Xianzhi (Andrew) Lin, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Xianzhi (Andrew) Lin is a self-declared RNA enthusiast! Andrew received his diploma in Bioengineering from the Kunming University of Science and Technology in 2004 and a PhD in Microbiology from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2012. Before joining Lawrenson lab in the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai in December 2015, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA with Grace Xiao, PhD, studying the molecular mechanisms of RNA regulation, including alternative splicing, RNA editing, and RNA degradation. Currently, his research focuses on elucidating the mechanism of long noncoding RNAs in the initiation and/or development of ovarian cancers.
KC Vavra, Postdoctoral Research Associate
KC received his bachelors degree in Biochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Chicago. His Ph.D. research studied how structural features of the unconventional myosin-10 motor controlled motor localization to specific regions in the cytoskeleton. KC joined the Lawrenson lab in 2016, and his research project focuses on the relationship between genetic variants and lncRNAs in the development and progression of ovarian cancer.
Ivetth Corona, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Ivetth has a Bachelors degree in Electric and Computer Engineering from CETYS Universidad, Mexico and a M.Sc. in Computer Science from CICESE, Mexico. She was first introduced to Computational Biology during her master’s, where she studied protein structure prediction. Continuing in the Structural Bioinformatics field, she did her Ph.D. analyzing protein-DNA complexes and characterized structural features that account for DNA-binding specificity. She then completed an internship at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA, where she studied cancer genomics for the first time. Now, under the direction of Drs. Lawrenson and Gayther, she is a Computational Biologist studying the interplay between transcription factors and somatic and germline variants that contribute to the development of ovarian cancer.
Forough Abbasi, Research Associate
Forough Abbasi graduated with her bachelors degree inCell and Molecular Biology in 2006. After getting her degree, Forough spent several years working in a clinical lab before joining the laboratory of Dr. Johnathan Lancaster at Moffitt Cancer Center. Forough has extensive experience in preclinical modeling and translational research, and is commonly referred to by her co-workers as the cell culture whisperer! She joined the Lawrenson Laboratory in 2016, and participates in multiple laboratory projects using cellular and molecular biology approaches.
Annie Liu, Gynecologic Oncology Fellow
Annie Liu graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude with a degree in molecular biology, where she studied the Wnt signaling pathway as it relates to developmental processes in Drosophila melanogaster. She went to medical school at Vanderbilt University where she again investigated components of Wnt signaling, this time in relation to colorectal carcinogenesis. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and she is now in her third year of gynecologic oncology fellowship at Cedars-Sinai/UCLA. Her research involves characterizing transcription factors that may contribute to ovarian carcinogenesis.
Former Team Members
Gynecologic Oncology Fellow
Emily Prendergast graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelors of science in microbiology. She then completed medical school at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. Following this she has completed a 4 year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She is currently completing her 3rd year of fellowship at Cedars-Sinai/UCLA. Emily has pursued her passion for research via several different routes including parasitology bench work at UofA and in Peru with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the NIH NIAID lab evaluating mechanisms of fibrosis and now in the Lawrenson Laboratory in the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai. Emily’s research involves isolation and evaluation of exosomes and their biological contents as a method of biomarker detection for ovarian cancer.
Research Lab Assistant II
Roxanne Manek graduated from King’s College London University in 2011, earning her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences specializing in neuroscience. Since completing her undergraduate studies, Manek has pursued her passion for cancer research at the University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and now in the Lawrenson Laboratory in the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai. Manek’s research involves using three-dimensional in vitro models of ovarian cancer to identify novel therapeutic targets.
Research Associate II
Tassja Spindler graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in exercise and sport studies. She received postgraduate training in the Biotechnology Program at Pasadena City College and was selected as a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine intern for stem cell research at the University of Southern California (USC) where, under the mentorship of Gregor B. Adams, PhD, her research focused on understanding the role of the hematopoietic stem cell niche. Spindler continued her research studies at USC with Dr. Simon Gayther, PhD, elucidating the role of long non-coding RNA in ovarian cancer. She now works in the Lawrenson Laboratory in the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai, exploring how lncRNAs shape the development of ovarian cancers. We said goodbye to Tassja in March 2016 and wish her well in her new job in industry!