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Research

Mentors

 

Danny Dhanasekaran, PhD

Danny Dhanasekaran, PhD
Deputy Director for Basic Research, Stephenson Cancer Center
Professor, Department of Cell Biology
OU Health Sciences Center

In addition to serving as PI for the COBRE, Dr. Dhanasekaran will head the Pilot Project Mentoring Team that will work with COBRE Pilot Project PIs. He received his Ph.D from the Indian Institue of Science, Banglaore, India. He had postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI and the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine at Denver, CO. Before moving to OUHSC in 2009, he was on the faculty of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at the Temple University School of Medicine for 17 years. His major research focus has been to define oncogenic signaling pathways involved in cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. Dr. Dhanasekaran has a long track record of cancer research. To date, he has mentored 19 postdoctoral fellows, five fellows, six graduate students, and more than 25 undergraduate summer interns. Three of his graduate students have become independent investigators. Five of his postdoctoral fellows have joined the faculties at academic institutions and eight others have become directors and program leaders in various pharmaceutical companies.

 

Terence Herman, MD

Terence Herman, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Herman has more than 30 years of experience as an academic physician with residency training in both radiation oncology and medical oncology. He received his MD from the University of Connecticut and did his fellowship and residency training at University of Arizona and Stanford University. Before joining the SCC, he served on the faculty of Harvard University Medical Center and UT – San Antonio. In addition to mentoring clinical and postdoctoral fellows, he also mentors junior faculty – both clinical and basic science. With his research interests and mentoring skills, Dr. Herman will play an active role as a co-mentor for Dr. Anupama Munshi's project investigating the role of the RNA-binding protein HuR in mediating resistance to radiation.

Rajagopal Ramesh, PhD

Rajagopal Ramesh, PhD
Leader, Experimental Therapeutics Program, Stephenson Cancer Center
Professor, Department of Pathology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Ramesh received his PhD in Molecular Biology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. He continued his postdoctoral training at Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA. His research is focused on novel gene-based therapeutics using viral and non-viral vectors with an emphasis on translational research. He has mentored and trained over a dozen fellows and junior faculty members who have gone on to successful careers within academia and industry. With his expertise in lung cancer research, he is well-qualified to mentor Dr. Franklin Hays in his investigation of the role of human equilibrative nucleoside transporters (hENT) in drug resistance in lung cancer.

Chinthalapalli V. Rao, PhD

Chinthalapalli V. Rao, PhD
Director, Center for Chemoprevention and Cancer Drug Development
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Rao received his PhD in Microbiology at Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. He had his postdoctoral training at the American Health Foundation Cancer Center, Valhalla, NY. Dr. Rao is an established leader in the field of cancer chemopreventive drug development. Several targeted drugs identified by Dr. Rao's research group in preclinical model testing have entered into Phase II and III clinical trials conducted by the NCI. He has successfully mentored many postdoctoral fellows and junior investigators. His expertise and mentoring experience are well-suited for Dr. Sukyung Woo's project to investigate tumor resistant mechanisms to anti-VEGF therapy in prostate cancer using a preclinical model.

 

Ralf Janknecht, PhD

Ralf Janknecht, PhD
Leader, Basic Cancer Biology Program, Stephenson Cancer Center
Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Janknecht received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Bochum, Germany. He came to the SCC from the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in 2009. His research focus is on gene transcription and how it is deregulated. In particular, Dr. Janknecht studies the ETS transcription factor ETV1 and the JMJD class of histone demethylases. A primary goal of his research is to identify and characterize small molecule drugs that ablate JMJD2 enzymatic activity and suppress cancer growth. His work has implications for understanding prostate, breast, colon and other cancers. His expertise ideally suits Dr. Janknecht to co-mentor Dr. Sukyung Woo in her project to investigate tumor resistant mechanisms to anti-VEGF therapy in prostate cancer using a pre-clinical model.

Lawrence I. Rothblum, PhD

Lawrence I. Rothblum, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Rothblum received his PhD in Biochemistry from The Hanemann Medical College, Philadelphia, PA. He continued his postdoctoral training in Pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at OUHSC. His research focuses on defining the mechanism of transcription by RNA polymerase and its regulation. His research expertise includes analyses of signaling pathways and protein-protein as well as protein-DNA interactions. Dr. Rothblum has a long and successful track record of mentoring. His extensive experience in various aspects of RNA and rDNA biology along with his long and successful track record with mentoring makes him an ideal mentor for Dr. Anupama Munshi in her efforts to investigate the role of the RNA-binding protein HuR in conferring resistance to radiation therapy.

Christopher M. West, PhD

Christopher M. West, PhD
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. West received his PhD in Cell Biology from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. He continued his postdoctoral training in Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research program is focused on structure-function relationships of signaling proteins for insights into mechanisms of sensing extracellular signals in model organisms and eukaryotic pathogens. He has previous mentoring experience at the Shands Cancer Center at the University of Florida and with participating in COBRE awards at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the University of Nevada. His expertise in structure and function analysis uniquely qualifies him to provide mentoring for the structural biology aspects of Dr. Franklin Hay's project.

Xin Zhang, MD, PhD

Xin Zhang, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Physiology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Zhang received his MD from Hubei Medical University, China, and his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. He continued his postdoctoral training in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. His research aims to understand the roles and mechanisms of cell adhesion and cell migration in various tumor progression processes such as invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis at the molecular, cellular, and organism levels. Currently, Dr. Zhang is researching the progression of prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and glioma. He will serve as a co-mentor to Dr. Natarajan Aravidan in his project to develop immunoliposome-based therapeutic methods for neuroblastoma relapse and metastasis.

Joe Zhao, PhD

Joe Zhao, PhD
Professor, Department of Pathology
OU Health Sciences Center

Dr. Zhao received his PhD in Biochemistry / Biophysics from Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. He continued his postdoctoral training in Biochemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. He has over 25 years of research experience in studying protein phosphorylation and cell signaling. He was one of the first investigators to isolate and characterize the tyrosine phosphatases SHP-1 and SHP-2, which are two signaling proteins with major implications in cancer development and progression. Dr. Zhao has more than 15 years of mentoring experience and most of his postdoctoral fellows have continued on with independent careers in academia or industry. He is well-suited to mentor Dr. Natarajan Aravindan in his research efforts to develop targeted immunoliposome-based therapeutic agents to inhibit Rel orchestrated neuroblastoma relapse and metastasis.