Lab Members

Xianzhi (Andrew) Lin, PhD
Project Scientist

Xianzhi (Andrew) Lin, PhD, received his bachelor's degree in bioengineering from the Kunming University of Science and Technology in 2004, and a doctorate in microbiology from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2012. Before joining the Lawrenson Laboratory in the Women's Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA with Grace Xiao, PhD, studying the molecular mechanisms of RNA regulation, including alternative splicing, RNA editing and RNA degradation. Currently, his research focuses on elucidating the mechanism of long noncoding RNAs in the initiation and/or development of ovarian cancers.

Kevin “K.C.” Vavra, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Kevin “K.C.” Vavra received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the University of Chicago. His doctorate research studied how structural features of the unconventional myosin-10 motor controlled motor localization to specific regions in the cytoskeleton. Vavra joined the Lawrenson Lab in 2016. His research project focuses on the relationship between genetic variants and lncRNAs in the development and progression of ovarian cancer.

Rosario “Ivetth” Corona de la Fuente, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Rosario “Ivetth” Corona de la Fuente, PhD, has a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from CETYS Universidad, Mexico, and a master of science in computer science from CICESE, Mexico. She was first introduced to computational biology during her master’s degree, where she studied protein structure prediction. Continuing in the structural bioinformatics field, for her doctorate she analyzed protein-DNA complexes and characterized structural features that account for DNA-binding specificity. She then completed an internship at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she studied cancer genomics for the first time. Now, under the direction of  Kate Lawrenson, PhD, and Simon Gayther, PhD, Corona de la Fuente is a computational biologist studying the interplay between transcription factors and somatic and germline variants that contribute to the development of ovarian cancer.

Forough Abbasi
Research Associate

Forough Abbasi graduated with her bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology in 2006. After getting her degree, Forough spent several years working in a clinical lab before joining the laboratory of Johnathan Lancaster, MD, PhD, at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Forough has extensive experience in preclinical modeling and translational research, and is commonly referred to by her coworkers as the cell culture whisperer. She joined the Lawrenson Laboratory in 2016 and participates in multiple laboratory projects using cellular and molecular biology approaches.

Marcos Abraao, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Marcos Abraao, PhD, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil (2007); a master’s degree from Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil (2010); and a doctorate from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (2016). Abraao has research experience in combinatorial optimization problems on manufacturing systems and reactive production scheduling using artificial intelligence techniques including ant colony optimization, genetic algorithms and fuzzy logic. He joined the Lawrenson Laboratory in 2016, applying bioinformatics integrative approaches to define and understand the cell origin of ovarian cancer. Currently, Abraao is working on master transcription factor identification and characterization on different cancer types and subtypes.

Jessica Reddy, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jessica Reddy, PhD, is a postdoctoral scientist with more than eight years of research experience studying transcriptional control in normal and disease states. She completed her doctorate in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she trained in the laboratory of Richard Young, PhD. There, Reddy studied the effects of small-molecule inhibition of general regulators in cancer cells. As an aspiring gynecological oncologist, she is currently in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Reddy is passionate about learning mechanisms of transcriptional dysregulation and is dedicated to the hasty discovery of targeted treatments and diagnostics in ovarian cancer.

Robbin Nameki
Graduate Student

Robbin Nameki received her bachelor of science from California State University, Long Beach, where she studied the neuroendocrine regulation of sexually dimorphic behavior in rodents in the laboratory of Houng-Wei Tsai, PhD. Nameki was also part of the laboratory of Jorge Busciglio, PhD, in the last year of her undergraduate degree. In the Busciglio Laboratory, Nameki studied the role of neuron-specific zinc as a co-transmitter in the process of learning and memory. In the summer of 2017, she joined the Cedars-Sinai graduate program, where she expanded her interests to include the interaction between the noncoding genome and nuclear proteins involved in disease pathways. Nameki is currently pursuing her doctorate in the Lawrenson Laboratory, studying the transcriptional regulatory profile of transcription factors in ovarian cancer.

Heidi Chang, MD
Gynecologic Oncology Fellow

Heidi Chang, MD, received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and earned her medical degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She then completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai. Chang is currently completing her third year of fellowship in gynecologic oncology at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai. Her research focuses on the interconnected roles of transcription factors in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Felipe Dezem
Research Associate

Alumni Lab Members

Contact the Lawrenson Lab

8700 Beverly Blvd.
Davis Building, Third Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90048