People

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Marsha Rosner, PhD
Primary investigator
Email: mrosner@uchicago.edu
Dr. Rosner received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Harvard University and her Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a student of Professor Har-Gobind Khorana, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in elucidating the genetic code. She then stayed at MIT to pursue postdoctoral work as a fellow of the American Cancer Society in the laboratory of Dr. Phillip Robbins. In 1982, she assumed her first faculty position as an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Applied Biological Sciences at MIT. Dr. Rosner joined the University of Chicago faculty as an Associate Professor in 1987 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1994.

Marsha teaches the Cancer Biology course at the university – an award-winning fan-favorite among undergrads. In her free time, Marsha enjoys hiking, sailing, dancing, and spending time with grandchildren.

Read Dr. Rosner’s biosketch


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Jiyoung Lee, PhD
Instructor and post-doctoral fellow
Dr. Lee received her bachelor’s degree from Korea University and her Ph.D. degree in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign (PI: Dr. Jongsook Kim Kemper). Currently, Jiyoung is working on exploiting cancer cell metabolism through targeting BACH1, a downstream effector of RKIP.

Jiyoung’s research is sponsored by the Breakthrough Award from United States Department of Defense. Jiyoung’s favorite vacation place is Hawaii.


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Nykia Walker, PhD
Post-doctoral fellow
Dr. Walker received her bachelor’s degree in Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Physiology from University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. degree in Stem Cell and Cancer Biology at Rutgers University (PI: Dr. Pranela Rameshar). With her extensive working experiences at leading biopharmaceutical giants, Nykia brings entrepreneurship to our lab (the first thing we did was renaming all our projects as “pipelines”). Nykia studies exosomes secreted by metastatic cancer cells.

In addition to cancer research, Nykia also actively participates in volunteering work in the community. Nykia is in charge of organizing social activities for the lab.


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Joseph Wynne, MD, PhD
Clinical research fellow
Dr. Wynne received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. He was an MSTP fellow at New York University where he received M.D. and Ph.D. degrees (PI: Dr. Mark Phillips). Dr. Wynne knows the challenges faced by clinicians and patients everyday, and aims to bring findings from bench to bedside. He is currently investigating targeting BACH1 through radiation and immunotherapy.

In addition to research in our lab, Dr. Wynne also sees patients at the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology. Even with his busy schedule, Joe still tries to find time to escape into the world of XBOX ONE.


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Ali Yesilkanal
Graduate student
Ali joined Rosner Lab when he was undergraduate student at the University of Chicago. Ali studies novel drug combinations to treat metastasis of triple negative breast cancer. He is the first graduate student in our lab to utilize artificial intelligence to discover new targets and analyze data. Due to frequent use of “random forest” and “k-nearest neighbors”, his laptop has become sentient.

Ali founded Histones, the aptly-named and popular a capella band consisting of graduate students in biological sciences. His computational skills make him a strong candidate for positions related to data science and machine learning.

See my LinkedIn Profile


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Peter Yang
Graduate student
Peter received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He joined the lab in 2017 and he investigates the signaling network of RKIP. Currently he is using single-cell sequencing to study tumor heterogeneity in triple negative breast cancer.

Peter likes technology and provides technical support for the lab (disclosure: shareholder of Apple Inc). He is the founder and administrator of the lab website.


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Christopher Dann
Undergraduate student
Chris graduated from San Francisco University High School and is a biology major on the advanced track (Class of 2021) at the college. Chris is on the varsity track team, crew chief for U of C Emergency Medical Services, and the VP of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He joined the lab in Spring 2018. He is currently investigating tumor microenvironment and immune cells in syngeneic TNBC mouse models mentored by Joe. Chris enjoys reading, cooking, and working out in his free time. He volunteers with a church and at a palliative care center.

See my LinkedIn Profile


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Siqi Sun
Lab Technician
Siqi graduated from University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2018 with a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology and joined the lab immediately after. She is currently involved in Jiyoung and Ali’s projects. Siqi likes to watch Japanese Anime and travel.


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Payal Tiwari
Graduate student
Payal received her engineering degree from Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science and Technology. Payal is co-mentored by Dr. Rosner and Dr. Lev Becker. Her work focuses on the role of metabolically activated macrophages (MMes) in obesity-driven triple negative breast cancer. Payal is the first student at University of Chicago to win the highly competitive NIH F99/K00 Pre-doctoral to Post-doctoral Transition Fellowship. She graduated in Fall 2018 and joined Dr. William Hahn’s lab at MIT as a post-doc.

Payal really cares about providing education for underprivileged children in India. She is a project manager at Asha for Education, a non-profit organization that supports basic education in rural India. She is allegedly a marathon runner (and actually finished for once on the fateful day of 10/7/18, Bank of America Chicago Marathon).

See my LinkedIn Profile


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Jielin Yan
Undergraduate student
Jielin graduated from Beijing No.80 High School and is a biology Major (Class of 2018) at the college of the U of C. Her thesis project is Targeting Triple Negative Breast Cancer with BACH1 and Mitochondrial Metabolism. She is mentored by Jiyoung in our lab. Jielin enjoys patting cats and going to the theaters in her spare time. Jielin graduated in Summer 2018 and joined the Cancer Biology PhD Program at Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.


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Ariane Blank
Undergraduate student
Ariane graduated from Bend Senior High School in Oregon and is a biology Major (Class of 2018) at the college of the U of C. Ariane joined the lab in her sophomore year and is mentored by Payal. Her thesis project is Metabolically Active Obese Mammary Adipose Tissue Macrophages Activate the GP130/STAT3 Axis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells. Ariane loves rock climbing and she has a lovely cat called Pabbie. Ariane graduated in Summer 2018 and joined the Cancer Biology PhD Program at Stanford University.


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Ethan Steinberg
Undergraduate student
Ethan graduated from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland and is a biology Major (Class of 2018) at the college of the U of C. Before joining the Rosner Lab, he did an internship at National Cancer Institute. Ethan’s thesis research is mentored by Ali. His project is the Role of Casein Kinase 2 in Metastatic Signaling in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Ethan is passionate about science education and has tutored many students from elementary school to college, in both US and China. He also volunteers for the local animal shelter. Ethan’s alternative personality is the globe-trotting jet-setter who writes for the popular travel website The Points Guy. Ethan graduated in Summer 2018 and became a full-time author for TBG based in Shanghai.


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