Leomar Y. Ballester, M.D., Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Board-Certified Neuropathologist, Board-Certified Molecular Genetic Pathologist
I am board certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic Pathology, Neuropathology and Molecular Genetic Pathology. As a neuropathologist, I am interested in the biology, diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. As a molecular pathologist, I am interested in developing and implementing clinical molecular diagnostic assays. My research interests involve the combination of histology and genomics to study the pathogenesis of brain tumors, identify clinically useful biomarkers and translate genomic discoveries into clinical assays.
Hanim Istem Ozkizilkaya, M.D.
I am a Turkish Pathologist, with a great interest in neuropathology. I joined the Ballester Laboratory to improve my research skills and enrich my knowledge of neuro-oncology and neuroscience. I am curious about contributing factors for brain tumor development and progression and better approaches for diagnosing primary and metastatic brain tumors. My aim is to become a Board-certified Pathologist and Neuropathologist. Outside of the lab, I love running, practicing yoga and spending time with my family.
Mauli Shah, M.S., M.B.(ASCP)CM
Sr. Research Assistant
I am board certified in Molecular Biology by American Society for Clinical Pathology with a Master of Sciences in Diagnostic Genetics from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. I defended my clinical thesis in Utilizing cerebrospinal fluid and isolating cell free DNA for mutation detection in patients with primary and metastatic central nervous system tumors through targeted OncomineTM Pan Cancer panel using Ion chef/S5XL sequencing system. I am interested in preventative care by studying molecular biomarkers and developing and implementing sequencing assays which can aid physicians in early detection of cancer and monitor disease progression. I am passionate about learning cancer biology and developing and implementing new molecular techniques which can be translated to clinical testing practice. Outside of lab, I regularly play badminton, practice archery and occasionally hike with my husband.
Fnu Srividya, Ph.D.
I am a post-doctoral fellow passionate in understanding and learning cancer biology. I defended my Ph.D. thesis in developing a liquid biopsy approach for screening two hotspot mutations in non-small cell lung cancer. I am curious to learn and develop non-invasive, and affordable diagnostic assays by focusing on hotspot molecular biomarkers which can serve as a potential way for early detection, prevention and disease monitoring in cancer. I joined the Ballester laboratory to learn and improvise my research skills and knowledge about cancer biomarkers. Outside the lab, I would love music, chocolates and spending time with my family.
I am an undergraduate at Rice University, pursuing a B.A. in Neuroscience and minors in Biochemistry & Cell Biology and Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities on the pre-med track. I am interested in investigating cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers to develop liquid assays for the early diagnosis of tumors.
At Rice, I’m very involved in health advocacy, as the Student Association Wellbeing Committee Chair as well as a Baker Institute Child Health Policy Intern, and my career aspirations include becoming a physician. Outside of classes and lab, I love to spend time with family and friends, discover new books and explore the Houston food scene.
I am an undergraduate student (Class of 2025) at Rice University double majoring in neuroscience and computer science, with a minor in Physics. I am on the pre-medical track and may attend medical school after earning my bachelor’s degree. My potential career aspirations include becoming a physician scientist.
As a pre-medical computer science major, I am currently investigating computational methods for analyzing and categorizing CNS tumors. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing the piano, tennis, and spending time with my family.
I am an undergraduate student at Rice University double-majoring in Neuroscience and Health Sciences, with a minor in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. I am on the pre-medical track, and hoping to attend medical school in the Fall of 2023. I am very interested in neuro-oncology research across the board, but especially in researching the potential of CSF biomarkers for the purpose of non-invasive liquid biopsy in CNS tumors. Although I am originally from Princeton, NJ, I love Houston, and am constantly looking for ways to interact with my community. So at Rice, I am involved in several service organizations, including Rice Alzheimer’s Buddies, Rice MusicMDs, and Peer Academic Advising. In my free time, I like to play music and explore the Houston food scene with friends.
Arvind V. Ramesh
I am a pre-medical undergraduate student at Rice University on track for a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. After joining the Ballester-Esquenazi lab in September 2019, I have developed a passion for translational neuro-oncology research. My current research interests include the role of ion channels in glioma pathophysiology and the detection and sequencing of microRNA (miRNA) and metabolite signatures in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of glioma patients, the latter being the subject of my senior thesis.
Outside of lab, I am a head academic mentor at my residential college at Rice, Hanszen College. I also enjoy playing tennis with friends and exploring Houston restaurants. I aspire to one day become a physician-scientist.