2018 Travel awardee bios

Hiba Alsaffar

 Hiba Alsaffar finished her undergraduate studies in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Her undergraduate research focused on the thermoregulation of the body in sepsis. Her work was mostly based in an in-vivo model of sepsis with some in-vitro assays. She has always had a passion for science and learning so she decided to pursue a PhD. She is currently a PhD student at Albany Medical College. Her long-term research interest is to understand the endothelial barrier dysfunction in aim of development of a more effective therapeutic strategy for patients with inflammatory diseases in which vascular leakage is a problem. She focuses her studies on the role the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in regulating the endothelial barrier function. STAT3 is the major downstream target of the proinflammatory cytokine, IL6, which is one of the main cytokines that promotes vascular leakage.

Vashendriya Hira

Vashendriya received her MSc in Biomedical Sciences from The University of Amsterdam in Prof. Ron van Noorden's laboratory, where she focused on understanding the similarities between hematopoietic stem cell niches in human bone marrow and glioma stem cell niches in human glioblastoma brain tumors.
She is currently enrolled in a PhD program at The University of Amsterdam and performs her PhD research project under supervision of Prof. Ron van Noorden at the Department of Medical Biology at the Cancer Center Amsterdam in The Netherlands.
Her research project entitled: "No more hide and seek for glioma stem cells in their protective niches", involves work on glioma stem cell (GSC) niches in human glioblastoma. GSCs are quiescent and therapy resistant in their protective niches and are held responsible for tumor recurrence. Therefore, the interactions between GSCs and their protective niches are important therapeutic targets. Disrupting the interactions between GSCs and their niches may render the GSCs sensitive to chemotherapy and irradiation. This may improve glioblastoma treatment and ultimately enhance the outlook and quality of life of glioblastoma patients.

Mohammed Khurshed 

Mohammed Khurshed received his M.D. as well as his MSc in Medical Biology/Oncology from University of Amsterdam and is currently enrolled in a PhD program in Dr. Ron van Noorden’s laboratory. In his multidisciplinary career, his ambition is to perform translational research, bringing lab and clinic together. His PhD research project focuses on tumor metabolism, in particular investigating the metabolic rewiring in IDH-mutated glioma for possible Achilles heel as a therapeutic target in the altered metabolism. One of his approaches to unravel tumor metabolism is quantitative enzyme histochemistry and cytochemistry (also called metabolic mapping), which is the preferred method to study enzyme activity in situ that facilitates both the location of enzyme activity as well as robust quantification of enzyme activity within a cell or tissue compartment. To create insights in therapeutic targets, he correlates gene expression profiles, enzyme activity and metabolite levels in tumor metabolism. On the basis of these insights, he performs clinical trial in which patients with IDH1-mutation chondrosarcoma, glioma and cholangiocarcinoma are treated with a combination of metformin and chloroquine, targeting the metabolism. In the long-term, he aims to exploit insights in the mechanism of metabolism and therapy sensitization to develop novel targeted therapies.

Tirthadipa Pradhan-Sundd

Tirthadipa Pradhan-Sundd is a postdoctoral fellow in Paul Monga’s lab at University of Pittsburgh. She attended University of Calcutta where she graduated with a BS and MS in Zoology. She has received her MPhil degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Sheffield. She has obtained her PhD from Simon Fraser University under the guidance of Esther Verheyen. Her PhD work was focused on understanding post translational regulations of Wnt signaling pathway. At the Monga lab she is focused to understand the role and regulation of blood bile barrier in liver development and pathophysiology. A second focus has been on the study of sickle cell disease induced hepatic insults. She is a member of ASIP and HCS since 2015.


Robert Van Sciver

Robert E. Van Sciver received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2005 from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, VA. He worked for a small biopharmaceutical startup company and as a research technician at UVA for several years before pursuing his PhD training. Robert is currently a 5th-year Biomedical Sciences PhD student in Dr. Amy H. Tang’s laboratory at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, VA. Mr. Van Sciver participated in the Histochemical Society’s Immunohistochemistry and Microscopy (IHCM) short course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA in 2015. He has applied the knowledge and training obtained at this intense short course to his dissertation research investigating the role of Seven-IN-Absentia (SINA) E3 ligase in Drosophila development and tumor growth. By carrying out immunofluorescent studies on tissues microdissected from Drosophila larvae, he is able to delineate the role of SINA in regulating RAS signal transduction, cell growth, differentiation, migration, focal adhesions, and apoptosis. In human cancers, SINA homologs (SIAHs) are a viable and logical target to control and eradicate “undruggable” oncogenic K-RAS-driven cancer, a notion supported by strong molecular evidence in evolutionary biology and developmental biology. Robert is currently writing his Ph.D. dissertation and finishing two manuscripts and two reviews as he actively pursues academic postdoctoral opportunities where he will expand his extensive expertise in multidisciplinary areas in genetics, cell biology, immunohistochemistry, biochemistry, microsurgery, and microscopy.  In the end, Mr. Robert Van Sciver aims to become an independent principal investigator (PI) and a tenure-track faculty mentor in academia in the future.

2018 ASIP/HCS Awardee Bios

Michele Alves

Michele Alves is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Department of Pathology under supervision of Dr. Jose Otero. Her laboratory investigates morphology and neuroanatomy focused to understand relation between cognitive decline and brain irradiation used to treat brain cancers. In this context, she has been studying role of cyclin A2 in the rRNA regulation and aging hippocampus. Abnormalities in RNA dynamics can trigger deleterious process and accumulation of misfolded proteins which leads to neurodegenerative disorders. In her Ph.D. thesis, she studied the TGF beta pathway contribution to the adipose tissue remodeling in cancer cachexia. She obtained her Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Sciences, both with concentrated area in Cell and Tissue Biology, from the University of Sao Paulo, the most prestigious University in Brazil. She has a full degree in Physical Education with teacher training from the Metropolitan United Faculty (FMU), a degree similar to Rehabilitation Sciences in the United States.

Jennifer Borowsky

Dr. Jennifer Borowsky initially trained as an Anatomical pathologist in Australia with a special interest in Gastrointestinal Pathology. Subsequent to completion of her training and attainment of Fellowship with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) she chose to begin graduate-level PhD training to gain a solid experimental grounding for her chosen career as a clinician-scientist. After completion of her first year of PhD training, which has culminated in a first author, peer-reviewed academic paper in Modern Pathology, one of the leading pathology journals, she joined Shuji Ogino’s Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Her research area of focus is the development of a novel and ground-breaking technique for analyzing the tumor immune microenvironment in colorectal cancer. Dr. Borowsky’s approach utilizes a multiplexed, immunofluorescence-based assay to interrogate the T cell populations in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples of archival human colorectal cancer tissue. Coupled with a machine-learning algorithm that she trained for automatic image segmentation and cellular phenotyping and quantification, her research is anticipated to leverage extensive data which in combination with whole exome sequencing data and extensive epidemiological data from large cohorts (the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) is expected to produce high impact and timely contribution to the field of tumor immunology. Additionally, Dr. Borowsky has drawn from her pathology expertise to make substantial contributions to a breadth of research including the relationship of Bifidobacterium and colorectal cancer morphology, the role of YAP1 in regulating the tumor immune response, and analyzing anthropomorphic variables such as body mass index (BMI) in relation to colorectal cancer morphology and molecular features.


Paul Hanson

Dr. Hanson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC) under the mentorship of Drs. Bruce McManus and Michael Seidman. His research is focused on the pathogenesis of heart failure with a particular emphasis on personalizing myocarditis diagnostics. Dr. Hanson earned his Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin and completed a PhD in viral modulation of host during the pathogenesis of myocarditis in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC. He is the recipient of the 2017 Sarah Knight Fellowship from the Myocarditis Foundation. In addition to his research, Dr. Hanson is also actively engaged as the acting laboratory manager of the Cardiovascular Tissue Registry at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC, a UBC affiliated biobank repository of cardiovascular tissue specimens to be used for research purposes. Dr. Hanson anticipates starting an independent and collaborative tranlastional research career focused on cardiovascular diseases.


Nguyen Phuong Khanh Le


Nguyen Phuong Khanh Le is currently a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Drs. Baljit Singh and Volker Gerdts at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Khanh is also a member of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Association of Veterinary Anatomists (AAVA), and Integrated Training Program in Infectious Diseases, Food Safety and Public Policy (ITrap-One Health). She obtained a DVM from Nong Lam University (Vietnam), a BA. in English Linguistics and Literature from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Vietnam), and an MSc. from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Khanh’s academic awards include consolation prize at the 5th National Scientific and Technological Conference in Vietnam, 2nd place poster in Cell/Tissue pathobiology, 3rd place poster in Immunology in scientific competitions at the University of Saskatchewan. She has also received several travel awards from ASIP, AAA, AAVA, Nong Lam University, Kobe University, and the University of Saskatchewan for going to several scientific meetings.
Khanh has a passion for teaching. She is currently on-leave from Nong Lam University (Vietnam), where she has taught both veterinary histology and general veterinary pathology courses, and co-supervising several undergraduate students in their research. In her Ph.D. program at the University of Saskatchewan, Khanh was a teaching assistant for courses in Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy and Comparative Anatomy of Domestic Animals. She also provided individual instruction to new lab-mates.
Khanh’s research interests are in respiratory and intestinal inflammation, infectious diseases, and nanomedicines. Dr. Baljit Singh and Khanh participated in the discovery of the role of LSP1 in acute lung inflammation and asthma. In her Ph.D. program at the University of Saskatchewan, Khanh currently studies the effects of helical rosette nanotubes (RGDSK-HRNs) and integrin αvβ3 interaction on inhibiting bacterial adherence to the porcine intestinal epithelium.

Chao Xu

Chao Xu is currently at the University of Connecticut for postdoctoral research. My mentor is Professor Li Wang (http://wanglab.pnb.uconn.edu/).
Research in this laboratory is focused on several related areas centered on nuclear receptor regulation of chronic liver diseases. Chao Xu is  exploring the role of microRNA in the acute liver injury. His research interests cover hepatoxicity, genetic diseases, thyroid diseases, and lipotoxicity. His career goals are to continue pursuing excellence in the area of genetic diseases and endocrine disease, especially on the molecular diagnostic assessment on these diseases and, ultimately facilitate the translation of research findings to clinic outcomes in an effective and precise way.

Yulan Zhao