Lab Members

George Adrian Calin, M.D., Ph.D. 


George Adrian Calin received both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Carol Davila University of Medicine in Bucharest, Romania.

After working in cytogenetics as an undergraduate student with Dr. Dragos Stefanescu in Bucharest, Calin completed cancer genomics training in Dr. Massimo Negrini’s laboratory at the University of Ferrara, Italy, and in 2000, he became a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Carlo Croce’s laboratory at Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In June 2007, Calin joined MD Anderson as an associate professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics and was promoted to Professor with tenure in 2013.  He explores new RNA therapeutic options for cancer patients and studies the roles of microRNAs and other non-coding RNAs in cancer initiation and progression, as well as the mechanisms of cancer predisposition.

Maria Almeida, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow




Meng Chen

Research Intern

Meng earned a master’s degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in 2015 from the University of Texas at Dallas, USA. She joined Dr. George Calin’s laboratory as a research intern, where her work focused on applying bioinformatics and statistical analysis to investigate the role of non-coding RNAs.


Linda Fabris, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Linda Fabris obtained her master's degree in Medical Biotechnology from University of Trieste, Italy, in 2007. She began in 2008 a Ph.D. program in Medical and Biotechnological Sciences at the University of Udine, and defended her PhD thesis in 2011. During her PhD program she worked at CRO National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy, where she worked as a postdoctoral fellow until 2014.  Linda joined Dr. George Calin’s laboratory in April 2014, as a postdoctoral fellow.  Her main project is focused on understanding the mechanism by which long non-coding RNAs are involved in colon cancer initiation and progression. At the same time, she’s working on the role of transcribed Ultra-conserved regions in CLL.


Enrique Fuentes-Mattei, Ph.D.


Dr. Enrique Fuentes-Mattei received his BS in microbiology from University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Mayaguez Campus and a PhD in biochemistry from the UPR Medical Sciences Campus. In 2010, he was awarded with a postdoctoral fellowship for basic/translational cancer research training via the Training Grant Program in Molecular Genetics of Cancer in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2015, Dr. Fuentes-Mattei joined Dr. Calin’s research team as an Instructor Research Faculty in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the same institution. His main research areas of interest are non-coding RNAs, obesity, cancer metabolism and cancer aggressiveness. His main goal is to continue a career in translational cancer research to identify novel biomarkers and effective therapeutic targets for prevention and the development of more effective therapeutic strategies. His current research focuses on the understanding of the functional basis, energy metabolism and biological mechanism by which non-coding RNAs promote and accelerate cancer. His research also focuses on the role of non-coding RNAs on sepsis progression and severity.


Cristina Ivan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Cristina Ivan obtained a M.S. degree in Probability and Statistics from Transilvania University, Brasov, Romania and two Ph.D. degrees in Pure Mathematics in 2003 (from Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania and from University of Copenhagen, Denmark).  She was appointed as a Research Associate at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2002-2003) and the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany (2004-2010), as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside (2003-2004).  She has a broad background in pure mathematics and statistics, with specific training and expertise in Fourier analysis numerical analysis, approximation theory, fractal geometry and analysis as well as graph theory which have extensive applications in biology and bioinformatics.  She has published in high-impact journals and has very good knowledge of programming: R, Perl and mySQL languages which are of great help in mastering bioinformatics.  Cristina Ivan joined the RNA Center in mid-2010 as a Sr Data Analyst.  Starting with September 2015 she was appointed as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics.  She focuses on large-scale data analyses within ongoing research projects.  She is responsible for data collection, design, and analyses for clinical and research studies or projects.  She maintains clinical and research data bases for assigned studies and makes necessary changes and enhancements required including coding, editing and data field conversation.   Dr. Ivan has been also responsible for identifying new methods for processing and analyzing high-throughput data.


Hui Ling, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Hui Ling received his medical degree from First Military Medical University, China, in 2000. He worked in hospital as a physician from 2000 to 2005. In January 2006, he started his PhD training at Department of Pharmacy in the National University of Singapore, Singapore, and graduated in September 2010. During his PhD study, he investigated the anticancer potential of active components from natural edible products. He joined Dr. George Calin’s laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center in October 2010 as a postdoctoral fellow. His postdoctoral study focused on the characterization of a novel long noncoding RNA involvement in colorectal cancer. He also studied the role of microRNAs in colorectal cancer metastasis. He received Odyssey Fellowship from 2012 to 2015, and became a research assistant professor in September 2015. His current work investigates the clinical relevance of long noncoding RNAs in human cancer, explores the possibility of targeting long noncoding RNAs as therapeutics, and studies the mechanisms of long noncoding RNA involvement in therapeutic response.


Ioana Neagoe

Visiting Associate Professor

Ioana Berindan-Neagoe, Ph.D. was a Fulbright fellow for the year 2014-2015 and Visiting Professor in 2015-2016 in Prof. Calin’s Lab.  Dr. Berindan - Neagoe graduated in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and obtained her Ph.D. in “Cell adhesion molecules role in cancer” in Iuliu Hatieganu UMPh and Babes Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca.  In Romania she is currently Professor of Medical Biotechnology and the Director of Research Center for Functional Genomics, Biomedicine and Translational Medicine at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iuliu Hatieganu in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and the Scientific Coordinator of The Oncology Institute “Prof. Dr. I. Chiricuta” Cluj-Napoca. She started the scientific collaboration with Prof. Calin in 2010. She also coordinates the Department of Research and Development at the Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy.  Major research interests are:  (a) microRNAs as biomarkers for diagnostic and response to therapy in cancer as well as development of new molecular therapeutic systems using ncRNAs (b) mechanisms of apoptosis and angiogenesis and (c) combined siRNA and natural compounds target delivery (d) molecular profiling of cancer, especially breast cancer (triple negative) , cervical cancer, colon cancer (e) NGS for breast, ovarian cancer and premalignant lesions ( endometriosis).


Masahisa Ohtsuka

Graduate Student

Masahisa Ohtsuka received his M.D. degree from Kanazawa University, Japan in 2005.  He trained as a surgeon from 2005 to 2014, and was board-certified surgeon and endoscopist in gastroenterology.
In Dec 2014, he received his Ph.D. degree in Surgical Medicine at Osaka University, Japan. During the course of his graduate studies and clinical experience, he found more interest in the molecular mechanism of cancer invasion and metastasis.  In April 2014, he joined Dr. Calin’s laboratory at The MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is currently working on the mechanism of non-coding RNA in gastroenterological cancer.


Martin Pichler, Ph.D.

Postodoctoral Fellow


Valentina Pileczki

Graduate Student

Valentina Pileczki is from Romania where she obtained a masters degree in Molecular Biotechnology at “Babes-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca, in 2012. In the same year she began a Ph.D program in pharmacy at the “Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy.  In March 2013 she joined the team from The Research Centre of Functional Genomics, Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, UMF Cluj, were she works in the field of functional genomics and RNA interference.  Valentina joined Dr. George Calin’s lab in October 2014, where her main work focuses on studying the role of non-coding RNAs in colorectal cancer.


M. Diana Qian

Research Laboratory Manager

M. Diana Qian is a research laboratory manager with extensive experience in molecular and cellular biology as well as protein chemistry.  She joined Dr. Calin’s laboratory in August, 2013. Prior to her current position, she worked at various academic and industrial settings, including the University of Texas at Austin, Harvard Medical School, Millennium Pharmaceutical, Inc., Pfizer and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Her current research project is the role of microRNAs in leukemia and prostatic cancer.

Alolika Sarkar

College Student


Maitri Y. Shah, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Maitri graduated with Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2008 from University of Mumbai, India and then completed Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in 2010 from East Carolina University, North Carolina, USA.  She joined Dr. Calin’s lab in June 2011 for her PhD dissertation. She was awarded the Rosalie B. Hite Graduate Fellowship from 2012-2015.  In 2015, she successfully completed her PhD in Experimental Therapeutics at Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Calin’s Lab and works on multiple projects focused on understanding the role of noncoding RNAs in cancer initiation and progression, and studying novel microRNA-based therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment.

Masayoshi Shimitsu

Research Investigator

Masayoshi Shimizu is a research investigator with 15 years of experience in molecular biology.  He has worked with Dr. George A. Calin for the last eight years – initially in genomics and then, beginning in 2002, in the field of microRNAs and cancer. He was involved in major non-coding RNA projects, including the genome-wide profiling of microRNAs, the discovery of miRNA germline mutations and the involvement of ultraconserved genes in cancer. Masa followed Dr. Calin to MD Anderson Cancer Center in June 2007 and he performs the high throughput, non-coding RNA profiling by microarray and several genomics techniques related to non-coding RNAs.


Katrien Van Roosbroeck, Ph.D.


Katrien Van Roosbroeck received a Masters degree in Bioscience Engineering in 2005 and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the Center for Human Genetics in 2010 -- both from the University of Leuven, Belgium. Her graduate work focused on the identification and characterization of novel genetic defects involving protein tyrosine kinase loci in leukemia and lymphoma.  After one year of working as a postdoctoral fellow in Leuven, Katrien decided that Belgium was too small and wanted to broaden her horizons. She was granted a fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) to conduct leukemia research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She joined the lab of Dr. George Calin as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2011, where her main focus was on the role of miR-155 in therapy resistance in leukemias and carcinomas. She also studied the roles of ultraconserved genes in cancer. In addition, she was Co-Chair of the Experimental Therapeutics Postdoctoral Fellows from 2013 to 2015.  In August 2015, Katrien was appointed as an Instructor in Dr. Calin’s lab. Her current work investigates the involvement of microRNAs and other non-coding RNAs in leukemias, with an emphasis on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and Richter Syndrome.


Former Members (click here)


NameTitleStart DateEnd DateCountry of Origin
Classified Employees
Nicoloso, M.D., MilenaResearch Investigator02-01-0912-21-10Italy
Rossi, SimonaData Analyst08-06-0812-13-09Italy
Spizzo, M.D., RiccardoResearch Investigator02-01-0912-21-10Italy
Visiting Scientists
Jung, Ph.D., Eun-JungVisiting Associate Professor09-01-0908-17-11South Korea
Lee, Ph.D., Gyeong WonVisiting Associate Professor06-15-1206-14-13Korea
Lee, Ph.D., Sang KilVisiting Assistant Professor09-01-0902-15-11South Korea
Lu, Ph.D., Cheng-ChanVisiting Professor08-09-1001-25-11China
Munker, M.D., ReinholdAdjunct Associate Professor10-25-1008-31-11USA
Nam, Ph.D., Su YounVisiting Scientist10-11-1003-31-12Korea
Setoyama, Ph.D., TetsuroVisiting Scientist08-19-1008-31-12Japan
Vivas-Mejia, Ph.D., PabloVisiting Associate Professor01-01-1109-16-11Puerto Rico
Educational Trainees
Ahn, Enid InhyeRotating Resident Researcher10-17-1110-16-12Korea
Almeida, Maria InesGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH10-05-0903-31-12Portugal
Barbarotto, Ph.D., ElisaResearch Intern04-07-0810-06-08Italy
Bhattacharya, SharmitaHigh School Student07-27-0908-31-09USA
Chen, LuGraduate Research Asst-GSBS03-15-1005-31-10USA
Cortez, Maria Angelica AbdallaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH06-02-0810-31-08Brazil
Cortez, Maria Angelica AbdallaPostdoctoral Fellow04-05-1007-31-11Brazil
D'Abundo, LucillaResearch Intern11-07-1104-11-12Italy
D'Andrea, SaraResearch Intern09-07-1011-06-10Italy
deOliveira, JacquelineGraduate Student09-06-1112-31-11Brazil
Dimitri, FedericaCollege Student06-02-0808-31-08Italy
Gwak, Dong-HoCollege Student11-14-1105-11-12USA
Edwards, JulianaGraduate Research Asst-GSBS09-01-0912-31-09USA
Falchi, LorenzoPostdoctoral Fellow09-06-1109-05-12Italy
Ferdin, JanaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH08-03-0905-25-12Slovenia
Ferreira, Aline FernandaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH09-19-11 01-18-12Brazil
Fogarty, JuliaHigh School Student06-01-0807-31-08USA
Guerrero, Manrique Alberto Graduate Research Asst-GSBS07-14-0808-31-08USA
Haderk, FranziskaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH09-13-1012-10-10Germany
Hsiao, AnnieResearch Aide05-03-1005-02-12USA
Jasra, BhartiObserver09-01-0709-30-07India
Jethwa, AlexanderGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH 09-19-1112-16-11Germany
Lazarescou, NatalieCollege Student10-10-1109-25-12USA
Liang, Sean XiangyuResearch Aide06-28-1008-25-10USA
Manohar, Vijay AsokanHigh School Student06-20-1108-12-11USA
Medina, AmildaSummer Student05-31-1108-05-11USA
Merchant, Omar FarooqCollege Student06-08-0908-31-09USA
Momin, ArifResearch Intern05-23-1106-30-11USA
Nasr, RihabResearch Aide01-10-1102-28-11USA
Neugebauer, JuliaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH10-11-1012-10-10Germany
Nouraee, NazilaGraduate Student09-06-1105-05-12Iran
Pham, KhanhSummer Student05-31-1108-05-11USA
Raia, Rachel MarieGraduate Research Asst-UTHSCH08-23-1005-31-12USA
Ravoori, VineetHigh School Student06-27-1108-20-11USA
Redis, Roxana SimonaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH04-04-1104-03-12Romania
Rehman, Sumaiyah KhaleelGraduate Research Asst-GSBS01-03-0803-15-08USA
Rosa, Fabiola EncinasResearch Intern06-01-0908-31-09Brazil
Rushworth, DavidGraduate Student07-01-0808-31-08USA
Scholl, VanesaGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH10-31-1112-31-11Argentina
Sheng, ZhengjiCollege Student05-31-1108-30-11China
Teruel, RaulGraduate Student-non-UTHSCH01-12-0905-11-09Spain
Tiron, AidaCollege Student08-03-0910-09-09Romania
Vannini, IvanResearch Intern05-02-1107-24-11Italy
Zhou, PengResearch Aide05-17-1006-16-10USA

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