Meet Our Students


Major Professor: 1st year rotations




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



Major Professor: 1st year rotations






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


Our lab focuses on understanding p53 and its family members (p63 and p73). We aim to understand the complexity of this gene family to potentially design targeted therapies for cancer patients harboring mutations in the p53 family of genes. My research is focused on identifying the roles of long non-coding RNAs (IncRNAs) whose expression is controlled by TAp63 (p63 isoform) and correlates with breast cancer evolution and tumor grade.

Major Professor: Elsa Flores, PhD




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

Daniel joined the Cancer Biology PhD program in 2020 in the Integrated Mathematical Oncology Department. He is using mathematical modeling to develop a Bayesian progression risk score, which predicts the probability that a patient will progress on treatment before their next scheduled visit.

Major Professor: Heiko Enderling, PhD, IMO



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



Major Professor: 1st year rotations




In the Gomes lab, we focus on how the aging process shapes the tumorigenic process. My research focuses on the role of circulatory changes in the aged host in modulating anti-cancer drug efficacy and therapy resistance.

Major Professor: Ana Gomes, PhD



My project focuses on improving efficacy of CAR-T cell therapies through the understanding of CD28 co-stimulatory signaling pathway.

Major Professor: Daniel Abate-Daga, PhD



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 better understand how TBK1 drives oncogenesis in non-small cell lung cancer. My interests are focused on combining novel therapeutic strategies to target solid tumors with immune system engagement to enhance treatment efficacy and prevent resistance.

Major Professor:  Srikumar Chellappan, PhD



Research Interests: Molecular oncology, Gene regulation

Major Professor:  Florian Karreth, PhD



no imageKristen

Major Professor: 1st year rotations




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

My research focuses on the evolution of resistance to targeted therapies in NSCLC. Specifically, I aim to develop mathematical and computational models to determine how this resistance emerges due to combinations of genetic and epigenetic factors, and how it can be prevented.

Major Professor: David Basanta, PhD




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 the development of mouse models to understand melanomagenesis.

Major Professor:  Florian Karreth, PhD



Major Professor: 1st year rotations



no imageNicol

Major Professor: 1st year rotations



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 


My project focuses on evaluating the efficacy of combining immune checkpoint inhibitors with cytotoxic agents to promote anti-tumor immunity in castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Major Professor: Brian Ruffell, PhD



My research focuses on the toxicities associated with CAR T cell therapy. CAR T cell administration to patients exacerbates their cytokine milieu that leads to the onset of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and immune cell-associated neurotoxicity (ICAN). My aim is to delineate the underlying mechanism behind these CAR T cell associated toxicities and explore the role of immune components such as regulatory T cells in this process.

Major Professor:  Marco Davila, MD, PhD

No image availablePragya

My research focuses on the role of inflammation in altering the sensitivity to targeted therapies.

Major Professor: Andriy Marusyk




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



no imageRanjini

Major Professor: 1st year rotations




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

no imageRobert

Major Professor: 1st year rotations



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



Major Professor: 1st year rotations





My research focuses on optimizing Adoptive Cell Therapy (ACT) with Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) for bladder cancer. I will be combining intravesical instillation of TIL with cancer vaccines, chemotherapy, and other techniques to improve TIL products and anti-tumor response.

Major Professor: Dr. Shari Pilon-Thomas



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




Major Professor: 1st year rotations





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

I am part of the Abate-Daga research group. Our team generates and studies genetically modified immune cells (CAR-T cells) that recognize and fight a variety of tumor cells. In particular, my research project focuses on gamma-delta T cells, a less common T cell subtype, that exhibit promising features for their implementation as adoptive cell therapies. We are investigating the cellular processes that distinguish gamma-delta T cells from other subtypes and modifying signaling pathways to optimize their antitumoral activity.

Major Professor: Daniel Abate-Daga, PhD