Joseph McCarty, Ph.D.
Joseph McCarty, Ph.D., came to MD Anderson in 2005 as an assistant professor in Cancer Biology. In 2013 he took a position as associate professor in Neurosurgery to expound upon his interest in brain tumor research and was promoted to professor in 2018. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator for a NIH/NINDS funded project Deciphering Mechanisms of Tumor Cell Invasion in Glioblastoma and was one of the 2014 Developmental Research Project recipients for the Brain Cancer SPORE, through which he is researching the effects of Targeting Spinophillin in Glioblastoma.
In 2006 Dr. McCarty was awarded the New Scholar Award in Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation and in 2008 the Career Development Award from MD Anderson Cancer Center Brain Cancer SPORE under the guidance of Principal Investigator W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D. Dr. McCarty is also a member of the Brain Tumor Research Program at MD Anderson, the Center for Stem Cell and Development Biology and the Cancer Metastasis Research Center.
Naze Avci, Ph.D.
Naze Gul Avci received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from University of Houston in 2015. During her graduate studies, Avci used poly (ethylene glycol) hydrogel-based microwells to develop in vitro 3D Glioblastoma (GBM) spheroid models and investigate the different signaling pathways that play role in GBM-endothelial cell interactions and angiogenesis. Up-regulation of two extensively studied genes CD31 and VEGFR2 when comparing co-cultures with mono-cultures confirmed that 3D co-culture model could mimic the in vivo GBM tumor microenvironment. Avci has also investigated therapeutic effect of the replication competent Adenovirus Delta-24RGD on in vitro 3D co-culture model. She showed that hydrogel microwell platform could provide a useful 3D spheroid models to investigate the in vitro oncolytic potential of the viruses.
Zhihua (Jenny) Chen, M.S., M.D.
Sr. Research Assistant
Zhihua Chen received her master's degree in immunology from the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology and M.D. from the Third Military Medical University in China. From 2003-2009, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Her research focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of extracellular matrix molecules related to tumor invasion and metastasis. Prior to joining the McCarty Laboratory in 2014, she was as a research associate at the Institute of Molecular Medicine - UT Health Science Center at Houston (2009-2014), where she was involved in projects related to neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, she used genetic and molecular approaches in Drosophila and cell culture systems to discover the disease-causative genes in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Paola Guerrero, M.S., Ph.D.
Paola Guerrero received her master's degree in biology from Georgia Southern University and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Texas A&M University. During her studies at Universidad de los Andes, Georgia Southern University and Texas A&M University, she served as a research assistant, researching such topics as Chagas disease, the phylogenetic genomic relationship of tick species in the Ixodes Ricinus complex derived from COI and 16S genes, characterization of non-aggregating chemokine MIP-IB, and completion of her doctoral dissertation on CTCF contributions to the regulation of the ribosomal DNA in Drosophila melanogaster. Prior to joining MD Anderson in April 2014, Guerrero worked as a postdoctoral associate for the Department of Pathology at Baylor College of Medicine studying the role of Merlin/NF2 in the tumorigenic processes of glioblastoma.
John Lattier, Ph.D.
John Lattier received his Ph.D. in 2014 from Emory University in Atlanta. His work focused on preventing the growth of liver metastasis of ocular melanoma. He and his colleagues demonstrated the anti-metastatic properties of pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), an anti-angiogenic protein naturally secreted by hepatocytes. He began college at the age of 16, receiving degrees in biology and physics and accumulating five years of medical diagnostics industry experience along the way. He joined MD Anderson in 2014 in Neurosurgery as a postdoctoral fellow under the direction of Joseph McCarty, Ph.D.
John Morales, B.S.
Sr. Research Assistant
John Morales received his bachelor's degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to MD Anderson in 2013 as a Senior Research Assistant in the McCarty Lab, John worked as a research assistant for 11 years at The University of Texas in the Rick Wetsel, Ph.D., Immunology Lab.
Je Hoon Seo, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Je Hoon Seo received his Ph.D. from Seoul National University in South Korea in 2002. He has been an anatomy professor of Chungbuk National University College of Medicine since 2003. He has been interested in development and biochemical properties of neuroglia for many years. Recently, he paid attention to elucidate the protective role of heat shock proteins in oligodendrocytes and made efforts to find strategies to overcome demyelinating diseases through control of heat shock protein expression in oligodendrocyte precursor cells. He had the opportunity to spend his research years at MD Anderson and joined the McCarty lab in 2016 as a visiting professor.
Shweta Tiwary, M.S., Ph.D.
Shweta Tiwary received her Ph.D. from University of Rochester, New York in January 2015. During her graduate studies, Tiwary studied the roles of two different signaling pathways in melanoma metastasis. She utilized in vivo modeling of metastases to decipher the roles of ERBB3 (a RTK) and FZD7 (a WNT receptor) at different metastatic steps. She found that high expression of ERBB3 and/or FZD7 in human patients carrying metastases correlates with their poor survival. Her work confirms an early role of ERBB3/PI3K/AKT in survival of melanoma cells soon after they are dislodged in the tissue. Tiwary has also shown the role of FZD7/JNK signaling (non-canonical WNT signaling pathway) in the terminal step of metastasis which involves tumor initiation/proliferation of melanoma cells after organ seeding. Her work provides pre-clinical evidence for ERBB3 and FZD7 to be a therapeutic target in advanced melanomas.
Jordan Toutounchian, Ph.D.
Jordan Toutounchian received his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences in 2016 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee. His graduate work involved the design and validation of new pharmacological agents for the treatment of neovascular eye disease (diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration). Specifically, he investigated how signaling through focal adhesion proteins promotes pathological angiogenesis of retinal blood vessels in an oxygen-deprived environment. He showed that targeting focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin interactions with small molecules significantly impaired VEGF-induced endothelial cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. These studies validated paxillin as a viable molecular target and helped identify a novel class of small molecule paxillin modulators with anti-angiogenic properties. Jordan’s contributions afforded him one issued US patent with two other patent applications currently under review. He joined the McCarty lab in 2016 to investigate the processes by which brain tumors exploit and deregulate the blood-brain barrier.
Former McCarty Lab Members
Former Graduate Students:
- Youngsin Jung, M.D., Ph.D.
Current Position: Neurology Resident, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
- Aaron Mobley, Ph.D.
Current Position: Research Support Specialist, Children’s Hospital, Denver, Colorado
- Steve Reyes, Ph.D.
Clinical Project Manager, XBiotech, Austin, Texas
- Jeremy Tchaicha, Ph.D.
Current Position: Scientist, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Former Post-doctoral Researchers:
- Hye Shin Lee, Ph.D.
Current Position: Research Scientist, Seoul National University
- Mujeeburahiman Cheerathodi, Ph.D.
Current Position: Research Associate, Florida State University
Former Research Technician:
- Mohammad Hossain
Current Position: Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX