Florencia McAllister, M.D., is a physician-scientist who leads a basic and translational Immunology laboratory with the goal of making discoveries that can result in effective cancer early detection, immunoprevention and immunotherapy. McAllister has received Immunology post-graduate training with Jay Kolls, M.D., at the University of Pittsburgh, where she made several discoveries in T Helpers17 (TH17) cells biology, including the characterization of the lung epithelial IL-17 signaling pathway, the dissection of the role of IL-17 pathway in cystic fibrosis, the understanding of the function of IL-22 in innate immunity. Upon completion of her Internal Medicine in Pittsburgh, McAllister pursued a combined clinical training in Medical Oncology and Clinical Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University, where she undertook postdoctoral research studies in Cancer Biology and Tumor Immunology in the laboratories of Steven Leach and Drew Pardoll, discovering the key role of TH17 cells in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. In 2012 McAllister was the recipient of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN)- AACR Samuel Stroum Fellowship and was awarded the Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation.
McAllister began her research lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the fall of 2014. Her lab focuses on understanding the role of the immune system in immunosurveillance and immunoevasion. More recently, the laboratory has developed an interest on dissecting the role of bacterial products in modulating cancer immune responses. McAllister has received the PanCAN-AACR Career Development Award in 2014 and a Translational Award in 2016. She is currently the recipient of a K12-Career Development Award from NCI, a V Foundation Research Scholar and received the Bernard Lee Schwartz Designated Research Scholar Award from the American Gastrointestinal Association.
McAllister is an attending in Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and leads a multi-disciplinary Pancreatic Cancer High-Risk Clinic in which patients with higher genetic susceptibility for pancreatic cancer undergo surveillance and elect to participate in a cohort with prospective biospecimens and data collection with the ultimate goal of validating novel biomarkers of risk and early detection of pancreatic cancer.
I joined the McAllister lab in 2019 as a Sr. Clinical Research Scientist. I got my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at University of Houston. I joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow, and later moved into an instructor role where I mainly worked on exosomal miRNAS and tumor microenvironment. Now at the McAllister lab, I am helping with scientific and regulatory aspects of clinical research projects. My role is to support the design and development of clinical research protocols, budgets as well as administrative/regulatory and scientific plans. The two desserts I can hardly ever say no to are chocolate lava cake and tiramisu.
Senior Clinical Research Scientist
I joined the McAllister lab in 2019 as a Clinical Research Investigator. My background is as an OB/GYN. My main interest is in understanding the gut microbiome's effect on developing cancer.
I am a pancreatic surgeon from China. I joined the McAllister Lab in 2019, and my research focuses on how different diets and FMT affects immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer. I have two adorable cats, Donut and Snake Li.
I was a post-doc at the NIH for four years before joining the McAllister Lab in 2020. My research focuses on liver metastasis of pancreatic cancer. I love cooking and watching movies after work.
I am Jeong-Hoon Jang from South Korea. I received my Ph.D. from Seoul National University. I mainly focused on tumor microenvironment. I joined the McAllister lab in September 2020. I enjoy doing weight training in my free time.
Play hard. Lift harder. Study hardest!
I joined the lab in 2018 as a Ph.D. student in the Cancer Biology Program. My dissertation project focuses on microbial immune effects on tumor biology and its therapeutic manipulation. Although my hometown is in India, I have warmed up to Houston now. I love to read fiction, volunteer for shelter animals, Netflix and hibernate on the weekend.
Graduate Research Assistant
I am a Ph.D. candidate in the McAllister Lab. My project involves identifying the cells that mediate IL-17 signaling in pancreatic cancer. When not in lab, I’m involved with scientific outreach initiatives in my home country, Peru. I love to bake, watch superhero movies and spend time with my pet child, Rumi, an adorable Mini-Schnauzer.
Graduate Research Assistant
I am a third year Ph.D. student in the Cancer Biology program and my project focuses on the possible role of molecular mimicry in mediating survival of PDAC patients. One fun fact about me is that I lost my sense of smell in high school, and it’s very slowly (but surely) coming back! For a few years, all I could smell was gasoline and popcorn.
Graduate Research Assistant
Olivereen (Olivia) Le Roux
I joined the McAllister Lab in January 2019 as a Research Assistant. I help lab members with experiments, maintain our mouse colony (I am a proud mouse mother) and perform general administrative tasks. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, I graduated from Lamar University after 4 years as a competitive Division I collegiate golfer. Free time activities include browsing online forums, reading and weightlifting.
Research Assistant 1
I joined the McAllister lab in November 2020. I graduated with a degree in Immunology from Tarbiat Modares University in Iran. I am interested in tumor immunology and cancer biology. My goal is to help patients and give them home. I have six cute baby chicks (nephews and nieces) who are 1/3 of my soul. I enjoy trying various types of foods from different countries. What if we could eat as much as we want without worrying about weight gain or any health issues?
Research Assistant 2
Pompeyo Rafael Quesada - Currently attending Medical School in El Paso TX
Erick Riquelme - Assistant Professor ar Universidad Mayor, Chile
Michelle Zoltan - Field Clinical Application Specialist at Veran Medical Technologies, Houston TX
Yu Zhang - Director of Cancer Informatics at Hangzhou Cosmos Wisdom Biotechnology Co., China
Maria Fernanda Montiel - Resident at Driscoll Children's Hospital, Corpus Christi TX