Emma Yvanovich

PhD student at University of Maine

Emma grew up in rural Massachusetts before receiving a BS in Biology and a BA in Psychology from the Roger Williams University Honors Program in 2022. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in the microbiology lab on campus under the guidance of Dr. Avelina Espinosa. There, Emma conducted independent research on the behavior and classification of entamoeba clone species. After joining the Sykes team in the Summer of 2022, she shifted her research interests towards stem cell cancer therapies and the differentiation of neutrophils for the On Demand Blood project. 

In her free time, Emma enjoys cooking, exploring the outdoors, and gardening.


Artin Houshmand

Postdoctoral Fellow

Artin obtained his PhD in Experimental Medicine and Therapy at the University of Turin, Italy under the supervision of Professor Giuseppe Saglio. In his PhD he had two different projects for selectively targeting chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells. In the first project, he designed a liposome-loaded venetolcax conjugated with an anti-CD26 antibody to selectively target leukemic cells and spare normal cells. In another project, he studied the role of DHODH a rate-limiting enzyme in the de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway in acute and chronic myeloid leukemia development.

After finishing his projects, to gain more knowledge about the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in leukemogenesis he moved to the University of Oxford to do his internship under the supervision of Professor Claus Nerlov. In 2022 he moved to Boston and joined the Sykes laboratory as a postdoc researcher where he works on DHODH and its role in leukemia and hematopoietic stem cell metabolism. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, photography, and playing tennis.


Amy Sexauer

Postdoctoral Fellow

Amy is originally from Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, and completed her undergraduate work in Microbiology and German at the University of Georgia Honors College. 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. She then completed her pediatric residency training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and came to Boston for a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology/stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital. She completed fellowship training in 2020 and continues as a postdoc in the Sykes Lab, where she focuses on exploring metabolic vulnerabilities and novel therapies in T-cell ALL.

In her free time, Amy is a violist with several orchestral and chamber music groups in the Boston area, including the Brookline Symphony Orchestra and New Philharmonia Orchestra. She also enjoys training her rescue dog, Apollo, and taking him hiking and swimming.


Sophia Han

PhD Student at Karolinska Institute

Sophia grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, where she is a fourth-year medical student at Karolinska Institute. During her time at Karolinska she has worked with two research groups, investigating skeletal muscle aging using carbon dating and participating in a project to develop an mRNA-based vaccine against malaria. Sophia is passionate about a career combining clinical work and research, and greatly inspired by the patient-centered mindset and scientific rigor characterizing the Sykes Lab. She joins the group to conduct her Master’s thesis research on PCYOX1L, an enzyme involved in hematopoietic stem cell regulation. Outside of the lab, she likes to explore new places and spend time with friends and family.


Taghreed Hirz


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.


Chanyce Kane


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.


Rana Mohamed Barghout

Medical Student at Cornell University

Rana was born in Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt and moved to the United States in 2001. She received her undergraduate degree from Amherst College in MA with a major in Neuroscience. During her college experience, Rana was part of the QuestBridge Scholars program. She was also a resident counselor for first year students, and captain of the Women’s Club Soccer team. Her proudest accomplishment was giving her own TEDx talk during her senior year of college. She previously worked as an intern at the Yale Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and completed her thesis in a neuroscience lab at Amherst College. She enjoys problem solving and in depth learning about various diseases. She was inspired by the innovative work done by the Sykes Lab to continue to advance hematology research and joined the team in August of 2020 .

During her free time, Rana enjoys spending time with friends, playing soccer and volleyball, and watching stand-up comedy.

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Lauren Sano

Summer Intern

Lauren Sano is currently a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario.  At Western, she is the President of the Stem Cell Club where she aims to broaden awareness of HLA-typing, especially in mixed ethnicity backgrounds and marginalized communities.  She has also previously conducted hematopoietic stem cell research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario.

Lauren joined Dr. Sykes Lab in the Summer of 2022 as a member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Internship Program (HIP). She worked under Dr. Jelena Milosevic, where the aim of her project was to understand how leukemia cells handle their nucleotides during periods of starvation when treated with a DHODH inhibitor. Lauren is grateful for this opportunity as a HIP intern, as it allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of stem cell biology through incredible mentorship from world-class faculty.

Lauren enjoys playing tennis, skiing and traveling and plans to attend medical school after finishing her undergraduate degree.


Aathmika Lakshmi Krishnan

Medical Student

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 summers 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. Aathmika is inspired by Dr. Sykes’s commitment to the patient and appreciates the smart, hardworking, and lively group of scientists in the Sykes Lab.

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


Elizabeth Zanetakos

Juris Doctor Candidate

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. This fall she will begin her legal studies at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law with the intent to become an intellectual property attorney.


Najihah Aziz

PhD Student at University of Massachusetts

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!


Katrina Maxcy

Doctoral Candidate at University of Chicago

Katrina grew up in sunny Glendale, AZ. She graduated from Princeton University in June 2014 with an AB in Molecular Biology. During her time at Princeton she did her thesis work in the Shenk Lab, studying the pathogenesis of HCMV. Following her bachelor’s degree, she joined the Scadden Laboratory as a research technician, working with David Sykes on identifying inhibitors of DHODH as novel therapeutic targets for patients with AML as part of a collaboration between MGH, the Broad Institute, and Bayer.

Katrina began graduate school in 2016 at the University of Chicago  and is currently a doctoral candidate in the LaBelle Lab where she studies the viability of targeting transcription factor protein-protein interactions in Regulatory T cells as a potential immunotherapeutic strategy in cancer. Outside of graduate school she enjoys playing oboe in the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, distance running, and trying new recipes.


Tommy Brouse

Medical Student at Pennsylvania State University

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.


Julien Cobert M.D.

UCSF, Anesthesia Critical Care, Clinical Fellow

Julien Cobert graduated from Duke University in 2009 and went on to complete his medical degree at Duke School of Medicine in 2013. He joined the laboratory of Dr. David Scadden under the mentorship of David Sykes as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Training Fellow during medical school. Under Dr. Sykes, his work focused on overcoming acute myeloid differentiation arrest, non-coding RNA mechanisms in myeloid differentiation and small molecule targets for acute myeloid leukemia. Following medical school, Julien went on to do medical residencies in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania from 2013-2016 and in Anesthesiology at Duke University from 2016-2019. He then completed a Critical Care Medicine fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco in 2020. He will be joining faculty at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco as an attending anesthesiologist and critical care physician. Julien now focuses his research on palliative care delivery in the intensive care unit and improving end-of-life care in high-risk surgical and medical patient populations. Outside of work, he enjoys exercise, watching reality television with his wife, Katherine, spending time with his daughter, Ryan Mackenzie and playing with his Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Jax.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!

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