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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.  On November 20, 2018 he publicly gave his talk on one chapter of his thesis, "Transcriptional heterogeneity in cancer-associated regulatory T cells is predictive of survival."  He was awarded his MD/PhD in Spring 2020. 


  • Zhaoming Wang successfully defending 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. 


Comprehensive Exams

  • 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

  • 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"
  • Wade Gutierrez was the winner of the best Clinical Trials & Cancer Outcomes presentation at the HCCC Cancer Retreat on June 17, 2020 for "Epigenetic Combination Therapy Improves Survival in Soft Tissue Sarcoma by a Novel Immune-independent Mechanism"
  • Gavin McGivney received the Children's Tumor Foundation Young Investigator Award from 2020-2022
  • 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" 
  • Eliot Zhu has received the 2020 American Skin Association Medical Student Award
  • Zhaoming Wang was awarded a University of Iowa Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Fellowship for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Gavin McGivney was award a FRRB T32 Training fellowship for 2020.  
  • Divya Bhat has received a CCB/T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Biotechnology in July 2019 and has been approved through June 2021. 
  • Eliot Zhu has received the 2019 Melanoma Research Foundation Medical Student Award
  • Devon Moose has received a T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Pharmacological Sciences.
  • Nick Borcherding won the L.B. Sims Outstanding Master's Thesis Award and a 2016 MAGS award for his thesis "Non-Canonical WNT Signaling in Breast Cancer Initiation and Progression."
  • Nick Borcherding was awarded the 2018 Hancher-Finkbine Medallion in the Spring of 2018. 
  • 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.
  • Wade Gutierrez received a T32 Pre-Doctoral Training fellowship in Pharmacological Sciences in May 2018. 


Selected Presentations

  • 2020 Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Virtual Retreat on June 17:
    • Wade Gutierrez presented "Epigenetic Combination Therapy Improves Survival in Soft Tissue Sarcoma by a Novel Immune-independent Mechanism"
    • Devon Moose presented "Mechano-Activation of RhoA-Actomyosin Pathway Drives Hemodynamic Shear Stress Resistance"
    • Gavin McGivney presented "Tumor suppressor status alters MPNST metabolic profiles and gene expression"
    • Keith Garcia presented "TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 modulate the TAZ/YAP transcriptional program by recruiting the ATAC histone acetyltransferase complex".
    • Zhaoming Wang presented "The long-term effect of Rituximab on NK cell activation"
  • 2020 ASCO Meeting:
    • Wade Gutierrez, "Phase Ib study of decitabine in combination with gemcitabine in treatment of advanced soft tissue and bone sarcomas" - Monga V, Dodd R, Scherer, Wade A, Gutierrez R, Tanas M, Mott SL, Milhem MM
  • 2020 AACR Meeting:
    • Zhaoming Wang, "The role of checkpoints in Rituximab-mediated NK cell activation"
  • Gavin McGivney presented a poster at the 2020 Children's Tumor Foundation End NF Conference: "Tumor Suppressor status alters MPNST metabolic profiles and gene expression"​
  • Devon Moose presented a poster at the Cancer Research UK - AACR Joint Conference on Physical Sciences in Oncology, London in October 2019: "Fluid Shear Stress Activates the RhoA-myosin II Axis Preventing Destruction of Cancer Cell sin the Circulation and Priming Metastatic Colonization"
  • Divya Bhat presented a poster, "Identification of RAD52 inhibitors using a FRET based analysis", at the Iowa Center of Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) poster session on October 21, 2019. ​
  • Zhaoming Wang gave an oral presentation "Checkpoint blockade and anti-CD20 therapy" at the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Leukemia SPORE Retreat in October 2019.
  • Eliot Zhu presented at the 2019 AACR Melanoma: From Biology to Target conference
  • Eliot Zhu presented at the 2019 Society for Melanoma Congress
  • 2019 Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Retreat on June 19, several students presented their research:
    • 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"
  • Gavin McGivney presented a poster at the 2019 Children's Tumor Foundation End NF Conference:"Tumor Suppressor Dependent Metabolomic Changes in Novel Sarcoma CRISPR-Cas9 Mouse Models"
  • Gavin McGivney presented a poster at the 2019 Cold Spring Harbor Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling Conference:  "Tumor Suppressor Dependent Metabolomic Changes in Novel Sarcoma CRISPR-Cas9 Mouse Models"