How do you fight cancer? Succinctly described as a “many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”1 With the advent of new technologies that allow us to resolve cancer down to individual cells, we are beginning to appreciate the heterogeneity of cancer that facilitates the ever-changing interactions between cancer cells, their niche, and the surrounding environment. Our hope is that cancer is not indestructible and the scientists in the Cancer and Cell Biology (CCB) Focus Area In CMB actively investigate ways to stop cancer by exploring all aspects of cancer initiation and progression, early detection, environmental causes, and response to therapies baked in-house and abroad.

Backed by the National Cancer Institute-designated UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCI Cancer Research Institute, the CCB Focus Group provides an abundance of resources to gain expertise in many areas of cancer research and a forum to share our research with the community. With access to scientists and clinicians from more than 32 departments across six schools at UCI, many opportunities exist for interactive and collaborative research in cancer discovery, clinical investigation, and population-based cancer research.

Featured Videos

Selma Masri
Biological Chemistry

Cancer and stem cell biology, immune microenvironment, young-onset cancer and circadian clock disruption


Nicholas Pannunzio
Biological Chemistry
Understanding how internal and external sources of DNA damage lead to oncogenic genome rearrangements in B cell malignancies

Olga Razorenova
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Internal (oncogenes/tumor suppressor genes) and external (tumor microenvironment) factors regulating tumor progression and metastasis.

Dr. Xiaoyu Shi
Developmental & Cell Biology
Structural Biology, Biochemistry, and Biophysics



  • Lauren Veronica Albrecht, l.albrecht@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Discovery of novel molecular pathways driving cell growth and tissue homeostasis in health and in disease.
  • Scott Atwood, satwood@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The Atwood lab is interested in how stem cell heterogeneity drives epidermal homeostasis and disease using models of skin development and cancer.
  • Lee Bardwell, bardwell@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We study cancer signaling pathways and other disease-relevant regulatory pathways, focusing on protein kinases, scaffold proteins, and transcription factors. We also do some computational/mathematical modeling.
  • Claudia Benaventeclaudia.benavente@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Identifying therapeutic vulnerabilities in solid malignancies harboring RB1 mutations, with special emphasis on epigenetics.
  • Daniela Bota, dbota@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    To understand the biology and to develop new translational approaches for neurologic malignancies and cancer-related cognitive impairments.
  • Remi Buissonrbuisson@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    The ongoing research program in the laboratory focuses on unexplored aspects of cellular transcription and translation regulation associated with viral infections and DNA damage.
  • Dongbao Chendongbaoc@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Uterine and placental hemodynamics, perinatal vascular biology, pregnancy complications
  • Phang-Lang Chenplchen@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Dissecting DNA damage response pathway
  • Fangyuan Ding, dingfy@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    RNA biology and engineering, synthetic biology, single molecule imaging and quantification
  • Aimee Edingeraedinger@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Understanding endolysosomal trafficking and sphingolipid biology and translating these discoveries into new therapies for cancer, obesity, and other diseases
  • Mark Fishermfisher@hs.uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Stroke, vascular neurobiology, blood-brain barrier, cerebral microvascular disease
  • Angela Fleischman, agf@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Role of inflammation in the development of hematologic malignancies.
  • David Frumandfruman@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The focus of research in the Fruman Lab is targeted therapies to modulate signaling and metabolism in lymphocytes and leukemia cells.
  • Anand K. Ganesanaganesan@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Our work understands how melanocytes respond to environmental cues in the context of skin disease and cancer.
  • Steve A. N. Goldstein, sgoldst2@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Ion channels in the heart, innate immune system, and nervous system in health and disease
  • Chris Halbrook, chris.halbrook@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    My lab is primarily focused on understanding mechanisms that support cancer development and resistance to therapy.
  • Christopher C.W. Hughescchughes@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Vascular biology with a focus on microphysiological systems, also called organ-on-chip technology. We work on cancer, neurological diseases, diabetes and vascular malformations
  • Barbara Jusiak, bjusiak@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    My lab combines mammalian synthetic biology and fruit fly (Drosophila) models to study cancer-host interactions and to engineer immune cells against cancer.
  • Peter Kaiserpkaiser@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Our lab studies the ubiquitin proteasome pathway, cell cycle, and cancer metabolism, focusing on mechanism of diet/therapeutics interactions and development of mutant p53 reactivation compounds.
  • Mei Kong, meik1@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Nutritional microenvironment in tumor development and drug response, metabolism, epigenetics and cancer stem cells, protein phosphatase regulation in diabetes and obesity.
  • Young Jik Kwonkwonyj@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Gene therapy, Nanomedicine, Cancer vaccines, Cell therapy
  • Devon A. Lawsondalawson@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Cellular, molecular and genomic mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis
  • Gina Leeginalee@uci.edu Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    Elucidate oncogenic signaling pathways that rewire cellular metabolism, RNA biogenesis and RNA epigenetic modification in human cancer
  • Thomas F. Martinez, t.martinez@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Unannotated microprotein discovery and characterization, proteomics, genomics, cell biology, protein biochemistry
  • Selma Masrismasri@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Research in the Masri lab is aimed at understanding the relationship between disruption of circadian rhythms and tumorigenesis, with a major focus on immunology, metabolism and stem cell biology.
  • Dan Mercoladmercola@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Current emphasis is prostate cancer and the interaction of cancer cells and the microenvironment as examined by DNA sequencing and gene expression changes. The ethnic differences in tumor and microenvironment interaction are also being examined for European American and African American populations.
  • Nicholas Pannunzio, nrpann@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Cancer etiology, cancer genetics, genome integrity, DNA double-strand break repair, and cancer health disparities in underrepresented groups
  • Farah Rahmatpanah, frahmatp@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Prostate cancer disparities, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, bioinformatics, epigenetics
  • Olga Razorenovaolgar@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We focus on kidney and breast cancer. We study tumor suppressors and oncogenes, as well as tumor cell microenvironment (especially hypoxia). We are interested in tumor cell metabolism and metastasis. Our ultimate goal is to find critical molecular targets expressed by cancer cells for therapy design.
  • Xiaoyu Shi, xiaoyu.shi@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We develop super-resolution microscopy and spatial multiomics methods to study aging and cancer at from molecular to organ levels.
  • Wenqi Wangwenqiw6@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Cancer signaling, oncogene, tumor supressors, organ size control, Hippo pathway, YAP/TAZ

Faculty – Secondary Affiliation

  • Thomas Burke, tpburke@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    We are developing novel innate immune agonist drugs for cancer therapy. We are investigating tumor microbiomes and microbial-based cancer therapies.
  • Dae Seok Eomdseom@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Long-range cell-to-cell communication via specialized cellular protrusions in development/homeostasis and disease contexts
  • Shane Gonengonens@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The Gonen lab studies proteins implicated in disease by cryogenic electron microscopy, biochemistry and computational modelling
  • Matthew Griffin, griffin@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Our lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying host-microbiota interactions during cancer progression and treatment.
  • Steven Grosssgross@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    I study how molecular motors function and are regulated, and also a new pathway in the innate immune system to kill bacteria.
  • Klemens Hertelkhertel@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    Regulation of gene expression by alternative splicing, bioinformatics, human genetic disease
  • Michael Hicksmrhicks1@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Stem cell and gene therapies for skeletal muscle regeneration
  • Lan Huanglanhuang@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Ubiquitin-proteasome dependent protein degradation, Proteomics, Protein-protein interactions, Structural biology, Biological mass spectrometry, Cancer, Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Cholsoon Jang, choljang@uci.edu , Biological Chemistry
    Nutrition metabolism, metabolic diseases, mass spectrometry
  • Albert La Spada, alaspada@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Our research seeks the mechanisms that underlie neurodegeneration and neuron cell death in spinal & bulbar muscular atrophy, spinocerebellar ataxia type 7, Huntington’s Disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and by reproducing molecular pathology in mice and in neurons, astrocytes, and skeletal muscle cells derived from human patient stem cells, we are developing therapies to treat these diseases.
  • Arthur Landeradlander@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We study the Systems Biology of growth, development, birth defects and cancer. Mathematical and computational approaches are used extensively.
  • Pablo Lara-Gonzalez, plaragon@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Molecular pathways that ensure accurate chromosome segregation in mitosis and their intersection with embryonic development; entry and exit from quiescence in response to nutrient signaling.
  • Wei Li, wei.li@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Computational Biomedicine: Epigenetics Liquid Biopsy and Alternative Polyadenylation Therapy
  • Ray Luorluo@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Our research interests are in the general area of computational structural biology and biophysics. We are particularly interested in computational analysis of solvation-mediated electrostatics and polarization effects in molecular recognition and disordered proteins in cancer biology and biosynthesis.
  • Grant R. MacGregorgmacg@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Function of FNDC3 proteins in development, homeostasis and reproduction; Improved mouse models of late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Francesco Marangonif.marangoni@uci.edu,  Physiology & Biophysics
    Study of immune regulation using functional intravital microscopy
  • Matthew Marsdenmdmarsde@hs.uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    My research is primarily focused on HIV cure efforts and involves molecular analysis of latent HIV together with cellular and animal models of HIV infection.
  • Michael McClellandmmcclell@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    High-throughput genetics, evolution of Salmonella pathogenesis; bacterial therapy for cancer; cancer genomics and prognostic
  • Naomi Morrissettenmorriss@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Tubulin and microtubules, tubulin targeting drugs in protozoan parasites, tubulin mutations
  • Stanley W.K. Ng, stanlewn@uci.edu Biological Chemistry
    The Ng Lab uses multiple spatial and omics sequencing technologies to profile tissue clones and assess their contribution to overall disease state, treatment response, and patient outcomes
  • Shivashankar Othy, sothy@uci.edu Physiology & Biophysics
    Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Immune Regulation: Decoding Neuro-Immune Interactions, Vaccine Mechanisms, and Mechanosignaling in Immune System
  • Michael J. Parsons, mparson1@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Understanding how the pancreatic progenitors are regulated will inform how insulin-producing β cells are made and reveal transitions that occur during onset of pancreatic cancer.
  • Jenn Prescherjpresche@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We develop chemical tools and noninvasive imaging strategies to spy on cellular communication
  • Feng Qiaoqiao@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Telomeres & telomerase and their roles in cancer and stem cell diseases; Structural, biochemical and molecular genetic analyses of ribonucleoprotein assemblies
  • Albert Siryaporn, asirya@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Bacterial pathogenesis, host-microbe interactions, antimicrobials, and biofilm development
  • Christine Suetterlinsuetterc@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We are studying the obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes wide-spread STI, with focus on its developmental cycle and interactions with host cell organelles.
  • Ming Tanmingt@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    Infectious Disease and Bacterial Pathogenesis Research on the intracellular bacterium Chlamydia: focus on gene regulation, host-pathogen interactions
  • Katherine Thompson-Peer, ktpeer@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Investigating how neurons respond and recover after injury
  • Roberto Tinoco, rtinoco@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We investigate T cell immune responses against viral infections and cancers.
  • Francesco Tombolaftombola@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Sensing mechanisms of the cellular microenvironment, ion channel physiology and pharmacology, development of new biosensors
  • Lisa Wagarlwagar@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics 
    Translational human immunology, adaptive immunity, organoids, vaccines and infectious diseases
  • Rahul Warriorrwarrior@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The lab uses modern molecular and genetic approaches in Drosophila to study the regulation of proteoglycan synthesis and related questions in developmental and cell biology.
  • Gregory Alan Weissgweiss@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The Weiss Lab invents new technologies to dissect how life’s molecules work and then work to control, improve, and fix them.
  • Kyoko Yokomorikyokomor@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    We study the mechanism and function of heterochromatin dynamics in human cells using muscular dystrophy FSHD and DNA damage response as the model systems.