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Forty-five new members join DF/HCC

Forty-five individuals have recently joined DF/HCC. See below to learn more about these scientists and their research interests.



Reza Abdi, MD (BWH)
Cancer Immunology

Research focus: The lab focuses on identifying antigen dependent and independent factors which may result in development and progression of chronic renal allograft dysfunction. They research the roles of chemokines in the pathogenesis of allograft rejection, ischemia renal injuries and diabetes, and are planning to carry out novel approaches to study the role of chemokines in allograftrejection.


Andrew Bellizzi, MD (BWH)
Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: The lab conducts clinical and translational research in gastrointestinal, pancreatobiliary, and head and neck pathology, with major research interests being the diagnosis, classification, and pathobiology of disease. Belizzi’s research in the luminal GI tract has centered on the serrated pathway of neoplasia and the closely related DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system, and is currently exploring the effects of neoadjuvant therapy and tissue fixation on the variability of MMR protein detection (by IHC) in colorectal cancer. Current work in pancreatobiliary pathology focuses on the delineation of prognostic and predictive factors, especially in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and mucin-producing cystic neoplasms.

Lois Biener, PhD (UMB)
Biostatistics; Cancer Epidemiology

Research focus: Biener has been involved in research evaluating tobacco control interventions for over twenty years, with a focus on the impact of media, marketing and policy interventions on smoking behavior of adults and youth. Her work was one of the original investigations to isolate and discuss the importance of emotional content as a factor contributing to the effectiveness of anti-tobacco television advertisements. Biener has particular expertise in the design and implementation of population surveys, having directed multiple surveys of Massachusetts residents regarding the state’s Tobacco Control Program, and having contributed to the design and evaluation of several national tobacco control surveys.


David Boruta II, MD (MGH)
Gynecologic Cancer

Research focus: Boruta’s clinical and research focus is the development and incorporation of minimally invasive surgical techniques within gynecologic oncology.


Kenneth Campbell, PhD (UMB)
Cancer Cell Biology; Cancer Imaging

Research focus: The lab is focused on defining the physiological factors giving rise to inter-population variations in realized fertility in humans and the development of tools for assessments of these factors. This work has helped found the discipline of Human Reproductive Ecology which also includes examination of factors that link diet and disease status to such pertinent phenomena as birth seasonality, male endocrine function, and female conceptive loss. Exploration of the reproductive biology of a captive prosimian has expanded applications of our methods beyond humans.

Nika Danial, PhD (DFCI)
Cancer Cell Biology; Lymphoma and Myeloma

Research focus: The primary focus of the lab is to delineate cellular energy and nutrient sensing pathways, including metabolic checkpoints that integrate cellular bioenergetics and cellular responses to stress, including the decision to undergo apoptosis. They employ a multi-disciplinary approach that draws on mouse genetics, mitochondrial physiology, shRNA library screens, chemical biology and proteomics to identify key mechanisms that determine the cell’s choice of energy substrates and thereby modulate cellular stress responses. The ultimate goal of this integrated approach is to uncover potential therapeutic targets in order to manipulate cellular energy metabolism in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegeneration.

Gaudenz Danuser, PhD (HMS)
Cancer Cell Biology

Research focus: The lab studies how chemical and mechanical signals regulate cytoskeleton organization and dynamics in cell migration and cell division, with the research driven by the idea that we should “watch” pathways in as close to a physiological condition as possible, and that interdependency between the pathway components should be reconstructed from the co-variation in their activities over time, space, and repeated experiments. To this end, the lab develops quantitative live cell microscopy to measure the coordination of activities that contribute to regulating cytoskeleton dynamics.


Thomas DeLaney, MD (MGH)

Research focus: Major areas of research activity are in development and conduct of clinical trials in the management of localized sarcomas of bone and soft tissue. This includes the development and testing of innovative radiation therapy treatment approaches including charged particle radiation, interdigitated chemoradiation, and novel brachytherapy applicators, often in conjunction with surgery.


Eric Ding, ScD (BWH)
Cancer Epidemiology; Cancer Risk and Disparities

Research focus: The lab primarily focuses on obesity and nutritional risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, as well as translation of research for population-wide prevention. Ding’s research also encompasses social network effects on health, population nutrition, global disease burdens, and nutritional risk factors for chronic diseases.

Aymen Elfiky, MD, MPH (DFCI)
Cancer Survivorship; Prostate Cancer

Research focus: The focus of the lab is translational and clinical research to identify the mechanisms of immune response and tumor resistance as well as the design of novel Phase II immunotherapy trials based on understanding the mechanisms identified to more appropriately treat patients. A parallel research focus is identifying and addressing the host of genetic, biological, and social factors which come to impact on cancer patients' responses to specific therapies and their post-therapy quality of life measures as it relates to cancer and survivorship disparities and equities.

Heather Eliassen, ScD (BWH)
Breast Cancer; Cancer Epidemiology

Research focus: The lab focuses on the associations between lifestyle factors, endogenous hormones and other biomarkers, and breast cancer risk. In Eliassen’s investigation of lifestyle factors, she has examined the role of statin lipid-lowering drugs, tubal sterilization, weight change, aspirin, NSAID, sex steroid hormone levels, and plasma hormone levels. Combining her interests in preventive factors and biomarkers, Eliassen is currently investigating plasma carotenoids, oxidative stress, and breast cancer risk.

Wendy Garrett, MD, PhD (HSPH)
Cancer Immunology; Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: The Garrett lab’s focus is on the interplay between the innate immune system and intestinal microbial communities. They aim to unravel the function of myeloid cells and the microbiota in chronic intestinal inflammation and to understand the role of inflammation in carcinogenesis.

Rani George, MD, PhD, MRCP (DFCI)
Cancer Genetics; Neuro-Oncology

Research focus: The lab’s work focuses primarily on two aspects of the pediatric solid tumor neuroblastoma: identifying molecular targets that can be translated into novel therapies and understanding the perturbations that occur during development to drive neuroblastoma initiation and progression. They recently discovered activating, small-molecule inhibitor-sensitive somatic mutations in the ALK tyrosine kinase in primary tumors.


Stacy Wang Gray, MD (DFCI)
Lung Cancer; Outcomes Research

Research focus: The research is focused on understanding how population-level communication influences the diffusion and adoption of cancer technologies. The current research program aims to explore the relationship between information dissemination and the use of personalized cancer care, with the goal of understanding if and how knowledge and uncertainty contribute to variations in care and designing targeted communication interventions to optimize the appropriate use of personalized cancer care.


Laura Hayman, PhD, RN (UMB)
Cancer Epidemiology

Research focus: The program of research has focused on primary prevention of obesity and cardiometabolic risk in children, adolescents, and families from diverse populations by conducting interdisciplinary, epidemiological/observational studies of bio-behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular/cardiometabolic conditions in multi-generational families. Central to this research is the development of healthy lifestyle behaviors that cross-cut chronic conditions (i.e., smoke free lifestyle, healthy patterns of dietary intake, and physical activity) and multi-component interventions designed to modify unhealthy behaviors.


Aditi Hazra, PhD (HSPH)
Breast Cancer; Cancer Epidemiology

Research focus: The research program focuses on genetic and epigenetic susceptibility to cancer in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, by utilizing considerable expertise in large-scale genetic epidemiology and genome-wide association studies on modifiable quantitative biomarkers such as plasma one-carbon metabolites. Current research goal is to examine the association between prospective intake of dietary nutrients in the folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism pathway, alcohol, and multivitamins in relation to tissue marker expression of histone methylation markers and breast cancer specific mortality.

Michaela Higgins, MB BCh (MGH)
Breast Cancer; Cancer Genetics

Research focus: Clinical research focus is on the use of novel therapies for the treatment of early and advanced breast cancer with the goal of overcoming resistance to standard therapies.


Mai Hoang, MD (MGH)
Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma

Research focus: Clinical research is centered on reporting diagnostic pitfalls and the utility of immunohistochemistry in diagnostic pathology. The lab has identified inhibin alpha, a single marker, as powerful a discriminator as a full immunohistochemical panel in distinguishing hemangioblastoma from metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Their first work with cytokeratin (CK) 15 demonstrated that it is a good discriminator between microcystic adnexal carcinoma and its histologic mimics.


Jacob Hooker, PhD (MGH)
Cancer Imaging

Research focus: The lab’s research is providing new tools for translational research, specifically, new chemical reactions for the construction of novel medical imaging agents (PET radiotracers and MRI contrast agents) -- tools being used to explore human physiology and drug interactions in the human brain. A key goal of the research is to expand the use of PET in research and clinical neuroscience, and develop radiotracers that have broad applicability to many diseases. The research team has a particular interest in the development of radiotracers that will enable visualization of epigenetic machinery.

Tiffany Horng, PhD (HSPH)
Cancer Immunology

Research focus: The lab’s focus is on the molecular basis of inflammation, in particular in its chronic state. They seek to identify the molecular signals that activate inflammation in non-infectious contexts and the inflammatory pathways that are engaged. They aim to understand how these pathways intersect with other pathways for stress adaptation, how they become dysregulated, and how they contribute to pathology in various settings of disease.

Benjamin Humphreys, MD, PhD (BWH)
Sarcoma; Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials

Research focus: This translational research lab investigates the mechanisms of kidney injury and repair using the mouse model system. A particular focus is the role of the hedgehog signaling pathway in kidney homeostasis and injury. Humphreys’ clinical focus is kidney disease associated with cancer, and investigating the mechanisms of targeted therapy-induced kidney toxicity in humans, including hypertension and proteinuria.

Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, PhD, APRN-BC (UMB)
Cancer Risk and Disparities

Research focus: Major research interests are patient-provider communication in oncology care and survivorship including methodologies, patient outcomes, disparities in communication, and educational initiatives to improve communication outcomes. Recent research includes sequential analysis of patient-provider communication when exploring psychosocial concerns, particularly distress and anxiety.

Arati Khanna-Gupta, MSc, PhD (BWH)
Cancer Genetics; Leukemia

Research focus: The lab has focused on gaining an understanding of the role played by transcription factors in mediating the expression of genes that are expressed in the neutrophil maturation pathway. Previous studies from the lab have demonstrated defects in mRNA expression of secondary granule protein (SGP) genes and defensins in induced leukemic cell lines, in primary leukemic cells (AML), in myelodysplasia (MDS) and in a rare inherited disorder termed Specific granule deficiency (SGD). These observations supported the hypothesis that neutrophil SGP gene expression is regulated at the level of transcription. We have therefore sought to elucidate the molecular basis for SGD both to provide insight into the regulation of normal neutrophil specific gene expression and as an entry point for the study of transcriptional dysregulation in premalignant and malignant myeloid disorders. Ongoing studies have begun to identify the molecular pathways affected as a result of the ribosomal stress caused by ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency.

Suzanne Leveille, RN, PhD (UMB)
Outcomes Research

Research focus: Research areas include primary care interventions to improve chronic illness care and epidemiology of aging with an emphasis on chronic pain and disability. Leveille is currently leading a population-based study of pain and falls in elders living in the Boston area and is continuing to investigate new approaches to enhance self-management of chronic conditions among patients in primary care through use of the patient-doctor internet portal.


Wendy London, PhD (CHB)

Research focus: London’s research is focused on neuroblastoma, prognostic stratification, and statistical methodological research in the design of clinical trials.


Weidong Lu, MB, PhD, MPH (DFCI)
Gynecologic Cancer; Head and Neck Cancer

Research focus: Investigates the effects of acupuncture administered during myelosuppressive chemotherapy on white blood cell (WBC) count and absolute neutrophil count (ANC) in ovarian cancer patients, resulting in observation of clinically relevant trends of higher WBC values during one cycle of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients, which suggests a potential myeloprotective effect of acupuncture.


Jennifer Mack, MD, MPH (DFCI)
Outcomes Research; Palliative Care

Research focus: Primary research interest is medical communication, focused on communication of the diagnosis of cancer with parents and children with cancer; prognosis communication between parents, physicians, and children with cancer; prognosis communication in advanced cancer between patients (adult and pediatric) and physicians; the outcomes of medical communication in the adult and pediatric settings; decision-making at diagnosis and in advanced cancer among adult and pediatric patients; and racial and socioeconomic disparities in communication and the effects of those disparities on care.

Anuj Mahindra, MD (MGH)
Lymphoma and Myeloma

Research focus: Mahindra is interested is in the design and conduct of clinical trials of novel therapies in Multiple Myeloma and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia. One focus is to improve outcomes in the older population with multiple myeloma; the lab is pursuing this project by designing a clinical trial using a combination of an immunomodulatory agent and a proteasome inhibitor in newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma. There is an ongoing interest in CDK inhibitors, which have been validated preclinically and will be translated to phase I/II clinical studies for relapsed/refractory myeloma. Another area of interest is the study of epigenetic modulators and the role of epigenetic changes in the evolution of the disease; the lab is collaborating on studies to optimize the role of high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma in the era of novel agents and to better understand the long term complications of these therapies.

Christos Mantzoros, MD, ScD (HMS)
Prostate Cancer

Research focus: Active basic and clinical research program focuses are on insulin resistance and adipokine epidemiology and biology. Basic research efforts utilize genomics-bioinformatics, animal physiology and molecular biology studies to elucidate the role of new molecules important in obesity and its complications, including diabetes and malignancies. Current translational/laboratory investigations focus on the role of adipocyte secreted hormones, including leptin and adiponectin as well as their downstream effectors, on energy homeostasis and metabolic abnormalities including obesity, diabetes and its complications, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Thomas Michel, MD, PhD (BWH)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis

Research focus: The lab uses biochemical and cell biological approaches to explore signal transduction pathways in the cells and tissues of the cardiovascular system, with a particular focus on studying nitric oxide synthase pathways in endothelial cells and cardiac myocytes and their alterations in disease states.


Kenneth Miller, MD (DFCI)
Cancer Survivorship

Research focus: Miller’s research interests include the natural history of cancer survivorship or “seasons of survivorship” including the experience of very long-term survivors and those who are "living with cancer"; testing different models of survivorship care delivery; and studying the late and long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.


Mizuki Nishino, MD (DFCI)
Cancer Imaging; Lung Cancer

Research focus: Nishino is an active participant in research studies on: tumor size, volume and CT attenuation coefficient in women with adenocarcinoma of the lung; FDG-PET/CT as a predictive marker of tumor response and outcome in patients with non-small cell lung cancer; and tumor response to therapy with a novel perfusion analysis technique using 3T MRI. Also working on developing new methods of diagnosis and treatment for thymic neoplasm and establishing a practice guideline for patients in collaboration with other experts in surgery, oncology and pathology.


Masatake Osawa, PhD (MGH)
Cancer Cell Biology; Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma

Research focus: The ultimate goal of Osawa’s research is to clarify the molecular and cellular basis of adult stem cell regulation. To achieve this goal, the lab is focusing on melanocyte stem cells as a model system to study stem cell biology. Melanocyte stem cells offer an advantageous model by which to elucidate the molecular basis of stem cell regulation since genetic alterations in this system are easily identifiable by the resulting hair pigmentary phenotypes. Hence, by integrating melanocyte-specific in vivo gene manipulation approaches and subsequent pigmentary phenotype analysis, the melanocyte stem cell system can be utilized to identify key molecules that function during stem cell regulation. The accumulation of such data could potentially reveal an entire molecular network underlying the regulation of stem cells. This would not only contribute significantly to the understanding of stem cell biology, but also provide valuable insights into possible future medical applications of stem cells. Using a melanocyte-specific transgenesis approach in the mouse, the lab is currently investigating how these molecular networks participate in stem cell regulation.


William Richards, PhD (BWH)
Lung Cancer

Research focus: Research interests are neuronal control of esophageal peristalsis and molecular prognosis, classification and staging of lung cancer and mesothelioma, and biospecimen science.

Peter Sadow, MD, PhD (MGH)
Cancer Genetics; Head and Neck Cancer

Research focus: Sadow has focused on endocrine diseases, specifically thyroid hormone receptor signaling. Currently focusing on ENT (ear, nose throat), GU (genitourinary) and endocrine pathology. Research activities have focused on translational studies aimed at understanding malignant potential of endocrine neoplasms.


Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, MPP (CHB)
Cancer Risk and Disparities

Research focus: Schuster conducts research primarily on child, adolescent, and family issues, including: family leave, children with chronic illness, adolescent sexual health, and child and adolescent obesity. Currently leading NIH-funded studies seeking to: examine the impact of paid family medical leave on families of children with chronic illness; develop and evaluate a worksite-based parenting program for parents of adolescents to learn communication skills and foster healthy sexual development and sexual risk prevention; partner with school districts to develop and evaluate an intervention to promote healthy eating and physical activity among 7th graders; and develop a center for community partnered research to improve child health.


Sunita Setlur, PhD (BWH)
Cancer Genetics; Prostate Cancer

Research focus: Interests include understanding the molecular pathways that lead to cancer development and progression. Current research is focused on studying the influence of germline copy number variations in the development of solid tumors (prostate, ovarian) and understanding the mechanisms by which these copy number variants exert their effects.

Elena Stoffel, MD, MPH (BWH)
Cancer Genetics; Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: The lab researches hereditary cancer syndromes and the early detection and prevention of gastrointestinal cancer. Through the research in hereditary gastrointestinal cancers, they examine genetic and behavioral factors which influence individuals’ cancer risk and work to develop interventions for risk reduction. Through multicenter cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of individuals with familial cancer syndromes, they aim to identify factors which influence cancer screening behaviors and examine genotype/phenotype correlations in patients who have a 70-80% lifetime risk of colorectal cancer in the absence of medical intervention.


Meera Subramaniam, MD (CHB)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis; Lung Cancer

Research focus: The lab’s research focus is better understanding the biological role of MMP-8 (an interstitial collagenase highly expressed by polymorphonuclear leukocytes) in OB, since increased levels of MMP-8 (neutrophil collagenase) have been reported in OB. Research has shown that MMP-8 promotes migration of PMNs through the collagen-rich matrix in a mouse heterotopic airway transplant model of OB, and suggests that MMP-8 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of OB.


Ryan Sullivan, MD (BIDMC)
Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma; Head and Neck Cancer

Research focus: Main areas of interest are the development of novel molecular therapeutic agents for Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and malignant melanoma and the translation of promising preclinical findings into early stage clinical trials. He is actively investigating promising biomarkers of response and benefit to immunotherapy and molecular targeted therapy for patients with melanoma.

Patricia Sylla, MD (MGH)
Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: The lab’s work is focused on minimally invasive surgical approaches to rectal cancer and NOTES (Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery). Specifically, the research program is developing a transanal endoscopic approach to rectal cancer and has demonstrated the feasibility of this approach in a swine survival model, human cadavers, and one clinical case.

Dimitrios Tzachanis, MD, PhD (HMS)
Lymphoma and Myeloma

Research focus: Tzachanis’ clinical and research focus is hematologic malignancies, bone marrow transplantation, lymphoma and immunotherapy. Specifically his current research entails examining the immunomodulatory molecule lenalidomide in patients who relapse after an allogeneic stem cell transplantation, and working to develop a dendritic cell vaccine for patients with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.


Sushrut Waikar, MD, MPH (BWH)
Cancer Epidemiology; Cancer Survivorship

Research focus: Research interests are acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease, with particular focus on novel biomarkers of cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity.


Linda Wang, MD, JD (BWH)
Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma

Research focus: The Wang lab’s research is focused on studying Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) with the goal of developing tools to identify high risk MCC patients at an early stage and to target genetic mutations that may correlate with MCC progression and mortality and, once identified, might allow for more directed and personalized therapies.

Brian Wolpin, MD, MPH (DFCI)
Cancer Epidemiology; Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: The research program focuses on the investigation of risk factors, biomarkers, and novel therapeutics for gastrointestinal malignancies, with a particular focus on colorectal and pancreatic cancer. The dominant component of the research program is dedicated to the investigation of novel risk factors and biomarkers (diet, plasma factors, and germline genetic heterogeneity) for pancreatic cancer.