Meet CEDAR's Postdocs

Abrar Samiea, Ph.D.

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Abrar Samiea graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada with a Ph.D. degree in Experimental Medicine. Her expertise with cancer and strong foundation in immunology led to important observations that clarify the opposing roles of IL10 cytokine in immune regulation. At CEDAR Abrar will focus on the role of tissue resident lymphocytes in cancer development and progression.

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Avathamsa Athirasala, Ph.D.

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Avathamsa (Avi) earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from OHSU, where she developed engineering tools to study the role of the biophysical microenvironment on cell function in complex tissue models. At CEDAR, she works with Luiz Bertassoni to develop advanced tissue models that will enhance our understanding of biology and disease progression.

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Carlos Origel, Ph.D.

Carlos Origel

Carlos Origel joined CEDAR as a postdoctoral researcher after working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Frock Lab at Stanford School of Medicine, where he focused on elucidating the mechanisms of DNA repair in cells using high-throughput sequencing platforms. Carlos received his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University in Houston, Texas. His doctoral thesis focused on developing a gene expression reporter platform to study stress-response signaling pathways in mammalian cells. He has expertise in cell biology, cell engineering, synthetic biology, and protein expression. At CEDAR, Carlos will work on the impact of ATR-Chk1 signaling pathway in oncogenesis through epigenetic reprogramming.

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Chris Eddy, Ph.D.

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Christopher Eddy received his PhD in Physics from Oregon State University, where he studied the dynamics of cellular morphology and cell heterogeneity within the triple-negative breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. Chris’s previous works developed machine learning, deep learning, and other computational tools to discover unique cell state changes regulated by the mechanics of the extracellular matrix during 3D cell migration. As a Postdoctoral Scholar at CEDAR, Chris aims to bridge his expertise in the cell imaging space with multi-omic data types to form novel joint analyses that deeply characterize single cells and cell populations.

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Cigdem Ak, Ph.D.

Cigdem Ak

Cigdem Ak develops and applies novel machine learning algorithms to understand complex systems in life sciences. Her main research interest is designing theoretical and computational approaches to learn good feature representations for the joint analysis of heterogenous sources of data to explore mechanisms of cancer biology. She is currently integrating novel, scalable, and interpretable machine learning solutions into understanding single cell analysis, at CEDAR.  Besides cancer, she also works on modeling spatiotemporal dynamics of COVID-19 with location-specific demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Cigdem Ak has a Ph.D. in Computational Sciences and Engineering from Koc University, and an M.Sc. in Mathematics from École Normale Supérieure de Lyon.

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Danielle Brasino, Ph.D.

Dani Konetski

Danielle (Dani) joined CEDAR in 2018 following the defense of her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her graduate studies focused on developing a photo-controllable synthetic cell membrane as part of an artificial cell collaboration.  Here she is leveraging her experience in microfluidics fabrication to develop and implement organ-on-a-chip systems to study the relationship between tumorigenesis and gut dysbiosis.

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Duygu Altinok Dindar, M.D., Ph.D.

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Duygu Altinok Dindar joined CEDAR as a Postdoctoral Scholar after earning her Ph.D.; she is also an M.D. At CEAR, Duygu participates in translational research studies as well as precision medicine projects. Her final goal is to initiate international collaborations to identify novel biomarkers for early cancer detection. She was part of translational research teams composed of several biotech startups and universities in Turkey. She is also a delegate of International Consortium of Personalised Medicine (IcPermed) and a member of NCI Alumni Global Cancer Research Collaborative Team. 

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Erin Helms, Ph.D.

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Erin Helms obtained her BS in Biology from Pacific University. She completed her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology under the mentorship of Mara Sherman at OHSU. Her Ph.D. thesis work focused on studying the role of PSC derived CAFs in the PDAC TME. At CEDAR, Erin will focus on how chromatin and epigenetic changes shape the cancer cell.

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Jacob Fredrikson, Ph.D.

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Jake Fredrikson is a postdoctoral researcher at the Knight Cancer Precision Biofabrication Hub at the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center (CEDAR) and a member of the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and Biosciences in the School of Dentistry. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2018 and his Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2023 from Montana State University, where he was a member of the Chang Soft Matter and Microfluidics Lab. His research interests include tissue engineering, microfluidics, and organs on a chip.

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Joe Grieco, Ph.D.

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Joe Grieco is originally from upstate New York, where he attended the State University of New York at Fredonia and graduated with a bachelors degree in molecular genetics. He then moved to Virginia Tech to complete his Ph.D. in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health with a research focus on mitochondrial quality control regulation in progressive ovarian cancer. Joe focuses his research studies on cancer risk within the LGBTQ+ community, initially focusing on hormone therapy and its potential risk in transgender individuals.

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Justin Plaut, Ph.D.

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Justin Plaut, Ph.D. works on the delivery of oncolytic viruses using nanoengineered scaffolds and is an expert at characterizing biological samples via atomic force microscopy. He is also interested in applying aptamer technology to early cancer detection. Plaut has a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego.

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Li Xiang, Ph.D.

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Li Xiang joined CEDAR following postdoctoral experience at Pohang University of Science and Technology (South Korea), where she received her Ph.D. degree in February 2020. She focused on the synthesis of topological polymers, inorganic and polymeric nanoparticles, nanoparticle/polymer composites, and surface modification of nanoparticles. She designed and fabricated nanoscaled structures from multifunctional and structural polymers and nanoparticles and then characterized the nanostructures quantitatively by synchrotron X-ray scattering. At CEDAR, she applies her functional polymer and nanoparticle materials in the cancer early detection area.

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Maddie Krieger, Ph.D.

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Maddie Krieger got her Ph.D. from Portland State University studying small RNA function and evolution in bacterial pathogens. After receiving her doctorate, Maddie completed a postdoc in the Merritt Lab in the OHSU School of Dentistry, where she blended computational and wet-lab approaches to investigate polymicrobial interactions in oral disease. Maddie joined the computational biology group at CEDAR in May 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher, where she aims to understand both the host and microbial influences that lead to esophageal cancer formation progression. Outside of her research, Maddie serves as the Vice President of Women in Science PDX, a local non-profit dedicated to the advancement and retention of women minorities in STEM fields.

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Mauricio Sousa, Ph.D.

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Mauricio Gonçalves da Costa Sousa is a postdoctoral researcher with Luiz Bertassoni's team at the Knight Center Institute. He received his BSE in dentistry (2014) at the Catholic University of Brasilia, a Master’s in health sciences (2017) at the University of Brasilia, and a Ph.D. in Genomic Sciences and Biotechnology at Catholic University of Brasilia. His graduate research focused on developing a new antibiofilm and immunomodulatory nanofibrous scaffold loaded with host defense peptides to regenerate the dental pulp tissue. As a postdoc, Mauricio has been working in complex bone on-a-chip models and tissue engineering to understand the crosstalk between cancer and bone cells.

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Mehrzad Sasanpour Yazdi, Ph.D.

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Mehrzad Sasanpour received her PhD in physics in the soft condensed matter field at the Sharif University of Technology. Her research work focuses on enhancing the collection efficiency of cancer-derived nanoparticles and associated biomarkers from circulation using Dielectrophoresis (DEP) techniques. One of her main research interests is the development of computational approaches, including machine learning algorithms, to analyze the experimental results from the DEP-induced collection of biomarkers.

Michael Brasino, Ph.D.

Mike Brasino

Mike Brasino joined CEDAR as a postdoc in 2018 after completing his Ph.D. and a postdoc at the University of Colorado at Boulder. There he focused on genetically engineering bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria) to act as biosensor platforms and modified proteins with non-natural amino acids to better target therapeutics to tumors. He has brought his skillset in synthetic biology and protein engineering to CEDAR, where he is investigating the use of engineered bacteria to detect cancer.

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Mohit Gupta, Ph.D.

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Mohit Gupta joins CEDAR after working as a Postdoctoral Scholar with Karine Le Roch in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of California, Riverside. Prior to that, he was a Research Associate with the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, India. He earned his Ph.D. in 2016 from the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. While working on chromatin biology in the parasite and cell biology in mammalian system, he has developed immense interests in biochemistry for deciphering and manipulating the mechanism of cellular process involved in human diseases.

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Rashi Yadav, Ph.D.

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Rashi Yadav received her Master’s degree from Panjab University, India and her Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University, Houghton. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on assessing the immunogenicity of HPV-L2 based VLPs vaccine against various HPV types causing cancer. After graduating, she pivoted to cancer immunotherapy, where she worked on OX40 and other immunotherapeutic agents to understand their mechanism of action. Rashi is currently focused on the role of tissue resident lymphocytes in cancer development.

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Riccardo Carloni, Ph.D.

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Riccardo Carloni joined CEDAR as a postdoc in 2021 after completing his Ph.D. in physical and organic chemistry from the universities of Urbino and Alcalá. He works on the synthesis and application of dendritic polymers to treat early forms of cancer. He’s interested in the formulation of novel warheads and linkers for antibody-drug conjugates, focusing on their structure-activity relationship. In his previous lab, Riccardo worked on the physicochemical characterization of novel nanomaterials for biomedical applications.

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Seung-Won Lee, Ph.D.

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Seung-Won Lee's research focuses on defining the early epigenetic changes during progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma through cancer cell reprogramming. He received his Ph.D. in stem cell biology from Konkuk University in South Korea, where he studied self-reprogramming mechanism of spermatogonial stem cells. Before joining CEDAR, he conducted single-cell transcriptomic analysis of plant and animal cells at Yonsei University and Chung-Ang University.

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Sinan Sabuncu, Ph.D.

Sinan Sabuncu

Sinan Sabuncu has been a postdoctoral scholar at OHSU for 2 years, where he specialized on bio-spectroscopy and bio-inorganic chemistry. At CEDAR, Sinan focuses on combining his spectroscopy and nanotechnology background with developing early cancer detection technologies. For this purpose he is mainly working on two projects. The first project is focusing on cancer biomarker amplification using ultrasound and gas-stabilizing nanoparticles for minimally invasive biopsy of prostate cancer. The second is about understanding the role of extracellular vesicles during initial carcinogenic events.

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Stephen Coleman, Ph.D.

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Stephen Coleman received his PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Cambridge where he studied Bayesian methods for uncovering latent structure in assay data. He has developed novel computational methods for more robust inference, with an emphasis on data generated across multiple batches and multi-omics data. At CEDAR, Stephen hopes to bring this background to bear in the creation of new tools for principled analysis of single cell data, with a particular emphasis on methylation data.

Travis Moore, Ph.D.

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Travis completed his Masters and Ph.D. at Oregon State University in Computer Science, with a focus on Machine Learning. His dissertation focused on analyzing population dynamics and anomalies in spatio-temporal datasets. He also spent a Summer working for Webtrends, where he developed a new topic model algorithm that was later patented. Travis joins OHSU as a Postdoc for both the CEDAR and SMMART programs.

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Departed CEDAR Postdocs

Andre Walcott

Andre Walcott

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 Oregon Health & Science University. At CEDAR André worked on creating pathways for interns to gain access to CEDAR and developed professional/career development programming for all trainees within CEDAR. Additionally, the main focus of André’s work was to make sure that CEDAR is a diverse, equitable, and inclusive place for all its trainees and staff (through program and policy development). He departed CEDAR in March 2021 to join OHSU's Research and Innovation Office.

Anna Malakian

Anna Malakian

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. Anna also was working on synthesizing highly porous materials from high internal phase emulsions as her master’s degree project at New Mexico State University. At CEDAR, Anna focused on evaluating the efficacity of using biomarkers carried by tumor-derived exosomes and other organelle drive extracellular vesicles. She departed CEDAR in May 2023 to take a position with Carollo Engineers.

Asia Mitchell

Asia Mitchell Departed

Asia Mitchell joined CEDAR in February 2019. Asia 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 (HOP), 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 departed CEDAR in September 2019.

Augusta Modestino

Augusta Modestino Departed

Augusta Modestino joined CEDAR in July 2017. Augusta worked on development of technologies to enable early cancer, by on-chip isolation and characterization of exosomes, cfc-DNA-RNA from blood samples. Additionally, she developed an assay to rapidly measure proteolytic activity as a means for detection of early pancreatic and colorectal cancer. She earned her Ph.D. in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of California San Diego. She departed OHSU in May 2019 to serve as a Senior Scientist/Manager at Leonyte Biosystems.

Canan Schumann

Canan Schumann

Canan Schumann joined CEDAR in June 2020. At CEDAR, Canan 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). Canan has also helped develop theranostic dual imaging/therapy platforms for breast and prostate cancers. He worked. at the interface of biology and chemistry and considers himself an application scientist, having the ability to pull materials and concepts from numerous fields of science and re-engineering them to solve new and novel problems. He departed CEDAR in April 2021.

Daniel Heineck

Daniel Heineck Departed

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

David Edwards

David Edwards Departed

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 accelerate the time to manuscript publication, share compelling research stories with the public, and strengthen CEDAR’s communication with key stakeholders and the broader community. In 2018, he earned his Ph.D. at Oregon Health and Science University, where he studied under Dr. Jeffrey Tyner. Before that, he earned Bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing and in Molecular Biosciences/Biotechnology from Arizona State University. He departed CEDAR in May 2019 to serve as a Medical Writer and Publications Manager for Exact Sciences.

Jesus Bueno Alvarez

Jesus Bueno Alvarez joined CEDAR in November 2017. Jesus worked on flow, electrical and heat transfer modeling using commercial software. He also assembled and tested electrokinetic-microfludic devices and quick prototyping of microfluidic devices for bone marrow on a chip, tissue and cell staining. He earned is Ph.D. in Computational Mechanics from the University of A Coruna and the University of California San Diego. He departed CEDAR in May 2019 to serve as a Senior Research and Development Engineer for Leonyte Biosystems.

Joséphine Briand

Josephine Briand

Joséphine Briand obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Nantes, France in December 2019, titled "Glioblastoma and Epigenetics: from prevention to new treatments discover". In her previous lab, her research was mainly about microRNA (circulating and in exosomes), microRNA methylation and DNA methylation. In CEDAR she worked on microRNA in liquid biopsies in order to find new biomarkers of cancer development. She departed CEDAR in September 2022 to take a position with the Sensitivity of Cancers to Treatment Lab in Angers, France.

Josiah Wagner

Josiah Wagner Departed

Josiah T. Wagner joined CEDAR in September 2017. He was interested in developing highly accurate liquid biopsy biomarker panels for non-invasive detection of early disease. Josiah’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 departed CEDAR in January 2021 to serve as Clinical Genomic Senior Scientist at Providence Health Systems.

Katie Baker

Katie Baker Departed

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 departed CEDAR in January 2021 to serve as a Medical Science Liaison at Natera.

Kemal Caglar Gogebakan

Kemal Caglar Gogebakan

Kemal Caglar Gogebakan is a health economist and population health scientist who primarily focuses on cancer screening and control policies. At CEDAR, Kemal worked on developing microsimulation models to project the impact of early detection technologies on the incidence and mortality rates of melanoma, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers; implementing statistical methods for cancer screening modelling; and estimating costs of cancer care and screening via large population-based sources of data. He departed CEDAR in May 2023 to join the Fred Hutchison Cancer Center as a Research Associate.

Marilynn Chow-Castro

Marilynn Chow-Castro

Marilynn Chow-Castro joined CEDAR in December 2017. She has a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Oregon Health & Science University and a MS 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. Marilynn also diversified her skillset through other research-related activities, including project facilitation, professional development program management, and clinical needs assessment. She departed CEDAR in June 2021 to serve as an Alliance Manager for the Knight Cancer Institute.

Mingchong Dai

Mingchong Dai

Mingchong Dai joined CEDAR as a Postdoctoral Scholar in March 2022. At CEDAR, he focuses on functional biomaterial development for biological applications as well as organic molecular fluorophore development in cancer early detection. Before joining CEDAR, he worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar with Professor Kyo Han Ahn at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea, where he also earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2020. During his Ph.D., he was mainly trained in designing, synthesis, characterization of organic fluorescent materials, and finding their applications in bioimaging, biosensing, and photothermal therapy based on their unique optical properties. He departed CEDAR in October 2023.

Rachel Chapla

Rachel Chapla

Rachel Chapla worked with Dr. Carolyn Schutt Ibsen in designing advanced biomaterials for modeling cancerous tissue and for therapeutic applications. Rachel earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University, where she developed synthetic hydrogels to model aspects of native soft tissue by manipulating hydrogel compliance and by incorporating temporally-controlled reversible biochemical signal presentation. Prior to graduate research, Rachel developed an interest in polymeric biomaterials while earning a B.S. in textile engineering at North Carolina State University. She departed CEDAR in January 2023 to take a position as a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Mayo Clinic.

Ryan Mulqueen

Ryan Mulqueen Cropped

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 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 departed in August 2022 to join the lab of Nicholas Navin at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Sarah Barnhill

Sarah Barnhill Departed

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. Sarah earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California San Diego. She departed CEDAR in May 2020.

Sejung (Sam) Kim

Sejung Kim Departed

Sejung (Sam) Kim joined CEDAR in September 2017, At CEDAR, Sam focused on synthesizing/self-assembling nanomaterials and understanding how these structures can effectively be interacted with biological materials in cancer environment toward early cancer detection and treatment. Sam received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California San Diego. He departed CEDAR in July 2019 to serve as a Staff Engineer at Samsung.

Sila Ozdemir

Sila Ozdemir

Sila Ozdemir is a computational biologist and her main research interests are molecular modeling and molecular dynamics simulations of biomolecules such as proteins and their complexes. At CEDAR, Sila Ozdemir worked on implementing her expertise in modeling and simulation to predict interaction mechanisms of protein complexes playing major roles in the early stage of the cancer upon oncogenic mutations. She departed CEDAR in December 2022 to take a position as a Scientist with Metis Therapeutics.

Spandana Naldiga

Spandana Naldiga

Spandana earned her Ph.D. from 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 departed CEDAR in September 2022 to take a position as a Senior Research Associate with the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU.

Yahong Wen

Yahong Wen

Yahong Wen is interested in utilizing single cell sequencing and bulk sequencing platforms to understand the progression of early breast cancer. Prior to joining CEDAR, Yahong was a senior scientist in industry who developed cell-based assays for preclinical screening of anti-cancer drugs. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Indiana University Bloomington and her postdoctoral training in colorectal cancer research at Washington University in St. Louis. She departed CEDAR in January 2024.

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