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Meet Our Team

Our team members are at the core of what makes Laboratory of Keith Syson Chan such a unique and fulfilling place to work. We take pride in the diversity of our staff, with each member contributing their unique skills to the projects we are working on.


Keith Syson Chan

Principal Investigator

I received my PhD at UT MD Anderson and my postdoc training at Stanford. I am enthusiastic about cancer research that can ultimately impact patients' lives. I enjoy Jazz and getting to know other music lovers at local bars. Tony Bennett is my favorite. I appreciate impressionist art work and blown glass e.g., Chihuly. During the pandemic, I am using the instant pot as a novel approach to optimize experimental protocols.

Contact us to find out more about our team.

Dr. Keith Syson Chan - PI

Fotis Nikolos

Assistant Professor (Former CPRIT fellow)

I have a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. I received my PhD from University of Houston. For hobbies, I love cooking food (especially BBQ/Grilling), eating, and baking. I also love to run (to compensate from all the eating!).


Hongbo (Beth) Gao

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I received my MBBS in Clinical Medicine from Taishan Medical University and went on to obtain a PhD in Basic Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Dakota. Currently, I am studying the crosstalk between cancer cells and its stromal niche. In my spare time, I love spending time and playing with my children, exploring the beaches, zoo and California outdoor scenics!

Stephen Wong

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I obtained my B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Western Australia in Perth, and went on to obtain a PhD in Biological Sciences from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. I am interested to understand more about therapy resistance and mechanisms of metastasis in various cancer, and how the immune system plays a role in these deleterious phenotypes. During my free time, I enjoy a good game of badminton, the great outdoors, and eating! I love the Japanese culture and music, too! Yoroshiku!


Mustafa Karabiçici

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I graduated from the Medical Biology and Genetics Master Program at Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey. In my master's, I mostly conducted studies to understand the molecular mechanisms of cancer stem cell subpopulations. I completed a Molecular Biology and Genetics Ph.D. program in Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center at the stem cells and organoid technologies lab. In my doctorate, I conducted studies to obtain a tumor organoid with the CRISPR-Cas9 method from a healthy liver organoid produced from IPSC. I am interested in the role of the tumor microenvironment (TME) effect on immune response in therapy-resistant bladder tumors in the organoid model. I enjoy watching anime, drawing, and designing.

Alessandro Sammarco

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I received my Veterinary Medicine degree and my PhD degree from the University of Padua, Italy. My research focuses on the role of lipid metabolism in tumors and on how manipulation of lipid metabolism affects tumor cell and immune cell function. My goal is to find a therapy that kills cancer cells and, at the same time, activates the immune system against the tumor. When I am not in the lab, you can likely find me on my road bike or playing other sports, such as soccer.  

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Mark Alonzo

Graduate Student

I received my B.S. in Microbiology and M.S. in Biological Sciences from Cal Poly Pomona. I am interested in the interplay between the tumor microenvironment and cancer cells. For my project, I am investigating the effects of DDR1 and its interaction with collagen, on the regulation of cancer progression. When not in lab, I am probably: playing video games, binging TV shows and movies, reading, eating ramen/pho.


Xen Ping Hoi

Graduate Student

I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA. I am interested in the cross-talk between immune cells and their microenvironment during disease progression (i.e., in cancer). I enjoy exploring eateries, hanging out with friends, hiking and being restful during vacations.


Giorgia Guerra

Graduate Student

I am a  biotechnologist and I obtained both my B.S. and my M.S from the University Padua. My background is in cancer-applied pharmacology and epigenetics. Upon moving to the US, I spent 2yrs studying the epigenetic mechanisms that play a role during the development and the progression of diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Currently, I am working on human bladder cancer. As a PhD student at Cedars-Sinai, I hope to have the opportunity to do high-level cancer and immunology translational research. Besides my strong interest and commitment to science, my other passions include love for animals, cooking, and yoga.


Ethan Subel

Research Associate

I obtained my bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in biology with an emphasis in biochemistry and molecular biology. My previous research project aimed at elucidating mechanisms of novel pro-viral host factors that help viruses escape innate immunity upon infection. I now hope to apply my knowledge and experience to the field of cancer biology to contribute to projects to better understand emerging topics such as the immune microenvironment, therapeutic resistance, and repopulation prior to pursuing graduate level studies in translational immunology. During my free time, I am an avid sports fan and enjoy spending time with friends and family.


Pragya Mishra

Research Assistant

I obtained my bachelor's degree from Emory University where I majored in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. I am interested in investigating the role of humoral immunity in cancer metastasis. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading/writing, learning/exploring and running.

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Natasha Ndele

HMRI Summer Intern

I am pursuing a bachelor of science in biology with a minor in health studies from Southwestern University. I am also on the pre-medicine pathway and plan to take a gap year before applying to medical school. I am interested in cancer biology and hope to specialise in oncology in medical school but I am also interested in cancer biology research. I am currently working with Mark Alonzo to understand the pathway between DDR1 and collagen within bladder cancer cells. In my free time, I enjoy going to museums, watching shows with my friends and cooking. 


Aaron Mauer

HMRI Summer Intern

I am pursuing a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston in Business Management and a minor in Biological Sciences, and am currently applying to medical school. i am interested in learning the factors that contribute to immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Outside of the lab, I enjoy trying new food (always down to go to a new restaurant) and watching movies

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