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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Current Fellows in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics

Meet current fellows in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics and learn more about our research training opportunities.

Fellows are organized by their PI mentors, with postdoctoral followed by postbaccalaureate.

AMUNDADOTTIR LAB

Lilly Gu, B.S. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Lilly Gu joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in August 2017 as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., investigator.  She graduated in August 2017 from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where she completed her B.S in biology and evolutionary anthropology. She previously worked in the laboratory of Dr. Soman Abraham at Duke University to identify and characterize novel compounds that are potent mast cell inhibitors. She was a summer intern in the laboratory of Dr. Ross Levine at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where she studied how constitutive Jak2 activity affects discrete myeloid cell types in the context of myeloproliferative neoplasms. She also worked as a summer intern in the laboratory of Dr. Kebin Liu at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, where she addressed how the chemotherapeutic agent, a ceramide analog LCL521, can increase the efficacy of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) immunotherapy. In LTG, Ms. Gu is currently working on finding functional variants at pancreatic risk loci and determining how they affect pancreatic cancer risk.

Ashley Jermusyk, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Ashley Jermusyk, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in March 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., investigator, LTG.  Dr. Jermusyk received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in 2016.  Her doctoral research, done in the laboratory of Dr. Greg Reeves, focused on developing new approaches for understanding gene regulation using the Drosophila melanogaster embryo.  Currently, her work focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms through which susceptibility variants identified by genome-wide studies (GWAS) influence the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Michael Esa Mobaraki, M.S. - Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Michael E. Mobaraki joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in June 2016 as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., investigator.  He graduated in May 2016 from The Catholic University of America where he completed his B.S in biology with a minor in chemistry, and an M.S in biotechnology. While in school, he worked in several molecular biology labs and one biophysical lab. He was also a summer intern at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  for two years, first under Dr. Chuxia Deng studying the autophagic pathway in breast cancer cells, and then under Dr. Kevin F. O'Connell studying mitotic division and genetics in C.elegans. Mr. Mobaraki is currently working with pancreatic cancer cells,  looking at transcription factors and proteins that could be regulating one another to enable development of pancreatic cancer. These transcription factors and proteins were identified prior via genome-wide association studies (GWAS).

Jun Zhong, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Jun Zhong, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in July 2017 as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., senior investigator. Dr. Zhong completed his Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (BIG, CAS) in 2014, and then stayed in BIG as assistant investigator until July 2017. While at BIG, he became skilled at the use of next-generation sequencing, single-molecule real-time sequencing technology (SMRT), and whole genome methylome sequencing. His research focused on pathogenic mechanisms of human infectious disease with pan-genome and epigenetic regulation analysis. His doctoral research focused primarily on whole genome sequencing (WGS) and resequencing analysis of industrial fungus and biomedical minipigs. In DCEG, he is studying inherited predisposition to pancreatic cancer and digging out common and rare risk variants identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS), sequence-based (WGS and transcriptome/TWAS) and other “Omic” technologies.

Scientific Publications - Jun Zhong

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BROWN LAB

Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow

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Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in October 2011 as a postdoctoral Cancer Research Training Award fellow in the lab of Kevin M. Brown, Ph.D., investigator, LTG. In the lab, Dr. Choi is currently working on the functional characterization of common and rare genetic variants contributing to melanoma susceptibility by following up recent genome-wide association studies and family re-sequencing work. Dr. Choi has a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where she pursued functional studies of autism-associated common genetic variants with Dr. James Millonig. She also has an M.S. in molecular biology from Korea University and a B.S. in biological sciences from Ewha Womans University, South Korea.

Scientific Publications - Jiyeon Choi

Lindsey Mehl, B.A. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

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Lindsey Mehl joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in August 2017 as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Kevin M. Brown, Ph.D., investigator. Ms. Mehl graduated from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in June 2017 with a B.A. in biological sciences with a focus in biochemistry and biophysics. She previously worked in Northwestern University’s Pathology Department studying the interface between chronic inflammation and tumor development and metastasis in the lab of Dr. Ronen Sumagin. There, she specifically explored the role of myeloperoxidase (MPO) in inhibiting wound healing during chronic inflammation as well as the role of miRNAs secreted by polymorphonuclear neutrophils in chromatin instability and tumor heterogeneity. Currently, she focuses on characterizing the function of melanoma susceptibility gene variants that were identified via genome-wide association studies.

Scientific Publications-Lindsey Mehl

Andrew Vu, B.S. - Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Andrew Vu joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in October 2016 as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Kevin M. Brown, Ph.D., investigator, LTG. Mr. Vu graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in biomolecular science in May 2016. He previously worked as a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Yossi Holoshitz at the University of Michigan to identify and characterize intracellular signaling pathways of the rheumatoid arthritis shared epitope. He also worked with the laboratory of Dr. Joseph M. Corey at the University of Michigan in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. There, he harvested and identified neuronal cells and glia with advanced growth and differentiation through the use of novel biomaterials with prospective utilization in rehabilitation after neurological injury. In LTG, Mr. Vu is working on characterizing the function of melanoma susceptibility genetic variants identified through genome-wide association studies.

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DEAN LAB

Moara Machado, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Moara Machado, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in October 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Michael Dean, Ph.D., chief and senior investigator, LTG. Prior to this, she served as a special volunteer at LTG for almost a year from May 2014. She received her Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, in July 2015. For her doctoral dissertation, done under the supervision of Dr. Eduardo Tarazona Santos, Dr. Machado studied the genomic diversity, natural selection patterns and deleterious mutations in different human populations. In the lab of Michael Dean, Ph.D., Chief, Dr. Machado is working on elucidating the genetic and evolutionary structure of Guatemalan population cohorts and is using her training in bioinformatics and population genetics to develop computational tools for analysis of data and understanding its association with pediatric cancer. She also focuses on studying regions of homozygosity (ROH) in the human genome to understand their role in the cancer risk. Some of her other projects include analysis of HPV genomics data to help understand association between ancestry and the risk of cervical cancer.

Scientific Publications - Moara Machado

Edmundo Torres Gonzalez, B.S. - Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Edmundo Torres Gonzalez joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) as a postbaccalaureate fellow in October 2016. Mr. Torres Gonzalez earned his B.S. in biology from the University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez in 2014. Working with Dr. Taras Oleksyk, his undergraduate research focused on sample collection and inherited disease risk in Puerto Rico.  He later worked with Dr. Marcia Cruz-Correa on colorectal tumor sample collection in studies of gastric cancer epidemiology in Puerto Rico. Mr. Torres Gonzalez is working in the lab of Michael Dean, Ph.D., Chief and senior investigator, LTG, to investigate inherited genetic variation and somatic mutations in tumors and their combined effect on cancer risk, focusing on cervical and breast cancer in Hispanic populations in the U.S. and Latin America.

PROKUNINA-OLSSON LAB

Abdul Rouf Banday, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Abdul Rouf Banday, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) as a postdoctoral fellow in February 2014 and was promoted to research fellow in May 2016. Dr. Banday received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of Kashmir, India, in 2006. He received his M.Sc. (2008) and Ph.D. (2012) degrees in biochemistry, with specialization in bioinformatics, from A.M. University, Aligarh, India. For his Ph.D., he used computational and molecular biology tools to study mechanisms of alternative splicing (AS) of mouse genome kinases. In 2009, he was awarded the Council of Scientific Industrial Research Junior Research Fellowship in India and a European Science Foundation summer school fellowship for training in bioinformatics at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Banday worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Rahul Kanadia at the University of Connecticut. He studied role of alternative splicing in mouse retinal development using both next-generation sequencing and cell biology approaches.

In LTG, Dr. Banday is working with Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D.,senior investigator. He is using computational and laboratory methods to explore underlying molecular mechanisms of genetic signals identified by GWAS for bladder cancer. During his time at NCI, Dr. Banday has received several awards including the NCI Director’s Innovation Award (career development), Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE), DCEG-FARE, AACR Scholar-in-Training Award, DCEG Intramural Research Award, and John Quale Travel Award from the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network.

Scientific Publications - Abdul Rouf Banday

Oscar Florez-Vargas, Ph.D., M.Sc. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Oscar Florez-Vargas, Ph.D., M.Sc., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2016. Dr. Florez-Vargas earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, in 2016, and his M.Sc. in biochemistry from the National University of Colombia in 2008. For his doctoral research, he developed computer-based strategies for reviewing biomedical scientific manuscript methods and predicting their reproducibility under the mentorship of Professors Andy Brass and Robert Stevens.  His master research focused on identifying microRNAs associated with pharmacologically-induced senescence in an in vitro model of melanoma. In LTG, Dr. Florez-Vargas is working with Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., senior investigator, on multiple genomic regions that have been associated via GWAS with increased risk of several cancers. He is involved in computational analysis of genotype-phenotype relationships to further evaluate the contribution of specific genomic regions, genes, and genetic variants to cancer phenotypes. Prior to joining LTG, Dr. Florez-Vargas was involved as a researcher in a number of studies examining genetic associations with infectious diseases and toxicological exposures in Colombia.

Scientific Publications-Oscar Florez-Vargas

Seraph Han-Yin Lin, B.M. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Seraph Lin joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in July 2017 as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., senior investigator. She earned her B.M. in piano performance with a minor in education from the University of California, Irvine in 2013, attended Pasadena City College from 2014–2017, and currently attends the University of Maryland, College Park, as a Science in the Evening (SIE) postbaccalaureate student. Ms. Lin first joined the Prokunina-Olsson lab in 2016 as a Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP) intern, where she worked on isoform specificity in APOBEC mutagenesis. She is currently investigating genome-wide association study (GWAS)-identified genomic regions associated with bladder cancer risk, and regulation of APOBEC mutagenesis in cancer.

Joselin Vargas, B.S. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Joselin Vargas joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) in June 2017 first as a summer intern through the NCI Introduction to Cancer Research Careers (ICRC) program, and then as a postbaccalaureate fellow in the laboratory of Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D, senior investigator. Ms. Vargas earned her B.S. in biology with a minor in leadership development from Stony Brook University, New York, in 2017. Working with Dr. Gerardo G. Mackenzie, she focused her undergraduate research on pancreatic cancer and performed in vitro testing of a novel drug alone and in combination with FDA-approved drugs. In 2014, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Ruel Desamero, where she identified the molar extinction coefficient and emission of phenylalanine amino acid derivatives to access the role of aromatic residues in driving amyloid formation. In the Prokunina-Olsson lab, Ms. Vargas is exploring a novel interferon (IFNL4) and its association with infection and cancer.

Fang Wang, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Fang Wang, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2015. Dr. Wang received her Ph.D. in pathobiology and molecular biology from Tianjin Medical University, China in 2011. Her doctoral research focused on the role and mechanisms of tumor-associated genes, including miRNAs, in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. In LTG, Dr. Wang is working under the mentorship of Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., senior investigator. She is involved in exploring genetic and functional connections of a novel interferon (IFNL4) with infection-associated cancers. She is also working on the molecular phenotypes of several regions that have recently been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer through genome-wide association studies (GWAS).

Scientific Publications – Fang Wang

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Learn about research training opportunities in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics.