Werb Lab members

   Staff Research Assistant
   Mark Owyong
   Staff Research Assistant

Mark graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Integrative Biology in 2016. In the Werb Lab, Mark is interested in immunology with a focus on the immune profiles in breast cancer and metastatic lung cancer. Mark hopes to learn more about the tumor-immune cell interactions within the tumor microenvironment and the translational applications of drug therapy using mouse models.

   Kiarash Salari
   Staff Research Assistant
   Principal Investigator
   Zena Werb
   Principal Investigator

Zena Werb received her BSc from the University of Toronto. Under the mentorship of the late Professor Zanvil A. Cohn, Zena received her PhD in cell biology from The Rockefeller University, New York. Her post-doctoral work was completed at the Strangeways Research Laboratory in Cambridge, UK. After a year as a faculty member at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, she joined the University of California, San Francisco, as an Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Radiobiology. She is currently Professor and Vice-Chair of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco.

Biographical Sketch

Curriculum Vitae

   Postdoctoral Fellow
   Vicki Plaks
   Postdoctoral Fellow

My overarching interests are in the mechanisms by which the mammary epithelium and its interactions with the stromal microenvironment mediate normal mammary development as well as cancer transformation and dissemination. I am particularly interested in mammary epithelial (cancer) stem cells. I currently work on three collaborative projects: In the first project we found that Lgr5-expressing cells are sufficient and necessary for postnatal mammary gland organogenesis. They are exceptionally efficient in reconstituting mammary glands from single cells and their depletion significantly inflicts on the ability of the gland to undergo postatal organogenesis.  We are now focusing on the role of these stem/progenitor cells in breast cancer. The second project examines how the adaptive immune system contributes to the regulation of normal mammary pubertal development. In this project, we focus on tissue antigen presenting cells and their communications with CD4+ T cells in mediating normal mammary postnatal organogenesis, which have implications for understanding immune surveillance. This project also raises interesting questions regarding possible roles for T cell dysfunction in early stages of breast cancer transformation. In the last project we are studying the early metastatic niche in the lungs of mammary-tumor bearing hosts, focusing on immune cells and extracellular matrix proteins that mediate the creation of such a niche, in support of metastatic seeding and growth. This study specifically aims at validating drug targets and designing therapeutics to treat metastatic disease.

   Caroline Bonnans
   Postdoctoral Fellow

 

The principal target organ of metastasis in colorectal cancer is the liver. I'm interested on the interaction of the tumor cells with their microenvironment during cell dissemination in colorectal cancer. Particularly I study the interaction of neutrophils with tumoral cells when they reach the liver and try to understand how the neutrophils can promote the entrance of some of the tumor cells into the tissue. Precisely, I study the involvement of neutrophil extracellular traps release by neutrophils when they meet a tumor cell in the liver. For this purpose, I use intravital confocal live imaging to track the dynamism of those interactions in live animals.

 

   Juliane Winkler
   Postdoctoral Fellow

 

Juliane studied Pharmacy at the University of Leipzig and received her Ph.D. at the University of Heidelberg. In her Ph.D. work, she focused on the influence of nuclear transport mechanisms on the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Eukaryotic cells fundamentally rely on a selective and highly efficient nucleocytoplasmic transport system. In a cancer cell almost all cellular processes and signaling cascades are dependent on a nuclear transport for maintaining their malignant phenotype. Juliane found, that a special nuclear transport cycle, CAS/importin-α1, is highly deregulated in HCC and required to maintain an aggressive phenotype in vitro and in vivo. In her current postdoc project Juliane is interested in the role of the nucleocytoplasmic transport machinery on metastasis development of breast cancer.

   Catharina Hagerling
   Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Hagerling is interested in how immune cells and cancer stem cells modulate the metastatic niche and contribute to metastatic breast cancer. To this end she uses patient-derived xenograft models of human breast cancer and single-cell approaches to identify cancer stem cells and subpopulations of metastasis associated myeloid cells. The overarching aim of her projects is to find novel ways to identify and therapeutically target cancer cells and immune cells, and thereby prevent recurrence and fight metastatic breast cancer.

   Hugo Gonzalez Velozo
   Postdoctoral Fellow

Hugo received his PhD from the Universidad Andres Bello of Chile, where he worked with Prof. Rodrigo Pacheco in the associate Institute Fundación Ciencia & Vida. In his PhD, he used a mouse model of Parkinson's Disease to dissect the role of the adaptive immune system during neuroinflammacion and neurodegeneration. In the Werb lab, Hugo is interested in the molecular mechanisms that sustain the infiltration, survival and proliferation of cancer cells in the brain parenchyma during metastatic dissemination from breast cancer.  

   Zhenjie Xu
   Postdoctoral Fellow
   Lab Manager
   Vaishnavi Sitarama
   Lab Manager

Vaishnavi graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2016. In the Werb Lab, Vaishnavi is investigating therapeutic approaches to combatting triple negative breast cancer.

   Undergraduate Student
   Shaili Patel
   Undergraduate Student

Shaili is a third-year student at UC Berkeley studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is interested in understanding the role of the immune system in cancer and its implications for translational medicine.

   Isabella Robles
   Undergraduate Student

Isabella is in her fourth year at UC Berkeley, enrolled in the Undergraduate Program in Molecular and Cell Biology. In the Werb Lab, through in vivo approaches, Isabella is interested in the study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms used by brain metastatic cells from breast cancer to survive in the brain parenchyma.

   Aamna Abbasi
   Undergraduate Student

I am a 3rd year Molecular and Cell Biology student at Cal. I'm interested in cancer research and translational medicine.

   Research Technician
   Elena Atamaniuc
   Research Technician
   Specialist Scientist
   Zhengda Sun
   Specialist Scientist