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 Albrecht, lvalbrec@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    The Albrecht lab investigates the molecular basis of protein methylation as a novel regulator of proteostasis, cell metabolism, and tissue remodeling in cancer. By elucidating new mechanisms of cancer cell metabolism and growth, the studies in our lab aim to generate novel pharmacologic- and diet-based interventions. 
  • Scott Atwoodsatwood@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Cell fate decisions in skin cancer, skin and hair follicle development, and stem cells.
  • Lee Bardwellbardwell@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Cell signaling pathways deregulated in cancer, with a focus on mitogen-activated protein kinases
  • Claudia Benaventeclaudia.benavente@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Understanding epigenetic deregulation in pediatric cancer tumorigenesis
  • Daniela Botadbota@uci.edu, Neurology and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    The mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced cognitive damage, and differential mechanisms governing glioma stem cell versus neural stem cell differentiation
  • Remi Buissonrbuisson@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Genomic instability, DNA repair and mutagenesis in cancer
  • Jefferson Y. Chanjchan@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Regulation of genes associated with oxidative stress
  • Dongbao Chendongbaoc@uci.edu, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Angiogenesis and perinatal vascular biology
  • Phang Lang Chenplchen@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry – Cancer Biology
    Critical role of tumor suppressor genes in the genesis and progression of cancer
  • Steven Chesslers.chessler@uci.edu, Medicine and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying insulin secretion, pancreatic islet function, and beta cell failure in diabetes.
  • Fangyuan Ding, dingfy@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology Single molecule biology and engineering (such as in situ mapping currently inaccessible RNA, quantifying protein-nucleic acid kinetics in a high-throughput manner), emerging from basic single-cell research to tool developments
  • Aimee Edingeraedinger@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Cancer biology and therapy, intracellular trafficking, obesity, drug development and delivery
  • Robert Edwards , redwards@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, In Residence
    Pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Mark Fishermfisher@uci.edu, Neurology and Anatomy & Neurobiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Mechanisms of stroke, vascular neurobiology, blood-brain barrier
  • Angela Fleischmanagf@uci.edu,  Medicine and Biological Chemistry
    Hematopoietic stem cell biology and leukemia
  • David A. Frumandfruman@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Targeting survival pathways in leukemia and lymphoma cells 
  • Anand Ganesanaganesan@uci.edu, Dermatology and Biological Chemistry
    Identify the key molecular regulators of melanin production, melanoma cell survival, and melanoma chemoresistance in human cells
  • Christopher J. Halbrookchalbroo@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
  • Christopher C.W. Hughescchughes@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Molecular biology of developmental and tumor angiogenesis
  • Barb Jusiak, bjusiak@uci.edu, Physiology and Biophysics
    Development of anti-cancer gene circuits and immune modulation with synthetic biology in mammalian and Drosophila systems
  • Peter Kaiserpkaiser@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Cell cycle control; regulation of proteins by ubiquitination
  • Kai Kessenbrockkkessenb@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Microenvironmental Control of Stem Cells and Cancer
  • Mei Kongmeik1@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Nutritional microenvironment in tumor development and drug response, metabolism and epigenetics, protein phosphatase regulation in diabetes and obesity
  • Young Jik Kwonkwonyj@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, and Biomedical Engineering
    Cancer-targeted therapeutics, Engineered viral vectors for gene therapy, Cancer Vaccine
  • Pablo Lara-Gonzalez, plaragon@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology, Molecular mechanisms of cell division and quiescence, regulation of chromosome segregation in mitosis
  • Devon Lawsondalawson@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Mechanisms of Cancer Metastasis
  • Gina Leeginalee@uci.edu Microbiology & Molecular Genetics RNA signaling and metabolism
  • Thomas Martinez, t.martinez@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry Discovery and characterization of unannotated small open reading frame-encoded microproteins using genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics methods, with an emphasis on investigating microproteins in cancer
  • Selma Masrismasri@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Cancer and stem cell biology, immune microenvironment, young-onset cancer and circadian clock disruption
  • Michael McClellandmmcclell@uci.edu, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
    Evolution of Salmonella pathogenesis; bacterial therapy for cancer; cancer genomics and prognostics
  • Dan Mercoladmercola@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Translational research in prostatic cancer
  • Edward L. Nelsonenelson@uci.edu,Medicine and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Tumor immunology, dendritic cell biology, and anti-tumor immunotherapeutics
  • Nicholas Pannunzionrpann@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Cancer genetics, genome integrity, and cancer health disparities in underrepresented groups
  • A. Olga Razorenovaolgar@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Internal (oncogenes/tumor suppressor genes) and external (tumor microenvironment)
    factors regulating tumor progression and metastasis.
  • Christine Suetterlinsuetterc@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Centrosome regulation, cilia formation and length control, host-pathogen interaction
  • Wenqi Wangwenqiw6@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Signaling network in organ size control and cancer development
  • Marian L. Watermanmlwaterm@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

    Regulation of LEF-1 gene expression in lymphocytes and cancer

Faculty – Secondary Affiliation

  • Bruce Blumbergblumberg@uci.edu, Developmental and Cell Biology
    Gene regulation by nuclear hormone receptors in vertebrate development & adult physiology Epigenomic analysis of gene-environment interactions
  • Dae Seok Eomdseom@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Intercellular signaling in stem cells and tissue remodeling
  • Steven A. Goldsteinsgoldst2@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Ion channels in health and disease
  • Shane Gonengonens@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Electron cryo-microscopy (Cryo-EM); Membrane proteins; Protein complexes; Computational protein design
  • Klemens Hertel, khertel@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
    Regulation of gene expression by alternative splicing
  • Lan Huanglanhuang@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics and Developmental & Cell Biology
    Proteomics analysis using mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to elucidate protein structure and function, with initial emphasis on the 26S proteasome functional specificity
  • Cholsoon Jang, choljang@uci.edu , Biological Chemistry  Understanding how what we eat maintains health and causes diseases using mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and isotope tracing in disease animal models and human patients
  • Wei Ling Lauwllau@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Vascular calcification, cerebral microbleeds, and chronic inflammation in chronic kidney disease
  • Chang Liuccl@uci.edu, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Engineered genetic systems for rapid evolution, chemical biology, synthetic biology, and cell biology
  • Melissa Lodoenmlodoen@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Innate immunity, host-microbe interactions, and immune evasion by Toxoplasma gondii
  • Francesco Marangonifmarango@uci.edu,  Physiology & Biophysics
    Identify immune regulatory mechanisms within tumors using functional intravital microscopy (F-IVM), and to counteract them to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies
  • Reginald “Reggie” McNultyrmcnulty@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Macromolecular assemblies in inflammation and cancer using Cryo-EM and other approaches
  • Naomi Morrissettenmorrriss@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Genetic, cell biological and structure-function studies of tubulin and microbutules in Apicomplexan parasites
  • Stanley Ng, sn16@sanger.ac.uk Biological Chemistry
    Advancing precision medicine with novel diagnostics and treatments at clonal resolution through multi-omic spatial and biofluid data generation and statistical learning using million-core machines
  • Shivashankar Othy, sothy@uci.edu Physiology and Biophysics
    Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Immune Regulation: Decoding Neuro-Immune Interactions, Vaccine Mechanisms, and Mechanosignaling in Immune System
  • Jennifer Prescherjpresche@uci.edu, Chemistry, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences
    Probing biological systems with chemical tools and noninvasive imaging
  • Xiaoyu Shi, xiaoyu.shi@ucsf.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Interested in developing new in situ multiomics methods, by leveraging Super-resolution Microscopy, Expansion Microscopy and multiomics
  • Sha Sunshasun@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Long noncoding RNAs in epigenetic programming
  • Ming Tanmingt@uci.edu, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, and Medicine
    Chlamydia infections: Gene regulation and host pathogen interactions
  • Katherine L Thompson-Peerktpeer@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Neuronal regeneration after injury; dendrite regeneration
  • Roberto Tinocortinoco@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Adaptive Immune Responses; cellular and molecular mechanisms that promote T cell exhaustion during chronic viral infection and cancer
  • Francesco Tombola, ftombola@uci.edu, Physiology and Biophysics
    Molecular mechanisms of voltage-gated ion channel function
  • Lisa Wagar lwagar@hs.uci.edu , Physiology & Biophysics How microenvironments within lymphoid tissues regulate the adaptive immune response to infectious diseases and vaccines
  • Gregory A. Weissgweiss@uci.edu,  Chemistry and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences
    Evolving viruses for early cancer detection sensors
  • Qin Yangqiny3@uci.edu, Medicine and Physiology & Biophysics
    Cellular and molecular mechanisms for insulin resistance and energy expenditure in obesity and type 2 diabetes
  • Kyoko Yokomorikyokomor@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Molecular mechanisms of chromosome dynamics and gene regulation