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Principal Investigator

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. 

CHRISTOPHER A. MAHER, PHD

christophermaher at wustl.edu

Faculty and Staff

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.

NICOLE M. WHITE, PHD

nmmaher at wustl.edu

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.

HA X. DANG, PHD

ha at wustl.edu

I have had a long-standing interest in studying non-coding RNA tumor biology as exemplified by my previous research discovering and characterizing lncRNAs (PMID: 20214974, PMID: 21532345). My current research focuses on elucidating long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) regulatory mechanisms in multiple solid tumor types including lung, breast, and colorectal cancer. To accomplish this, I integrate computational, molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches. My interdisciplinary approach allows me to better characterize lncRNAs for my overall goal of developing lncRNAs as novel diagnostics and therapeutics. My PhD is in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. 

JESSICA M. SILVA-FISHER, PHD

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. 

Research Lab Supervisor

EMILY B. ROZYCKI, BS

erozycki at wustl.edu

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. 

Senior Research Technician

AMY LY, BA

awilliam at wustl.edu

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.

Research Technician

SHERRON FONTES, BS

sherronfontes at wustl.edu

Postdoctoral Scholars  

I am a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and The McDonnell Genome Institute. I received my B.Sc. degree in Computer Science from the University of Al-Jabal Al-Gharbi, Libya, M.Sc. degree in Information Systems Development from HAN University of Applied Science, The Netherlands, and PhD degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Louisville. My research interests lie in the field of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. More specifically, I am interested in the development of computational algorithms and machine learning approaches to integrate and interpret high-throughput genomic data. My current research focuses on understanding cancer biology via the analysis of large-scale cancer genomics data collections from solid tumors.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

ABDALLAH M. ETELEEB, PHD

eteleeb at wustl.edu

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.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

GHOFRAN OTHOUM, PHD

gothoum at wustl.edu

Graduate Students

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.

PhD Student

Human and Statistical Genetics

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

EMILY M. COONROD, BS

coonrod.e at wustl.edu

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.

PhD Student

Computational and Systems Biology

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

SIDI ZHAO, BS

sidizhao at wustl.edu

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.

MSTP Student

Computational and Systems Biology

Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

PATRICK A. DESOUZA, BA

pdesouza at wustl.edu

Undergraduate Students

I’m a senior at Washington University from Madison, Wisconsin who is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Biology. Broadly, I am interested in applying computational techniques to biological data to better understand and combat human disease. My current research focus is on the development of a gene signature that predicts overall survival in early-stage lung adenocarcinoma patients. I am also working on understanding the biological role of lncRNAs associated with lung adenocarcinoma patient outcomes. Outside of school and lab, I enjoy ultimate frisbee, hiking, thrift stores, and well-designed fonts.

Undergraduate Student

BROOKE FELSHEIM

brookefelsheim at wustl.edu

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.

Undergraduate Student

DUY PHAM

dqpham at wustl.edu

Alumni

Postdocs

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

 

GEJAE JEFFERS

​Now: PhD Student, Molecular Genetics & Genomics, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

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

Undergrads

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: Bioinformatics Data Scientist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center