using live-cell and fluorescence microscopy she focuses on trying to understand the relationship between chromosome movement and segregation accuracy, and if powering chromosomes to move is actually directly related to how they divide so accurately. Melissa was born and raised in New Hampshire and enjoys hiking. The whites are a second home to her.  She has finished all 48 of the "4000-footer" mountains. She also enjoys skiing, camping, running, and swimming.

Colin Sheehan

Colin is a graduate of Colby College with a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics. He is a recipient of the 2019 Northeast Regional IDeA Conference Travel Award, is an Albert J. Ryan Foundation Fellow, and has been appointed to the Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Training Grant. Colin is in Madden lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. Collin's thesis research uses a multi-disciplinary approach to define the connection between Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence factor CFTR inhibitory factor (Cif) epoxide hydrolysis and dysregulated trafficking of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Colin is also an outdoor enthusiast with no off season. He enjoys hiking, running, and biking in the warmer months; and he downhill skis and snowshoes in the winter. He is also a "beer snob" or at least that's how his friends describe him. He likes visiting new craft breweries that are abundant here in New England and is also one of the leaders of the Graduate Student Homebrewers Guild.

Kali Smolen

Kali is a Michigan native who received her Bachelor's in Cell and Molecular Biology from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. As an MD-PhD student at Dartmouth, she conducts research in the lab of Dr. Arminja Kettenbach in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology (BCB) Department. She studies the regulation of phosphatases in biochemical pathways. More specifically, her work focuses on the regulation of B56, a family of regulatory subunits of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and the role of the PP2A-B56 holoenzyme in the DNA damage response via its signaling through Oxidative Resistance 1 (OXR1). When not in lab, Kali enjoys road and mountain biking, backcountry skiing, riding her horse named Gucci, growing vegetables, cooking without recipes, and trail running in the mountains.

Selected Publications:
Papke CM, Smolen KA, Swingle MR, Cressey L, Heng RA, Toporsian M, Deng L, Hagen J, Shen Y, Chung WK, Kettenbach AN,
Honkanen RE (2021). A disorder-related variant (E420K) of a PP2A-regulatory subunit (PPP2R5D) causes constitutively active
AKT-mTOR signaling and uncoordinated cell growth. J Biol Chem:100313. PMCID: PMC7952134

Curtis BN, Smolen KA, Barlow SJ, Caselli E, Prati F, Taracila MA, Bonomo RA, Wallar BJ, Powers RA (2020). Structural Insights
into Inhibition of the Acinetobacter-Derived Cephalosporinase ADC-7 by Ceftazidime and Its Boronic Acid Transition State
Analog. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 64(12). PMCID: PMC7674067

Caselli E, Fini F, Introvigne ML, Stucchi M, Taracila MA, Fish ER, Smolen KA, Rather PN, Powers RA, Wallar BJ, Bonomo RA, Prati
F (2020). 1,2,3-Triazolylmethaneboronate: A Structure Activity Relationship Study of a Class of beta-Lactamase Inhibitors
against Acinetobacter baumannii Cephalosporinase. ACS Infect Dis 6(7):1965-1975. PMCID: PMC7458062
Caselli E, Romagnoli C, Powers RA, Taracila MA, Bouza AA, Swanson HC, Smolen KA, Fini F, Wallar BJ, Bonomo RA, Prati F
(2018). Inhibition of Acinetobacter-Derived Cephalosporinase: Exploring the Carboxylate Recognition Site Using Novel beta
Lactamase Inhibitors. ACS Infect Dis 4(3):337-348. PMCID: PMC5987196

Bouza AA, Swanson HC, Smolen KA, VanDine AL, Taracila MA, Romagnoli C, Caselli E, Prati F, Bonomo RA, Powers RA, Wallar BJ
(2018). Structure-Based Analysis of Boronic Acids as Inhibitors of Acinetobacter-Derived Cephalosporinase-7, a Unique Class C
beta-Lactamase.ACS Infect Dis 4(3):325-336. PMCID: PMC5981863

Sarah Valles

Sarah attended UC Irvine in her home state of California and graduated with a degree in Biology. Due to her interest in outreach, she was selected as a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) graduate mentor for the 2019-2020 school year. She is a member of the Compton Lab in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program, where they study chromosome segregation mechanisms in mitosis. Using quantitative microscopy, Sarah studies the mitotic kinase Bub1 to understand how phosphorylation at CDK1 target sites can impact its functional role as a mitotic regulator. In her spare time, she enjoys brunch with friends and their pups, watching rom-coms and anime, sharing memes, and practicing yoga.

Amanda Ya

Amanda received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Merced. She works with Duane Compton and Kristina Godek in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. Her thesis work focuses on uncovering the differences in the developmental potential between aneuploid and diploid human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). A surprisingly high percentage of embryos from IVF clinics are defined as "mosaic" and are comprised of a mixed population of aneuploid and diploid cells as a result of chromosome segregation errors during mitosis. However, mosaic embryos can still result in a successful live birth. What happens to the aneuploid embryonic cells during human development remains unknown. Using hESCs as a model system, Amanda aims to investigate the developmental potential and fate of aneuploid cells in competition with diploid cells. Amanda loves being outside and getting sunshine whenever she can. She enjoys working in her garden, taking walks with her dogs, and cooking a good meal together with friends.

Biological Science

Jiayang Chen

Jiayang earned a BS degree in Biological Science from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
She is from the He Lab in the Biological Sciences department where she studies tissue morphogenesis in early Drosophila embryos. Jiayang is particularly interested in understanding the regulation of non-muscle myosin II during Drosophila cleavage, which is achieved through a special cytokinesis called cellularization. Jiayang seeks to understand how a novel gene dunk regulates myosin molecularly during early cellularization. She identified anillin as the primary binding partner of Dunk that functions to regulate early myosin recruitment. Her work identified the important function of anillin in regulating the basal myosin network and revealed how fly embryos make use of the cytokinesis machinery to achieve a special form of cleavage. Her hobbies include reading books, travel, cooking, and watching anime.

Wei Chen

Majoring in Biology, Wei received his Bachelor's degree from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. As an MCB student in the He lab he studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of tissue morphogenesis using Drosophila as a model system. Specifically, he is fascinated by how cells regulate intracellular trafficking in response to mechanical forces. Wei examines a process called ventral furrow formation in early Drosophila embryo, during which a group of mesoderm precursor cells undergo apical constriction and invaginate to form a furrow. His work identified a mechanosensitive feedback mechanism involving actomyosin contractility-mediated apical constriction and Rab11-mediated intracellular trafficking. This mechanism ensures an efficient apical constriction. Wei also studies how exocytosis facilitates the cell shape changes especially changes in cell surface area in response to apical constriction during ventral furrow formation. In his free time, Wei appreciates a good game of ping pong.

Lauren Panzera

Lauren studied Molecular Biology at California State University Channel Islands. Here at Dartmouth, she is in the Hoppa lab in the Department of Biological Sciences.  In her research, Lauren uses optogenetics to study how ion channels and their auxiliary subunits regulate neurotransmission. She is currently focused on a volage-gated potassium channel that acts as a tether and scaffolds the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane in neurons. Lauren spends her summers running or biking and her winters knitting and painting.
Selected Publications:
Cho IH, Panzera LC, Chin M, Alpizar SA, Olveda, GE, Hill, RA, & Hoppa, MB. (2020). The potassium channel subunit Kvβ1 serves as a major control point for synaptic facilitation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.2020 Nov 24;117(47):29937-29947. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000790117. Epub 2020 Nov 9.  117(47), 29937-29947.
Cho IH, Panzera LC, Chin M, and Hoppa MB. Sodium Channel β2 Subunits Prevent Action Potential Propagation Failures at Axonal Branch Points. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 Sep 27;37(39), 9519-9533. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0891-17.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 4. 

Nabila Riaz

Nabila received a B.S. in Biology from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan, in 2015.  She also received a Master's degree in Plant Sciences from the University of Bonn, Germany in 2017. Currently, she is an Ambassador to the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) program and a recipient of the American Society of Plant biology (ASPB) travel grant award.              
In our Biological Sciences Ph.D. program, Nabila is a graduate student in Mary Lou Guerinot's lab studying the regulation of Iron (Fe) homeostasis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Fe is an essential micronutrient for both plants and animals and is used in many biochemical processes. In humans, Fe deficiency causes anemia, the most prevalent nutritional disorder. Most people rely on plant-based foods as their major Fe source, but plants are poor source of dietary Fe. Nabila hopes that her research can clarify the molecular mechanisms regulating Fe homeostasis to improve global crop production. Outside Lab, she enjoys kayaking, hiking and baking cakes.

Selected publications:
Riaz N, Guerinot ML. All together now: regulation of the iron deficiency response. J Exp Bot. 2021 Mar 17;72(6):2045-2055. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erab003. PMID: 33449088; PMCID: PMC7966950.


Benjamin Wucher

Ben actually claims espresso as one of his hobbies, so you know he is bringing an intensity to all that he does. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology with Honors in Research. He is a recipient of the GANN Fellowship, a Gilman Fellowship from the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship. In the Nadell lab, he studies the ecological interactions between bacterial biofilms and their natural predators. Specifically, he is interested in how biofilm architecture and spatial structure protect biofilms from the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Ben also spends time mountain biking, backcountry skiing and rock climbing.

Selected Publications:
Wucher, BR, Bartlett, TM, Hoyos, M, Papenfort K, Persat, A, Nadell, CD. Vibrio Cholerae Filamentation Promotes Chitin Surface Attachment at the Expense of Competition in Biofilms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2019 Jul 9;116(28):14216-14221. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1819016116. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Wucher, BR, Elsayed, M, Adelman, JS, Kadouri, DE, Nadell, CD. Predation by Bdellovibrio Bacteriovorus Transforms the Landscape and Community Assembly of Bacterial Biofilms.| bioRxiv.

Microbiology and Immunology

Leena Abdullah

Leena hails from Pakistan where she received her bachelor's degree in Biology from Lahore University of Management Sciences. There she graduated with high distinction receiving a Gold Medal award. Leena's research focuses on the development of T cells which are a crucial component of the adaptive immune system. She is a third year Microbiology and Immunology student and Burroughs Wellcome fellow in the Huang lab and works on understanding how lymphoid progenitor cells commit to the T cell fate in the thymus (the primary lymphoid organ for T cell maturation).  Leena is a big fan of Horror and Marvel movies and also enjoys listening to music. 

Selected Publications:
Abdullah L, Hills LB, Winter EB, Huang YH. Diverse Roles of Akt in T cells. Immunometabolism. 2021;3(1):e210007. doi:10.20900/immunometab20210007  

Hills LB, Abdullah L, Lust HE, Degefu H, Huang YH. Foxo1 Serine 209 Is a Critical Regulatory Site of CD8T Cell Differentiation and Survival. J Immunol. 2021;206(1):89-100. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.2000216

Iara Backes

After receiving her Associates degree from Miami Dade College, Iara pursued a Bachelor's degree from the University of Florida majoring in Chemistry, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Her current focus is conducting pre-clinical studies on prevention of neonatal herpes simplex virus associated disease by understanding the underlying mechanism of antibody protection. Her advisors are David Leib and Margaret Ackerman in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Her hobbies include kayaking, dancing, cooking, baking, crafts and any shade of gold eyeshadow! Iara is a proud Latina! Born in Lima, Perú and raised in Miami. ¡Que viva Perú!

Selected publications:
Chu TH, Crowley AR, Backes I, Chang C, Tay M, Broge T, Tuyishime M, Ferrari G, Seaman MS, Richardson SI, Tomaras GD, Alter G, Leib D, Ackerman ME. Hinge length contributes to the phagocytic activity of HIV-specific IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Feb 24;16(2):e1008083. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008083. eCollection 2020 Feb.

Patel CD, Backes IM, Taylor SA, Jiang Y, Marchant A, Pesola JM, Coen DM, Knipe DM, Ackerman ME, Leib DA. Maternal immunization confers protection against neonatal herpes simplex mortality and behavioral morbidity. Sci Transl Med. 2019 Apr 10;11(487):eaau6039. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6039.

Jiang Y, Patel CD, Manivanh R, North B, Backes IM, Posner DA, Gilli F, Pachner AR, Nguyen LN, Leib DA. Maternal Antiviral Immunoglobulin Accumulates in Neural Tissue of Neonates to Prevent HSV Neurological Disease. mBio. 2017 Jul 5;8(4):e00678-17. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00678-17.

Erdos B, Backes I, McCowan ML, Hayward LF, Scheuer DA. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates angiotensin signaling in the hypothalamus to increase blood pressure in rats. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2015 Mar 15;308(6):H612-22. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00776.2014. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Rajan Bhandari

Rajan graduated from St. Olaf College with a major in Biology.  He is in the Pioli lab in our Microbiology and Immunology department and his research revolves around investigating the role of macrophages in the pathogenesis of a rare autoimmune disease called Systemic Sclerosis. Rajan uses human-derived cells and mice to study the mechanism of aberrant regulation of macrophages in this disease. He ultimately wants to therapeutically alter macrophages to ameliorate or eliminate the disease. Rajan likes to hike and also enjoys fermentation.

Selected publications:
Bhandari R, Ball MS, Martyanov V, Popovich D, Schaafsma E, Han S, ElTanbouly M, Orzechowski NM, Carns M, Arroyo E, Aren K, Hinchcliff M, Whitfield ML, Pioli PA. Profibrotic Activation of Human Macrophages in Systemic Sclerosis. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020 Jul;72(7):1160-1169.

Ball MS, Bhandari R, Torres GM, Martyanov V, ElTanbouly MA, Archambault K, Whitfield ML, Liby KT, Pioli PA. CDDO-Me Alters the Tumor Microenvironment in Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer. Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 16;10(1):6560.

DaCrema D, Bhandari R, Karanja F, Yano R, Halme A. Ecdysone regulates the Drosophila imaginal disc epithelial barrier, determining the length of regeneration checkpoint delay. Development. 2021 Mar 19;148(6):dev195057.

Savannah Butler

Savannah graduated from The College of William and Mary with a BS in Biology. Afterwards she received an MS in Immunology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Here at Darmouth, she has been awarded the Ph.D. Innovation Fellowship for 2018-2022, an Immunology Training Grant position in 2018-2020, and the MCB Fellowship Award in 2017. Savannah is a member of the Ackerman in the Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. program. Her research focus is on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell engineering and monoclonal antibody drug development. This is done primarily through directed evolution to improve recognition of natural receptors towards tumor antigens. She has also contributed to the characterization of the humoral immune response towards SARS-CoV-2.  Her hobbies include animals, traveling, skiing, running and every kind of biking.

Selected Publications:
Butler SE, Brog RA, Chang CH, Sentman CL, Huang YH, Ackerman ME. Engineering a natural ligand-based CAR: directed evolution of the stress-receptor NKp30. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2021 May 27. doi: 10.1007/s00262-021-02971-y. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34046711.

Natarajan H, Crowley AR, Butler SE, Xu S, Weiner JA, Bloch EM, Littlefield K, Wieland-Alter W, Connor RI, Wright PF, Benner SE, Bonny TS, Laeyendecker O, Sullivan D, Shoham S, Quinn TC, Larman HB, Casadevall A, Pekosz A, Redd AD, Tobian AAR, Ackerman ME. Markers of Polyfunctional SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Convalescent Plasma. mBio. 2021 Apr 20;12(2):e00765-21. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00765-21. PMID: 33879585; PMCID: PMC8092262.

Butler SE, Crowley AR, Natarajan H, Xu S, Weiner JA, Bobak CA, Mattox DE, Lee J, Wieland-Alter W, Connor RI, Wright PF, Ackerman ME. Distinct Features and Functions of Systemic and Mucosal Humoral Immunity Among SARS-CoV-2 Convalescent Individuals. Front Immunol. 2021 Jan 28;11:618685. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.618685. PMID: 33584712; PMCID: PMC7876222.


Stacey Ceron

Stacey obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Drew University where she double majored in Biology and French with a minor in Public Health. She obtained a Master's degree in Microbiology from Wagner College. At Dartmouth her doctoral research in the Leib lab within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms utilized by herpes simplex virus (HSV) to evade the immune response. She characterized a potential therapeutic agent for HSV encephalitis, investigated the neuronal innate immune response during latency and reactivation, and tested clinical isolates of HSV-2 in a neonatal murine model. One of her favorite things to do is hike within the White Mountain National Forest. Along with her dog, they have hiked all 48 of the tallest peaks in NH including Mount Washington (tallest mountain in the Northeast). She also loves rock climbing, skiing, and paddle-boarding on the Connecticut River.

Selected Publications:
Ceron S, Katzenell S, Pesola JM, Canova PN, North BJ, Coen DM, Leib D. Herpes Simplex Virus ICP34.5 Negates IRF -3/7 Mediated Immunity to Stimulate Reactivation in Neurons. Manuscript in preparation.  

Ceron, S, North, BJ, Taylor, SA, Leib, DA. The STING Agonist 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) Stimulates an Antiviral State and Protects Mice Against Herpes Simplex Virus-Induced Neurological Disease. Virology, 2019 Mar;529:23–28. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.01.006. Epub 2019 Jan 6.

Georgia Doing

Georgia is a graduate of Bard College where she double majored in Biology and Computer Science. In the lab of Dr. Deborah Hogan in the Microbiology and Immunology department, she investigates gene expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans in order to better understand how interactions between the two microbes affect infection. She has collaborated with Dr. Casey Greene's lab at The University of Colorado Anschutz to develop a machine learning model of gene expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Georgia uses this model for both hypothesis-generating analyses and hypothesis-testing experiments. Georgia is continuing to expand this project to more deeply analyze microbial gene expression. Doing puzzles, walking around the Quechee Gorge and Ottauquehcee trails or losing herself in a good sci-fi or fantasy novel such as the Wheel of Time series is how she spends her free time.

Selected Publications:
Lee AJ, Park Y, Doing G, Hogan DA, Greene CS. Correcting for experiment-specific variability in expression compendia can remove underlying signals. Gigascience. 2020 Nov 3;9(11):giaa117. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giaa117. PMID:33140829; PMCID: PMC7607552.

Doing G, Koeppen K, Occipinti P, Harty CE, Hogan DA. Conditional antagonism in co-cultures of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans: An intersection of ethanol and phosphate signaling distilled from dual-seq transcriptomics. PLoS Genet. 2020 Aug 19;16(8):e1008783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008783. PMID:32813693; PMCID: PMC7480860.

Harty CE, Martins D, Doing G, Mould DL, Clay ME, Occhipinti P, Nguyen D,Hogan DA. Ethanol Stimulates Trehalose Production through a SpoT-DksA-AlgU-Dependent Pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J Bacteriol. 2019 May22;201(12):e00794-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00794-18. PMID: 30936375; PMCID:PMC6531624.

Bettina AM, Doing G, O'Brien K, Perron GG, Jude BA. Draft Genome Sequences of Phenotypically Distinct Janthinobacterium sp. Isolates Cultured from the Hudson Valley Watershed. Genome Announc. 2018 Jan 18;6(3):e01426-17. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.01426-17. PMID: 29348334; PMCID: PMC5773719.

Tan J, Doing G, Lewis KA, Price CE, Chen KM, Cady KC, Perchuk B, Laub MT, Hogan DA, Greene CS. Unsupervised Extraction of Stable Expression Signatures from Public Compendia with an Ensemble of Neural Networks. Cell Syst. 2017 Jul 26;5(1):63-71.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2017.06.003. Epub 2017 Jul 12. PMID: 28711280; PMCID: PMC5532071.

Joshua Kerkaert

After graduating from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a B.S. in Microbiology, Joshua's academic path brought him to Dartmouth where he is a member of the Cramer lab in the Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. program. He was awarded the Ronald K. Taylor Memorial Scholarship in 2019 and appointed to the NIH T32 Molecular Pathogenesis Training Grant in 2018-2020. Josh's current research in the Cramer lab focuses on the interplay between metabolism, biofilm formation, and antifungal drug resistance in the pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. He made the surprising finding that alanine metabolism is critical for resistance of biofilms to the echinocandin class of antifungals via regulation of cell wall and extracellular matrix polysaccharides during biofilm formation. Josh enjoys mountain biking, hiking, skiing, brewing beer and playing board games.

Selected publications:
Kerkaert, J. D., Le Mauff, F., Wucher, B. R., Beattie, S. R., Vesely, E. M., Sheppard, D. C., Nadell, C. D., and Cramer, R. A. (2021) An Alanine Aminotransferase is Required for Polysaccharide Regulation and Resistance of Aspergillus fumigatus Biofilms to Echinocandin Treatment. In Review. Preprint available on BioRxiv:   

Kowalski, C. H., Kerkaert, J. D., Liu, K. W., Bond, M. C., Hartmann, R., Nadell, C. D., Stajich, J. E., & Cramer, R. A. (2019). Fungal biofilm morphology impacts hypoxia fitness and disease progression. Nature Microbiology.

Jones, J. T., Liu, K.-W., Wang, X., Kowalski, C. H., Ross, B. S., Mills, K. A. M., Kerkaert, J. D., Hohl, T. M., Lofgren, L. A., Stajich, J. E., Obar, J. J., & Cramer, R. A. (2021). Strain specific persistence in the murine lung of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia causes an Allergic Broncho-Pulmonary Aspergillosis-like disease phenotype. mSphere.

Molecular & Systems Biology

Sumyuktha Anand

Sumy graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a BS in Neuroscience. When asked for a few sentences on her research, Sumy detailed how she has managed a research project studying social interaction in same sex mice to understand reward circuits and how it promotes social behavior using fiber photometry measurements, has also conducted experiments to measure impulsivity as a means to study cognitive impairment in mice via 5-choice serial reaction time test to understand personality disorders and has additionally managed a research project to lower breathing rate of mice through plethysmography experiments while optogenetic implants excited the dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area. She enjoys Indian classical dance, baking, travelling to explore new places and architecture, visiting antique stores and reading.

Meredith S. Brown

Graduating with Honors from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Molecular Biology, Meredith is pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular and Systems Biology in the Raman lab where she studies the role of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal transition (EMT), a cell developmental process that is frequently hijacked by cancer cells, in tumor progression and metastasis. She is particularly interested in how EMT contributes to tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer, and how that might affect patient prognosis. In her free time, Meredith takes full advantage of what the Hanover area has to offer including skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. And we should mention she's also great at cooking and baking.

Selected Publications:
Ognjenovic NB, Bagheri M, Mohamed GA, Xu K, Chen Y, Saleem MAM, Brown MS, Nagaraj SH, Muller KE, Gerber, SA, Christensen BC, Pattabiraman DR. Limiting Self-Renewal of the Basal Compartment Induces Differentiation and Alters Evolution of Mammary Tumors. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 7;55(5):544-557.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Paolella BR, Gibson WJ, Urbanski LM, Alberta JA, Zack TI, Bandopadhayay P, Nichols CA, Agarwalla PK, Brown MS, Lamothe R, Yu Y, Choi PS, Obeng EA, Heckl D, Wei G, Wang B, Tsherniak, A, Vazquez F, Weir BA, Root, DE, Crowley GS, Buhrlage, S, Stiles CD, Ebert BL, Hahn WC, Reed R, Beroukhim R. Copy-Number and Gene Dependency Analysis Reveals Partial Copy Loss of Wild-Type SF3B1 as a Novel Cancer Vulnerability. Elife. 2017 Feb 8;6:e23268. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23268.

Somer Matar

Somer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Keene State College. Before joining MCB, she worked in biotech for four years identifying blood biomarkers. She is an ASCP Board Certified Technologist in Molecular Biology. In the Leach Lab, Somer's research focuses on elucidating the clonal dynamics of metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma using a zebrafish model. Outside the lab, Somer enjoys rock climbing, collecting house plants and cooking.

Selected publications:
Matar S, Malczewska A, Oberg K, Bodei L, Aslanian H, Lewczuk-Myślicka A, Filosso PL, Suarez AL, Kolasińska-Ćwikła A, Roffinella M, Kos-Kudła B, Ćwikła JB, Drozdov IA, Kidd M, Modlin IM. Blood Chromogranin A Is Not Effective as a Biomarker for Diagnosis or Management of Bronchopulmonary Neuroendocrine Tumors/Neoplasms. Neuroendocrinology. 2020;110(3-4):185-197. doi: 10.1159/000500202. Epub 2019 Apr 16. PMID: 30995665; PMCID: PMC7472424.

Kidd M, Drozdov IA, Matar S, Gurunlian N, Ferranti NJ, Malczewska A, Bennett P, Bodei L, Modlin IM. Utility of a ready-to-use PCR system for neuroendocrine tumor diagnosis. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 27;14(6):e0218592. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218592. PMID: 31247038; PMCID: PMC6597157.

Malczewska A, Kidd M, Matar S, Kos-Kudla B, Modlin IM. A Comprehensive Assessment of the Role of miRNAs as Biomarkers in Gastroenteropancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors. Neuroendocrinology. 2018;107(1):73-90. doi: 10.1159/000487326. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29566385.

Juan Mercado Del Valle

A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Juan earned a bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Currently he is a Graduate Diversity Fellow of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, a RISE scholar and a Ryan Fellow studying in the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology. In the Gerber lab, Juan uses the auxin-inducible degron (AID) technology as a means to rapidly and specifically degrade endogenously degron-tagged Plk2, in conjunction with quantitative phosphoproteomics to identify potential substrates of Plk2 and decipher its signaling in basic biology and disease. Outside the lab, Juan follows economic news and can be found playing board games.

Selected Publications:
Quesada O, Gonzalez-Freire, C, Ferrer M, Colon-Saez J, Fernandez-Garcia E, Mercado J, Davila A, Morales R, Lasalde-Dominicci  JA. Uncovering the Lipidic Basis for the Preparation of Functional Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Detergent Complexes for Structural Studies. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 19;6:32766. doi: 10.1038/srep32766

Gadisti Aisha Mohamed

A graduate of National University of Singapore, Aisha received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Life Sciences, specializing in Molecular and Cell Biology. She then attended Queen Mary University of London and was awarded a Master of Science, with distinction, in Molecular Pathology and Genomics. Here at Dartmouth, Aisha is in the Molecular & Systems Biology PhD program in the Pattabiraman lab studying intra-tumoral heterogeneity, which is the presence of multiple different subpopulation of cells within the same tumor. She is determining how cellular heterogeneity affects tumor growth, tumor metastasis, and response to treatment. Aisha is particularly interested in determining which kinds of cells within a normal mammary gland give rise to heterogeneity in breast cancer. Aisha loves to read scifi/fantasy/alternate history books, solving puzzles and cooking.
Selected publications:
Ognjenovic NB, Bagheri M, Mohamed GA, Xu K, Chen Y, Mohamed Saleem MA, Brown MS, Nagaraj SH, Muller KE, Gerber SA, Christensen BC, Pattabiraman DR. Limiting Self-Renewal of the Basal Compartment by PKA Activation Induces Differentiation and Alters the Evolution of Mammary Tumors. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 7;55(5):544-557.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Oct 28.  
Shabaneh TB, Molodtsov AK, Steinberg SM, Zhang P, Torres GM, Mohamed GA, Boni A, Curiel TJ, Angeles CV, Turk MJ. Oncogenic BRAFV600E Governs Regulatory T-cell Recruitment during Melanoma Tumorigenesis. Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 1;78(17):5038-5049. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0365. Epub 2018 Jul 19. 

Dillon Popovich

Dillon has a Biochemistry Bachelor's degree with a minor in Chemistry from Stony Brook University where he graduated cum laude. Dillon conducts research in the Whitfield Lab on Systemic sclerosis (SSc), a rare autoimmune disease characterized by fibrosis of the skin and other internal organs.  Using computational methods, he works to determine which possible perturbagens can alleviate the dysregulation of gene expression profiles associated with the disease.  Currently, multiple perturbagens are being tested in primary 3D tissue models of SSc with highly promising results. Dillon likes to stay healthy by spending time in the gym and having been inspired by Master Chef, he is teaching himself to cook many of the different dishes and cuisines from the show.

Rachel Saxe

Rachel majored in Biology at Tufts University where she received the Thomas Harrison and Emily Leonard Carmichael Prize Scholarship in 2019. As a member of the McKenna lab, Rachel's research focuses on using dynamic lineage tracing and next-generation sequencing to track clonal evolution of cancer in response to treatment. Her overarching goal is to understand how selective pressure from cancer therapeutics can change disease landscapes.  Rachel's hobbies include art and hiking.

Elizabethlauren Stevenson

Lizzy graduated magna cum laude from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, and majored in Molecular Biology in the Oxbridge Honors Program. She ran both cross country and track and field for Jewell. After a gap year working at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, she joined the Molecular and Systems Biology Ph.D. program at Dartmouth, where she's currently a grad student in the Dunlap-Loros lab. The lab studies the molecular mechanism behind circadian rhythms. Lizzy utilizes both human tissue culture cells as well as the filamentous fungus N. crassa. In both systems, she investigates the role of phosphorylation in regulating different aspects of the molecular clock. Outside of lab, she loves to explore the beautiful Upper Valley by hiking, running, and skiing.

Kamran Tariq

Kamran started in MCB graduate program at Dartmouth in 2017 and joined the Luikart Lab in the Summer of 2018. Born and raised in Pakistan, Kamran received his BS in Biotechnology from FC College and MS in Biology from LUMS in Lahore, Pakistan. Kamran's current project involves identifying proteins that rescue PTEN-dependent changes in neurons in a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kamran utilizes in vivo molecular manipulations with viral vectors, transgenic mouse models and advanced microscopy techniques to find new targets for autism therapy. In 2019, Kamran was awarded a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship by Autism Speaks Foundation and is also a recipient of a 2020 Albert J. Ryan fellowship in recognition of his performance in courses, research talent, and participation in scientific community.
In his spare time, Kamran loves to hike in the majestic White Mountains, and cook desi food whilst listening to music from his homeland.

Tamar R. Wheeler

Tamar received a Bachelor's degree from The University of Vermont in Biochemistry. She was a Burrough's Wellcome Big Data in the Life Sciences Fellow from 2018 - 2019, and received the Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award in 2019. She is a member of the Whitfield lab in the Molecular and Systems Biology PhD program, conducting research on Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), a multisystem autoimmune disease with higher prevalence in African Americans. Tamar's goal is to identify disease-relevant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in African American patients. She utilizes novel 3-dimensional (3D) skin-like SSc tissues built from patient-derived fibroblasts and Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq) to identify differential chromatin accessibility within actively transcribed regions. She also seek to better understand the epigenomic landscape of SSc fibroblasts by utilizing single cell ATAC-seq in more complex 3D cultures containing several disease-relevant cell types. Tamar also enjoys hiking, dancing and cooking.

Selected publications:
Rumora, AE, Ferris, LA, Wheeler, TR, Kelm, R. Jr. Electrostatic and Hydrophobic Interactions Mediate Single-Stranded DNA Recognition and Acta2 Repression by Purine-Rich Element Binding Protein B. Biochemistry. 2016 May 17;55(19): 2794-805. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00006.

Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Ji-Qing Chen

Ji-Qing obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, majoring in Entomology. He then furthered his academic studies by receiving a Master of Medical Degree in Toxicology. Ji-Qing is in the Cancer Biology PhD program and works in the Christensen lab. His interest is in exploring the association between epigenetics and outcomes in cancer patients. He is particularly interested in investigating whether methylation-derived immune cell profiles could be biomarkers for tumor recurrence of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. In his spare time, Ji-Qing plays the drums.  

Selected Publications:
Hung WY, Chang JH, Cheng Y, Chen CK, Chen JQ, Hua KT, Cheng CW, Hsiao M, Chung CL, Lee WJ, Chien MH. Leukocyte Cell-Derived Chemotaxin 2 Retards Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Progression Through Antagonizing MET and EGFR Activities. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;51(1):337-355. doi: 10.1159/000495233. Epub 2018 Nov 19.  
Petersen CL, Chen JQ, Salas LA, Christensen BC. Altered Immune Phenotype and DNA Methylation in Panic Disorder. Clin Epigenetics. 2020 Nov 18;12(1):177. doi: 10.1186/s13148-020-00972-9. 

Luke Deary

Luke is a graduate of Washington and Lee University. He received a BS degree in Biology with a Classics minor. In our Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program, Luke is a member of the Wang lab in the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. He studies the role of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes in maintenance of intestinal stem cell identity and their loss of function in colorectal cancers. His hobbies include skiing, hiking and guitar.

Selected Publications:
Carlone DL, Riba-Wolman RD, Deary LT, Tovaglieri A, Jiang L, Ambruzs DM, Mead BE, Shah MS, Lengner CJ, Jaenisch R, Breault DT. Telomerase expression marks transitional growth-associated skeletal progenitor/stem cells. Stem Cells. 2021 Mar;39(3):296-305. doi: 10.1002/stem.3318. Epub 2021 Jan 13. PMID: 33438789.
Richmond CA, Shah MS, Deary LT, Trotier DC, Thomas H, Ambruzs DM, Jiang L, Whiles BB, Rickner HD, Montgomery RK, Tovaglieri A, Carlone DL, Breault DT. Dormant Intestinal Stem Cells Are Regulated by PTEN and Nutritional Status. Cell Rep. 2015 Dec 22;13(11):2403-2411. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.11.035. Epub 2015 Dec 10. PMID: 26686631; PMCID: PMC4691543.

Yichen Feng

Yichen received a Bachelor of Science from ShanghaiTech University in China, majoring in Biological Sciences. During his undergrad he attended an exchange program at UC Berkeley. Here at Dartmouth, Yichen is in our Norris Cotton Cancer program and is a member of the Samkoe lab. He is applying Paired-Agent Imaging to conduct receptor occupancy measurements in tumors in vivo. This project will help to determine the percentage of receptors being occupied by drugs used to treat cancer. Given that the therapeutic effect is proportional to the number of drug-occupied receptors, this new technique may have the potential to both determine safe dosages for clinical trials and determine precise dosing for personalized cancer treatment. In his spare time, Yichen is a collector of vintage fountain pens and mineral specimens.

John Hinds

John is a graduate of Northeastern University and has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He is an Albert J. Ryan fellow in the Cole lab in our Cancer Biology PhD program. John studies the proto-oncogene and transcription factor MYC, one of the most commonly dysregulated genes in cancer.  As a result of dysregulation, MYC activity is often upregulated in cancer.  While many mechanisms of MYC activation have been described, such as translocation and gene amplification, how genetic mutations in the MYC coding sequence affect Myc activity in cancer is not as well understood. To that end, he investigates the functional impact of a recurrent substitution in MYC, S146L, and how that may influence MYC's oncogenic activity. John's hobbies include mountain biking, hiking, camping, skiing – generally anything outdoors.

Selected Publications:
Feris EJ, Hinds JW, Cole MD. (2019) Formation of a structurally-stable conformation by the intrinsically disordered MYC:TRRAP complex. PLoS ONE, 14(12): e0225784

Shee K, Yang W, Hinds JW, […], Miller TW. (2018) Therapeutically targeting tumor microenvironment–mediated drug resistance in estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 215(3): 895-910.

Jordan Fredriksen Isaacs

Jordan majored in Neuroscience and minored in Economics at Smith College.  Jordan is in the Cancer biology (CANB) program as a member of the Gaur lab. She has been working on a novel estrogen receptor beta agonist, developed by Dr. Glenn Micalizio, in the Department of Chemistry at Dartmouth. For her thesis project, Jordan is currently studying the effects of this compound on pre-clinical patient-derived models of glioma in addition to characterizing the effects on inflammatory signaling. She received the 'Best Poster' award at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Scientific Retreat in January 2020, and 'Best Poster' at the Molecular Cell Biology Recruitment Poster Session in January 2021. She is a recipient the $20,000 DIAC-DRIVEN Project Advancement Award. Most recently, In April 2021, she co-led with Dr. Arti Gaur and Divya Ravi a team that was awarded $300,000 in the inaugural year of the Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer (DIAC). Her research is focused on establishing the therapeutic role of estrogen receptors in glioma as well as understanding the immune-modulatory effects on the tumor microenvironment. Jordan was a two-year captain of a NCAA Division 3 Soccer Team and received the New England Men and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Academic All-Conference Award from 2015-2018 and received the All Conference Sportsmanship Award in 2018. She still very much enjoys soccer, participated on the Dartmouth Women's Club Soccer Team and was an assistant coach to the Hanover High School Girls Soccer Team in 2019. She is on the executive board of the biotechnology club and in her free time she loves cooking and spending time with my her little sisters!

Min Kyung Lee

Min graduated from Baruch College – City University of New York where she created an ad hoc major in Environmental Pharmacology. In parallel to her Ph.D. dissertation research in the Cancer Biology Ph.D. program, she is also pursuing a concurrent Master's degree in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences.  She was an NSF DIFUSE fellow in 2020. Min's research is focused on understanding genetic and epigenetic alterations that occur in disease, particularly in the pediatric central nervous system, both at the tissue and single cell level. Her hobbies include travelling and finding new restaurants to try.

Selected publications:
 Lee MK*, Armstrong DA*, Hazlett, Dessaint JA, Mellinger DL, Aridgides DS, Christensen BC, Ashare, A. Exposure to extracellular vesicles from Pseudomonas aeruginosa result in loss of DNA methylation at enhancer and DNase hypersensitive site regions in lung macrophages. Epigenetics, 2020.
PMID: 33380271
Armstrong DA*, Lee MK*, Hazlett HF, Dessaint JA, Mellinger DL, Aridgides DS, Hendricks GM, Moemen AKA, Christensen BC, Ashare A. Extracellular vesicles from Pseudomonas aeruginosa suppress numerous MHC-related molecules in lung macrophages. Immunohorizons, 2020.
PMID: 32819967


Alexandra Massa

Alexandra is a graduate of Stonehill College and received a BS in Neuroscience and BA in Chemistry. She is a member of the Leach lab in the Cancer Biology Ph.D. program, a Dartmouth Ph.D. Innovation Fellow, a member of the Student Leadership Board for Dartmouth's Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, and a Venture Fellow at Borealis Ventures. Her research focuses on the expression and regulation of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are sequences of past viral infections that have become fixed in vertebrate genomes. Specifically, she is interested in how ERV dysregulation impacts the host immune system in disease states such as cancer and autoimmunity.  Alexandra's hobbies include snowboarding, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Selected publications:

Dhara S, Chhangawala S, Chintalapudi H, Askan G, Aveson V, Massa AL, Zhang L, Torres D, Makohon-Moore AP, Lecomte N, Melchor JP, Bermeo J, Cardenas A 3rd, Sinha S, Glassman D, Nicolle R, Moffitt R, Yu KH, Leppanen S, Laderman S, Curry B, Gui J, Balachandran VP, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Chandwani R, Leslie CS, Leach SD. Pancreatic cancer prognosis is predicted by an ATAC-array technology for assessing chromatin accessibility. Nat Commun. 2021 May 24;12(1):3044. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23237-2.

Porichis F, Hart M, Massa A, Everett H, Morou A, Richard J, Veillette M, Hassan M, Ngoc N, Freeman G, Finzi A, Kaufmann D. Immune checkpoint blockade restores HIV-specific CD4 T cell help for NK cells. Journal of Immunology. June 22, 2018, ji1701551; doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701551.

Neumeyer AM, O'Rourke JA, Massa A, Lee H, Lawson EA, McDougle CJ, Misra M. Brief report: bone fractures in children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. March 2015; 45:881-7. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2228-1

Bianca Romo

Bianca is a graduate of St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX. She is an Ernest Everett Just Liftoff Fellow in the Miller lab within the Cancer Biology Ph.D. Program. Breast cancer is treated with anti-endocrine therapies, but a consequence of such therapies is the development of resistance. Her research goal is to identify the interactome of estrogen receptor alpha (ER) when this resistance occurs so as to identify potential therapeutic targets. Bianca enjoys photographing nature, Middle Eastern Dance, Reading, and Digital Art.

Selected Publications:
Schwartz G, Shee K, Romo B, Marotti J, Kisselev A, Lewis L, Miller T. 2021 Phase 1B Study of the Oral Proteasome Inhibitor Ixazomib (MLN9708) and Fulvestrant in Advanced ER+ Breast Cancer Progressing on Fulvestrant.  Oncologist. 2021 Feb 28. doi:10.1002/onco.13733. Online ahead of print.

Steven Tau

A graduate of the University of Rochester with a Chemical Engineering degree, Steven is an MD-PhD student in the Miller lab in the Cancer Biology PhD program. Adjuvant endocrine therapy has been successful in the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer, but recurrences occur in ~1/3 of patients and most become metastatic. Recurrence is caused by drug-tolerant persister cancer cells (DTPs) that are able to survive even after years of endocrine therapy. The work in the Miller lab has found that metabolic reprogramming characterized by increased mitochondrial content, OXPHOS flux, and altered redox status. We are evaluating the tractability of targeting metabolic reprogramming as a method of eliminating DTPs. Steven's hobbies include running, hiking the Whites, cycling, skiing, gardening, and reading.

Nicole Traphagen

Nicole received her B.S. in Biomolecular Science with Honors and Great Distinction from Clarkson University in 2014. Currently she is in Todd Miller's lab working towards a Cancer Biology Ph.D. She was awarded an NIH F31 predoctoral fellowship. Her research focuses on the mechanisms through which breast cancer cells acquire resistance to anti-estrogen therapy. Using this insight, her lab hopes to develop novel treatment strategies for anti-estrogen resistant disease. Nicole is specifically interested in the use of estrogens to treat anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. When not in the lab Nicole enjoys hiking with her dog, reading and snowboarding.

Selected Publications:
Traphagen NA, Hosford SR, Jiang A, Marotti JD, Brauer BL, Demidenko E, Miller TW. High Estrogen Receptor Alpha Activation Confers Resistance to Estrogen Deprivation and is Required for Therapeutic Response to Estrogen in Breast Cancer. [Under review]

Traphagen N, Tian Z, Allen-Gipson D. Chronic Ethanol Exposure: Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Disease and Dysfunction. Biomolecules. 2015 Oct 20;5(4):2840-53. doi: 10.3390/biom5042840.