Steven H. Lin, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician-scientist and radiation oncologist who specializes in thoracic malignancies. His laboratory is committed to developing approaches that will enhance traditional cancer therapies. They have developed a novel radiation sensitizer screen approach to identify, in a high-throughput manner, targeted therapies that could immediately be translated to the clinical setting. Through this effort, two Phase I clinical trials have been launched and accruing as a direct result of this research. Dr. Lin continues to apply novel approaches to identify other drivers of treatment resistance and seek innovative strategies to counterbalance the resistance mechanisms. He is applying candidate gene knockdown or knockout screens to identify immunomodulators or radiation sensitivity modulators. The focus is on clinical translation, taking potential drug candidates and testing them in preclinical studies to validate the utility of combining radiation sensitizers or immunomodulators with standard of care chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy alone approaches for the management of lung and esophageal cancer. Promising agents are brought to the clinic as investigator-initiated trials.
Sadhna Aggarwal, Ph.D.
Sadhna Aggarwal completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in microbiology at the University of Delhi, India. Following that, she obtained her Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowship in cancer and molecular immunology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India. In 2022, she joined the Lin Laboratory. The intricacies of the immune system have always fascinated her, and she firmly believes that a deeper understanding of immunology can significantly contribute to our knowledge of cell growth regulation and its implications in several diseases, particularly cancer. Her research interests focus on identifying the early detection cancer biomarkers, unravelling novel targets for cancer treatment through exploration of cell signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in development and establishment of carcinogenesis.
Chen Braun, Ph.D.
Chen Braun graduated Cum Laude with a B.Sc in biotechnology engineering from ORT Braude College, Israel. Prior to graduate school, she gained research experience both at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and Protalix, a biopharmaceutical company. She then moved to the United States to pursue her M.Sc and her Ph.D in pharmacology and physiology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, New York. Using her expertise in pharmacology, her postdoctoral work in Dr. Lin’s laboratory focuses on elucidating novel intrinsic and adaptive mechanisms of resistance to chemoradiation in lung cancer. Her second goal focuses on identifying new inhibitory drugs to enhance an immune response following radiotherapy. Outside of the lab, she is engaged in community activities and enjoys extreme sports and traveling with her family.
Priti Gupta, Ph.D.
Priti Gupta was born and raised in India. She completed her Ph.D. in kinesiology (Exercise Physiology) at the University of Houston in 2020, where she investigated the effect of physical stress (such as exercise and microgravity as well as cancer) on immune cell function, specifically natural killer cell function. She is interested in understanding the changes in the immune response to cancer therapy and how radiation therapy in combination with other therapies such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy can be augmented to enhance treatment effectiveness. She likes to spend her free time with family and friends and also enjoys drawing sketches, reading and watching movies.
Nan Li, Ph.D.
Nan Li received his bachelor’s degree in biology and biotechnology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2006 and Ph.D. degree in cell biology at University of Science and Technology of China in 2011. He started his postdoctoral training at MD Anderson in 2011 and continued until 2016. His research focus has been on understanding Tankyrase-induced protein modification in cancer development and immune response to improve Tankyrase inhibitors-based therapy. He is also working on evaluating chemical inhibitors and drugs that contribute to radiation induced anti-tumor immunity, and on establishing lung tumor models that are resistant to chemoradiation or radiation with immunotherapy. These tumor models can be used to investigate tumor resistance from fundamental molecular mechanism to preclinical treatment strategy.
Xiaolin Lu, M.S.
Senior Research Assistant
Xiaolin Lu has worked as a research associate at MD Anderson for more than 25 years. She has expertise in recombinant adenoviral, retroviral and lentiviral vectors, gene silencing with microRNAs, flow cytometry and various molecular and cellular biology techniques. She also has experience in tumor injection and monitoring studies in mice and rats, as well as murine bone marrow transduction and transplantation. She is currently fully focused on Dr. Chad Tang’s translational studies in clinical radiation therapy trials for oligometastatic disease in prostate cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer and other solid tumors.
Mustafa Mirza, B.S.
Mustafa Mirza received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Iowa State University in 2021. Eager to gain work experience and add to his skillset, he immersed himself in the field since then. Prior to joining MD Anderson, he was the lead lab technician at a diagnostic laboratory. He currently performs various functions to further the lab’s research goals, including processing blood and tumor cells for analysis and data management. He is passionate about the work he does and contributing to the fight against cancer. In his free time Mustafa enjoys exploring the city, writing kōans and spending time with his cat Billi.
Ye-Lin Son is a Ph.D. student in the School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Her research interest is to characterize tumor heterogeneities based on genomics data and novel therapeutic targets from them. Particularly, she focuses on conducting research with single-cell sequencing data, including single-cell RNA sequencing data and single-cell TCR sequencing data.
Rong-Hua Tao, M.D., Ph.D.
Rong-Hua Tao received his M.D. degree in China, Ph.D. degree in Japan and postdoctoral training in cancer biology at MD Anderson. He had been focused on identifying novel targets for cancer therapy through exploring the mechanism and signaling pathways in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Currently, he is establishing humanized orthotopic patient-derived xenograft mouse models for esophageal and lung cancer to enable the testing of novel therapies in combination with radiation or chemoradiation, such as immunotherapy and other targeted therapies, and to better understand how the tumor microenvironment changes with treatment. He is also exploring the molecular and cellular mechanism by which radiation induces lymphopenia, and ways for mitigation.
Min Wang, M.D., M.S.
Min Wang received his M.D. from Anhui Medical University and master's degree from Sun Yat-Sen University of Medicine Science in China. He has more than 20 years of lab work experience. He works with novel immune checkpoint genes and their impact on animal and cellular experiments with radiation therapy.
Qiong Wu, B.S.
Qiong Wu is a research assistant with 17 years of lab experience at MD Anderson. She is a trained phlebotomist for collecting and processing blood samples for research studies and proficient at separation PBMC from peripheral blood, isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and downstream molecular analysis of tumor genes of CTCs. She performs circulating cells extract and analysis, PCR, RT-PCR, cloning, cell culture, tissue culture, tumor tissue xenograft model, RNA and DNA extraction and purification, protein extraction, Western blot, tumor implant in bone, bone processing and bone histomorphometry.
Rui Ye, B.S., M.P.H.
Rui Ye completed his undergraduate degree at Capital Medical University in China and completed his master's of public health degree at Yale School of Public Health. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. His main research interests are in developing novel single cell genomics technologies and utilizing them to study tumor evolution and therapeutic resistance. In his spare time, he loves playing soccer and is a super Manchester United fan.
Vincent Bernard, M.D., Ph.D.
Vincent Bernard completed an M.D./Ph.D. through a U54 Partnership between the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, where his work focused on utilizing liquid biopsies for early detection, prognostication and therapeutic monitoring of pancreatic cancer. He is now a radiation oncology resident and Holman Research Pathway Fellow interested in leveraging functional genomics, as well as spatial and single cell transcriptomics to identify and characterize mechanisms of radioresistance in GI malignancies.
Enoch Chang, M.D.
Enoch Chang is a radiation oncology resident at MD Anderson. He grew up in California and attended college and medical school at Yale. His research interests include the applications of artificial intelligence and development of quantitative imaging biomarkers. He is investigating the role of a novel immunologic PET tracer as a biomarker for treatment response in patients with esophageal cancer.
Adam Grippin, M.D., Ph.D.
Adam Grippin completed his M.D. and his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Florida. During his Ph.D. studies, he worked under mentorship of Dr. Duane Mitchell and Dr. Jon Dobson to develop a personalized RNA-nanoparticle platform that is currently in first-in-human clinical trials for treatment of brain tumors. He is a current resident in radiation oncology and fellow in the T32 Cancer Nanotechnology Fellowship at MD Anderson, where his research focuses on cancer immunotherapy and nanotechnology. His current projects include translational studies investigating the impact of mRNA vaccines on immune therapies and a multi-institutional clinical trial designed to elucidate the impact of radiation induced lymphopenia on immune function.
Aaron Seo, M.D., Ph.D.
Aaron Seo earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Washington, with his Ph.D. in genome sciences focused on utilizing high-throughput sequencing approaches to identify novel causes of inherited bone marrow failure. After completing his preliminary internal medicine year at Virginia Mason Medical Center, he began radiation oncology training in 2021 at MD Anderson. His research project is focused on understanding the systemic immune response mechanisms of combined stereotactic ablative radiotherapy and immunotherapy (I-SABR) in order to identify genomic and molecular biomarkers associated with improved clinical outcomes in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients treated with I-SABR.
Former Lab Members
Jianzhong He, B.S.
Jianzhong He has nearly 20 years of experience processing blood samples and other biomaterials as part of the translational research efforts in the thoracic radiation group. He performed assays to extract and analyze circulating cells as cancer biomarkers.
Yufei Liu, Ph.D., M.D.
Radiation Oncology Resident, Postdoctoral Fellow
Yufei Liu's projects revolved around the biological effects of FLASH radiation with a focus on lymphopenia, finding biological predictors of prognosis in esophageal cancer patients, and improving clinical outcomes in lung cancer patients receiving radiation. He grew up and went to college in the northeast and then moved to the Bay Area, where he received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from UC Berkeley studying the effects of sirtuins on hematopoietic stem cell aging and his M.D. from Stanford, where he investigated biomarkers for pancreatic cancer prognosis. Outside of the lab, he enjoys hiking, traveling, good food, piano and cheering on Boston sports teams.
Yawei Qiao, M.S.
Yawei Qiao worked at MD Anderson for more than 20 years. Her work involved high-throughput screening (HTS) projects and animal tumor models.