Lab Members


Principal Investigator
Karen Cavassani, PhD
Project Scientist

Karen Cavassani, PhD, is an immunologist by training, and her current research is directed at elucidating innate and adaptive immune signals that instigate and/or promote prostate cancer metastasis. She is also exploring the role of Fyn kinase on the expression of immune checkpoint inhibitors during the progression of prostate cancer. Cavassani completed her master's degree and doctorate in immunology at the University of Sao Paulo, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS). She was a faculty member in the Department of Pathology at UMMS prior to her move to Cedars-Sinai. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals, such as Journal Experimental MedicineJournal of Immunology and Blood.

Yu Jen (Alex) Jan, MD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Yu Jen (Alex) Jan, MD, received his medical degree from National Taiwan University School of Medicine in 2015. After receiving his degree, he joined the joint research team led by Edwin Posadas, MD, at Cedars-Sinai and Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, at UCLA as a postdoctoral scientist. He currently heads the Cedars-Sinai/UCLA research team and led the efforts to optimize generations of NanoVelcro Chips for detection, isolation and characterization of circulating tumor cells. His research interest focuses on developing new blood-borne biomarkers and assays for detecting and dynamic monitoring of aggressive cancers. Jan is a physician scientist who is pursuing a career in translational research in medical oncology with the intent of combining his research and clinical interests to advance the field.

Shirley Cheng
Research Associate I

Shirley Cheng conducts experimental work and blood processing for the circulating tumor cells project along side of Jeff Chen, MD. She is skilled in using the nanofluidic system for cell capture and taking microscopy images. Cheng is a recent graduate of UCLA and received her bachelor of science in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics.

Nu (Susan) Yao
Research Associate III

Nu "Susan" Yao works along Yu Jen Jan, MD, as the senior research associate of the circulating tumor cell (CTC) team to investigate the role of CTC in improving prostate cancer diagnosis/therapy. She joined the Posadas Lab in 2016, after five years as a lab manager at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where her contributions have been credited as authorship in several peer-reviewed journals. Yao has a bachelor of science in biology, with a concentration on molecular genetics.

Rebecca Meza
Research Associate III

Rebecca Meza works alongside Karen Cavassani, PhD, in the immune arm of the Posadas Lab. She studies how immune cells contribute to metastatic behaviors of prostate cancer tumors. Recent efforts have focused on circulating blood monocytes and their secretion of CHI3L1 in response to tumor-derived signals. It has been found that the CHI3L1 / IL-13Ra binding axis promotes migration and invasion of prostate cancer cell lines. The Posadas Lab has access to an extensive, annotated bank of patient blood samples allowing researchers to compare metastatic versus non-metastatic human cells in our in vitro functional assays. Meza earned a bachelor of science from Seattle University in general science with biology and chemistry concentrations.

Amber Lozano
Research Lab Assistant I

Amber Lozano conducts specimen collection, blood processing and peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolation and storage for the lab. She works in agreement with the circulating tumor cell project team to ensure that all specimens are processed and stored properly. Lozano is a graduate of Boston University where she received her bachelor’s degree in cellular biology, molecular biology and genetics.

Amy Gomez
Research Lab Assistant II
Catherine Scarlett Carroll
Clinical Research Data Specialist I

Catherine Scarlett Carroll oversees data analysis and collection in the Posadas Laboratory. She works closely with the principal investigator in order to streamline the efforts and needs of clinical-translational research development via specialized databases. Carroll recently completed her master's degree in social work from University of Southern California; she also holds a bachelor’s degree in film studies and English from University of California, Riverside.

Kevin Scher, MD MBA
Associate Member, Urologic Oncology Program
Nancy Moldawer, RN, MSN
Lead Research Nurse

Nancy Moldawer, RN, MSN, oversees all clinical research activities of the Urologic Oncology Program (UOP) and serves as a nurse leader within the clinical research office. She oversees all protocol development and clinical-translational research activities in the UOP and the Posadas Laboratory.

Amy Oppenheim
Clinical Research Coordinator III

Amy Oppenheim earned her bachelor's degree from Scripps College in Claremont, California. She works primarily with Robert Figlin, MD, and Edwin Posadas, MD, in medical oncology and with Timothy Daskivich, MD, Amit Gupta, MD, and Hyung Kim, MD, in urologic oncology. Oppenheim currently manages the trial portfolio of prostate, kidney and bladder cancer studies. Previous research experience includes protocol management, neuropsychological testing, data collection and management, regulatory submission and laboratory processing. Prior positions include a research coordinator in oncology at UCLA-Jonssen Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry.

James MacDonald
Lead Clinical Nurse III
Michelle Peace
Management Assistant II

Karen Cavassani, PhD, is an immunologist by training, and her current research is directed at elucidating innate and adaptive immune signals that instigate and/or promote prostate cancer metastasis. She is also exploring the role of Fyn kinase on the expression of immune checkpoint inhibitors during the progression of prostate cancer. Cavassani completed her master's degree and doctorate in immunology at the University of Sao Paulo, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS). She was a faculty member in the Department of Pathology at UMMS prior to her move to Cedars-Sinai. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals, such as Journal Experimental MedicineJournal of Immunology and Blood.

Arcelia (RC) Hernandez
Management Assistant II, Academic Support

Yu Jen (Alex) Jan, MD, received his medical degree from National Taiwan University School of Medicine in 2015. After receiving his degree, he joined the joint research team led by Edwin Posadas, MD, at Cedars-Sinai and Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, at UCLA as a postdoctoral scientist. He currently heads the Cedars-Sinai/UCLA research team and led the efforts to optimize generations of NanoVelcro Chips for detection, isolation and characterization of circulating tumor cells. His research interest focuses on developing new blood-borne biomarkers and assays for detecting and dynamic monitoring of aggressive cancers. Jan is a physician scientist who is pursuing a career in translational research in medical oncology with the intent of combining his research and clinical interests to advance the field.

Contact the Posadas Lab

8700 Beverly Blvd.
Davis Building, Room 5094C
Los Angeles, CA 90048