New Research Faculty Hires

Chun-Wei (David) Chen, Ph.D.
Chun-Wei (David) Chen, Ph.D., has joined City of Hope as an assistant professor within the Department of Systems Biology. Dr. Chen obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the National Taiwan University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. He received his postdoctoral training at Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, mentored by Dr. Scott Armstrong. Prior to joining City of Hope, Dr. Chen served as a Senior Research Scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Instructor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. He has been granted a Translational Research Training in Hematology (TRTH) Award, jointly presented by the European Hematology Association (EHA) and the American Society of  Hematology (ASH). He also received a Pathway to Independence Award (aka “K99/R00”) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health.
 
Chen’s research has focused on epigenetic mechanisms for therapeutic resistance in cancers and therapeutic target discovery using high-throughput genetic screens.
 
Epigenetic dysregulation plays an important role in cancer initiation, progression, and therapeutic responses. Dr. Chen’s research goal is to provide novel and more effective cancer therapies by understanding how epigenetic regulators control oncogene expression under normal and malignant conditions. His recent study based on a genome-wide functional genetic screen identified epigenetic circuitries that drive the mixed lineage leukemias and led the current research towards combinational epigenetic therapies in multiple types of hematopoietic malignancies.
                                                                                                                                           
Dr. Chen and his laboratory will focus on dissecting the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the therapeutic resistance in cancers. He is skilled in high-throughput CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) genetic screens for de novo therapeutic target discovery. He also utilizes next-generation sequencing (NGS) for epigenomic and transcriptomic analyses. In addition, Dr. Chen’s laboratory is involved in cutting-edge technology development, including precision epigenome editing and transcriptional regulations.
 
Jianjun Chen, Ph.D. 
Jianjun Chen, Ph.D. is a Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Systems Biology and a Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is also a permanent member of the Developmental Therapeutics (DT) Study Section for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Supported by four NCI R01 grants, Dr. Chen’s research program is mainly focused on integrated analyses of non-coding RNAs regarding both genetic and epigenetic changes in the development of leukemia and lymphoma. Most recently, his group discovered the role of the fat mass- and obesity-associated protein (FTO) as N6-methyladenosine RNA demethylase and as a driver of leukemogenesis.
 
William Dale, M.D., Ph.D.
William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinical professor in the department of supportive care medicine.
 
Dr. Dale completed his medical and graduate school training at the University of Chicago and did his residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in geriatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a board-certified geriatrician and palliative medicine physician with a doctorate in health policy.
 
Dr. Dale has devoted his career to the care of older adults with cancer.  In 2006, he established the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) Clinic at the University of Chicago, which offers interdisciplinary, individualized, and integrated treatment to optimize quality of life for older cancer patients.
 
He has over 100 publications on medical decision making, behavioral economics, quality of life, and frailty evaluation in older adults, primarily those with cancer. He has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society, the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Foundation of Informed Medical Decision Making, among others. He is a co-investigator for the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a national survey and biomeasure collection on the health, well-being, and social life of over 3,000 older adults.
 
Sangeeta Dhawan, Ph.D.
Sangeeta Dhawan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Translational Research and Cellular Therapeutics Research. She obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular and Developmental Biology from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. She did her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and UCLA. Her training at UCLA was focused on understanding the mechanisms of beta cell mass regulation. Her lab research focuses on the cellular signals and epigenetic pathways that regulate beta cell identity, function, regeneration and survival. 
 
She became a researcher to understand and explore the mechanisms that govern cellular function. Fundamental questions on cell growth and differentiation have always fascinated her. Her training as a developmental biologist equipped her to understand complex mechanisms that regulate beta-cell function and mass as an independent scientist. She developed an interest in diabetes research, as it allowed her to extend the process of discovery in basic science towards translational purposes. She chose City of Hope because of the collaborative spirit of doing science here, and to work with the leaders in the field of diabetes and epigenetics research. 
 
Mingye Feng, Ph.D.
Mingye Feng, Ph.D., has joined City of Hope as an Assistant Professor, with a primary appointment in the Department of Immuno-Oncology. He joins us from Stanford University School of Medicine, where he was an instructor in the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
 
Dr. Feng earned his Bachelor degree from University of Science and Technology of China, followed by his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His graduate work was focused on cellular signaling mediated by calcium ions in cancer and other human diseases. He then pursued his postdoctoral research in the Stanford lab of Irving Weissman, M.D., where he studied cancer immunosurveillance. Also known as “the elimination phase,” immunosurveillance is a process by which an immune system can recognize transformed cells and inhibit the growth of neoplastic tissue.
 
Dr. Feng’s research here will focus on understanding the underlying mechanism of macrophage-mediated immunosurveillance in cancer development and metastasis. He plans to address several fundamental questions, including how macrophages target tumor cells; how cancer cells develop multiple levels of self-protective mechanisms against macrophages during cancer progression and metastasis; and how macrophages interact with other groups of immune cells to coordinate and execute immunosurveillance. Based on these studies, he says he hopes to collaborate with colleagues to translate his research to clinically viable reagents and therapies.
 
Dr. Feng received numerous awards during his doctoral and postdoctoral research, including a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists from Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a Postdoctoral Fellowship from Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and a Martin and Carol Macht Doctoral Research Award from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
 
Stanley Hooker, Ph.D.
Stanley Hooker, Ph.D., is an assistant research professor in the Division of Health Equities within the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope. His research focus is using genetic epidemiology to tease apart the interplay of genetic, environmental and accessibility factors to isolate the genetic contribution to the disparities in treatment and health outcomes in admixed populations, particularly those of West African descent. From the identification of these genetic markers, Hooker can then create panels of markers that predict disease risk and drug efficacy in addition to identifying genes and biological pathways that may lead to the development of treatments to ameliorate or cure diseases.
 
Rick Kittles, Ph.D.
Rick Kittles, Ph.D., is Professor and founding director of the Division of Health Equities within the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope (COH). He is also Associate Director of Health Equities of COH Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. Dr. Kittles’ research has focused on understanding the complex issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry, and health disparities. Dr. Kittles received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from George Washington University in 1998. His first faculty appointment was at Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University.
 
Over the last twenty years he has been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be quantified and utilized in genomic studies on disease risk and outcomes. His work has shown the impact of genetic variation across populations in pharmacogenomics, biomarker discovery, and disease gene mapping. Although a major focus of Dr. Kittles’ work over the past years has been on measuring and utilizing West African admixture in studies of genetic disease among African Americans, presently he is expanding his research focus to further include Latino and Native American populations to further enhance the robustness of the experimental design of his research studies. Dr. Kittles has NIH-funded projects to study genetic and environmental modifiers of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in order to improve our understanding of the role serum Vitamin D plays in health disparities. He is leading a multi-site collaboration studying modifiers of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels and their role on prostate cancer susceptibility.
 
In 2010 Dr. Kittles was named in Ebony magazine’s “The Ebony Power 100.” Ebony selected the nation's top 100 African-American "power players" in sports, academia, religion, business, environment, science & tech, entertainment, arts and letters, fashion, politics, media, activism and health. In March of 2012 Dr. Kittles presented the Keynote Address to the United Nations General Assembly, “International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.” Recently Dr. Kittles was named by The Huffington Post as one of “50 Iconic Black Trailblazers Who Represent Every State In America.”
 
Dr. Kittles has published over 160 research articles on prostate cancer genetics, Race and Genetics, and health disparities.
 
Lili Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
Lili Wang, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of the Systems Biology Department. Dr. Wang trained with Sonoko Habu (Tokai University, Japan) and Amy L. Kenter (University of Illinois at Chicago) and as an instructor with Catherine J Wu at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. With extensive experience in B-cell and T-cell development, Dr. Wang discovered recurrent genetic lesions in B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), in particular lesions of the splicing factor SF3B1, elucidated their role in the clonal evolution of CLL, and developed genetic mouse models for mechanistic studies.