Committee on Cancer Biology Student News

  • Cancer Biology Student News

    Happenings among Cancer Biology PhD students


Graduating Students from the Biomedical Sciences from left to right Erin Mowers, ISTP, Lauren Drake, MPMM, Marina Sharifi, ISTP, Michelle Beaton, CMMN and Aparajita Chourasia, CCB are picture with Kay Macleod, Chair, Committee on Cancer Biology.

Congratulations to Kyle Delaney

Kyle was awarded Honorable Mention for his application to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP).  Well done Kyle!

Congratulations to Lindsey Ludwig

Lindsey was selected as one of the recepients for the 2016 WICR Scholar Award.  She will present "Reulation of Immune Homestasis by Direct Activator BH3-Only Proteins." at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting April 16-20th in New Orleans.  

Congratulations to Ashley Sample

Ashley's poster, "The role of p62-dependent regulation of COX-2 in UVA Response and skin tumor prgression" won best abstract award at The Department of Medicine's 2016 Janet D. Rowley Research Day held on March 1, 2016.    

Congratulations to Aparajita Chourasia

On Thursday, February 25th Aparajita successfully defended her dissertation, entitled "Tumor suppressive functions of BNIP3".  Well done Aparajita!

Congratulations to Daniel Leventhal

Daniel's paper, "Dendritic Cells Coordinate the Development and Homeostasis of Organ-Specific Regulatory T Cells" has been published in Immunity.

  •    Daniel S. Leventhal, Dana C. Gilmore, Julian M. Berger, Saki Nishi, Victoria Lee, Sven Malchow, Douglas E. Kline, Justin Kline, Donald J. Vander Griend, Haochu Huang, Nicholas D. Socci, Peter A. Savage. "Dendritic Cells Coordinate the Development and Homeostasis of Organ-Specifice Regulatory T Cells" Immuni.2016.01.025.

Congratulations to Daniel Leventhal

On Thursday, December 17th, Daniel Leventhal successfully defended his dissertation, entitled "Regulating the Regulators: Elucidating the Biology of Organ-Specific Treg Cells." Upon graduation Daniel will be a staff scientist at Agenus in Boston.  Well Done, Daniel!

Douglas R. Lowy, M.D featured at the Cancer Biology Seminar Series.

On December 9th, Dr. Lowy, Director, National Cancer Institue was featured as part of the Cancer on Biology Seminar Series.  He presented "The HPV Vaccine:  FDA Approval was Only the Beginning".

Daniel Rabe's abstract accepted for presentation at the AACR Conference on Tumor Metastasis

4th year graduate student Daniel Rabe (Rosner Lab) abstract entitled "Metastasis suppressors regulate the tumor microenvironment by blocking recruitment of pro-metastatic tumor-associated macrophages" will be presented at the AACR Special Conference on Tumor Metastasis on December 1st.  

Congratulations to Aparajita Chourasia

Aparajita Chourasia was awarded the 2015-2016 Ehrman Award Fellowshi

Cancer Biology help fundraising efforts at the University of Chicago's Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCC).

Each year, CCB students help with the fundraising efforts at the University of Chicago's Comprehensive Cancer Center grand auction.  This year's theme was "Breakthrough Ball" and highlighted research breakthroughs that were aided by various fundraising events sponsored by the UCCC Woman's Board.

Congratulations to Hari Singhal

On Wednesday, November 4th, Hari Singhal successfully defended his dissertation, entitled "Unexpected interplay of estrogen and progesterone receptors: new therapies for breast cancer." Upon graduation, Hari will start a postdoctoral position at Harvard.  Well done, Hari!

Congratulations to Sriram Sundaravel

Sriram's paper, "Reduced DOCK4 expression leads to erythroid dysplasia in myelodysplactic syndromes" has been published in Proc Natil Acad Sci USA.

Lindsey Ludwig and Maya Zafrir-Springer attended CABTRAC 2015

Maya and Lindsey attended and presented research posters during the 2015 CABTRAC held Sunday, October 25th through Tuesday, October 27th at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.  

Congratulations Ayelet Sivan


Ayelet’s paper, “Commensal Bifidobacterium promotes antitumor immunity and facilitates anti-PD-L1 efficacy” has been published in Science 2015.  

Congratulations to Aparajita Chourasia

Aparajita's paper, "Tumor suppressor functions of BNIP3 and mitophagy" has been published in Autophagy.

Congratulations to Keston Aquino-Michaels



On Thursday, September 24, Keston Aquino-Michaels successfully defended his dissertation, entitled "The Genetic Architecture of Complex Traits." Upon graduation, Keston will start a postdoctoral position with Nancy Cox. Well done, Keston!

Congratulations to Ayelet Sivan



Ayelet Sivan successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "The Role of Commensal Microbiota in Shaping Anti-Tumor Immunity in Melanoma" on September 14th, 2015. Ayelet will be returning to Israel to complete her medical degree. Congratulations, Ayelet!


Incoming graduate students gathered at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA for the BSD Quantitative Biology Boot Camp from September 4-11, 2015. Twelve hour days filled with tutorials on everything from R programming to analyzing microscope images to choosing a PI gave students the skills and knowledge they'll need to navigate their first year in grad school.

All students in the Biological Sciences Division attended this intensive course, designed to introduce students to concepts that will be beneficial to them in their thesis research.

One CCB first year stated: "I would say the boot camp was full of challenges as well as excitement. I met a lot of new students from different programs, and it was interesting to see how we interpreted the same question from different and unique perspectives. Learning R language and different statistic models broadened my horizons, and equipped me with a new skill set for futher exploration of my research interests."

Beyond participation in classroom sessions, all students had an opportunity to go on Gemma, the MBL's collecting boat, as well as participate in social and team-building activities.

Congratulations Aparajita Chourasia!

Aparajita's paper, "Mitophagy defects arising from BNip3 loss promote mammary tumor progression to metastasis" has been published in EMBO.


4th year graduate student Daniel Rabe (Rosner Lab) was awarded a National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship by the National Cancer Institute on July 2, 2015 for his project, "The role of macrophages in triple-negative breast cancer invasion and metastasis."


Congratulations our 2014-2015 graduates! 

Steve Kregel
(Vander Griend lab)
"The Role of Pluripotent Stem Cell Transcription Factors in Prostate Cancer"
Current Position: Postdoctoral Scholar at University of Michigan, Chinnaiyan Lab

Erika Moen
(Godley/Dolan lab)
"Genome-Wide Cytosine Modifications and their Implications for Sensitivity to Chemotherapeutic Agents"
Current position: Postdoctoral Scholar at Dartmouth University, O'Malley lab

Sam Baker
(Lahn lab)
"Transcriptome and Molecular Analyses Reveal Grem1 as a Potential Regulator of Cellular Senescence"
Current position: Exome Sequencing Analyst, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Colles Price
(Rowley/Chen lab)
"Polycomb Group Member RYBP is Inhibited by Oncogenic miR-9 in MLL-rearranged Leukemias"
Post-graduate position: Postdoctoral Scholar, Harvard Medical School, Hahn lab

Kate Wolak
(Onel lab)
"Targeting Pathways of Chemoresistance Using Small Molecules"
Post-graduate position: Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago, Onel lab


Daniel received two Bachelor’s degrees in Molecular Biology/Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Central Florida. Since starting his PhD in Cancer Biology at the University of Chicago, he has also received a Master’s degree in Translational Science. Daniel’s research focuses on understanding the interactions between cancer and the immune system, specifically in the context of Prostate Cancer. In the future Daniel hopes to take his technical expertise in the fields of Immunology and Cancer Biology to create the next generation of Immuno-Therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

2014-2015 CABTRAC

The Cancer Biology Training Consortium (CABTRAC) is a group dedicated to the mission of training the next generation of cancer research. Every year, Dr. Kay Macleod and two Cancer Biology graduate students attend the annual conference to exchange ideas with other individuals and institutions in the field. This year, Anna Dembo and Hannah Brechka attended the conference in Estes State Park, Colorado. They can be seen here enjoying the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. 



Second-year CCB students with Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels of Run D.M.C. at a fundraiser sponsored by Conquer Cancer Coalition, June 12, 2014.


Dan Rabe (3rd year CCB Student) has been accepted to participate in the two week intensive Clinical and Translational Research Course for Ph.D. Students offered by the NIH Clinical Center this July.

Clinical and Translational Research Course for Ph.D. Students


Dan Leventhal (4th year CCB student) and Alan Chang (3rd year CCB student) have both recently been notified that they have been awarded F31 fellowships by the National Cancer Institute, NIH.

Dan’s work in Pete Savage’s lab examines the developmental origins and antigen specificity of tumor-associated regulatory T cells. Using two different T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mice which express a single TCR which was observed exclusively in the Treg infiltrate of mouse prostate tumors, Dan has been able to determine that the most prevalent and recurrent specificity found in murine prostate tumors recognizes a prostate-associated antigen, develops primarily in the thymus and requires the transcriptional factor Aire for its thymic development. Dan’s on-going research continues to decipher the in situ function of Tregs and to uncover novel ways to target tumor-associated Tregs specifically, without disrupting systemic immune homeostasis.

  Alan’s graduate student research in Matt Lesniaks’ lab will test the hypothesis that CCR4+ Tregs are recruited to CCL22/CCL17-expressing gliomas resulting in suppression of T cell-mediated tumor rejection and overall decreased survival. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant primary brain tumor in adults. Even with aggressive surgical resection, radiation and chemotherapy, GBM patients only have an average median survival of 14.6 months post-diagnosis. One hallmark of GBM is the accumulation of infiltrating regulatory T cells (Tregs), a highly immunosuppressive T cell subset that suppresses immune-mediated GBM rejection. Thus, one of the barriers to durable GBM immunotherapy is the recruitment of Tregs to the tumor microenvironment.

Well done, Dan and Alan! We look forward to hearing more about your research progress soon.


Since it’s inception in 1996 the Associate Member Council of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has served as the AACR’s leadership body for the more than 13,000 graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows who are enrolled in educational or training programs leading to careers in cancer research.  Associate members represent industry, government and academia as well as dozens of countries.  As part of the Associate Member Council, Colles will serve a three-year term from 2014-2017 and develop programs that address the needs of early-career scientists, both at the AACR Annual Meeting and year-round.  These include grant writing workshops, roundtable and panel sessions, an associate member resource center, personalized career discussions and he will also act as a liaison to the AACR Board of Directors and leadership.  



Steve graduated from University of Chicago with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Chemistry (Honors), and Bachelors of Arts in Biology and Chemistry in 2009. Steve’s graduate research in Don Vander Griend lab has focused on the transcription factor, Sox2, in prostate cancer progression and resistance to anti-androgen therapy. During the first few years of his graduate career, Steve identified Sox2 as an androgen-repressed gene that promotes resistance to anti-androgen therapy, and that Sox2 is essential for the growth and survival of prostate cancer cells which express it.

This work resulted in his first primary author publication, and his continued efforts in the lab are focused on elucidating the mechanism of Sox2’s action, which can provide us with insight to improve existing therapies, and to identify novel therapeutic targets for treating advanced stage prostate cancer. Steve expects to defend his Ph.D. thesis in 2014.


University of Chicago Committee on Cancer Biology doctoral student Colles Price, in the laboratory of Jianjun Chen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, was named as a 2013 ASH Minority Graduate Student Abstract Achievement Awardee. In his poster presentation, he described his latest findings characterizing the over-expression of the miR-9 microRNA in MLL-rearranged AML patient samples and cell lines and miR-9 oncogenic activity in AML both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, Colles demonstrated that miR-9 expression, in combination with the expression of other microRNAs, predicted patient survival.


The Committee on Cancer Biology recently initiated a Career and Personal Development Series (CPDS) for our graduate and post-doctoral trainees at which we bring in speakers to advise our trainees on a range of issues including how to prepare a CV and job application letter, how to market yourself as a scientist to non-scientific audiences, how to prepare for a job in industry etc.