Skip to Main Content

Mentors

All Scholars, regardless of their career trajectory, will have both a Clinical Mentor and a Translational Research Mentor in either molecular translational or population science research. K12 Mentors from Sylvester’s three research programs—Cancer Control, Cancer Epigenetics, and Tumor Biology—all have extensive academic leadership, clinical and/or basic research, and mentoring experience. 

*An asterisk below indicates faculty with both clinical and translational research expertise.

Translational Research Mentors

Translational Research Mentors all lead well-funded research labs and participate in translational research efforts, and many have ongoing projects in drug development.

If the translational scientist is lab-based, Scholars will attend lab meetings and become familiar with the goals and approaches used in the mentor’s lab. For most Scholars, this long-term affiliation with a host lab will allow them, as clinical investigators, to work with laboratory-based scientists to develop molecular correlative tests for use in trial(s). Scholars will learn how to perform these tests and interpret data. Scholars may choose to perform pre-clinical translational studies to develop new drug combinations for testing in the clinic. 

Scholars pursuing population-based cancer research will choose a Mentor to help them develop a career focus that engages community and academic partners from diverse disciplines to ensure that research and associated findings translate from the bench to the community and back. These Scholars will develop programs that aim to demonstrate an impact on Sylvester’s catchment area through innovative interventional studies addressing the local cancer burden as well as disparities across the cancer continuum from prevention to survivorship. 

Michael Antoni, PhD, studies the effects of stress management interventions on the adjustment to, and physical course of, HIV/AIDS, breast and prostate cancer, and cervical neoplasia. 

Kerry Burnstein, PhD, studies androgen receptor signaling pathways that may be exploited therapeutically for the incurable stage of prostate cancer, castration resistance.

Anthony Capobianco, PhD, has an active program for identification, development, and evaluation of experimental therapeutics, particularly novel, small-molecule inhibitors of Notch and related signaling components for many types of solid tumors.

Xi (Steven) Chen, PhD, develops statistical methods for the analysis of genomics data. 

Maria (Ken) Figueroa, MD, focuses on the DNA methylation epigenetics of leukemia. She has helped to initiate clinical trials of epigenetic drugs and run clinical studies to identify epigenetic prognostic biomarkers for AML and MDS.

Eli Gilboa, PhD, pioneered the use of oligonucleotide-based aptamer ligands to modulate tumor immunity. 

Barry Hudson, PhD, is elucidating how receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) and RAGE-ligands drive breast cancer progression and metastasis. 

Erin Kobetz, PhD, MPH, conducts interdisciplinary disparities-focused research and intervention, particularly among racial/ethnic minorities and other medically underserved population sub-groups. 

Stephen Lee, PhD, studies cellular adaptation to stress, including the harsh conditions of the tumor microenvironment. 

Robert Levy, PhD, is a foremost expert in the study and animal modeling of graft-versus-host disease. 

Nipun Merchant, MD,* has investigated STAT3 and other signaling pathways in pancreatic cancer and mechanisms of therapeutic resistance. 

Enrique Mesri, PhD, currently focuses on the identification of novel therapeutic approaches for virally induced oncogenic malignancies. He is also Director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research.

Stephen Nimer, MD,* investigates epigenetic regulators that govern normal and leukemic stem cells to regulate stem cell quiescence, and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. 

Priyamvada Rai, PhD, has demonstrated the importance of MTH1 inhibition as a novel means to target oncogenic RAS, which has proven intractable to direct targeting. 

Jonathan Schatz, MD,* investigates mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapy and evasion of apoptosis. He pursues both basic and translational approaches.

Ramin Shiekhattar, PhD, is a world-renowned researcher in the areas of epigenetics, non-coding RNAs, and chromatin structure. His lab is currently identifying and evaluating novel epigenetic inhibitors in cancer models. 

Joyce Slingerland, MD, PhD,* is focused on cell cycle deregulation in cancer and how inflammation and obese adipose tissue drive mammary cancer stem cell self-renewal. 

Scott Welford, PhD, works to identify tumor determinants of therapeutic resistance and devise strategies for sensitization. 

Clinical Research Mentors

Clinical Mentors include some of the University’s most accomplished clinical trials leaders and represent diverse oncology subspecialties. 

Bone & Soft Tissue Cancers

Jonathan Trent, MD, PhD, has developed one of the nation’s largest sarcoma programs. His lab recently showed IDH1 mutations in chondrosarcoma make them responsive to IDH inhibitors, and he has initiated trials as a result of these findings.

GI Cancer

Craig Lockhart, MD, MHS, has led enrollment of 1,700 patients in the last five years to over 300 early phase (phase 0, pilot, phase I, and phase I/II) trials evaluating novel treatments. 

Gynecologic Cancer

Brian Slomovitz, MD, has an interest in targeted therapies and building molecular correlative assays based on genomic approaches into ovarian and endometrial cancer trials. 

Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma

Krishna Komanduri, MD, focuses on human T cell immunology, viral reactivation in immunodeficient patients, and clinical and experimental hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, including cell therapy, graft-versus-host disease, and cancer immunotherapy. 

Joseph Rosenblatt, MD, investigates novel antibody and gene therapy-based agents designed to augment anti-angiogenic and/or engage immune responses against tumors. 

Pediatric Cancer

Julio Barredo, MD, focuses on development of novel therapies targeting the metabolome for childhood and adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He leads a number of local clinical trials and a COG cooperative group trial.

Phase I Trials

Jaime Merchan, MD, leads Sylvester’s Phase I Unit. His bench to bedside research recently brought a novel oncolytic virus to trial. 

Prostate, Bladder, and Kidney Cancers

Alan Pollack, MD, PhD, focuses on prostate cancer management, including radiotherapy dose escalation, fractionation, androgen deprivation therapy, tissue and imaging outcome markers, targeted therapy, and, more recently, health disparities in men with African and Hispanic/Latino ancestry. 

Mark Gonzalgo, MD, PhD, addresses novel methylation changes and chromosomal anomalies as detection and prognostic biomarkers in urologic cancers and participates in research on how ethnic disparities contribute to the burden of urologic malignancies. 

Sanoj Punnen, MD, focuses on the early detection of aggressive prostate cancer, and novel molecular, genomic, and image-based biomarkers. 

Population Science 

Olveen Carrasquillo, MD, MPH, focuses on cancer prevention within diverse clinical settings, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers and sub-specialty practices, including oncology, and has conducted large-scale clinical trials to evaluate the role of community health workers in improving care delivery.