Principal Investigator

christophermaher at wustl.edu

CHRISTOPHER A. MAHER, PHD

My primary research interests focus on translating genome-based discoveries into the clinic. This can be exemplified by the development of novel software tools that have enabled the discovery of novel recurrent RNA chimeras and non-coding alterations in solid tumors using high-throughput sequencing. Further, the lab is dedicated to the discovery and characterization of novel non-coding RNAs, elucidating their functionality, and assessing their clinical applicability. I received my PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and completed my postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan. 

Faculty and Staff

nmmaher at wustl.edu

NICOLE M. WHITE, PHD

The goal of my research is to understand how long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) contribute to the progression of lung cancer. Specifically, to understand the biology, we prioritized evolutionarily conserved lncRNAs according to sequence homology and synteny from humans to zebrafish. We hypothesized that the 450-million-year evolutionary distance between these species provided stringent criteria to identify the most essential lncRNAs. One of the few lncRNAs meeting this criterion is onco-lncRNA-17, which we have shown is co-regulated with FOXA2 expression, its neighboring protein-coding gene. FOXA2 is a winged-helix transcription factor that plays an important role in the formation of the endoderm and is critical in tissues such as lung, liver, and pancreas. Deregulation of FOXA2 is implicated in diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding how onco-lncRNA-17 is regulating FOXA2. I received my PhD in Pharmacology from Case Western Reserve University.

ha at wustl.edu

HA X. DANG, PHD

I have a PhD in Genetics, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. I am broadly interested in studying life via genome analysis and development of novel methods to facilitate this process. My current research focuses on understanding genomic aberrations that impact cancer evolution and response to therapies. That includes (i) elucidating genomic alterations that contribute to cancer heterogeneity, clonal evolution, tumor progression, and metastasis; (ii) identifying molecular biomarkers of cancer treatment response and patient outcome; and (iii) dissecting the roles of lncRNAs in cancers.

erozycki at wustl.edu

EMILY B. ROZYCKI, BS

Research Lab Supervisor

I am the research lab supervisor in charge of the general daily lab operations. I am also involved in all of the research projects in the lab. I am currently starting our translational projects to look at lncRNAs in blood, urine, and stool as potential biomarkers. Over the years we have carefully characterized these lncRNAs to determine their expression pattern in solid tumors.  I am working with our collaborators to collect human samples, and I am responsible for processing them to prepare for sequencing. I received my Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Biotechnology from Southeast Missouri State University. 

awilliam at wustl.edu

Senior Research Technician

AMY LY, BA

I will be leveraging my extensive experience in research and development to bring new technologies to the Maher lab. My goal is to optimize new methods and streamline lab procedures, thereby allowing me to contribute to several different projects. My current projects include high throughput assays to identify under-represented classes of noncoding RNAs and dissect their epigenetic functions. Additionally, I am focused on translating biomarkers recently discovered  in the Maher lab as non-invasive assays for improving patient care. I received my BA from Cornell College. 

sherronfontes at wustl.edu

Research Technician

SHERRON FONTES, BS

I graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. I am a Research Technician II working with Dr. White. I am currently assisting her on her projects in lung cancer and zebrafish to understand onco-lncRNA-17 regulation of FOXA2. Dysregulation of this mechanism leads to lung cancer and other lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I also help maintain the lab.

Postdoctoral Scholars  

gothoum at wustl.edu

GHOFRAN OTHOUM, PHD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

My overall research interest is to utilize computational and mathematical methods towards the study of biological systems. My PhD is in Biological Engineering from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Previously, I have focused on reconstructing and modeling microbial systems, leveraging whole-genome sequencing data and metabolomics. In my current postdoctoral research, I am applying similar systems biology methods to multi-omics datasets of various cancer types. Specifically, I am interested in interrogating the effects of variants in non-coding regions, such as somatic copy-number alterations and mutations, on the expression of cancer genes. Mostly, I am focusing on variants leading to rearrangement of cis-regulatory elements by integrating copy-number variation data, gene expression data and supporting datasets with focus on chromatin interactions.

Graduate Students

coonrod.e at wustl.edu

PhD Student

Human and Statistical Genetics

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

EMILY M. COONROD, BS

My research focuses on the discovery and characterization of small functional peptides encoded by lncRNA. Emphasis is placed on peptides that could have implications in colon and prostate cancer development and outcomes. This involves computational analysis and experimental validation. Broadly, I am interested in increasing understanding of human genetics to improve disease treatment. I am in the Human and Statistical Genetics graduate program, received my undergraduate degree from Mizzou, and am from St. Louis, Missouri.

sidizhao at wustl.edu

SIDI ZHAO, BS

PhD Student

Computational and Systems Biology

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

I am from Xiamen, a beautiful island city on the coastline of China. I attained my Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am focusing my graduate research on personalizing treatment for cancer types that still lack promising targeted therapies. I have chosen to focus my thesis on understanding the biological and clinical significance of lncRNAs. My main research projects include: Investigating mutation data from the International Cancer Genome Consortium to identify recurrent mutations in lncRNAs across cancer cohorts; statistically analyzing tissue-specific enrichment of lncRNAs from the Cancer Genome Atlas pan-cancer dataset; discovery of circular RNAs in metastatic colorectal cancer with potential as metastasis progression indicators and/or stable noninvasive biomarkers. In my free time, I enjoy going to concerts, calligraphy, and hanging out with my two pet bunnies Berg and Shroom.

pdesouza at wustl.edu

PATRICK A. DESOUZA, BA

MSTP Student

Computational and Systems Biology

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

By utilizing a co-mentored graduate training experience with Dr. Maher and Albert Kim in the Department of Neurosurgery, I am hoping to investigate and begin understanding how dysregulation of the non-coding transcriptome contributes to glioblastoma pathogenesis. Glioblastoma is an aggressive brain tumor with a median survival of 20 months from time of clinical diagnosis despite maximal surgical resection, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. By leveraging a novel genetic model in human embryonic and neural stem cells, I hope to develop a discovery-based approach for identifying important non-coding RNA species involved in the initiation and progression of this dismal disease. My Bachelor's degree is in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Boston University.

jace.webster at wustl.edu

PhD Student

Human and Statistical Genetics

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

JACE WEBSTER, BS

I am from Arizona and received my undergraduate training at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where I majored in both Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics. I am now a graduate student in the Human and Statistical Genetics program in St. Louis and am broadly interested in how computational approaches can improve our understanding of genetics and disease. As a graduate student in the Maher Lab, I am broadly interested in the identification of biomarkers that can provide additional diagnostic and prognostic information relevant to colorectal cancer.

gjeffers at wustl.edu

PhD Student

Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

GEJAE JEFFERS, BS

I graduated with a Bachelors of Science from University of the Virgin Islands where I studied Computer Science with a focus on Biology and Mathematics.  Following a post baccalaureate research experience in the Maher lab, I joined the Molecular Genetics and Genomics program at Washington University to pursue a doctorate.

Biostatistics Summer Intern

Biostatistics

Division of Biostatistics

ZIYI ZENG, BS

zeng.ziyi at wustl.edu

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biological Science at Dalian University of Technology in China, and I am now pursuing a masters in Biostatistics at Washington University in St. Louis. My previous research direction used artificial intelligence to integrate and interpret prostate cancer pharmacogenomic data to find new combination therapies to overcome acquired drug resistance. During my internship in the Maher lab, I will identify differentially expressed novel small RNAs across cancer types, integrate genomic data to identify somatic alterations driving these expression changes, and correlate small RNA expression with patient outcome.

Undergraduate Students

dqpham at wustl.edu

DUY PHAM

Undergraduate Student

I'm a rising junior at Washington University, majoring in Mathematics and Anthropology with a minor in Bioinformatics. Using bioinformatics tools, I'm taking a pan-cancer approach to the analysis of cancer patients. With genetic information from patients of different cancer types, I'm attempting to identify genetic regions, or hot spots, where structural variants are consistently found across cancer cohorts.

rscharf at wustl.edu

Russell Scharf

Undergraduate Student

I’m a sophomore at Washington University from Rye Brook, New York, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Bioinformatics. By combining these two fields of study I hope to find novel ways to identify, perceive, and fight against cancer. Using genetic information, I am seeking to understand the role of small noncoding RNAs in cancer. Outside of classes and research, I enjoy tutoring inmates at a correctional facility in St. Louis and being an active member of Greek life on campus.

Alumni

Faculty

Jessica Silva-Fisher

​Now: Principal Investigator, Silva-Fisher Lab, Division of Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine

Postdocs

ABDALLAH ETELEEB

​Now: Senior Scientist, Dr. Oscar Harari's lab, Washington University School of Medicine

ANDREW NICKLESS

​Now: Senior Scientist, MilliporeSigma

CHRISTOPHER CABANSKI

​Now: Senior Biostatistician, The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

 

JIN ZHANG

Now: Instructor of Radiation Oncology, Division of Cancer Biology, Washington University School of Medicine

Postbacs

CYNTHIA TANG

​Now: MD/PhD Student, University of Missouri School of Medicine

 

SANDRA MCFADDEN

​Now: Chemist, MilliporeSigma

Rotation Students

STEVEN FOLTZ

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Li Ding's lab, Human and Statistical Genetics, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

 

CLARICE HONG

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Barak Cohen's lab, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

 

EMILY BUTKA

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Samantha Morris' lab, Computational and Systems Biology, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

 

WEN-WEI LIAO

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Ira Hall's lab, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

 

MATI NEMERA

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Harrison Gabel's lab, Computational and Systems Biology, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

JESSICA HARRISON

​Now: PhD Student in Dr. Ting Wang's lab, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

Undergrads

BROOKE FELSHEIM

​Now: PhD Student, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

BEN DUGGAN

​Now: Undergraduate Student, Indiana University Bloomington

CORRINE RAUCK

​Now: Resident Physician, OhioHealth

 

DANIELLA CICKA

​Now: MD/PhD Student, Emory University

 

TENG (BRETT) GAO

​Now: PhD Student in Bioinformatics & Integrative Genomics program at Harvard Medical School

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