Faculty Mentors

Dennis Carson, M.D.

Dennis Carson, MD

Professor, Medicine
Director, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center
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Research

Autoimmune Disease, Cancers of the lymphoid tissues

My laboratory studies autoimmune diseases and cancers of the lymphoid system. We aim to delineate molecular differences between pathologic and normal tissues that can serve as targets for therapy. We have discovered two new targets during the last year.




Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen

Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
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Research

Professor Cohen's group works on the design, synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of new metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs are an up-and-coming class of materials that combine organic ligands and metal ions to generate porous materials with defined topologies. His group works in collaboration with the Moores Cancer Center developing MOFs for drugs delivery since these particles are so small that they might readily diffuse into tumors. Of the five Ph.D. students that have graduated from his lab, two were men and three were women. One of the men was also an URM student (Hispanic). Dr. Cohen has mentored several students through the UCSD STARS program, a summer research program supporting URM students. In coordination with student/outreach affairs, Dr. Cohen has been a liaison for UCSD to campuses with large number of URM students including San Diego State University and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio.




Jennifer Cha

Jennifer Cha

Assistant Professor, NanoEngineering
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Research

The research group of Professor Jennifer Cha focuses on the design, synthesis and integration of biomolecular materials for nanoscience. Specific research areas within her group include use of DNA nanomaterials for nanoelectronics, synthesis and engineering of smart biomolecular systems for sensing and medicine and biochemical synthesis of inorganic nanomaterials for energy applications. With regards to medicine and cancer therapy, her group focuses on the development of biochemically responsive polymer and inorganic nanoparticle based delivery systems capable of both targeted delivery of therapeutic agents as well as contrast imaging groups. Dr. Cha is highly active in the recruitment of minority and women undergraduate and graduate students at UCSD and currently has 3 female students and will be supporting one more female engineering student starting fall of 2009.




Sadik Esener, PhD

Sadik Esener, PhD

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Research

Nanotechnology, Optics, Photonics, Diagnostics

Our interests focus on utilizing novel nanotechnology approaches for cancer imaging and therapeutics. Our specific research interests include light modulation, detection and amplification, heterogeneous integration of opto-electronic components, optical data storage, optical interconnects and related computing architectures, and biophotonics as applied to gene chips.




Michael J. Heller

Michael J. Heller

Professor, NanoEngineering and Bioengineering
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Research

Professor Heller's research is directed at the development of new molecular diagnostic devices and systems for cancer and other diseases. More specifically, his research involves the development of novel dielectrophoretic systems for the isolation and detection of rare cancer cells, DNA nanoparticulate biomarkers and drug delivery nanovesicles directly in blood and plasma. Dr. Heller is an internationally renowned expert in molecular and DNA genotyping diagnostics and has over 40 US patents in the area, has published a considerable number of papers, given more than sixty invited presentations at conferences and meetings and has started several high tech companies in the area. Dr. Heller has several minority students and one female postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Heller has provided opportunities for undergraduate students to carry out summer research work in his lab before entering their PhD programs.




Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD

Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD

Professor, Medicine
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Research

Oncology, Translation, Translational Oncology

Research interests include immunology, gene therapy, lymphoma, leukemia, neoplasia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, arthritis, and AIDS-associated lymphoma. Special Capabilities: Molecular biology, gene therapy, immunobiology.




Andrew Kummel, PhD

Andrew Kummel, PhD

Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
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Research

Array Detectors, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Microfabrication Tools, Nanotechnology

We investigate the chemistry of microelectronics processing using both room temperature (RT) and low temperature (LT) scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS), molecular beams, laser spectroscopy, impedance spectroscopy and density functional theory (DFT) calculations.




Robert Mattrey

Robert Mattrey

Professor, Radiology
Director of In-vivo Cancer Molecular Imaging Center
Vice Chairman of Radiology and Director of Research
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Research

Dr. Mattrey's research is aimed at multi-modality imaging and therapy using cellular and molecular concepts. His main area of interest is ultrasound contrast media that uses microbubbles and nanoparticles. He was the first to describe the use of ultrasound contrast media and has translated 5 agents developed in his laboratory from concept to the clinic, two of these reaching market approvals. His current research focus is to target tumor vascular and extravascular sites as well as enzymes for detection and therapy. He has mentored over 36 medical students, radiology residents, graduate students in biology and engineering and post-doctoral fellows in chemistry, physics and engineering focusing on imaging science, contrast media development and testing, and instrumentation. Of these trainees 10 were women, 2 of whom are successful academicians. He is the Principle Investigator on a training grant to develop Clinician/Scientist in Radiology.




Dwayne Stupack

Dwayne Stupack

Assistant Professor, Pathology
Director of the BMS Undergraduate Core Course
Director, Basic and Translational Research Rounds, Moores Cancer Center
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Research

Professor Stupack's research is directed at understanding how cells survive during metastasis, interacting with their immediate microenvironment. Dr. Stupack is interested in applying the interaction of metastatic and stromal elements as a modality to detect, and possibly treat, metastasis. Professor Stupack has participated as a mentor in UCSD programs directed at minority education, including community outreach programs to underrepresented high schools, and currently is mentor to two underrepresented students and co-mentor to a minority fellow. Professor Stupack is a Director of an imaging project on the ICMIC grant at UCSD and a member of the CCNE, and has worked to apply emerging technologies to the study of cell biology and cancer.




William Trogler, PhD

William Trogler, PhD

Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry
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Research

Antibody Arrays, Array, Fabrication, Nanomaterials, Sensors

Our research focuses on new nanostructured materials for gene and drug delivery, as well as surface functional reagents for cell patterning. New aqueous and air stable reagents have been prepared for attaching cell specific antibodies or proteins on elemental oxide surfaces. Methods for attaching nonbiofouling surface reagents have also been developed. These studies for new analytical approaches to cancer cell detection are being done in collaboration with the research groups of Drs. Blair and Kummel.




Judith Varner, PhD

Judith Varner, PhD

Professor, Medicine
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Research

Angiogenesis, Metastasis

Tumor angiogenesis depends on growth factors and on cell adhesion receptors called integrins that interact with matrix proteins such as fibronectin, fibrinogen and proteolytically cleaved collagen. Endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis depend upon the interaction of these matrix proteins with a subset of integrin receptors, such as a5b1 and avb3. This interaction is required to suppress activation of protein kinase A, which, when activated, blocks endothelial cell migration, induces endothelial cell apoptosis and inhabits angiogenesis. Protein kinase A activation perturbs normal cycling of small GTPases Rho and Rac and blocks activation of critical focal adhesion regulatory proteins such as FAK and paxillin, leading to inhibition of cell migration. Activation of protein kinase A can also inhibit tumor cell migration and metastasis. Based on these observations, we are investigating the potential of gene therapy as novel therapies for cancer and other diseases.




Jean Wang, PhD

Jean Wang, PhD

Professor, Medicine / Biological Sciences
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Research

Cancer, Growth Control, Molecular Pharmacology, Pharmacology, Responses to Extracellular Stimuli and Stress, Stress, Urologic Cancer.

Projects include:

  • Identification of a DNA damage activated signaling pathway through the mismatch repair protein to c-Abl to p73, leading to the activation of apoptosis. Defect in this apoptosis pathway accounts for the drug resistance of mismatch repair-deficient tumors.
  • Identification of a nuclear export signal in c-Abl, demonstrating those c-Abl shuttles between the cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments.
  • Identification of a novel function for the retinoblastoma protein in the inhibition of DNA replication. Identification of DNA damage-activated RB dephosphorylation in S-phase cells. Demonstration that RB is required for an intra-S arrest in response to DNA damage.
  • Identification of a differentiation-programmed activation of p38 MAP kinase. Identification of a defect in this pathway in human Rhabdomyosarcoma. Demonstration that the enforced activation of p38 MAP kinase can rescue the differentiation defect of Rhabdomyosarcoma to induce terminal growth arrest.



Joseph Wang, PhD

Joseph Wang, PhD

Professor, NanoEngineering
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Research

Our research interests include nanobiotechnology, nanobioelectronics, nanomaterials-based sensors, nanomotors and nanoactuators, design of nanostructures and novel interfaces, synthesis and applications of novel nanowires, carbon-nanotubes for enhanced sensing and fuel cell applications, nanoparticle tags for amplified/multiplexed biodetection, nanoscale barcodes, nanomedicine, DNA and proteins diagnostics, remote sensors, and nanosensors for biomedical, environmental and security applications.




Liangfang Zhang, PhD

Liangfang Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor, NanoEngineering
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Research

Bioimaging, Diagnostics, Drug Delivery Systems, Nanotechnology, Nanoparticles

Our laboratory focuses on the development of nanoparticle-based delivery systems that are capable of simultaneously delivering multiple kinds of therapeutic molecules and/or imaging agents to the same targeted cancer cells.