2014 Postdoctoral Pelotonia Fellows

Raul Araya-Secchi, PhD
Mentor – Marcos Sotomayor, PhD
Project – Resolving the structural determinants of fat cadherins’ function in cancer 
Summary – I want to characterize the structure-function relationship on the extracellular domain of Fat cadherins. I want to identify and characterize protein-protein interactions with other cadherins and obtain their structure. Also I want to study the structural effect of cancer-related mutations found on this domain.​

Michael Berberoglu, PhD
Mentor – Sharon Amacher, PhD
Project – Regulation of myogenic precursor cells in zebrafish skeletal muscle and in Rhabdomyosarcoma
Summary  Understand how muscle stem cells, known as satellite cells, are regulated in the muscle-derived cancer rhabdomyosarcoma, and whether modulation of muscle stem cell activity can be used as a therapeutic approach for muscle cancer.

Valerie Coffman, PhD
Mentor – Adriana T. Dawes, PhD
Project – Mechanical modeling of directed pronuclear migration and rotation in the early C. elegans embryo
Summary - Evaluate how a cell organizes itself so that each cell division results in healthy daughter cells, rather than cells with genetic or compositional abnormalities that could result in over-proliferation leading to cancer.


HongSheng Dai, PhD
Mentor – Michael Caligiuri, MD
Project – Potentiating oncolytic virotherapy through a systemic study of the interaction between oHSV1 viral proteins and Natural Killer cells
Summary - Learn how NK cells, a specialized group of immune cells, recognize and limit herpesvirus infection. This information will be applied to improve herpesvirus-based therapy for brain tumor.


James Dowdle, PhD
Mentor – Gustavo Leone, PhD
Project – The Molecular Basis for Variable Penetrance in Rb Mutant Cancer
Summary - To examine why specific cancer causing mutations lead to cancer 100% of the time while other mutations only lead to cancer in a proportion of cases. This knowledge would be invaluable in assessing risk and developing proper treatment plans for patients.


Senthil Damodaran, PhD
Mentor – Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD
Project – Genomic and proteomic alterations mediate secondary resistance to fibroblast growth factor receptor targeting
Summary - Evaluate how cancer cells become resistant to the use of “smart” drugs that specifically block the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells. This information would help devise rational drug combinations and thus improve cancer treatment.

Alena Jamie-Ramirez, PhD
Mentor  – Balveen Kaur
Project – Oncolytic virotherapy and immunotherapy for the treatment of brain tumors.

Summary  Breast cancer is estimated to be the second leading cause of cancer death and source of brain metastases (BM) among women in the United States.  With a dismal one and two year survival of 20% and 2%, respectively, the development of novel treatment modalities is critical.  In this study, we will examine the first individual and combinatorial therapeutic effects of tumor targeting oncolytic virus therapy and immune enhancing antibody therapy in BM.

Divya Kensanakurti, PhD
Mentor  – Vinay K. Puduvalli, MD
Project – Role of PAK4 in Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Stemness in Malignant Gliomas
Summary – Our study aims at identifying the expression and role of PAK4 protein in glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive brain cancer. This study focuses on understanding the PAK4 function in the maintenance of cancer stemness by using cell lines, mouse model and human glioma slice experiments. We will also investigate the epigenetic regulation of PAK4 in stemness and EMT. The results of the study will provide insight on the therapeutic potential of targeting PAK4 by drug development and evaluation in GBMs.   

Priya Londhe, PhD
Mentor  – Denis Guttridge, PhD
Project – Microvesicle induced cell death in cancer cachexia
Summary – My research is directed towards understanding how nanosized particles like microvesicles secreted by tumor cells regulate muscle wasting in cancer cachexia. These findings will provide significant insights into the mechanisms of cancer cachexia, facilitating the generation of improved therapeutic strategies to ultimately improve the quality of life of these patients.

Amit Srivastava, PhD
Mentor – Qi-en Wang, PhD
Project – The regulation of translesion DNA synthesis in ovarian cancer stem cells
Summary – Examine the role of translesion synthesis, a DNA damage tolerance mechanism, in the escape of cancer stem cells from chemotherapeutic agent attack. This information will be used to develop potential cancer therapy agents to improve the therapy for ovarian cancer.

Ramon Sun, PhD
Mentor  – Nicholas Denko, MD, PhD
Project – Glucose-dependent repression of pyruvate dehydrogenase activity enhances tumor metabolism.
Summary  Glucose is a simple sugar and the main food source/metabolic intermediate used in our body. Our recent findings indicate that increased glucose levels have significant impact on mitochondrial function in tumor cells. This project will investigate how glucose signals change cancer cells and determine how important this pathway is for tumor growth.


Anna Tessari, PhD
Mentor – Carlo Maria Croce, MD
Project – Role of microRNAs in gemcitabine resistant metastatic breast cancer
Summary - Develop a molecular signature that will be used to select patients with advanced Breast Cancer to receive a chemotherapeutic drug named gemcitabine. The signature will be based on the expression of small molecules named microRNAs both in tumor samples and in patients’ blood, and would represent an important clinical instrument for the selection of patients that could benefit from gemcitabine, in the future perspective of personalized medicine.


Christopher Walker, PhD
Mentor  – Paul Goodfellow, PhD
Project  Identification and Characterization of Novel Mutations in Endometrial Carcinoma
Summary  We will sequence the DNA of uterine cancers to identify the genetic changes that are associated with patient survival and response to treatment. Our findings will allow us to determine the most effective ways to treat future patients based on tumor DNA sequences, and may pave the way for developing and testing new therapies.

Youwei Wang
Mentor – Jianhua Yu, PhD
Project – Use of Combination of FLT3L and AMD3100 to Mobilize Donor Grafts Favorable for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Project – The transplantation of cells obtained from the blood of siblings or volunteers unrelated donors can cure many patients with serious blood cancers. Unfortunately, many patients receiving such transplants suffer complications or experience relapse of their cancer and do not benefit. My research seeks to improve the quality of the blood cells obtained from donors so that more patients can benefit from blood cell transplantation.​

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 460 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: jamesline@osumc.edu