CEDAR Alumni

A pipette containing a liquid biological sample is suspended over a matrix of tiny dishes.

The Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR) at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading centers for cancer research. Many talented postdocs join our team, grow as independent scientists, get professional development, and go on to pursue research careers elsewhere. Read on to learn more about the career paths of CEDAR postdocs.

Anna Malakian, Ph.D.

Anna Malakian joined CEDAR in March 2022 after working at Penn State University in Dr. Andrew Zydney’s group. Her research focused on in-line virus clearance.

She received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University in August 2021. Her research focused on developing patterned membranes to combat fouling in membrane-based purification applications. Dr. Malakian also worked on synthesizing highly porous materials from high internal phase emulsions as her master’s degree project at New Mexico State University.

At CEDAR, Dr. Malakian evaluated the efficacity of using biomarkers carried by tumor-derived exosomes and other organelle drive extracellular vesicles. She left CEDAR in May 2023 to join Carollo Engineers.

See Anna Malakian's Scopus profile

Rachel Chapla, Ph.D.

Rachel Chapla worked with Dr. Carolyn Schutt Ibsen at CEDAR to design advanced biomaterials for modeling cancerous tissue and for therapeutic applications.

Dr. Chapla earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University. There, she developed synthetic hydrogels to model aspects of native soft tissue by manipulating hydrogel compliance and by incorporating temporally controlled reversible biochemical signal presentation.

Before her graduate research, Dr. Chapla developed an interest in polymeric biomaterials while earning a B.S. in textile engineering at North Carolina State University. She left CEDAR in January 2023 to become a postdoc at the Mayo Clinic.

See Rachel Chapla’s Scopus profile

Sila Ozdemir, Ph.D.

Sila Ozdemir is a computational biologist. Her main research interests are molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulations of biomolecules such as proteins and their complexes.

At CEDAR, Dr. Ozdemir applied her expertise to modeling and simulation to predict interaction mechanisms of protein complexes playing major roles in the early stage of the cancer upon oncogenic mutations. She left CEDAR in December 2022 to join Metis Therapeutics.

See Sila Ozdemir's Scopus profile

Spandana Naldiga, Ph.D.

Naldiga Spandana earned her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut, where she worked on understanding the mutagenesis of damaged DNA replication in human cells. At CEDAR, she worked on understanding the early biology of the small cell lung cancer incidence in humans using molecular biology and advanced microscopy techniques. She left CEDAR in September 2022 to become a senior research associate with the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU.

See Spandana Naldiga's Scopus profile

Joséphine Briand, Ph.D.

Joséphine Briand obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Nantes, France, in December 2019. Her thesis was titled "Glioblastoma and Epigenetics: from prevention to new treatments discovery."

In her previous lab, her research was mainly about microRNA (circulating and in exosomes), microRNA methylation and DNA methylation. At CEDAR, she worked on microRNA in liquid biopsies to find new biomarkers of cancer development. She left CEDAR in September 2022 to join the Sensitivity of Cancers to Treatment Lab in Angers, France.

See Joséphine Briand's Scopus profile

Ryan Mulqueen, Ph.D.

Ryan Mulqueen joined CEDAR as a postdoc in 2021 after completing his Ph.D. at the Molecular and Medical Genetics Program at OHSU, defending his work on novel single-cell omics assays for the interrogation of cortical development.

He used single-cell multiomic approaches to assess heterogeneity across the early stages of cancer. During his time at CEDAR, he developed new protocols to measure methylation, chromatin structure and transcription all within a single cell. He left in August 2022 to join the lab of Nicholas Navin at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

See Ryan Mulqeen's Scopus profile

Marilynn Chow-Castro, Ph.D.

Marilynn Chow-Castro joined CEDAR in December 2017. She has a Ph.D. in cancer biology from OHSU and an M.S. in biology from the University of the Pacific.

At CEDAR, she applied her research experience in biology to build a 3D ex-vivo organoid system derived from primary human lung cells. She and her multidisciplinary team used this model system to interrogate and target the critical mechanisms that initiate small-cell lung cancer.

Dr. Chow-Castro also diversified her skills through research-related activities, including project facilitation, professional development program management, and clinical needs assessment. She left CEDAR in June 2021 to become an alliance manager for the Knight Cancer Institute.

See Marilynn Chow-Castro's Scopus profile

Canan Schumann, Ph.D.

Canan Schumann joined CEDAR in June 2020. At CEDAR, Dr. Schumann worked on nanoparticle formulation and graphene-based biosensor development. He has worked on nanoparticle formulations that have led to formulations for stage 4 ovarian cancer therapy and cancer-based muscle wasting (cachexia).

He specialized in RNA-based gene therapies being delivered with various nano-based materials and platforms (lipids, polymers and iron oxide particles). Dr, Schumann has also helped develop theranostic dual imaging/therapy platforms for breast and prostate cancers.

He worked at the interface of biology and chemistry. He considers himself an application scientist, having the ability to pull materials and concepts from different fields and re-engineer them to solve new problems. He left CEDAR in April 2021.

André Walcott, Ph.D.

André Walcott joined CEDAR in July 2019. He received his B.A. in neuroscience from Bowdoin College and his Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at OHSU.

At CEDAR, Dr. Walcott worked on creating pathways for interns to gain access to CEDAR. He also developed professional/career development programming for all trainees.

He focused on making sure that CEDAR is a diverse, equitable and inclusive place for all trainees and staff through program and policy development. He left CEDAR in March 2021 to join OHSU's Research and Innovation Office.

Josiah Wagner, Ph.D.

Josiah T. Wagner joined CEDAR in September 2017. He was interested in developing highly accurate liquid biopsy biomarker panels for noninvasive detection of early disease.

Dr. Wagner’s work at CEDAR focused on using molecular profiles of cell-free RNA/DNA and metabolites to classify patient plasma and urine samples. Previously, he worked on identifying sources of genetic and physiological variation that contribute to extreme stress tolerance in vertebrates.

He received his doctorate in biology from Portland State University in 2015. He left CEDAR in January 2021 to serve as clinical genomic senior scientist at Providence Health Systems.

Katie Baker, Ph.D.

Katie Baker joined CEDAR in January 2019. She used sequencing technology for both early biology and liquid biopsy applications. She completed her Ph.D. in Pathology at the University of Washington’s Molecular Medicine and Mechanisms of Disease Program, where she characterized precancerous mutations using duplex sequencing. She left CEDAR in January 2021 to become a medical science liaison at Natera.

Daniel Heineck, Ph.D.

Daniel Heineck joined CEDAR in March 2017. He focused on developing and integrating microfluidic assemblies on super-resolution microscope systems, and on supporting efforts toward integrating diagnostic workflows onto dielectrophoretic chip systems. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He left CEDAR in October 2020 to work as a process scientist with Biological Dynamics.

Sarah Barnhill, Ph.D.

Sarah Barnhill joined CEDAR in August 2018. Sarah’s work at CEDAR focused on using bottom-up approaches to build scaffolds for collecting and analyzing cancer biomarkers. She aimed to use her expertise in synthetic/biopolymer nanostructure hybrids to develop advanced technologies that reliably capture specific markers, such as circulating DNA and RNA, with high selectivity and efficiency.

Dr. Barnhill earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. She left CEDAR in May 2020.

Asia Mitchell, Ph.D.

Asia Mitchell joined CEDAR in February 2019. Dr. Mitchell applied her expertise in cancer genomics and bioinformatics on two CEDAR projects. She supported biomedical informatics and data engineering needs of the Healthy Oregon Project, and curated germline variants in DNA damage repair genes to determine their influence on lung cancer risk in smokers.

She received her Ph.D. from OHSU. She left CEDAR in September 2019.

Sejung (Sam) Kim, Ph.D.

Sejung (Sam) Kim joined CEDAR in September 2017. Dr. Kim focused on synthesizing/self-assembling nanomaterials and understanding how these structures can effectively be interacted with biological materials in cancer environments toward early cancer detection and treatment.

Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of California, San Diego. He left CEDAR in July 2019 to become a staff engineer at Samsung.

Jesus Bueno Alvarez, Ph.D.

Jesus Bueno Alvarez joined CEDAR in November 2017. Dr. Alvarez worked on flow, electrical and heat transfer modeling using commercial software. He also assembled and tested electrokinetic-microfluidic devices and quick prototyping of microfluidic devices for bone marrow on a chip, tissue and cell staining.

He earned his Ph.D. in computational mechanics from the University of A Coruña and the University of California, San Diego. He left CEDAR in May 2019 to become a senior research and development engineer for Leonyte Biosystems.

David Edwards, Ph.D.

David Edwards joined CEDAR in September 2018. He worked to develop a core infrastructure for writing support at CEDAR. His work on scientific communication, writing education and community outreach aimed to speed the time to manuscript publication; share compelling research stories with the public; and strengthen CEDAR’s communication with key stakeholders and the community.

In 2018, he earned his Ph.D. at OHSU. Before that, he earned bachelor’s degrees in creative writing and in molecular biosciences/biotechnology from Arizona State University. He left CEDAR in May 2019 to become a medical writer and publications manager for Exact Sciences.

Augusta Modestino, Ph.D.

Augusta Modestino joined CEDAR in July 2017. Augusta worked on developing technologies to enable early cancer [detection?] by on-chip isolation and characterization of exosomes, cfc-DNA-RNA from blood samples. She also developed an assay to measure proteolytic activity to detect early pancreatic and colorectal cancer.

She earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from the University of California, San Diego. She left OHSU in May 2019 to become a senior scientist/manager at Leonyte Biosystems.

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