Piwnica-Worms completed a BA degree in biology at St. Olaf College (1979) in Northfield, MN, a Ph.D. degree in microbiology and immunology at Duke University Medical School (1984) in Durham, NC, and a postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (1988) in Boston, MA. She served as Instructor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from 1988. She then joined Tufts University Medical School (Boston, MA), as an Assistant Professor of Physiology (1989-1992).
In 1992, Piwnica-Worms was recruited to Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Hospital, where she was Assistant and then Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (1992-1994). In 1994, she moved to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, where she was the Gerty T. Cori Professor and Chair of Cell Biology and Physiology and Professor of Internal Medicine. She also served as Associate Director of Basic Science at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and co-directed the BRIGHT Institute.
Piwnica-Worms is a Professor of Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX) since 2013.
Shi-Rong Cai, M.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Shi-Rong Cai obtained an M.D. degree from Shanghai Second Medical University in Shanghai, China. He was a resident, physician (surgeon), and vice-chief surgeon in the Department of Surgery, Shanghai Zha Bei Central Hospital, (Shanghai, China) for 12 years. Cai transferred to Washington University School of Medicine in 1994, where he was a research associate, research scientist, and senior scientist. He established mouse cancer models (such as breast, prostate, colon, lung, and liver cancer and metastasis), developed multiple immunochemical and immunofluorescence staining methods for tumor biomarker studies, and used DNA-damaging agents, in combination with Chk1 inhibitors, to evaluate the potential therapeutic effect of drugs in vivo.
Cai relocated to MD Anderson in 2013. His research interest is the development of cancer models for preclinical translational studies. He has established several human-in-mouse tumor lines. Currently, he is using orthotropic PDX mouse models of human TNBC to determine the therapeutic effect of Chk1 and PARP inhibitors, in combination with several DNA-damaging agents, on breast cancer with different p53 and PARP statuses.
Jiansu Shao, M.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Jiansu Shao obtained an M.D. degree from Shanghai Medical University in Shanghai, China, and completed her medical residency and forensic pathology fellowship at Shanghai Medical School and East China University of Political Science and Law (Shanghai, China). Shao underwent professional electron microscopy training as a researcher at the World Health Organization Central institute for Electron Microscopic Research at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, Japan. In 1994, Shao transferred to Washington University School of Medicine, where she worked in the Internal Medicine department as a research associate, research scientist and later instructor.
Shao relocated to MD Anderson in 2013. Her research is focused on using PDX models and bioluminescence imaging to study the development of breast cancer metastasis. She also uses immunochemical methods to evaluate the functional gene expression of metastasis.
Jeter-Jones received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, TX) and is an alumni of the University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK). She spent 10 years at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (The Woodlands, TX), investigating novel therapeutic targets for obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
She joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory in June 2014.
Xinhui Zhou, M.S.
Xinhui Zhou received her B.S in Biology from Xiamen University (Xiamen, China) and M.S in Molecular Biology from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 1997. Her previous research projects at MD Anderson involved the functional study of the Migration and Invasion Inhibitor Protein (MIIP) gene in CRC and gene cooperation in glioma progression, as well as quantitative trait loci (QTL) studies on radiation- and bleomycin-induced murine pulmonary fibrosis through genome-wide scan to fibrosis-prone and fibrosis-resistant mouse model. Xinhui joined the Piwnica-Worms Lab in March 2016.
Xiaomei Zhang, Ph.D.
Xiaomei Zhang earned a Ph.D. degree in preventive veterinary medicine from China Agricultural University (Beijing, China) in 2000. She spent over 13 years in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX). Her research projects at BCM focused on the establishment and characterization of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model of human breast cancer, as well as studying novel therapeutic targets for breast cancer using PDX models.
She joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory in November 2016.
Vidya Sinha, Ph.D.
Sinha attained her Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX) in 2014, for work in breast cancer biology, under the guidance of Yi Li, Ph.D. Her thesis work centered on understanding the mechanisms governing breast cancer initiation and growth, with specific focus on the roles of senescence, the ARF/p53 axis, initiating oncogenes, and cells-of-origin in the genesis and progression of premalignant mammary lesions. Sinha joined the Piwnica-Worms’ Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2015 and is studying the role of mutation order in shaping tumor physiology.
Chun-chun Cheng, Ph.D.
Chun-Chun Cheng received her Ph.D. degree in Biotechnology from National Taiwan University in Taiwan. In Dr. Shinn-Chih Wu and Dr. I-Hsuan Liu labs, her work centered on the identification and characterization of mesenchymal stem cells, and investigating how heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans regulate stem cell-fate. Later she joined Dr. Hironobu Fujiwara lab at RIKEN in Japan to study cell-ECM interactions, and she found hair follicle epidermal stem cells deposit an ECM protein called EGFL6 and define a niche for tactile sensation. In 2017, she studied cancer-testis antigens with Dr. Angelique Whitehurst at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She found sperm-specific COX6B2 protein enhances oxidative phosphorylation and develops a proliferative advantage in lung adenocarcinoma. She joined the Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2021 and focuses on the mechanisms of resistance in breast cancer.
Amanda Rinkenbaugh, Ph.D.
Amanda Rinkenbaugh earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pathology from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC) in 2016. Her thesis work, under the guidance of Dr. Albert Baldwin, focused on the involvement of NF-kappaB signaling in the maintenance of cancer stem cells in glioblastoma. She joined the Piwnica-Worms’ Laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2016 and is utilizing imaging mass cytometry to dissect signaling heterogeneity within triple negative breast cancer PDX models, with an emphasis on models of chemoresistance and metastasis.
Praveen Barrodia, Ph.D.
Praveen completed his Ph.D. degree in 2018 from the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India, under the mentorship of Rajeeb K. Swain, Ph.D. During his graduate training he studied the role of uncharacterized proteins in zebrafish organogenesis. Currently, his research is focused to identify the mechanism of fasting and how it protects small intestinal stem cells from high dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He is also interested to find small molecular inhibitors targeting Yap1 protein in different cancers.
Jichao He, Ph.D.
Jichao He conducted his M.S. study on the pharmacokinetic mechanisms of herb-drug interaction in the management of colorectal cancer in China Pharmaceutical University, supervised by Professor Dr. Guangji Wang. Upon completion in 2014, he continued with the Ph.D. project on uncovering vulnerabilities in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in van de Water’s group of Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 2019, He joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory at MD Anderson, with a particular interest in epigenetic reprogramming implicated in TNBC chemoresistance and metastasis using orthotopic PDX models.
Wendy Bindeman, Ph.D. Student
Lara Carolina Alvarez de Lacerda Landry, Ph. D., Program Manager
Eric Jaehing, Ph.D., Research Associate
Guiyu Jiang, M.S., Research Investigator
Aaron McCoy, M.S., Staff Scientist
Hector Picon, M.D. Student
Emily Powell, Ph.D., Clinical Research Operations Manager
Zhongqi Ge, Ph.D., Computational Scientist
Kristina Stemler, Ph.D., Clinical Research Program Coordinator
Miramar de la Cruz Bonilla, M.D., Ph.D. Student
Abena Redwood, Ph.D., Project Manager
Mingchu Xu, Ph.D., Computational Scientist
Gloria Echeverria, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Yizheng Tu, Senior Scientist
Yan Jiang, Ph.D., Laboratory Manager