Meet Our Students


My project focuses on the role of intratumoral dendritic cells in the anti-tumor immune response to solid tumors treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. 

Major Professor: Brian Ruffell, PhD



I'm interested in the genetic evolution of cancer and the impacts tumor heterogeneity has on disease initiation, progression and resistance in response to therapy.

Major Professor: Michael Mann, PhD



Mathematically, my interests lie in algebraic topology, specifically quiver theory and persistent homology. Biologically, my primary interests are in using ecological and evolutionary theory (broadly construed) to understand intratumoral dynamics and in using control theory to create optimal treatment protocols for cancer patients. I maintain strong secondary interests in theoretical ecology (particularly animal behavior and foraging theory) and in the use of ideas from string theory and surgery theory to gain insight into DNA folding.

Major Professor: Joel Brown, PhD


Major Professor: 1st year rotations




Emerging evidence shows that cancer associated fibroblasts can provide a strong protection against targeted therapies. However, how this protection impacts the ultimate clinical relapse remains unclear. My thesis work aims at resolving this puzzle! 

Major Professor: Andriy Marusyk, PhD


Given the large mutational burden of skin cancers and the increased infiltration of immune suppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment, combinatorial approaches may be needed to achieve optimal control of tumor growth. Repurposing existing non-cancer agents as cancer treatments offers a cost-efficient way to explore novel targetable molecular drivers and sensitize tumors to combinatorial and synergistic therapies. My thesis pioneer an investigation of the underappreciated immunomodulatory effect of an anti-diabetic drug as a tool to target MDSC accumulation and impair tumor progression in the context of non-melanoma skin malignancies.

Major ProfessorKenneth Tsai, PhD


Our wet lab's research falls under the broad umbrella of acidosis in cancer. My main focus is on better understanding how cells regulate glycolysis when faced with extracellular acidosis, how cancer cells adapt to the harsh selection pressure of acidosis, and how these may present a vulnerability to be exploited in the treatment of solid tumors.

Major ProfessorRobert Gillies, PhD

Carl PhD Student


My research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of B-cell/T-cell malignancies by chromatin modifier Special AT-Rich Sequence Binding Protein 1. I focus on chromatin confirmation, histone modification, mouse models, and epigenetic inhibitors.

Major Professor: José Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD



My research is focused on the MDSC immunosuppression can be altered by modulating fucose levels and how this will affect the outcome of immunotherapies in breast cancer.

Major Professor: Eric Lau, PhD



The Padron lab studies Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML). My project focuses on finding novel drug combinations that could help treat CMML and determining the mechanism that drives synergy in these combinations.

Major Professor: Eric Padron, MD


Daniel GDaniel

I am interested in developing practically identifiable mathematical models that can be used to forecast and predict tumor progression in the clinic.

Major Professor:  1st year rotations



Our lab investigates how post-translational modification of proteins with the plant sugar L-fucose (a.k.a., fucosylation) affects cancer biology.  My research focuses on how fucosylation in melanomas affects their interactions with immune cells.

Major Professor: Eric Lau, PhD


No image availableDevesh 

Major Professor: 1st year rotations




Research Interests: Immuno-oncology, T Cell Biology and CAR T-Cell Therapy

Major Professor: 1st year rotations



Elliott MedinaElliot 

Our lab uses structural biology, directed evolution, and protein engineering to explore how cells communicate with one another. My current interest is in how cell-cell communication gives rise to polarity within tissues, and how dysregulation of this can promote aberrant proliferation, invasiveness, and metastasis in cancer.

Major Professor: Vince Luca, PhD


My research focuses on bringing a novel strategy to target breast cancer brain metastasis by dissecting the role of fucosylated proteins secreted by brain met-associated fibroblasts.

Major Professor: Eric Lau, PhD



I am currently studying the role of autophagy and mitochondrial function in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). I am specifically focused on mitochondria originating danger associated molecular patterns that activate innate immune signaling and contribute to MDS pathogenesis.

Major Professor: Ken Wright, PhD


My research focuses on investigating oncogenic signaling pathways in melanoma and melanomagenesis using the ESC-GEMM platform

Major Professor:  Florian Karreth, PhD


Our lab studies how the transcription factor NRF2 impacts tumorigenesis and metabolic deregulation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer. My research uses genetically engineered mouse models to understand how NRF2’s negative regulator, KEAP1, affects NSCLC progression when mutated.

Major Professor: Gina DeNicola, PhD


My research focus involves investigating the role of  HDAC8 in the survival of B-Cell Lymphomas and to determine the mechanism of how HDAC8 regulates Natural Killer Cell antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity.

Major Professor:  Ken Wright, PhD



Research Interests:  Immuno-oncology, PI3K/Akt/NrP2 ARE, CAR T cells

Major Professor:  Paulo Rodriguez, PhD


Jie - RET studentJie 

My research focus on metabolism in myeloid cells and its role in promoting breast tumor therapeutic resistance.

Major Professor: Brian Ruffell, PhD



Research Interests: Cancer genetics and epigenetics; Liquid biopsies and biomarkers.

Major Professor: Liang Wang, PhD




My research aims to discover mechanisms underlying disease progression and resistance in Flt3-driven AML using Sleeping Beauty.

Major Professor:  Karen Mann, PhD



Research Interests: Molecular oncology, Gene regulation

Major Professor:  Florian Karreth, PhD




MacLean HallMacLean

My interests are in T cell immunotherapy for solid malignancies. In particular, I’m focused on improving adoptive cell transfer (ACT) of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) through manipulation of basic T cell biology.

Major Professor:  Shari Pilon-Thomas, PhD


No image availableMalgorzata

Major Professor:1st year rotations




My research focuses on skeletal cancer dormancy and possible mechanisms that regulate the switch from dormancy to cancer activation.

Major Professor: Conor Lynch, PhD



No image availableNada

Major Professor: 1st year rotations




I am interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying melanoma development and metastasis. I focus on signal transduction and development of mouse models to understand melanomagenesis.

Major Professor:  Florian Karreth, PhD


Nina ObertoppNina

My research aims to improve adoptive cell therapy using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) for head and neck cancer patients by using individualized radiotherapy in combination with immune-checkpoint inhibition.

Major Professor: Shari Pilon-Thomas, PhD



My research focus lies in unraveling the mechanism of HDAC inhibitors in preventing Osteosarcoma. Also, understanding molecular interactions involved in bone metastatic cancers. I focus on epigenetics, signal transduction, mouse models of cancer metastasis and cancer therapeutics. 

Major Professor: Conor Lynch, PhD


Recently, Follicle Stimulating Hormone Receptor (FSHR) was found to be expressed exclusively in almost all ovarian cancer subtypes. Targeting FSHR+ tumors with a newly developed Chimeric Endocrine Receptor (CER) T cell decreased tumor volume and extended life of mice in both PDX and solid tumor models. My project focuses on engineering and developing a new FSH-CER T cell that can withstand the harsh tumor microenvironment and outperform previous designs. My central hypothesis is that the TME is outcompeting FSH-CER T cells for nutrients resulting in T cell quiescence. I’m engineering CERs to outcompete cancer cells for nutrients or alternatively consume other nutrients within the tumor microenvironment.

Major Professor: Marco Davila, MD, PhD 


Research Interests: Cancer Immunotherapy, Dendritic Cell Vaccines and T Cell Therapy.

Major Professor: 1st year rotations



My research focuses on the role of long non-coding RNAs in tumor progression, specifically in Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). We are trying to determine the effect of these lncRNAs before and after modulation of TAP63 (tumor suppressive isoform of P63 gene), in presence of KRAS mutation, on immune regulation.

Major Professor:  Elsa Flores, PhD

No image availablePragya

Major Professor: 1st year rotations




Research Interests: cellular signaling pathways and post-translational modifications in cancer biology

Major Professor: Eric Lau, PhD




Research Interests: Drug Discovery

Major ProfessorUwe Rix, PhD




Research Interests: Mathematical Oncology

Major Professor:  Alexander Anderson, PhD




My research focuses on the immunological consequences of radiation, with the use of calibrated mathematical models of tumor growth and tumor - immune dynamics. Utilizing various theoretical analysis techniques and computational methods I will investigate whether harnessing these consequences could improve patient response to radiotherapy and immunotherapy.

Major Professor: Heiko Enderling, PhD

Sae Bom

My research focuses on exploring chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T- cell therapy to treat cancers. I focus on understanding of signal transduction triggered by CAR to ultimately design the efficient receptors with increased persistence and decreased exhaustion in in vivo models of cancer.

Major Professor: Marco Davila, MD, PhD



Research Interests: immune checkpoints, T-cell exhaustion, cell therapies, combination therapies 

Major Professor: 1st year rotations



Research Interests – Main focus is in drug discovery, and the development of small molecules for studying and modulating therapeutically relevant cancer targets.

Major Professor: Andrii Monastyrskyi, PhD



Research Interests:  Immunology

Major Professor: Paulo Rodriguez, PhD




Research Interests: Main focus is in drug discovery, protein engineering and structural biology in the field of cancer.

Major Professor: Vince Luca, PhD




My research focuses on understanding the effects of stress hormones in ovarian cancer initiation. 

Major Professor:  Alvaro Monteiro, PhD




Thomas is a PhD candidate interested in evolutionary game theory (EGT). His work combines EGT and single-cell sequencing to understand how cell-cell interactions shape population structure in gastric cancers. Before coming to Moffitt, Thomas completed his undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics at USF. With his PhD work, he hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how divergent populations within a tumor compete and cooperate while exposed to variable environments, such as DNA damaging therapies. 

Major Professor: Noemi Andor, PhD

No image availableXiomar

Major Professor: 1st year rotations