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.
Daniel Weissinger, MD
I received my MD from Heidelberg University, Germany, and am currently in residency for general surgery at the University Hospital Bonn, Germany. My main research interests are pancreatic cancer, tumor-microenvironment and tumor-immunity. I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Simeone’s Lab, progress the understanding of pancreatic cancer and help to advance treatment and patient care for this devastating disease.
Despoina Kalfakakou, PhD
After finishing my undergraduate studies in Computer Science at the University of Athens, I completed my MS in Bioinformatics at the same Institution. I received my PhD in 2021, from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in collaboration with NCSR “Demokritos” in Greece. From 2016, I was a research associate at the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory of NCSR “Demokritos”, where my focus was on the development of bioinformatics tools for the understanding of genetic mechanisms of hereditary cancer. During that time, I was the head bioinformatician at the Hellenic Precision Medicine Network on Cancer Unit “MIA Attikis 2”and I developed the pipeline for the analysis of germline DNA sequencing data used by the Network. For my postdoctoral fellowship, under the valuable mentorship of Dr Simeone and Dr Tsirigos, I will attempt to apply the principles and methods of bioinformatics in cancer biology in order to contribute to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic cancer.
Zhao Ende, MD PhD
I received my M.D. degree from China and 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 and a dedicated translational researcher in the field of tumor immunology, focusing on human T cells. I lead the Clinical Sample Research Core and build up pipelines for development of patient-derived xenografts (PDX), patient-derived organoids (PDO) and cell lines, coordinate with high-tech and pharmaceutical companies for sequencing and drug screening to assist treatment, and manage clinical databases and human tissue bank. I initiated and lead projects focusing on clinical biomarker detection and early diagnosis of human PDA and coordinate multiple clinical trials of human PDA and HCC. I lead cooperative projects of immune checkpoints analysis with high-parameter flow cytometry and single cell RNA sequencing of human PDA, HCC and CCA.
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.
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.
Associate Research Technician
I received my BS in Neuroscience from Duke University. In my undergraduate research, I investigated the effects of seizures on hippocampal interneuron populations using a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy. As a laboratory technician at the Simeone Lab, I am primarily engaged in processing biospecimens for the bioclinical repository.