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.
Faiza Baameur Hancock, Ph.D.
Faiza Hancock obtained a master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Oran, Algeria in 2000. After teaching chemistry in college for five years, she moved to the United States and earned a Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Pharmacology from the University of Texas, Health Science Center in Houston in 2009. Her thesis work, under the mentorship of Dr Richard Clark, focused on the mechanisms of activation of G Protein-Coupled Receptors. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Faiza returned to Houston in 2014 and joined the laboratory of Dr Kavelaars at MD Anderson Cancer Center initially as a postdoctoral fellow, then research scientist, and subsequently research laboratory manager. In 2021, she joined the laboratory of Dr Helen Piwnica-Worms as laboratory manager overseeing laboratory operations and managing the PDX core.
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.
Shi-Rong 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.
Jiansu 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.
Research Laboratory Coordinator
Sabrina Jeter 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.
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.
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 Barrodia 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.
Yan Jiang, Ph.D.
Yan Jiang completed her Ph.D. degree in 2014 from the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (SIBCB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Under the guidance of Dr. Gaoxiang Ge, her thesis work focused on the mechanisms of drug resistance in breast cancer. After a subsequent stint in Biotech in Shanghai, she joined Dr. Giancotti's laboratory at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2016 to study metastic dormancy and reactivation in breast cancer. Yan transferred to the Piwnica-Worms' laboratory in 2021 and is investigating the mechanisms related to chemoresistance in specific tumor subpopulation of triple negative breast cancer.
Noor Abdulkareem, Ph.D.
Noor Abdulkareem obtained an MSc in Pharmacology from Glasgow Caledonian University (Scotland, United Kingdom) in 2017. Then, she moved to the United States and earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy in 2022. Her dissertation work, under the mentorship of Meghana Trivedi, Ph.D., Pharm.D., focused on the pharmacology and molecular mechanisms of the adhesion GPCR (ADGRF1) in HER2+ breast cancer. In October 2022, she joined the Piwnica-Worms' laboratory for her postdoctoral training. Noor is interested in understanding metastasis and mechanisms of PARP inhibitor resistance in breast cancer.
Lara Carolina Alvarez de Lacerda Landry, Ph.D., Program Manager
Wendy Bindeman, Ph.D. Student
Chun-Chun Cheng, Ph.D., Instructor
Miramar de la Cruz Bonilla, M.D., Ph.D. Student
Gloria Echeverria, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Zhongqi Ge, Ph.D., Computational Scientist
Jiachao He, PhD., Postdoctoral Fellow
Eric Jaehing, Ph.D., Research Associate
Guiyu Jiang, M.S., Research Investigator
Yan Jiang, Ph.D., Laboratory Manager
Aaron McCoy, M.S., Staff Scientist
Hector Picon, M.D., Student
Emily Powell, Ph.D., Clinical Research Operations Manager
Abena Redwood, Ph.D., Project Manager
Vidya Sinha, Ph.D., Instructor
Kristina Stemler, Ph.D., Clinical Research Program Coordinator
Yizheng Tu, Senior Scientist
Mingchu Xu, Ph.D., Computational Scientist
Xinhui Zhou, M.S., Research Investigator