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.
Yan (Janie) Jiang, Ph.D.
Yan (Janie) Jiang obtained her B.S. and M.S. from Sichuan University in China. Then she pursued her Ph.D. degree in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Her research fucosed on vitamin D and breast cancer development. Upon graduation, Janie completed her postdoctoral training in the field of nutrition and cancer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Janie became a research scientist and continued her research on breast cancer prevention and drug development at MD Anderson Cancer Center since 2013. After joining Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms' laboratory in 2018, Janie is overseeing the breast cancer PDX core operation and managering general laboratory matters.
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.
Yizheng Tu, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Yizheng Tu completed his M.D. degree at Jilin Medical University in Changchun, China and received a Ph.D. degree in cancer immunotherapy in Shanghai Second Medical University. He was a surgeon and an attending physician in the Surgery department at Jilin Medical University and Hospital of Hainan Province in China. In 1991, Tu focused his research career on cancer and organ transplantation in the Surgery department, University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Since 1994, as a research associate or senior scientist, Yizheng focused on animal models and projects focused on new drug discoveries in organ transplantation, autoimmune disease and cancer at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO and Astellas Pharmaceutical Company in Chicago, IL. Tu joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory in February 2015 and is involved in the development of PDX models.
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.
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.
I have completed my Ph.D. in 2018 in the laboratory of Rajeeb K. Swain, Ph.D., at Institute of Life Sciences (Bhubaneswar, India) where I studied the role of uncharacterized proteins in zebrafish organogenesis.
I joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory in 2019; my current research is focused on the identification of epigenetic and transcriptional changes that occur in small intestinal stem cells of fed and fasted mice.
Sujit Suklabaidya, Ph.D.
Sujit completed his Ph.D. degree in 2018 from the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India, under the mentorship of Dr. Shantibhusan Senapati, Ph.D. During his graduate training, he established in vitro and in vivo models to screen and validate potential anti-fibrotic drugs by drug-repositioning approach and identified novel molecular targets that play major roles in PSCs activation and pancreatic cancer desmoplasia. Following one and a half years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Boston Medical Center in the Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology; Sujit joined the Piwnica-Worms Laboratory at MD Anderson in 2019. He uses orthotopic PDX models to investigate the use of targeted therapies for patients with TNBC.
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., Asistant Professor