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Congratulations to our Students


Thesis Exams

  • Nick Borcherding successfully defended his Thesis on  November 19, 2018, titled "Big Data Analytics and Cancer Biology: Lessons in Taking Science from the Processor to the Patient."   He was awarded his MD/PhD in Spring 2020. 
  • Zhaoming Wang successfully defended his Thesis on June 17, 2021, titled "Antibody Therapy and Tumor Microenvironment."   He gave a public talk on June 30.  He was awarded his PhD in Summer 2021. 
  • Devon Moose successfully defended his Thesis on November 12, 2021, titled "The mechanism for adaption to fluid sheer stress."  He was awarded his PhD in Fall 2021.
  • Eliot Zhu successfully defended his Thesis on January 7, 2022, titled "Modeling therapy resistance to targeted BRAF inhibition in cutaneous melanoma."   He is in the UI College of Medicine medical school to complete his MD/PhD. 
  • Keith Garcia successfully defended his Thesis on July 7, 2022, titled "TAZ and YAP dysregulation in sarcomas."  He was awarded his PhD in Summer 2022. 
  • Wade Gutierrez successfully defended his Thesis on October 17, 2022, titled "Elucidating the Mechanism of a Novel Chemotherapy Regimen for Soft Tissue Sarcomas."  He is in the UI College of Medicine medical school to complete his MD/PhD.

Comprehensive Exams

  • Sei Sho, August 2022: "Combination of Pharmacological Ascorbate and Depletion of NAD+ Metabolism as a Potential Therapeutic Strategy for KEAP1 mutant NSCLC"
  • Amanda Pope, July 2022: "Identifying activators and effectors of RhoA that allow resistance of fluid shear stresses"
  • Joshua Lingo, May 2022: "RABL6A, a novel oncogene and regulator of immunomodulation"
  • Emma Croushore, September 2021: "Investigating the role of Hsf1 in osteosarcoma"
  • Kiarash Salari, September 2021: "Understanding SETDB1 oncogenic role and its mechanism of overexpression in endometrial cancer"
  • Zhijie Li, August 2021: "The Influence of SUMOylation on Transcriptional Regulation by ETV1 in Breast Cancer"
  • Divya Bhat, August 2020: "RAD52: a new frontier in anti- cancer therapy"
  • Wade Gutierrez, August 2019: "Elucidating the mechanism of a novel epigenetic combination therapy for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma"
  • Eliot Zhu, August 2019 "Transcriptional Biomarkers of Drug Resistance to BRAF Inhibition in Melanoma"
  • Gavin McGivney, August 2019: "Examining Tumor Suppressor Dependent Metabolomic Changes in Novel Sarcoma Model" 
  • Keith Garcia, July 2019: "The TAZ-CAMTA1 fusion oncoprotein interacts with components of the ATAC (Ada-Two-A-Containing) complex to drive cellular transformation"
  • Zhaoming Wang, June 2019: "Identify the role of TIGIT as a therapeutic target and prognostic marker in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma." 
  • Devon Moose, December 2018: "The mechanism for adaptation to fluid sheer stress."
  • Ajay Vishwakarma, Summer 2018: "Role of CD177 in Tumor-Infiltrating Regulatory T cells" 
  • Nick Borcherding, Summer 2017 passed his Comprehensive Exam in the Summer of 2017. 

Grants and Awards

NIH Awards and Training Grants

  • Keith Garcia has been awarded an NCI Diversity Supplement for his mentor, Dr. Munir Tanas' grant R01 CA237031 "Epigenetic Modulation of the TAZ-CAMTA1 Transcriptional Program by the ADA2A-Containing Histone Acetyltransferase Complex"
  • Joshua Lingo was award an Pharmacology T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship for 2021 through the present. 
  • Eliot Zhu has been awarded an NCI Research Fellowship Award 1F30CA247102-01 from 2020-2023  for "Drivers of MAPK-redundant resistance to BRAF inhibition in melanoma" 
  • Divya Bhat has received a CCB/T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Biotechnology in July 2019  through June 2021.
  • Gavin McGivney was award a FRRB T32 Training fellowship for 2020.  
  • Devon Moose received a T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Pharmacological Sciences.
  • Wade Gutierrez received a T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Pharmacological Sciences in May 2018.   

Private Organizations

  • Gavin McGivney received the Children's Tumor Foundation Young Investigator Award from 2020-2022.
  • Eliot Zhu received the 2020 American Skin Association Medical Student Award.
  • Eliot Zhu received the 2019 Melanoma Research Foundation Medical Student Award.
  • Nick Borcherding won the 2016 MAGS (Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools) Distinguished Thesis Award for "Non-Canonical WNT Signaling in Breast Cancer Initiation and Progression"

University of Iowa

  • Zhijie Li was awarded a University of Iowa Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Fellowship for Spring 2022. 
  • Joshua Lingo won the Oral Presentation Award for the Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences Research Retreat in 2022. 
  • Wade Gutierrez was the winner of the best Clinical Trials & Cancer Outcomes presentation at the HCCC Cancer Retreat on June 17, 2020 for for "Epigenetic Combination Therapy Improves Survival in Soft Tissue Sarcoma by a Novel Immune-independent Mechanism"
  • Zhaoming Wang was awarded a University of Iowa Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Fellowship for Spring 2020.
  • Nick Borcherding won the L.B. Sims Outstanding Master's Thesis Award
  • Nick Borcherding was awarded the 2018 Hancher-Finkbine Medallion. 
  • Nick Borcherding won a $500 Travel Award for his poster "Targeting mismatch DNA repair in aggressive basal-like breast cancer," presented at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center's   Scientific Research Retreat June 22, 2017.

Selected Presentations

AACR (American Association for Cancer Research

  • June 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting II
    • Zhaoming Wang, "The role of checkpoints in Rituximab-mediated NK cell activation"
  • October 2019, AACR Joint Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in Oncology, London, UK
    • Devon Moose, “Fluid Shear Stress Activates the RhoA-myosin II Axis Preventing Destruction of Cancer Cell sin the Circulation and Priming Metastatic Colonization" 
  • January 2019 AACR Melanoma: From Biology to Target, Houston, TX
    • Eliot Zhu, “Genome-scale shRNA screen provides insight into the role of CUL3 in adaptive mechanisms of resistance to mutant BRAF inhibition.”

ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology

  • 2020 Virtual Meeting:
    • Wade Gutierrez, "Phase Ib study of decitabine in combination with gemcitabine in treatment of advanced soft tissue and bone sarcomas"

Cold Spring Harbor Mechanism of Metabolic Signaling Conference

  • 2019
    • Gavin McGivney, “Tumor Suppressor Dependent Metabolomic Changes in Novel Sarcoma CRISPR-Cas9 Mouse Models" 

Children's Tumor Foundation End NF

  • 2020
    • Gavin McGivney, "Tumor Suppressor status alters MPNST metabolic profiles and gene expression"​
  • 2019
    • Gavin McGivney, “:"Tumor Suppressor Dependent Metabolomic Changes in Novel Sarcoma CRISPR-Cas9 Mouse Models"

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Retreats:

  • June 2022
    • Wade Gutierrez, "Augmenting chemotherapy with low-dose decitabine through an immune-independent mechanism" (Oral and poster)
    • Joshua Lingo, "Dual inhibition of CDK4/6 and MEK sensitizes MPNSTs to immune checkpoint blockades" (Poster)
    • Kiarash Salari, "Understanding SETDB1-mediated Tumor Immune Evasion Mechanism in Endometrial Cancer"
    • Zhijie Li, "The Influence of SUMOylation on Transcriptional Regulation by ETV1 in Breast Cancer" (Oral and poster)
    • Amanda Pope, "Resistance to Pharmacological Ascorbate in Pancreatic Cancer" (Oral and poster)
    • Sarina Murray, "Restore Functional Progesterone Receptor Expression in Endometrial Cancer" (Oral and poster)
    • Amira Zaher, "Pharmacological ascorbate selectively enhances NSCLC response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy and chemo-radiation in an iron-dependent manner" (Oral and poster)
    • Gavin McGivney, "Multiomic analysis of mouse and human malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) identifies pentose phosphate pathway disruption as a metabolic vulnerability" (Poster)
  • June 2021
    • Gavin McGivney, "Multiomics analysis of somatic CRISPR/Cas9 MPNST models identifies dysregulation of metabolic pathways in MPNST" (Oral and poster)
    • Sarina Murray, "Dual HDAC/PI3K inhibitor, CUDC-907, effectively targets endometrial cancer in vitro and in vivo" (Oral)
    • Zhijie Li, "Understanding the role of SUMO Conjugation of ETV1 in Mammary Oncogenesis" (Oral and poster)
    • Keith Garcia, "TAZ/YAP are key effectors of PI3K signaling in sarcomas" (Oral and poster)
    • Zhaoming Wang, 'T cells, particularly activated CD4+ cells, maintain anti-CD20-mediated NK cell viability and antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity" (Oral and poster)
    • Eliot Zhu, "Knowledge-guided machine learning reveals indicators and drivers of drug resistance to BRAF inhibition in cutaneous melanoma" (Oral and poster)
  • June 2020
    • Wade Gutierrez, "Epigenetic Combination Therapy Improves Survival in Soft Tissue Sarcoma by a Novel Immune-independent Mechanism"
    • Devon Moose, "Mechano-Activation of RhoA-Actomyosin Pathway Drives Hemodynamic Shear Stress Resistance"
    • Gavin McGivney, "Tumor suppressor status alters MPNST metabolic profiles and gene expression"
    • Keith Garcia, "TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 modulate the TAZ/YAP transcriptional program by recruiting the ATAC histone acetyltransferase complex".
    • Zhaoming Wang, "The long-term effect of Rituximab on NK cell activation"
  • June 2019
    • Devon Moose gave an oral presentation and presented a poster: "Cancer Cells Adapt to Hemodynamic Forces to Survive Transit in Circulation and Enhance Metastatic Behavior"
    • Keith Garcia presented a poster: "The TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 fusion proteins transform cells by binding to subunits fo the histone acetyltransferase Ada-2s-Containing (ATAC) complex"
    • Wade Gutierrez presented a poster: "Epigenetic Combination Therapy Improves Survival and Promotes Tumor-Specific Immunomodulation in Soft Tissue Sarcoma"
    • Zhaoming Wang presented a poster: "Enhance the efficacy of CD20 monoclonal antibody via TIGIT blockade."
    • Eliot Zhu presented a poster: "Revealing mechanisms of resistance to targeted Raf inhibition in melanoma by mining publicly available data with machine learning algorithms"

Iowa Center of Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB)

  • October 2019
    • Divya Bhat presented a poster, “Identification of RAD52 inhibitors using a FRET based analysis"

University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Leukemia SPORE Retreat

  • October 2019
    • Zhaoming Wang gave an oral presentation, "Checkpoint blockade and anti-CD20 therapy"