Training Program in Translational Research

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Current Trainees

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Andi Cani, BS, MS

Mentor: Tomlins, Scott, MD, PhD

Andi Cani earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with an emphasis on biochemistry from Wayne State University in 2007. He also earned a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2012. He is currently enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Pathology PhD program under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Tomlins. His thesis project involves interrogating the cancer genome and transcriptome by next generation sequencing to discover precision medicine approaches. Andi’s clinical mentor is Dr. John Wei.


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Hanjia Guo, BS

Mentor: Lombard, David, MD, PhD

Hanjia Guo earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2015. She majored in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry and Biology. Hanjia is currently enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Pathology PhD program under the mentorship of Dr. David Lombard. Her thesis project involves understanding how epigenetic changes in the aging heart contribute to age-associated cardiac dysfunction. Hanjia’s clinical co-mentors are Drs. Adam Stein and Daniel Goldstein.


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Lucas Huffman, BS

Mentor: Roman Giger, PhD

Lucas Huffman earned a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Psychology from Central Michigan University in May of 2015. He enrolled in the Program in Biomedical Sciences in the fall of 2015, eventually joining the Neuroscience program under the mentorship of Dr. Roman Giger. Lucas’ thesis project involves the use of neuroregeneration for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and injuries. His clinical mentor is Dr. Benjamin Segal.


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Karson Kump, BS, MS

Mentor: Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska, PhD

Karson Kump earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biophysics from Brigham Young University in the spring of 2015. In the fall of 2015 he enrolled at the University of Michigan and completed a Master’s degree in the Chemical Biology of Cancer. Karson is currently enrolled in the Chemical Biology PhD program under the mentorship of Dr. Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska. His thesis project involves exploring novel developed Mcl-1 selective small-molecule inhibitors and performing pre-clinical investigation of their activity against human melanoma cell lines and in vivo efficacy and safety in xenograft and genetically engineered mouse melanoma models. His clinical mentor is Dr. Dale Bixby.


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Samantha Saylor, BS

Mentors: Marina Pasca di Magliano, PhD, Howard Crawford, PhD and Celina Kleer, MD

Samantha Saylor earned a Bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater College in 2016. She majored in Nutrition and Wellness. Samantha is currently enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Pathology PhD program under the mentorship of Drs. Marina Pasca di Magliano, Howard Crawford and Celina Kleer. Her thesis project involves characterizing the cross-talk in the immunosuppressive microenvironment in pancreatic cancer and how it leads to tumorigenesis. Samantha’s clinical mentor is Dr. Timothy Frankel.


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Shawn Hawken, BS, MPH

Mentor: Evan Snitkin, PhD

Shawn Hawken earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Public Health at the University of Washington in 2011, minoring in Bioethics and Humanities. She continued her education at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health where she earned her MPH degree in Hospital and Molecular Epidemiology in 2014. Shawn is currently enrolled in the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program under the mentorship of Dr. Evan Snitkin. Her thesis project involves integrating microbial genomics with epidemiological data to study hospital-acquired infections. A goal of her work is developing study designs where findings can translate into actionable infection control interventions. Shawn’s clinical mentor is Drs. Krishna Rao and Michael Bachman.