Systems Biology Research Labs

Mark Boldin, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Systems Biology. Current research in his laboratory is defining the contribution of both small and long noncoding RNAs to the regulation of gene expression during the development and functioning of the immune system. Besides being fundamentally important, this work can shed light on how the dysregulation of immune cell signaling leads to autoimmunity and cancer and potentially could lead to the creation of new therapeutic modalities to fight these devastating diseases.

David Chen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and the director of the Division of Epigenetic and Transcriptional Engineering in the Department of Systems Biology. His research focuses on combinational epigenetic therapies for multiple hematopoietic malignant diseases. Combining patient-derived leukemia and lymphoma xenografts, dCas9- technology for genetic engineering, and computational modeling, Chen and his team will interrogate the genome-wide effects of modifiers that write and erase epigenetic marks and their contribution to malignant leukemia and lymphoma.

Jianjun Chen, Ph.D., is a professor and vice chair of the Department of Systems Biology. Chen is also the holder of the Simms/Mann Family Foundation Chair in Systems Biology and a scholar of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Chen’s research program mainly focuses on integrated analyses of noncoding RNAs regarding 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 as N6- methyladenosine RNA demethylase and as a driver of leukemogenesis.

Nora Heisterkamp, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Systems Biology. In the early 1980s, Heisterkamp, along with her colleagues, uncovered the structure of the so-called “Philadelphia chromosome” (Ph), the first known genetic lesion discovered as a cause of human cancer. Her lab is investigating molecular mechanisms through which precursor B-lineage ALL cells are protected against eradication by therapy when they interact with nonleukemia cells in their environment.

Vu Nguyen Ngo, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Systems Biology. Ngo’s laboratory focuses on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of cancer mutations and their interactions in driving tumor development. His laboratory will employ large-scale functional genetic screens using RNA interference technology in combination with genomics and proteomics approaches to dissect disease mechanisms in lymphoid malignancies. He also specializes on developing animal tumor models for aggressive lymphomas, including mantle cell lymphoma.

Rui Su, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Systems Biology. Her laboratory mainly focuses on determining the biological functions and underlying mechanisms of RNA modifications and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in tumorigenesis (with an emphasis on acute myeloid leukemia and hepatocellular carcinoma). Several foundation awards (e.g., the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the Leukemia Research Foundation) currently support her laboratory.

Srividya Swaminathan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Systems Biology. Her research aims to develop targeted immunotherapies against aggressive lymphoid malignancies. Towards this end, her laboratory will delineate the differences in cell-autonomous processes and the immune micro-environment during normal and malignant B and T cell lymphopoiesis. Using mass cytometry (CyTOF), flow cytometry, and CIBERSORT on samples from transgenic lymphoma/leukemia mice and patients, her laboratory will generate immune fingerprints of normal and malignant lymphocyte development. This knowledge will be applied to identify the Achilles heel of malignant lymphocytes in lymphoid neoplasia, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and lymphomas.

Lili Wang, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Systems Biology. Wang’s laboratory focuses on a clinically heterogeneous blood disease, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of adult leukemia in North America. The Wang laboratory has developed genetic mouse models for CLL. It intends to dissect somatic mutations contributing to the disease phenotype using CRISPR/Cas9 technology and single-cell sequencing, coupled with murine models and human CLL samples. The ultimate goal will be to discover novel prognosis markers and design better therapeutic approaches for this heterogeneous disease.