The Sykes Lab


David Sykes

Principal Investigator

David grew up on the chilly prairies of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Alberta. He transitioned to La Jolla, CA to begin the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of California San Diego. His PhD research was mentored by Dr. Mark Kamps. Medical internship and residency were done at the Massachusetts General Hospital before fellowship in Hematology & Oncology at the combined Dana Farber Cancer Institute and MGH Cancer Center program. David did an additional year as Chief Resident in the Department of Medicine before starting his post-doctoral research with Dr. David Scadden in the Center for Regenerative Medicine.

David sees patients in clinic on Fridays and spends four 1-week blocks as inpatient attending on the Hematology consult service. He loves to teach hematology to the residents and fellows, as well as spend time at the microscope going over peripheral blood smears.

Outside of the lab, David likes to spend time with his wife, his Golden Retriever (Arlo), and on the golf course.

Links:  TEMPI    MGH Profile


Chanyce Kane

Administrative Assistant

Chanyce grew up in Revere and graduated from Merrimack college in 2017 with a concentration in molecular cell biology and biotechnology and a minor in business management. She plans to continue her education in hopes of obtaining a Biology/Business Master’s degree. She is always ready for new opportunities. She is not only assisting Dr. Sykes but also Dr. Bardeesy and Dr. Ellisen in the MGH Cancer Center. She is very excited to learn from the three doctors and looks forward to being a part of their research growth. Living in Massachusetts, she has always wanted an opportunity to work in MGH and be a part of their innovative research. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, binge-watching Korean Dramas, and hanging out with her family and friends.


Jelena Milosevic

Postdoctoral fellow

Jelena was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden where she completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedicine and defended her PhD in 2018 at Karolinska Institutet in the lab of Prof. Per Kogner. During her graduate work, Jelena investigated new treatment strategies in pediatric neural tumors neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. In September 2018, Jelena joined the Sykes laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow to focus on the mechanism linking the inhibition of DHODH and differentiation in leukemia. In her spare time Jelena enjoys traveling, trying out new foods and experiencing different cultures.


Taghreed Hirz

Postdoctoral Fellow

Taghreed earned her PhD in Cancer and Immunology from Claude Bernard University, France in December 2015 under the supervision of Professor Charles Dumontet. Her PhD studies focused on the examination of neutrophils effect on the sensitivity of lymphoma cells to anti-cancer agents. This work had demonstrated how neutrophils attenuate the sensitivity of lymphoma cells to a large variety of anti-cancer agents where similar findings were found in vivo and ex vivo (Hirz et. al, J Vis Exp. 2016; Hirz et. al, Oncotarget 2017).

After completing her PhD, Taghreed moved to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for two years of postdoctoral studies on lung cancer, before recognizing her deeply founded interest in tumor microenvironment and immune system, that led her to Boston in April 2018. Taghreed is a shared postdoc between the Baryawno, Sykes and Scadden laboratories, and is currently investigating the biology of prostate cancer and the complexity of the disease bone metastases, which represent glaring unmet medical knowledge to date. Through the utility of scRNA-sequencing, Taghreed seeks to illuminate the complex biology of prostate cancer and the heterogeneity of bone marrow microenvironment; including tumor, stromal, and immune cells; to produce novel insights relevant to tumor-stromal and tumor-immune interactions.


Amy Sexauer

Postdoctoral Fellow

Amy grew up on a small island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, and completed her undergraduate work in Microbiology and German at the University of Georgia. She then spent a year abroad doing research before beginning the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed her PhD work on FLT3 signaling in AML under the supervision of Dr. Mark Levis. Shen next pursued pediatric residency training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), before continuing her move up the east coast and landing in Boston for a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital. After her clinical year of fellowship she has been happy to re-enter the lab, and is excited to be a postdoc with Dr. David Sykes.

In her free time, Amy is a violist with several orchestral and chamber music groups in the Boston area, including the New Philharmonia Orchestra. She also enjoys playing a variety of other instruments, as well as rock climbing and running.


Najihah Aziz

Lab Manager/ Research Technician

Najihah graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in May 2017 with a major in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Spanish. During her time at RIT, she spent a year working in an Immunology laboratory that investigated the susceptibility of malaria in different ethnic groups. Following her bachelor’s degree, Najihah joined the Sykes Laboratory at MGH as a Research Technician. She is planning on attending graduate school to pursue PhD in the future because she is excited about research. Outside work, Najihah enjoys cooking, playing the piano and dancing!


Tommy Brouse

Research Technician

Thomas J. Brouse grew up in the historic town of Lewisburg, PA. Majoring in both Biology and Spanish, he graduated summa cum laude from Bucknell University in May of 2018. That same summer, he interned for the Scadden Lab, where he was provided the incredible opportunity to participate in biomedical research with his mentor, Nicolas Severe, PhD. During his internship, Brouse gradually began to appreciate the positive learning environment that is cultivated at MGH, one where he believes he will be able to prosper as a young scientist. In addition, he is animated by all of the innovative research that occurs at MGH’s Center for Regenerative Medicine, and more specifically, in the Sykes Lab. In fact, it is the potential for Dr. Sykes’ research to have a profound impact on the lives of countless patients suffering from debilitating hematological malignancies and other blood-related diseases that attracted Brouse to his lab. Brouse ultimately hopes that he will be able to positively contribute to their efforts of scientific discovery for the benefit of future generations.


Aathmika Lakshmi Krishnan

Research Technician

Aathmika was born and raised on the beautiful, sunny coast of San Diego, California. She received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College in LA with a major in Molecular Biology and minor in Mathematics. During college, Aathmika spent her summer working in various labs- one of which was in the Scadden Lab, where she met Dr. Sykes. She enjoys the challenge and curiosity that research begs and is excited to continue her work in The Sykes Lab.

During her free time, Aathmika enjoys running, exploring the city, strolling along the Charles River,  and travelling.


Elizabeth Zanetakos

Research Technician

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Genetics and Genomics, and a minor in Public Health. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a microbiology lab that studied sulfur metabolism in freshwater Bacteroidetes. She also spent much of her time volunteering as an EMT. Elizabeth began working in the Sykes Laboratory in the fall of 2019 to support the team’s innovating projects. She is planning to attend graduate school, to pursue a PhD.



Nina (Tam) Le Minh

Harvard Stem Cell Institute Intern

Nina (Tam) Le Minh grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Nina is currently a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Biochemistry. During her time at UCLA, Nina worked for a virology lab which investigates viruses, viral life cycle, and self-assembly of a virus-like particle. Nina joined Dr. David Sykes Lab during the summer of 2019 as part of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Internship Program (HIP). During summer, Nina worked under Dr. Amy Sexauer on the role of STAT3/5 downstream of FLT3 in acute myeloid leukemia cells treated with an inhibitor of DHODH. Nina plans on attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. after finishing her undergraduate degree. Nina hopes to be able to contribute to the efforts of scientific discovery to save the lives of many by cultivating greater scientific understanding. Outside work, Nina enjoys hiking, biking, and cooking.


Jihee Sohn

Postdoctoral fellow

Jihee completed her Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Johnny Huard at the University of Pittsburgh Stem Cell Research Center. Her thesis work focused on investigating functional defects in muscle-derived stem cells isolated from dystrophic skeletal muscle and determining the origin of cells responsible for formation of ectopic fat tissues in the skeletal muscles of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients. After completing her Ph.D., she joined Dr. Rocky Tuan’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Cell and Molecular Engineering. In Dr. Tuan’s lab, she studied the biology of adult human bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Specifically, she conducted research to investigate MSC behaviors in response to 3-dimensional substrate rigidity, as well as their potential influencing by membrane cholesterol, the protein caveolin-1 (Cav-1), and caveolae lipid rafts. Since Jihee joined Sykes lab in July 2018, she has worked to identify critical genetic mediators of neutrophil lifespan and function. The ultimate goal of her study is to develop novel therapies with the power to enhance neutrophil function in the setting of life-threatening fungal infections.


Adele Alchahin

Graduate student

Adele Alchahin is a visiting researching PhD student from Karolinska Insitutet. She is co-supervised, along with Dr Sykes, Dr Baryawno, Dr Johnsen and Dr Kogner. She received her MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences 2015 from Uppsala University, Sweden. During her time at university she was privileged to experience abroad studies within fields of her interest. In the spring of 2014, Adele completed a semester at University of Miami studying health care marketing and global health and was involved in a research project in health communications regarding colorectal cancer. The following semester she finished her master thesis in neuroscience studying serotonin in a mouse model of autism at Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. Adele’s focus is studying the mechanism of tumor cell dissemination to the bone marrow and also looking at pharmacological approaches in the hemoglobin regulation. She likes Boston a lot and enjoys watching sports, mostly basketball.


Jenna Elkhoury

Research Technician

Jenna grew up in Acton, Massachusetts and graduated from Framingham State University in 2017 with a degree in Environmental Science. She has been with the Sykes lab for one year and continues to enjoy the collaborative and enthusiastic environment. Jenna loves learning more about the research process, where every day is a new experience, an opportunity to learn, and a chance to impact people’s lives. She is currently applying to medical school for the fall of 2019.  In her free time, Jenna enjoys practicing yoga and oil painting and she’s always on the hunt for a good latte!


Ani Papazian

Lab Manager

Ani lives in Cambridge, MA and graduated from Tufts University in 2015 with a major in Biopsychology. She spent time during her undergraduate years working in a neurobiology lab, and two years as the lab manager of the Scadden Lab at MGH, as well as one year as lab manager and research technician in the Sykes Lab. She is motivated by how relevant the Sykes Lab’s research is to patients. Dr. Sykes is inspired by his clinical work, always thinking of how to improve the prognoses and lives of his patients first and foremost.

Her favorite part about the Sykes Lab is its sense of community. The talented, dynamic, organized, and fun group makes working at MGH incredibly special. The Sykes Lab as well as other labs on the floor enjoy collaboration and making the Center for Regenerative Medicine an exciting workspace.

Ani started medical school at Tufts in the fall 2018. In her spare time, she enjoys running, biking, and exploring all of the restaurants and breweries Cambridge has to offer!


Brittany Hallgren

Research Technician

Brittany currently lives in the North End of Boston, MA.  She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Biology.  During her undergraduate years, she worked in an oncology lab for two years and then continued to work in an outpatient clinic with cancer patients.  Recently, she graduated from Boston University with a Master’s in Human Physiology and began working in the Sykes lab to continue leukemia research.  She enjoys the comfortable learning environment in the Sykes lab and has become inspired to pursue a lifelong career in science.  In her spare time, she enjoys her family’s lake house, exploring local restaurants, and traveling.  


Alexa Vidalis

Lab Coordinator

Alexa grew up in Orange County, California and graduated from Northeastern University in 2016, where she majored in Behavioral Neuroscience. She also works as the lab manager for the Rajagopal lab. She is planning on returning to school in the fall of 2018 to study healthcare management/ economics. Outside of the lab, she enjoys traveling, dancing and stopping to pet all the dogs she finds in Boston.

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