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 Dragos Stefanescu in Bucharest, Calin completed cancer genomics training in Massimo Negrini’s laboratory at the University of Ferrara, Italy, and in 2000, he became a postdoctoral fellow in Carlo Croce’s laboratory at Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In June 2007, Calin joined MD Anderson as an associate professor in the Experimental Therapeutics department 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.
Research Investigator, Ph.D.
Originally from: Japan
Masayoshi Shimizu is a research investigator with 15 years of experience in molecular biology. He has worked with 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 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.
Liat Shoham, M.D.
Originally from: Israel
Liat Shoham graduated from Carol Davila School of medicine and joined the Calin Laboratory as a visiting scientist. Liat is interested in cancer research and Neurology and Psychiatry. Outside of the lab, Liat enjoys jogging and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Senior Research Assistant
Originally from: Sichuan, China
Lan Pang is a skilled and detailed-oriented researcher with more than 16 years of experience within the U.S. academic research environment, substantial background in molecular biology and cancer research. Lan's current research focus is screening and using small molecule compounds to target oncogenic miRNAs in several tumor types. Outside of the lab, Lan enjoys photography, gardening and cooking.
Recep Bayraktar, M.S.
Research Assistant II
Originally from: Turkey
Recep Bayraktar earned his master’s degree in Medical Biology and Genetics Department from Turkey. He moved to the United States and joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2014 as a visiting graduate Student. After having extensively worked on breast and ovarian cancer at the Experimental Therapeutics Department, he joined the Calin Laoratory as a Research Assistant II in 2016. In Fall 2020, he will begin his Ph.D. study at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences under the mentorship of George A. Calin, M.D., Ph.D. His research focuses on understanding the role of non-coding RNAs including miRNAs and lncRNAs in B cell malignancies. In particular, he is investigating the non-coding RNAs that are involved in Richter transformation as well as novel microRNA-based therapeutic approaches. His research also focuses on better understanding the role of non-coding RNAs in the progression and metastasis of neuroendocrine tumors using transgenic mouse models. Outside of the lab, Recep loves spending time with his family, traveling and reading.
Meng Chen, M.S.
Research Assistant I
Originally from: China
Meng earned a master’s degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in 2015 from the University of Texas at Dallas. She joined the Calin Laboratory as a research intern, where her work focused on applying bioinformatics and statistical analysis to investigate the role of non-coding RNAs. Meng's main research areas of interest are DNA methylation, immunotherapy and miRNA–target interactions.
M. Diana Qian
Research Laboratory Manager
Originally from: Shanghai, China
M. Diana Qian obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from East China University of Technology, Shanghai, China. She joined MD Anderson Cancer Center as a visiting scientist from 1991 to 1992. From 1993-2006, she worked in various academic and industrial institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Pfizer Pharmaceutical Inc. She came back to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2006, working at GU Medical Oncology and subsequently joining the Calin Laboratory. Her research interests include research data management and analyses of lymphoma and leukemia projects. Outside of the lab, she enjoys tennis, oil painting and travel.
Linda Fabris, Ph.D.
Originally from: Italy
Linda Fabris obtained her master's degree in Medical Biotechnology from University of Trieste, Italy, in 2007. She began in a Ph.D. program in Medical and Biotechnological Sciences at the University of Udine in 2008 and defended her thesis in 2011. During her Ph.D. program, she worked at CRO National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy, where she was a postdoctoral fellow until 2014. Linda joined the Calin Laboratory in April 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow and was promoted to instructor in 2018. Linda's main research interests are transcribed ultraconserved regions, lncRNAs and cancer aggressiveness. She is involved in multiple projects aimed at understanding the clinical relevance of lncRNAs in cancer pathogenesis. Her main project focuses on dissecting the mechanism by which T-UCRs are involved in CLL initiation, progression and resistance to therapy. Outside of the lab, Linda enjoys indoor cycling and yoga.
Simone Anfossi, Ph.D.
Originally from: Italy
Simone Anfossi earned his Bachelor and Master degree in Molecular Biology from University of Genoa, Italy, in 1998. He obtained his Italian Biologist Board certification in Molecular Biology from the University of Genoa, Italy, in 2001. Then, he moved to Houston where he enrolled in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in August 2008, graduating in May 2013 (Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences). He spent two and a half years as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory where he graduated (Dr. James Reuben, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center). Then, in 2016, he joined the laboratory of Dr. George Calin (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), where he spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow before becoming an instructor in September 2019. Simone's main research interest is in Molecular and Cell Immunology and Non-Coding RNA. Simone's particular focus is on the development of novel Non-Coding RNA-based therapy for the treatment of breast cancer using engineered extracellular vesicles as delivery vehicle and the study of tumor-infiltrating neurons in the regulation of the tumor microenvironment. Outside of the lab, Simone enjoys travel, sports, art, creative drawing, good music, and eating chocolate.
Chunlai Li, Ph.D.
Originally from: China
Chunlai Li obtained his doctor degree in Genetics from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and joined Dr. Calin's lab in November 2017. Chunlai's main research interests are in studying long noncoding RNAs ( lncRNAs) in gastrointestinal cancer. Outside of the lab, Chunlai enjoys reading and hiking.
Melanie Winkle, Ph.D.
Originally from: Germany
Melanie Winkle absolved her studies in Groningen, the Netherlands. She attained her master's degree in 2013 after participating in a select and research focused 'top master' program on Medical and Pharmaceutical Drug Exploration. Subsequently, she started her Ph.D. program in the Department of Pathology at the University Medical Center Groningen and defended her thesis on the role of long noncoding RNA in B cell lymphoma in April 2018. After this, she worked on a post-doc project which was a collaboration between the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands, and the BC Cancer Center Vancouver, Canada. Melanie Winkle joined the lab of Dr. Calin in January 2020 as a postdoctoral fellow. Melanie's main research interest is to understand the functional involvement of noncoding RNA (i.e. micro RNA and long noncoding RNA) in blood diseases and to work on the development of RNA-targeting therapeutics. Her main project focuses on the role of noncoding RNA in sepsis and the identification of novel therapeutic targets to improve treatment options for septic patients. Outside of the lab, Melanie enjoys dance, guitar and travel.
Swati Mohapatra, B.S., M.S.
Ph.D. Student/Graduate Research Assistant-GSBS
Originally from: Odisha, India
Swati Mohapatra obtained her Integrated Master's (BS-MS) in Life Science from National Institute of Technology Rourkela (NITR), India in May 2019. She was awarded gold medal for Best Project in her Master's program and also received the branch topper award at NITR. Her master's thesis project was focused on studying the role of PIWI-interacting RNAs in fibrosarcoma. She joined the Ph.D. program of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Fall 2019. She is affiliated to the Cancer Biology Program. She joined the Calin lab in January 2020 for her second rotation and continued for her Ph.D. thesis project. Her current research interests are in studying the role of long noncoding RNAs mapped from the ultraconserved regions that are involved in the progression of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. In her spare time, Swati loves traveling and cooking.
Iman Sahnoune, B.S., M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate/Graduate Research Assistant-GSBS
Originally from: Houston, Texas
Iman earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Master’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Houston. Her Master’s thesis was completed in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, where she researched the impacts of radiation therapy on the developing brain. Her research experience has also incorporated the use of imaging techniques in the characterization of therapeutic response in several tumor types. Her current research focuses on characterizing the expression and molecular mechanisms of oncogenic miRNAs in brain tumors using imaging and targeted therapeutic approaches.
Leonie Ott, M.S.
Originally from: Germany
Leonie Ott earned her Bachelo's and Master's degrees in Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Currently, she is enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the institute of Tumor Biology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. She is visiting the Calin Laboratory for eight months as part of the RNADIGAON project. Leonie is mainly interested in miRNAs and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in metastatic breast cancer and how they contribute to therapy response. Outside of the lab, Leonie enjoys travel, stand up paddling and coffee.
Rares-Constantin Drula, M.Sc.
Originally from: Romania
Rares earned his bachelor and masters degrees in Biology and Molecular Biotechnology respectively from the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Medicine at the Iuliu Hatieganu University of Cluj-Napoca in the university's Research Center of Functional Genomics, Biomedicine and Translational Medicine where he first came in contact with the area of non-coding RNAs in cancer. Under Prof. Calin, Rares is investigating the possible interactions between the long-noncoding RNA CCAT2 and mitochondria and its effect on metabolism in the context of colorectal carcinoma. Additionally, Rares has taken an interest in exosomes, specifically tumor-derived exosomes and the composition and roles of their nucleic acid based cargo components. Rares always enjoys a good laugh with his colleagues and in his free time he usually explores the city looking for landmarks and nice cafes.
Dominik A. Barth, M.D.
Originally from: Austria
Dominik Barth studied medicine at the Medical University of Graz, Austria and obtained his M.D. degree in 2019. After his studies, he took up a residency in medical oncology and enrolled in a doctoral program for medical sciences at the Medical University of Graz. In 2020, he paused his medical training to focus on his Ph.D. program and joined Dr. Calin's lab as a graduate student via the RNADIAGON Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Comission. Dominik's main focus in research is on cancers of the geniourinary system in both clinical and translational research projects. Outside of the lab, Dominik enjoys piano, tennis and reading.
Xu Liu, M.D.
Originally from: China
Xu Liu received his medical degree from XI'an Jiaotong University, China in 2015, and started his graduate study in Oncology in XI'an Jiaotong Unversity the same year. He has been a Ph.D candidate since 2017. He joined Dr. Calin's lab in December 2018 as a visiting student. Xu's research is maily focused on r-loop in cancer.
Mingyi Zhou, M.D.
Originally from: China
Mingyi Zhou received her M.D. degree from China Medical University, China in 2015. She trained as a surgeon from 2015 to 2017, and was board-certified surgeon in gynecological cancer. In 2017, she began her Ph.D. program in Gynecological Cancer at China Medical University, China. During the course of her graduate studies and clinical experience, she found more interest in the molecular mechanism of HPV-related cancer. In January 2020, she joined the Calin’s Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center to continue her Ph.D. program. Mingyi is currently working on the mechanism of lncRNA in HPV-related cancer. Outside of the lab, Mingyi enjoys playing piano, travelling and watching movies.