Himisha Beltran, M.D., is a medical oncologist and physician-scientist with a research focus in understanding mechanisms of treatment resistance in advanced prostate cancer and other malignancies. She directs the clinical activities within the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Through the development of a clinical protocol for metastatic tumor biopsies, genomic sequencing, and patient-derived organoid development, Dr. Beltran works closely with a multidisciplinary team towards bringing next generation molecular studies, novel biomarkers and assays, and functionally validated drug targets into clinical application.
Richard Cerione completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Rutgers University, and was then an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Gordon Hammes at Cornell and a Howard Hughes Institute Fellow with Robert J. Lefkowitz at Duke University. He started his academic career at Cornell, where he is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology in the Department of Molecular Medicine, and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His research is primarily focused on the signaling pathways that regulate cell growth, differentiation and development, with a particular interest in the roles of extracellular vesicles in these biological processes. Project 2 Leader
Andrew J. Dannenberg, M.D. is the Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and Associate Director of Cancer Prevention at the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center. His laboratory has focused on elucidating the mechanisms underlying the inflammation-cancer connection. Currently, a bench to bedside effort is being made to understand the link between obesity and cancer with an emphasis on adipose inflammation. The long-term goal of this research is to develop new strategies to reduce the risk of cancer or inhibit its progression. Dr. Dannenberg has authored more than 200 scientific articles. In 2011, he was awarded the American Association for Cancer Research-Prevent Cancer Foundation award for excellence in cancer prevention research.
Matthew DeLisa, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. He also recently served as a Gastprofessur at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in the Institut für Mikrobiologie. His research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis — folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications — in the complex environment of a living cell. His contributions to science and engineering include the invention of numerous commercially important technologies for facilitating the discovery, design and manufacturing of human drugs and seminal discoveries in the areas of cellular protein folding and protein translocation. Pilot Project 1
Lara A. Estroff, Ph.D., is currently an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University. She received a B.A. with honors from Swarthmore College (1997), with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Anthropology. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University (2003) for work done in Prof. Andrew D. Hamilton’s laboratory on the design and synthesis of bio-inspired organic superstructures to control the growth of inorganic crystals. Dr. Estroff’s research group at Cornell focuses on bio-inspired materials synthesis, in particular, the study of crystal growth mechanisms in gels and their relationships to biomineralization. Pilot Project 2.
Peter Friedl, M.D., Ph.D., received his M.D. from the University of Bochum in 1992 and his Ph.D. from the McGill University, Montreal in 1996. He became a director of the Microscopical Imaging Centre of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands in 2007, and has held a joint faculty position at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center since 2011. His research interest is the mechanisms and plasticity of cell migration in immune regulation and cancer metastasis, with emphasis on cell-matrix adhesion, pericellular proteolysis and biophysics of cell migration and dynamic cell-cell cooperation during migration (“cell jamming”). His laboratory identified pathways determining diversity and plasticity of cell migration, collective cancer cell invasion, and the contribution of migration pathways to immune defense and cancer resistance.
Neil M. Iyengar, M.D., is a medical oncologist and clinical-translational investigator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he specializes in the care of patients with breast cancer. He also holds joint research appointments at the Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Dr. Iyengar studies the role of obesity and inflammation in the development and progression of breast and several other cancers. Through a series of translational studies, obesity-related inflammation has been shown to contribute to worse outcomes in patients with cancer. Dr. Iyengar aims to develop specific, mechanism-based interventions that target adipose tissue inflammation in order to protect patients from its harmful cancer-promoting effects. He has been recognized for his work by several organizations including a Career Development Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Brian J. Kirby, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Cornell University Sibley School of Mechanical Engineering with a courtesy appointment in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Before joining Cornell, he worked in the Microfluidics Department at Sandia National Laboratories and obtained his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He designs microfluidic devices for liquid biopsies and manipulation of cancer cells and vesicles with clinical application primarily to prostate and pancreatic cancers.
Lena F. Kourkoutis, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow in the Department of Applied Engineering and Physics at Cornell University. Kourkoutis received a Diploma in Physics from the University of Rostock, Germany in 2003, and then moved to Ithaca where she was awarded a PhD in 2009. As a Humboldt Research Fellow Kourkoutis spent 2011-2012 exploring cryo-electron microscopy in the Molecular Structural Biology Group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. She returned to Cornell as a Postdoctoral Associate in 2012 and joined the Applied and Engineering Faculty in 2013. The Kourkoutis electron microscopy group focuses on understanding and controlling nanostructured materials, from complex oxide heterostructures to materials for battery and photovoltaic applications to biomaterials. Pilot Project 2.
Jan Lammerding, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology at Cornell University. After obtaining a Diplom Ingenieur degree in Mechanical Engineering in his native Germany, he completed his Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studying subcellular biomechanics and mechanotransduction signaling in the laboratories of Roger Kamm and Richard T. Lee (Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School). Before joining Cornell University, Dr. Lammerding served as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital while also teaching in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. The research in the Lammerding laboratory is focused on developing novel experimental techniques to investigate the interplay between cellular mechanics and function, with a particular emphasis on the cell nucleus and its response to mechanical forces. Project 3 Leader
David Nanus, M.D., is the Chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Professor of Medicine and Urology, and Associate Director for Clinical Services at the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center. He was a co-investigator in the Cornell University Physical Science-Oncology Centers on the Microenvironment and Metastasis, collaborating with his colleagues at Weill Cornell and Cornell University in Ithaca to develop a microfluidic device that extracts prostate cancer circulating tumor cells. Dr. Nanus is an internationally recognized leader in the treatment and care of patients with genitourinary (GU) cancers. He is actively involved in clinical, translational and basic research in GU malignancies, serving as principle or co-investigator on a variety of grants and clinical research trials that incorporate novel targeted therapies for patients.
Matthew Paszek, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University, and his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigated physical mechanisms underlying cancer progression. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, he began his work on understanding the physical functions of glycans in regulating cell adhesion and signaling. His current work focuses on developing a biophysical toolkit for research in cancer glycobiology, as well as forming a fundamental understanding of the function of the glycocalyx in cancer cell motility and cell-to-cell communication. Pilot Project 1
Mark A. Rubin, M.D., is the founding Director of The Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. A board-certified pathologist whose research has appeared in journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, and New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Rubin’s clinical and laboratory investigations over the past 15 years have led to the discovery of several notable genetic alterations, including AMACR, Hepsin, EZH2, SPOP, MYCN, and AURKA. A physician-scientist with expertise in cancer pathology, Dr. Rubin was one of the first to profile prostate tumor DNA using both comprehensive and targeted gene sequencing. His recent work emphasizes treatment-resistance in recurring cancers of the prostate, and focuses now on drug development.
Chris B. Schaffer, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and the Associate Dean of Faculty at Cornell University. Dr. Schaffer received his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University, where he worked with Eric Mazur. He was then a post-doc in David Kleinfeld’s neuroscience laboratory at the University of California, San Diego. He now runs a lab at Cornell that develops advanced optical techniques to enable quantitative imaging and targeted manipulation of individual cells in the central nervous system of rodents, with the goal of constructing a microscopic-scale understanding of normal and disease-state physiological processes in the brain. One area of current focus is understanding the role of brain-blood flow disruptions in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Schaffer is also active in developing novel educational strategies to teach science as a dynamic process for discovery that are used in outreach settings in middle and high-school science classes as well as in college-level courses. Education and Outreach Unit Leader
Michael L. Shuler, Ph.D., is the Eckert Professor of Engineering in the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and in the Robert Fredrick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University, and director of Cornell’s Nanobiotechnology Center. Dr. Shuler has degrees in chemical engineering (BS, Notre Dame, 1969 and Ph.D., Minnesota, 1973) and has been a faculty member at Cornell University since 1974. Dr. Shuler’s research includes development of “Body-on-a-Chip” for testing pharmaceuticals for toxicity and efficacy; creation of production systems for useful compounds, such as paclitaxel from plant cell cultures; and construction of whole cell models relating genome to physiology. He is also CEO and President of Hesperos, a company founded to implement the “Body-on-a-Chip” system. Dr. Shuler and F. Kangi have authored a popular textbook, “Bioprocess Engineering; Basic Concepts”. Dr. Shuler has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Science and is a fellow of numerous professional societies.
Abraham Stroock, Ph.D., is a Professor and Director of the Robert Fredrick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University for work with George Whitesides on micro-scale fluid dynamics and the development of microfluidic technologies. His laboratory at Cornell has pioneered the application of microfluidic approaches to the challenge of controlling mass transfer within three-dimensional cell cultures and the formation of functional vascular structure in vitro. He is leading the Center’s Tissue Microfabrication Core and is a member of Project 1 working on both experimental and theoretical questions related to the impact of microenvironment on tumor metabolism. Core 1 Leader
Jeffrey Varner, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. Jeffrey Varner holds a Ph.D degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, where he explored modeling and analysis of metabolic networks in the lab of Prof. Doraiswami Ramkrishna. After a postdoc in the Department of Biology at the ETH-Zurich under the direction of Jay Bailey and a research position at Genencor-DuPont, Palo Alto, CA, Dr. Varner joined the faculty of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor in 2006. In the fall of 2011, Prof. Varner was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, and in 2016 to the rank of Professor. The Varner lab is interested in modeling and analysis of signal transduction and metabolic networks using kinetic and constraints based modeling techniques, as well as automatic code generation, and model identification using multi-objective optimization.
Valerie Weaver, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration in the Department of Surgery, and is a Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Anatomy and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Weaver has more than 20 years of experience in leading interdisciplinary research in oncology, including the Bay Area Physical Sciences and Oncology program and the UCSF Tumor Microenvironment Brain Program, which merge approaches in the physical/engineering sciences with cancer cell biology and emphasize the role of the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Weaver has been recognized for her research and leadership through receipt of several awards, including the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Scholar award in 2005 and Scholar expansion award in 2013 for exceptional creativity in breast cancer research, and the American Society for Cell Biology-Women in Cell Biology Midcareer award for sustained excellence in cell biology research in 2014. Most recently she was elected as the chair of the American Association for Cancer Research Tumor Microenvironment Network working group in 2015. Her research program focuses on the contribution of force – cell-intrinsic as well as extracellular matrix – to breast, pancreatic and glioblastoma tumor development and treatment.
Warren R. Zipfel, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. He obtained his Ph.D. at Cornell, studying the photophysics of photosynthesis using time-resolved laser spectroscopy. He later worked as a Research Associate in Applied and Engineering Physics under Watt Webb in the area of laser-scanning microscopy, during which time he was involved in the development of multiphoton microscopy at Cornell. His current research focuses on instrumentation and application developments in the areas of laser-scanning microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), super-resolution microscopy and single molecule level analysis of biological processes, which his lab applies to studies in cancer biology and transcriptional control. Core 2 Leader