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Lab Members

Amy Heimberger, M.D. 
Lab Director 

Dr. Amy Heimberger has been an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson since 2002. She has an extensive research program focused on immune therapeutic strategies for gliomapatients and studies  tumor-mediated mechanisms of immune suppression. Her laboratory was pivotal in the development of a peptide (PEP-3-KLH/CDX-110) vaccine strategy that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor. The strategy doubled the median survival of glioblastoma multiforme patients and is proceeding to final registration clinical trials (licensed to Celldex Therapeutics). 

In addition, Dr. Heimberger has clarified that the signal transducer and activator of the transcription3 (STAT3) pathway is a key molecular hub of gliomagenesis and tumor-mediated immune suppression. She also conducted the pre-clinical development of a novel small molecule inhibitor of STAT3, WP1066, which will be introduced into clinical trials in the next 18 months for melanoma patients with CNS metastasis and primary glioma patients. Furthermore, she showed that tumor-associated microglia/macrophages potentiate gliomagenesis via STAT3 and established that the glioma-associated cancer stem cells via the STAT3 pathway exert immune suppressive properties on both the adaptive and innate arms of the immune system. 

Dr. Heimberger is the only faculty member at MD Anderson to be awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She holds multiple NIH and foundation grants and is a project leader in both the Brain and Melanoma SPOREs. Dr. Heimberger has a clinical interest in awake mapping and resection of gliomas within eloquent cortex. She has been named by the US News and World Report as a Top Doc.

Ling-Yuan Kong, M.D., Ph.D
Senior Research Scientist

Ling-Yuan Kong received her Medical Degree and Master of Science degree in Toxicology from China. She also holds a Doctorate in Immunology from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. After further trainings in Neuro-immunology at Duke University and Neuro-pharmacology at the NIEHS/NIH, she worked part-time at Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research in Houston as a research associate.  

In July of 2002, Dr. Kong joined Dr. Nicholas Donato and Dr. Moshe Talpaz’s team in the Department of Bioimmunotherapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a research scientist.  In November of 2006, Dr. Kong joined Dr. Amy Heimberger’s laboratory in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson and is currently a senior research scientist.  She has over 10 years of experience working with STAT3 modulation with small molecule inhibitors, especially extensively studying the immune properties of WP1066 and related analogues both in vitro and in vivo.  

Fei Wang, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist

Fei Wang received his doctorate at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China. After working in pharmaceutics and drug development as an undergraduate student and then an assistant engineer, Wang completed molecular biology and biochemistry training in Dr. Jingxing Wang’s  laboratory at the Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, China. In 2003, he became a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Qiang Tong’s laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. In November 2011, Wang joined Dr. Amy Heimberger’s laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a senior research scientist in the Department of Neurosurgery. He explores the molecular and cellular mechanistic of new RNA therapeutic options for cancer patients.

Tiffany Doucette, Ph.D.

Tiffany Doucette received her doctorate in Microbiology in November 2006 from Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ganesh Rao in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in December 2006. In December 2011, she was promoted to Instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery. Tiffany currently studies mechanisms involved in the tumorigenesis of glioma and medulloblastoma using transgenic mouse models based on the RCAS/Ntv-a system and collaborates with Dr. Amy Heimberger in studying the effect of the immune system on tumor formation.

Jun Wei, M.D., Ph.D.

Jun Wei received his Medical Degree at Beijing University in 1996 and his doctorate at Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001. After working on screening and identification of molecules modulating tumor invasion and metastasis with Dr. Scott Goode at Baylor College of Medicine, he continued and completed his postdoctoral training in the Department of Immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he investigated new strategies of T cells for cancer immune therapy. In December 2007, Dr. Wei joined Dr. Heimberger’s lab as an instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery. He explores new immune therapeutical agents and approaches for brain tumor patients and studies the mechanisms of their immune modulation.   

Shuo Xu, M.D.
Graduate Student

Shuo Xu received his Medical Degree from the School of Medicine at Shandong University, China, in 2009. He enrolled as a doctoral candidate through a distinguished graduate student program at Shandong University. Under the direction of Dr. Xin-Gang Li, Xu focused on the adenosine mediated immunosuppression in glioma in the Department of Neurosurgery at Qilu Hospital of Shandong University. In November 2011, Xu joined Dr. Amy Heimberger's lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He studies the regulation of M1/M2 macrophage by microRNA and its role in glioma associated immunosuppression. He believes that miRNA-based immunotherapeutics could bring benefits to glioma patients eventually.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center