Department of Cell and Cancer Biology

News & Announcements 

Congratulations to Dr. Kandace Williams on receiving the University Women's Commission 36th Annual Award
Dr. Kandace Williams receives Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award
Congratulations to Kandace Williams, Ph.D., Professor of Cell & Cancer Biology, Senior Associate Dean, College of Graduate Studies, who was recently honored with the Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award from the University Women's Commission (UWC). The UWC established its Outstanding Woman Award in 1987. Numerous women have been honored since its founding. Stephanie Pannell, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery and Associate Chief Medical Officer also received the 2023 award.

In 2011, the UWC Outstanding Woman Award was re-named the Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award to honor the life of a prolific leader who served our university for nearly five decades as a professor, administrator and advisor. An advocate for students, employees and women, Dr. Skeens was actively involved in numerous campus committees and organizations ranging from student affairs and athletics to Faculty Senate. At the time of her passing, Dr. Skeens held the distinction of having the longest tenure at The University of Toledo and was serving as the Dean of the College of Language, Literature and Social Sciences, now the College of Arts and Letters. Dr. Skeens steadfastly supported the mission and vision of the UWC and was the Chair of the Scholarship Committee. The UWC continuously strives to continue her vision by promoting scholarships for women and recognizing outstanding service and leadership at The University of Toledo.  Congratulations Dr. Williams!

Dr. Raman Awarded $2 Million Grant to Study Aggressive Breast Cancer

UT News 2.14.23 pictureCongratulations to Dr. Dayanidhi Raman who was recently awarded a 5 year, $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, to study triple-negative breast cancer, one of the most lethal, aggressive forms of breast cancer.  This type of breast cancer is generally receptive to conventional chemotherapy, but the problem is that anti-cancer drugs often stop working which allow the cancer to return and spread. Dr. Raman reasons that chemotherapy cannot get to the small subset of cancer-stem-like cells deep in the tumor. Those cells, which have survived and grown immune to existing treatment, allow the cancer to reemerge and progress unchecked.  Read the story in the 2-14-23 issue of the UT News.

Congratulations to Veani Roshale Fernando for 1st place win!

photo of roshale fernando's award announcementUpdate: Roshale finished in the top 10 of 144 participants at the Chicago competition.  Outstanding Roshale!
On December 8, 2022, Ms. Veani Roshale Fernando was awarded first place for her talk at the University of Toledo  3MT (Three Minute Thesis) Competition presenting her talk "Fighting Breast Cancer Pain-Free."  She had good competition and placed first receiving a cash prize and all-expenses paid trip to participate in the next round of the competition in Chicago, IL, March 31, 2023.  The 3MT Competition is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia in 2008.  Since that time, the competition has grown to be held in over 600 institutions and 65 countries.  The goal of the 3MT is for research students from all departments and colleges to cultivate the ability to explain their research, including both breadth and significance, in a language appropriate to an audience containing both specialists and non-specialists within three minutes.

Image of Univ Toledo 3MT competitorsRoshale also competed in the Elevator Speech Contest at the 2022 ASCB Cell Biology meeting, finishing as Runner-Up.  The elevator speech is the same premise as the 3MT except participants only have one minute to sell their science.  Great job Roshale!!




Patent award
Congratulations to Dr. Eisenmann, Krista Pettee and Kathryn Becker   

Heartiest congratulations to Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann, Professor of Cell & Cancer Biology, Krista Pettee, Research  Assistant, and Kathryn Becker, MD/PhD student on the issue of their U.S. Patent in January entitled "Use of Formin Agonists in Overcoming Brain Tumor Radio- and Chemo-resistance by Targeting Tumor Microtubes".  

2022 Larry Gentry Research Forum

The Biomedical Sciences Cancer Biology track held our annual research retreat, Larry Gentry Research Forum, on Tuesday, October 11,  at the Lancelot Thompson Student Union on the main campus of The University of Toledo.  The Department of Cell & Cancer Biology sponsors this event each year, which is named after the late Dr. Larry Gentry, Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.  Featured were presentations from 13 students and postdoctoral fellows.  The 2022 program's keynote speaker and 1997 alumni was Jenny, Wang, Ph.D., Professor of Cancer Biology & Genetics, The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center.  She gave a superb seminar on "Function of GRM3 in Colorectal Cancer".  This event promotes scientific exchange among  our students, postdoc fellows, faculty and keynote speakers. Importantly, our students interact with the guest speaker to learn their approach to a successful academic career.

2022 Gentry participantsJenny Wang presentation

Megan Dreier and Veani Roshale Fernando win 2022 Departmental Awards
At the conclusion of the 2022 Gentry Forum retreat, Dr. Megan Dreier (de la Serna lab) and Veani Roshale Fernando (Furuta lab) were awarded the 2022 Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow award and the 2022 Outstanding Student award.  Congratulations to you both on your hard work!
Megan Dreier
Megan Dreier, Ph.D.
2022 Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow Award
Roshale Fernando
Veani Roshale Fernando
2022 Outstanding Student Award

2022 Cell and Cancer Biology StudentsWelcome to the 2022 Biomedical Science Graduate Program Cell and Cancer Biology Students

Welcome to our new class of students in the Biomedical Sciences Cell & Cancer Biology track.  The annual Lab Coat Ceremony was held for our new Biomedical Science students on September 8, 2022, where they were presented fresh, white lab coats and were welcomed by Dr. Christopher Cooper and Dr. Kandace Williams (COMLS Deans),  Dr. Patricia Metting (COMLS Alumni Board and Professor Emerita), fellow students, faculty and staff.  Best wishes for a successful student career here at the University of Toledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences.
Pictured left to right: Azeezat Osikoya, Shubhra Kanti Dey, Rejina Shrestha, Augustine Kwabil

Dr. Kate Eisenmann Receives 2022 Gold Apple Award

picture of Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann
Congratulations to Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann for receiving the Robert T. Tidrick Golden Apple Award in 2022 for teaching excellence in basic sciences. This is the second year in a row that she has received this award.  Dr. E, Professor of Cell & Cancer Biology, is the Thread 1 Director in the Department of Medical Education and was selected for this honor by the 2022 medical student graduating class. Three other basic scientists and three clinicians also received a Golden Apple.  

Dr. Jian-Ting Zhang Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Congratulations to our chairman, Dr. Jian-Ting Zhang, on being elected as a  Dr. Zhang standing in his lab
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  
The AAAS Fellow Award is in recognition of his extraordinary research achievements. The fellowship is a life-time honor accorded by the AAAS to distinguish persons who are members of the association. Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council for efforts on behalf of the advancement of science. This is one of the most prestigious awards among academic researchers worldwide.
Read the story in the 1-26-22 edition of UT News


Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann

     Congratulations Dr. Eisenmann on your promotion to Professor in July 2022!

Cell and Cancer Biology Students Place First and Second at the 2022 Graduate Research Forum

Roshale Fernando
 Roshale Fernando, current PhD candidate, placed first in the oral presentations at the Graduate Research Forum held  March 16-17, 2022.  Her talk was entitled "Sepiapterin Mediates Immunogenic Shift in Breast Cancer via Reprogramming of Tumor-Associated Macrophages."  Roshale is a 4th year student in Dr. Saori Furuta's lab.

Sayani Bhattacharjee
Sayani Bhattacharjee, current PhD candidate, placed second in the oral presentations at the Graduate Research Forum.  She spoke on "Targeting MCTs to overcome Enzalutamide Resistance in Prostate Cancer." Sayani is a 5th year student in Dr. Nagalakshmi Nadiminty's lab.

Cell and Cancer Biology Hosts Recruitment Event
CAB recruitment
The Department of Cell and Cancer Biology recently hosted a recruitment meeting on the main UT campus with the help of Deborah Hendricks and the UToledo Pre-Health Advising Center. The undergrad students enjoyed lunch while hearing about the exciting opportunities in Cell and Cancer Biology.  It was a big success.  

Dr. Ivana de la Serna and Dr. Xiaohong Li, CCB faculty, gave a short talk, and students, Chris Figy, Kate Becker, Alexandria Yunglut and Mrunmayee Kandalgaonkar provided a panel discussion.

Photo of the Week: Engaging the next generation, Dean's Update - 11/8/21 edition

Dr. Dreier Receives Travel Award for 2021 PASPCR Annual Meeting

Dr. Megan Dreier


Dr. Megan Dreier has received a travel award from the PanAmerican Society for Pigment Cell Research (PASPCR). The annual meeting was held in Lexington, KY, September 22-25.  Dr. Dreier, a postdoctoral fellows in Dr. de la Serna's lab, will present a 5 minute speed science presentation as well as a post entitled "Inhibiting Bromodomain Protein 9 in Melanoma."

Sayani Bhattacharjee wins 2021 Scholarship from American Association of University Women (AAUWSayani Bhattacharjee

Congratulations to Sayani Bhattacharjee for her recent award of the Dean Katherine Easley Wemmer Scholarship by the AAUW.  Sayani is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Cell and Cancer Biology track and is mentored by Dr. Nagalakshmi Nadiminty.  Their lab focuses on targeting prostate cancer cell-metabolism to overcome drug resistance and Sayani is researching Enzalutamide, a drug used in the treatment of prostate cancer.  She is making steady progress in finding novel mechanisms that can overcome this drug's resistance.

Dr. de la Serna Awarded PASPCR Summar Project Grant

de la Serna lab membersDr. Ivana de la Serna was awarded a grant from the The Pan American Society for Pigment Cell Research (PASPCR) to fund a high school student from an underrepresented minority group (URM) for 10 weeks of summer research focused on pigment cell biology.  Ms. Jasmine Welborn, a senior at Toledo Technological Academy, was chosen as the recipient of the award.  Jasmine has been working on a research project that investigates the use of epigenetic modulators in the prevention of skin cancer. Colgate-Palmolive Company generously provided funding for fellowships to expand research opportunities for URMs at an early stage in their education so that they develop an interest in research and become the next generation of scientists.  Jasmine received $5,000 in summer stipend and travel funds to attend and present her work at the PASPCR conference in Lexington, KY, September 22-25, 2021.

Welcome to the Department of Cell and Cancer Biology at UTCOMLS Dr. Kuo-Hui Su!

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Kuo-Hui (Jason) Su. He joins us from the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program at the National Cancer Institute where he was a Research Fellow. Dr. Su’s other postdoctoral fellowships were at the Jackson Lab, Bar Harbor, ME, and the Institute of Physiology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.  His  research focuses on investigating the role of HSF1 in cholesterol trafficking, lipid metabolic reprogramming, and the autophagy process in pancreatic tumorigenesis via in vitro, in vivo, and preclinical models. The goal of his studies is to reveal novel clinical therapeutic strategies to address these fundamental processes in current cancer therapies.

Congratulations to Dr. Zhang on his 2021 Award for GrantsmanshipZhang

Recipients were honored during a ceremony in May for their continued efforts in securing external awards.  As quoted from Dr. Frank Calzonetti, Vice President for Research "In many disciplines, particularly those based on laboratory research, financial demands for personnel support such as students, equipment, supplies and travel far exceed what the University can provide, so external grant support is necessary to support a faculty member's research. Many faculty members across campus are successful in securing external awards for their research and I am pleased to be able to recognize from this group those who have secured the most external funding for their research programs over the past three years."

Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann Awarded the Robert T. Tidrick Golden Apple Award (Teaching Excellence in Basic Sciences)

Congratulations to Dr. Eisenmann for received The Robert T. Tidrick Gold Apple Award for teaching excellence.  The award is named in honor of Dr. Tidrick, a surgeon and outstanding educator on the faculty of the former Medical College of Ohio from 1969 until his death in June 1983.  Both basic scientists and clinicians are selected for the honor each year by members of the graduating class of medical students.

Cell and Cancer Biology Student Places First at the 2021 Graduate Research Forum

Kate Becker

Current MD/PhD student, Kate Becker, placed first in oral presentation for the Graduate Research Forum 2021 entitled  "A ROCK/mDia Signaling Axis Regulates Cytoskeletal Structure in Glioblastoma Tumor Microtubes."  Kate is studying in Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann's lab.


Congratulations and Farewell Dr. SmasSmas

Dr. Cynthia Smas decided to pursue a new chapter in life and left the University of Toledo in May.  She began her career at the Medical College of Ohio (now University of of Toledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences) 21 years ago, receiving her tenure in 2011.  The two main research interests of her lab have been adipocyte function/obesity and prostate cancer. Dr. Smas was a dedicated teacher and touched many lives during her teaching and research career here, training many postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and medical students.  She will be missed.


Best of Cool Ideas Award for Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann

Kathryn Eisenmann

Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann recently participated at the Innovations in Medical Education Online Conference 2021, February 18-19, 2021, San Gabriel, CA.  Her presentation entitled "A Novel Remote Team-Based Learning Platform for Medical Students Using Readily Available Technology" won the Best of Cool Ideas Award.




Cell and Cancer Biology Student Articles Published in the Toledo Blade

The Toledo Blade is publishing a  series of articles written by Biomedical Sciences students here at the University of Toledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences.  Following is the series by our Cell and Cancer Biology students:

Shreya Ganguly (4/3/23) - UT Research Investigates New Way to Treat Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Deepti Gurung (10/3/22) - UT Researcher Studies Targeted Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer

Jackson Huang (6/6/22) - UT Researchers Target Cancer Cells

V. Roshale Fernando (6/7/21) - UT Research Explores How to Stop Good Immune Cells from Turning Bad

Yetunde Makinwa (1/4/21) - UT Researchers Explore How Dying Cells Ensure a Healthy Life

Justin Fortune Creeden (12/7/20) - UT Research Turns Supercomputers Toward Cancer Research

Sayani Bhattacharjee (10/5/20) - UT Research Throws a One-Two Punch at Prostate Cancer

Kathryn Becker (7/6/20) - The Crafty Nature of Glioblastoma

Joshua Letson (4/6/20) - UT Researchers Employ Nitric Oxide in the Breast Cancer Fight

Sangita Sridharan (3/2/20) - UT Research Targets Drug-Resistant Cancer Stem Cells

Yashna Walia (12/2/19) - UT Researchers Seek the Root Cause of Breast Cancer

Cory Howard (7/1/19) - Proteins may fuel life, but some also feed cancers

Augustus Tilley (10/1/18) - Toledo researcher works to disrupt metastatic breast cancer

Kaitlyn Dvorak (7/2/18) - Microenvironment play a role in cancer progression

Kalpana Gardiyawasam (03/05/18) - Researchers aim to block breast cancer metastasis

Zehui (Lesley) Li (12/31/17) - Cancer researchers focus on how cells communicate

Shengnan Du (9/2/16) - Chemical that disrupts cell division could help to treat cancer

Kari Lavik (4/4/16) - Zebrafish help in the fight against cancer

2020-2022 Thesis Defense

Sayani Bhattacharjee

CONGRATULATIONS to Sayani Bhattacharjee, Ph.D.

Dr. Bhattacharjee successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Targeting Metabolism to Overcome Enzalutamide Resistance in Prostate Cancer" on Thursday, November 3, 2022.  Dr. Bhattacharjee accepted a position as Field Application Scientist for Nanostrings Technology.  She was mentored by Dr. Nagalakshmi Nadiminty.

Kate Becker  CONGRATULATIONS to Kathryn Becker, Ph.D.
Dr. Becker successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Small-Molecule Mediated Activation of mDia Formins Disrupts Multiple Hallmark of Therapy Resistance in Patient-Derived Glioblastoma Stem-Like Cells" on Friday, March 18, 2022.  Dr. Becker is in the MD/PhD program and will return to medical school to complete her requirements for her MD.  She has been mentored by Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann.
 Justin Creeden  CONGRATULATIONS to Justin Creeden, Ph.D.
Dr. Creeden successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Signaling Networks that Drive Deleterious Outcomes in the Pancreas and Liver" on Monday, March 14, 2022.  Dr. Creeden is in the MD/PhD program and will return to medical school to complete his requirements for his MD.  He has been mentored by Dr. Robert Smith.
Dr. Yetunde Makinwa

CONGRATULATIONS to Yetunde Makinwa, Ph.D.
Dr. Makinwa successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Exploring the Roles of Anti-Apoptotic Cytoplasmic ATR in Oncogenesis and Cancer Treatments" on Friday, December 3, 2021.  Dr. Makinwa will begin a postdoc in her mentor's lab, Dr. Yue Zou, to finish up a few ongoing projects.

Yashna Walia

CONGRATULATIONS to Yashna Walia, M.S. 
Yashna successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Effect of S-Nitrosylation on HER2 Expression and Activity" on July 29, 2021.  She has been mentored by Dr. Saori Furuta

Dr. Sangita Sridharan

CONGRATULATIONS to Sangita Sridharan, Ph.D.
Dr. Sridharan successfully defended her dissertation entitled "The Role of Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4A1 in Breast Cancer Chemoresistance" on November 19, 2020.  She has been mentored by Dr. Dayanidhi Raman.  Dr. Sridharan has accepted a Cancer Research Scientist position at Nurix Therapeutics in San Francisco.

Dr. Augustus Tilley

CONGRATULATIONS to Augustus Tilley, Ph.D.
Dr. Tilley successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Discovery of the CXCR4-dependent LASP1-Ago2 Interaction and Its Role in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer" on September 30, 2020.  He has been mentored by Dr. Dayanidhi Raman.  Dr. Tilley has accepted a position with Computercraft at the NIH as a Whole Genome Shotgun Database Biologist where he will be curating new genomic submissions to the GenBank database.

Dr. Cory Howard

Dr. Howard successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Characterization of the CXR4-LASP1-eIF4F Axis in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer" on June 10, 2020.  He has been mentored by Dr. Dayanidhi Raman.  Dr. Howard will begin the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program at Michigan State University in Fall 2020.

2006-2019 Cell and Cancer Biology graduates


Last Updated: 4/24/23