Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery
Professor, Department of Pathology
Director, Pancreatic Cancer Center
Associate Director, Translational Research, Perlmutter Cancer Center
As director of NYU Pancreatic Cancer Center, I lead a premier clinical team of experts who seek to provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care for patients who have pancreatic tumors and individuals at higher risk for the disease. I also lead clinical trials and study the molecular processes in pancreatic cancer development, working toward identifying ways to detect cancer early and creating new therapies to improve survival.
As associate director of translational research at Perlmutter Cancer Center, I strive to bring what we learn in the lab directly to the bedside to help manage all types of cancer. The past decades have seen several advances in cancer biology and genomics, and I believe that we have a tremendous opportunity—and an obligation—to channel this progress to impact patients.
I have published more than 200 studies in leading peer-reviewed journals and have been a NIH-funded investigator since 1998. I have served as the chair of the scientific and medical advisory board of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and a member of the scientific advisory board for Let’s Win (Sharing Science Solutions for Pancreatic Cancer). I have previously served as the president of the Society of University Surgeons and the American Pancreatic Association. I am a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Cancer Institute’s Pancreatic Cancer Task Force. I am currently serving as the principal investigator and lead of Precision Promise, an exciting new national clinical trials consortium focused on next-generation clinical trials for people who have pancreatic cancer. I also am the international PI of the PRECEDE Consortium, a world-wide effort to make advances in the early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Lidong Wang, PhD
Senior Research Scientist
After graduating from Peking Normal University with both a M.S and PhD, I did my postdoctoral fellow training in Dr. T. Yamada's laboratory in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. My postdoctoral projects focused on the regulatory mechanism of brain-gut peptide release. Later, I joined the research laboratory of Dr. John Del Valle in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. While working with Dr. Del Valle, I was a lead author on the publications that describe the molecular basis of the structure and function of the G protein coupled receptor. I have been working in the Simeone laboratory for the past 13 years and have focused on studies defining the oncogenic role of ATDC in human cancers.
Carmencita Lavilla, DVM, MS PhD
Designation / Lab Supervisor
I completed my DVM and MS at the University of the Philippines. I continued my post-graduate education at Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan where I earned a PhD in Veterinary Therapeutics, specializing in Theriogenology. I continued that work in pre-clinical research management and as a Study Director in the conduct of pharmacokinetic studies at Ina Research Inc. in Japan before moving to the U.S. where I joined NYU as a Research Training Coordinator in the Office of Science and Research. I have co-authored peer reviewed published scientific papers in molecular analysis of prostate gland cancer, mesothelioma therapeutic study, and dynamics of cortisone related to metabolic stress syndrome. I currently serve as the lab manager in the Simeone lab and spearhead all of the coordination of studies in our genetically engineered mouse model systems.
Gregor Werba, MD
After finishing three years of surgical residency at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, I joined Dr. Simeone's lab in 2019 to complement my clinical training with a basic science research fellowship. I am excited about Dr. Simeone's mentorship which focuses on a strong bench to bedside mentality with the benefit for patients always in mind. My research is primarily focused on the complex interplay of the immune system with the tumor micro environment in the context of DNA damage repair mutations.
Benjamin Krantz, MD, MBA
Benjamin is currently the chief fellow in hematology/oncology at New York University Langone Medical Center. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and received his Doctor of Medicine and Masters of Business Administration from Tufts University. He completed his residency in internal medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – Columbia University Medical Center after which he worked as a hospitalist and performed clinical/translational with the pancreatic cancer group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His research focused on circulating biomarker development for pancreas ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), most specifically circulating tumor DNA which led to multiple presentations at national conferences. He also published a review on biomarkers for the treatment of PDA published in Clinical Cancer Research.
Since joining the Simeone laboratory, Ben's research has focused on the use of organoids as a model for studying PDA pathophysiology, therapeutic sensitivity prediction and pre-clinical drug development. Ben is also leading a project to perform a comprehensive analysis of the tumor microenvironment in patients with MSI-H PDA, a small, but important subset that may provide insights into overcoming immunotherapeutic resistance. Additionally, Ben is helping to evaluate the prevalence of altered ATM expression and the use of ATR inhibitors in ATM-deficient PDA.
Zhao Ende, MD PhD
Xenografts Research Manager
I received my M.D. degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and my Ph.D. degree from a joint training program of University of Michigan and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. I am a trained surgeon of general surgery in a top 10 hospital in China and a dedicated researcher in the field of tumor immunology. I run the Xenograft Core and focus on research studying the immune landscape in human pancreatic cancer.
Amit Bhardwaj, PhD
I received my PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Delhi (New Delhi, India). During my doctoral research, I used xylanase, a family10 hydrolase from Bacillius sp. as a model system to understand the structural basis for its protein stability under poly-extreme conditions for industrial applications. I received a three years postdoctoral fellowship from International Center for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (Trieste, Italy) to understand the molecular mechanism of TDP-43 interaction with its RNA targets, with possible implications in neurodegenerative diseases. During my second postdoc at NYU School of Medicine (Prof. Susan Smith’s lab), I generated tankyrase knock out human cell lines using CRISPR-Cas9 approach and performed a quantitative proteomics screen to elucidate the novel functions oftankyrase at the telomeres and in Notch signaling pathway, important for cancer cell growth and proliferation. Currently as a Research Scientist in the Simeone Lab, my research goal is to study novel functions of ATDC (TRIM29) by generating ATDC knock out cell lines to perform synthetic lethality CRISPR screen in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies targeting human cancers that overexpress ATDC (pancreas, bladder, lung).
Igor Dolgaley, MS
Senior Bioinformatics Programmer
I am a Senior Bioinformatics Programmer with Applied Bioinformatics Laboratories. I have been analyzing a wide variety of genetic sequencing data at NYU and previously at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In the Simeone Lab, I am currentlyworking on all computational needs and resolving genome- and transcriptome-wide aberrations in pancreatic cancer.
Emily A. Kawaler, PhD
Senior Bioinformatics Programmer
I am a Senior Bioinformatics Programmer with the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratories. I recently received my PhD in Systems and Computational Biomedicine from the NYU Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, where my primary focus was on the creation of proteogenomics tools and their applications in the molecular characterization of cancer. In the Simeone Lab, I am providing computational analysis for multiple projects with the overarching goal of better understanding the molecular mechanisms that define pancreatic cancer.
Jiufeng Li, BSc
Associate Research Scientist
After graduating from Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, I worked as a Research Associate in Pharmacology at Beijing Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital. Next, I worked as a Senior Research Technician and lab manager in Dr. Jeffrey Pollard’s lab, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where my research focused on the role of macrophage in breast tumor progression, metastasis and angiogenesis. While at Einstein, I generated over 10 transgenic mice lines and carried out studies that led to multiple peer-reviewed publications. Currently, I am using transgenic mouse models to dissect the complex roles of multiple cancer driver genes and pathways in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. I am also a team member of the IHC and Biospecimen processing, as part of the clinical biorepository and preclinical diagnostics efforts.
Grace Oh, MD
I am currently a resident in the Department of Surgery at NYU. I studied Biology as an undergraduate at the Georgia Institute of Technology and had a variety of research interests including pharmacology, biomarkers in traumatic brain injury, and health disparities. While in medical school at Emory University, my clinical interests focused on the field of surgical oncology. My goal while in the Simeone lab is to understand the unique microenvironment that facilitates pancreatic tumorigenesis and to help develop further therapeutic strategies with which to alter it.
Alex Scanner Cheung, MBHL
NYU Medical Student & Computational Biologist
Although originally from Hawai'i, I received my B.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford University in 2016. I spent a year after graduation in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar where I researched the ethical implications of precision medicine research. Specifically, I studied the complex interplay between genomics and diversity while also pursuing a Master of Bioethics and Health Law (MBHL). I then returned to the United States to work as a computational biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I am currently a medical student at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and work in the Simeone Lab on various projects aimed at characterizing the genomics and transcriptomics of pancreatic cancer. In my spare time, I love to be outside surfing, rock climbing, and trail running (which has admittedly been more difficult to find in NYC).
Jennifer Chun Kim, MPH
Director of Clinical and Research Operations
After receiving an MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University in New York, NY, I was the Research and High-Risk Program Director for the Women At Risk program at Columbia University Medical Center/NY Presbyterian Hospital. In 2008, I came to NYU Langone and was the Breast Cancer Research and Grants Program Director in the Department of Surgery. I have published over 40 papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented over 70 abstracts in national meetings. I also serve as the Executive Director of the International Society for Cancer Risk Assessment and Management. I joined the Pancreatic Cancer Center in February 2020, and work closely with Dr. Simeone to oversee all aspects related to the clinical and research operations, implement strategies to improve the quality of care and services provided to patients, increase the number of interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research collaborations, increase recruitment and funds for clinical trials and research studies, and help launch new programs, including the Early Detection and Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer Program and the Cyst Surveillance Program for Pancreatic Cancer.
Jessica Everett, MS, CGC
Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
I completed my MS in Medical Genetics at the University of Cincinnati and joined the Hereditary Cancer Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, working primarily in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I moved to the University of Michigan in 2007, working in the Cancer Genetics Clinic with inherited cancer syndromes of all kinds. I began providing clinical care with Diane Simeone in the Multi-Disciplinary Pancreas clinic in 2009. I shifted my clinical research focus to pancreatic cancer in 2016, and joined the Pancreatic Cancer Center at NYU in 2017. I currently work on clinical research projects focused on identifying patients with familial/genetic risk for pancreatic cancer, improving risk communication, and innovation in genetic service delivery. We are also engaged in a multi-center collaborative effort called PRECEDE to develop a registry and biorepository of 2000+ high risk patients to drive early detection biomarker research and improve risk assessment.
Shenin A Dettwyler, MS, CGC
I received my MS in Genetic Counseling at the University of Michigan in 2016. I previously worked for the cancer genetics programs at Michigan Medicine (with a focus on gastrointestinal, endocrine, and dermatological malignancies) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (with a focus on breast and ovarian cancer). I joined the team at the Pancreatic Cancer Center in 2021. I currently work together with Jessica Everett, MS, CGC on clinical research projects related to hereditary cancer predisposition syndromes, including various efforts connected to the PRECEDE consortium.
Xiaohong Jing, PhD
Research Project Manager
I received my PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Science. I moved to NYC and received my postdoc training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in signaling pathways. I then worked at Weill Cornell Medical College in overseeing lab operations and working on a hematology project. In 2010, I worked as the Senior Research Scientist and Lab Manager at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, specifically focusing on the MSK-IMPACT multi-disciplinary group to promote precision oncology with molecular characterization to guide the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. I joined Dr. Simeone’s team as a research project manager in 2019. I help to oversee the clinical biorepository and coordinate the clinical research study workflow, such as patient consent, biospecimen collection/processing, clinical data storage and management. In addition, I act as a liaison and facilitator between multidisciplinary groups conducting academic research collaborations and clinical studies.
I am a laboratory technician with a Bachelor's in Biology from Stony Brook University. Before joining the team here at NYU Langone, I worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in a lab focusing on protein interactions in plants, and spent time working and learning in orthopedic and anesthesiology labs in Stony Brook University. I am involved in a project that aims to advance our understanding of POLQ in DNA repair pathways and its potential as a therapeutic target. I also am part of the biospecimen processing team as part of the bioclinical repository.
Student Research Intern
I am currently an undergraduate student in the Macaulay Honors program at CUNY Hunter College, majoring in Biology. I plan to attend medical school with intentions of becoming a doctor. Much of my undergraduate career has been spent in the Simeone Lab, which I joined in 2019. I have been working in the lab to gain relevant and necessary experience in both the research and clinical aspects of medicine as I explore different medical fields and continue to develop my interests. I primarily work with the lab’s research and clinical teams in the processing of biospecimens as part of the bioclinical repository. I also provide support to the Lab Manager and the rest of the lab team as needed. My goal while working in the Simeone Lab is to continue to expand upon my knowledge and understanding of molecular mechanisms and genetic pathways in the development of therapeutic target strategies against pancreatic cancer.