Current CVMP Mentees
Bo Zhang is a third year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering. Bo's research focus is on building drug delivery systems using microfluidic systems, investigating human tissue-engineered cartilage and joint models using specially designed bioreactors.
Brecken grew up north of Pittsburgh, PA. After attending Cornell University to study Electrical and Computer Engineering, she came to Case Western Reserve University to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Engineering, with a focus on biomedical optics. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and entertaining her border collie.
Bushra Alghamdi is a Ph.D. candidate in Systems Biology and Bioinformatics at Case Western Reserve University. She has her master’s degree in Health Informatics from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. She also pursued Health Informatics and Data Analytics Graduate Certificates from the same university. Previously, she worked as Innovation Assistant at The Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah for two years. Her research interests pertain to conversational agents used in the medical field.
Danny Lam is a PhD Candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. His research interests revolve around improving the overall neural interface through novel methods such as improving device-tissue integration through combination therapy with nanomedicine delivery, improving delivery and design of existing implantable neural stimulators, and developing resorbable bioelectronics. He is a co-inventor in an implantable nerve stimulator that dissolves after intended use. Together with his research advisor Dr. Andrew Shoffstall, he plans to learn more about market needs and focus on commercialization efforts of their proposed technology.
Danny completed his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Texas at Dallas, and is a current National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow.
Elizabeth Benninger, PhD
Elizabeth Benninger is the founder and CEO of HMHC Consulting who specializes in Community and Health Psychology. She obtained a Masters in Psychology (Applied Community Psychology) from Antioch University, Los Angeles and a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Community Development and Doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Her research interests include the study of children’s well-being, health disparities, participatory research approaches, and community health promotion. Her work additionally focuses on national and international collaborations with a number of non-profit and nongovernmental organizations which specifically focus on improving the well-being of children and families within communities experiencing high levels of poverty and violence. She currently serves as a National Institute of Health supported Post-Doctoral Fellow at Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct Psychology Instructor at Cleveland State University. She is additionally an active member of the International Society of Child Indicators Research (ISCI), the Society for Community Research and Action, the Society for Prevention Research, and the International Surf Therapy Organization (ISTO).
Eser Erdem Tuna received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical and electronics engineering from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. He is currently a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. His research interests include robotics, control theory and artificial intelligence, with emphasis on medical robotics, haptics, and virtual environments. His current research involves applications of robotics and machine learning to biomedical and biologically inspired engineered systems.
As a CVMP mentee Eser will be investigating the market potential of an MRI-guided robotic catheter ablation system for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.
He (Andy) Liu, PhD
Born and raised in Tianjin, China, He (Andy) obtained a Ph.D. in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from Kent State University, Ohio. He is currently involved in investigating and targeting Tiam1 protein in different cancer contexts. Aside from research, Andy is always passionate about watching light-hearted movies, touring lovely national parks, and cooking various cuisines.
Ila Mishra, PhD
Ila Mishra, PhD is a senior research associate in Dr. Atul Chopra’s laboratory at the Institute of Transformative Molecular Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Chopra’s laboratory discovered a new hormone called asprosin. Asprosin increases appetite and causes an increase in blood glucose burden, thus contributing to metabolic syndrome. Ila’s research work recently identified the neural receptor of asprosin and is currently working on the development of asprosin-targeting therapeutics. Ila’s career goal is to develop long effect-life therapeutics such as anti-asprosin monoclonal antibodies and asprosin- receptor traps for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
Ilaha Isali, MD
Dr. Isali was born in Tartar, Azerbaijan, and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan, where she attended Azerbaijan Medical University. After two years in medical school, Dr. Isali was transferred to Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine as part of the cultural-exchange program due to exceptional academic performance. During medical training, Dr. Isali explored various medical and research fields in Germany (Heidelberg University) and the USA (Cleveland Clinic). After obtaining her medical degree, Dr. Isali worked as an emergency physician in a private hospital before joining a laboratory in the urology department at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Isali wanted to fully equip herself to be a future practicing physician-scientist involved in basic and translational research with the aim of getting into a medical residency program. Dr. Isali is currently a master's student in the regenerative medicine & entrepreneurship program conducting post-graduate research in the Hijaz laboratory in tissue engineering. The lab is focusing on developing a novel bladder patch that can be utilized for multiple applications such as urogenital reconstruction, fistula, etc. Dr. Isali is excited to be a part of the Translational Fellowship program, which will allow her to gain valuable experience and in-depth knowledge in the biotechnology industry and determine how it will fit into her career as a physician-scientist.
Jeeda Ismail is a third year PhD candidate in Systems Biology & Bioinformatics in Dr. Mark Cameron’s lab. She completed a bachelor’s degree in pharmacology with a minor in mathematics at McGill University and a master’s degree in immunology at University of Cincinnati. She is currently working towards her dissertation project that explores multi-omic signatures of cardiovascular disease in HIV. She has expertise in transcriptomic methods including bulk RNA-seq and single cell RNA-seq, from sample processing to downstream analyses. With a background in pharmacology and drug discovery, Jeeda is interested in leveraging her bioinformatics skills to identify drug-targetable mechanisms and biomarkers that can predict disease prognosis. She is also interested in the translational aspect of her research where she is currently working towards commercializing two innovations at her lab: multi-omic signature of cardiovascular disease in HIV and a drug-repurposing algorithm to identify drug targets based on transcriptomic screenings. Her dream is to bring these innovations to the market to help clinicians better develop personalized treatment plans for their patients.
Lauren Yeh is a PhD candidate in the department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She completed her undergraduate at Vanderbilt University where she majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minored in Corporate Strategy. At Case, she works on modifier genes impacting gastrointestinal symptoms of cystic fibrosis. She previously worked on other genetic-based orphan diseases supported by the Research Institute for Children’s Health with her research mentor Dr. Mitch Drumm. Lauren is interested in biomedical entrepreneurship with a focus on transforming the discoveries from her lab into a treatment for patients. As a CVMP mentee, she hopes to learn new skills and to bring a promising lung therapeutic treatment to market.
Matthew McPheeters, PhD
Matthew McPheeters is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His academic research is currently focused on biomedical optics and building optical tools for functional neuroimaging in the eye. His professional interests include commercialization of relevant photonic technologies in underserved markets.
Rohit Jain, PhD
Rohit Jain is targeting human biomarkers for developing a stress biosensor under AFRL-BioSIS partnership and with Prof. Mark Chance at Case Center for Synchrotron Biosciences. Here, he is applying mass spectrometry technique to understand the interactions of these stress biomarkers with their biological recognition elements and generate the structural biology information which is essential to develop biosensors. In his research career, he has been developing and applying biophysical techniques to understand protein folding and structure of biomedically important targets. Before joining CWRU, Rohit obtained PhD from world renowned Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry and performed postdoctoral fellowship in UMass Chan Medical School.
Samantha Oblander, PhD
Dr. Oblander trained in the fields of cell adhesion and signaling under the direction of Dr. Susann Brady-Kalnay, the leading expert on Receptor Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase PTPmu (PTPmu/PTPRM) mediated cell adhesion, at Case Western Reserve University in the department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology. She went on to co-found a successful commodities trading firm from the ground up. As part of a small business startup she managed the market analysis, product development, manufacturing, marketing, communications and sales from inception to product launch for over a dozen product lines. Dr. Oblander recently brought her expertise in marketing and business development back to Dr. Brady-Kalnay’s lab as a postdoctoral scholar to translate a platform technology developed in the lab for commercialization. The platform of PTPmu agents specifically target virtually all tumor cell, regardless of their distance from the main tumor mass and do not detect normal cells, improving tumor detection. Each PTPmu agent can be tuned to perform as a prognostic, diagnostic, fluorescence imaging agent, MRI, PET or as a therapeutic.
Shiv Verma, PhD
Dr. Shiv S. Verma is a research associate in the Department of Urology, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), and works under Prof. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a renowned scientist/researcher pursuing translational cancer research for over 25 years.
Dr. Verma’s earned experience related to translational cancer research including cancer prevention and treatment of prostate and bladder cancer. His primary area of interest is to investigate the signaling pathways related to cancer metabolism and therapeutic target protein. Also finding precision medicine and personalized therapy for cancer patients of any race or ethnicity. In the translational fellow program (TFP) at CWRU, his main aim is to design a multi-epitope-based vaccine against bladder cancer. One of his recent findings entitled “Identification of key genes associated with progression and prognosis of bladder Cancer through integrated bioinformatics analysis” strengthens and supports his endeavor.
Dr. Verma served as a judge for undergraduate research event intersections at CWRU, School of Medicine. Dr. Verma also serves as a review board member of scientific journals including Cells, International Journal of Medical Science (IJMS), Current Oncology, Cancers Journal, and Archives of Chronic Diseases.
Dr. Verma received his Ph.D. in Life Sciences from Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India, and was an NSERC visiting scientist at the Canadian Government laboratory. Before joining CWRU, he was a postdoc fellow at the University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, and the University of Pennsylvania, PA.
Sina Pourang is a 4th-year doctoral student in the department of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, working under the direction of Prof. Pedram Mohseni. Sina is pursuing high-impact research in the area of rapid diagnostics for point-of-care/point-of-injury (POC/POI) assessment of blood coagulation disorders. Specifically, he is collaborating with researchers in the biomedical engineering department and clinicians at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center on the development, preclinical testing, and clinical validation of a multichannel, surface-functionalized, microfluidic sensor, termed TraumaChekTM, for rapid, comprehensive, and specific detection of mechanisms underlying trauma-induced coagulopathy (TIC) to guide personalized treatments.
Sneha Singh, PhD
Sneha Singh, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Sneha's academic research is majorly focused on medical image analysis and biomarker discovery. Sneha's current research work is Radiomic feature-based response prediction using pre and post-nCRT MRI in rectal cancer Patients. The need for suitable biomarkers in treatment planning has become important these days and hence my professional interests include the commercialization of relevant prediction models (response and survival-based) in underserved markets.
Yehe Liu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He works on several biomedical research projects related to optical imaging. He is especially interested in developing technologies and protocols that are user-friendly and easy to implement. Yehe recently founded a small business, OpsiClear LLC, with his research mentor Dr. Michael Jenkins. They are exploring the commercialization potential of their optical imaging technology in clinical imaging. Using advanced 3D imaging and sample processing techniques, Yehe aims to make clinical histopathology imaging more accurate and efficient.
Yue Xu is a Ph.D. candidate at Dr. Vijay Krishna’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research area is a convergence of engineering, nanotechnology, medicine, and biology. With an interest in immunology, he is currently working on the “PhotoVaccine” project which applies nanotechnology in cancer treatment to prime robust anti-cancer immune response for long-term protection. Combining both phototherapy and immunotherapy, Yue aims to develop a novel cancer therapy with effectiveness and improved patient compliance.
Zoe Sekyonda is a PhD student in the Biomedical engineering department, working in Prof. Umut Gurkan's lab. She is an inventor on a novel optical system for diagnosing and monitoring hemoglobin variants. Her current research focuses on improving health care through research in hemoglobin disorders to develop point-of-care systems and/or applications that may be critical components in addressing access to health care problems. Zoe previously led a project to develop a point-of-care strip for detecting a pregnant complication that is common in developing countries, which was named a Grand Challenge Canada star in Global Health. She is driven to conduct high-impact translational research at the intersection of engineering and medicine, and she believes that translational research is critical to resolving many of the world's most difficult health problems.
Zoe is originally from Uganda, Africa, and received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Makerere University, one of Africa's top universities. Makerere University has worked with CWRU for over 20 years.
CVMP Mentee Alum
Adam is currently a graduate student in the Department of Pathology. Adam went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate education where he studied biochemistry. Adam next joined the Cleveland Clinic Learner College of Medicine and ultimately transitioned to the Medical Scientist Training Program. In the lab, Adam studies cancer stem cells and populations of treatment resistant tumor cells that are partially responsible for recurrence. Along with his commenters Dr. Justin Lathia and Dr. Ofer Reizes, Adam will be working on the commercialization of a short interfering peptide technology targeting triple negative breast cancer. Ultimately, Adam’s goal is to be a pediatric oncologist and work to bring discoveries from the lab into patient rooms.
Ben Clayton, PhD
Dr. Ben Clayton is a neuroscientist with a passion for identifying innovative approaches to treat neurodegenerative disease. As a postdoc in Dr. Paul Tesar’s lab at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Ben is leveraging the power of phenotypic screens to uncover novel treatment strategies that protect and repair the brain by controlling cell state. As a CVMP mentee Ben will develop exciting scientific discoveries in this space.
Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Ben received a B.S. in Biology with an Undergraduate Research Scholar designation from the University of Utah while mentored by Dr. Kurt Albertine. Ben then received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Chicago under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Popko.
Brad Lang, PhD
Dr. Brad Lang has extensive background in drug discovery and development of therapeutics for neurological diseases and injuries. Brad is currently the VP of Research and Biology lead at Convelo Therapeutics, a Cleveland-headquartered pharmaceutical company developing medicines to treat central nervous system disorders. As the first employee at Convelo, Brad helped grow the venture- and angel-backed company to 13 full-time employees in three years, including 4 CWRU PhD graduates. Convelo entered a co-development and option-to-acquire deal with Genentech, Inc. in July of 2019.
Prior to his work at Convelo, Brad invented a cutting edge regenerative therapy for the treatment of spinal cord injury as a neurosciences graduate student in the Jerry Silver laboratory at CWRU. Brad transitioned this invention into a biotech start-up, becoming the scientific founder of Nervgen. Nervgen plans to initiate a phase 1 clinical trial in Q4 of this year.
Dr. Lang previously served as an Executive in Residence at BioEnterprise and scientist on the regenerative medicine team at Athersys. Dr. Lang received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his PhD in Neurosciences from Case Western Reserve University.
Chhavi Jain, PhD
Christa Pawlowski, PhD
Dr. Christa Pawlowski is co-founder and COO of Haima Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on the translation and commercialization of an artificial platelet technology, originally developed at Case Western Reserve University, for the treatment of bleeding and other blood-related ailments. She has also served as Associate Director of Technical Operations at BioMotiv, a Cleveland-based, mission-driven drug development accelerator. At BioMotiv, Christa lead operations for several therapeutics startup companies, including SapVax and Allinaire Therapeutics.
Christa completed her B.S.E. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and was the recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a Medtronic Graduate Fellowship and a Baxter Young Investigator Award. She was a Case Venture Mentorship Program mentee during the program’s inaugural year.
David Shafran, MD
Edwin Vazquez-Rosa, PhD
Dr. Edwin Vazquez-Rosa has spent most of his young career studying the fundamental basics of neuronal vitality. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Puerto Rico, and then joined Dr. Andrew Pieper’s laboratory for postdoctoral training in order to expand his neuroscientific knowledge and skills in preclinical drug discovery and development applied to neurodegeneration. His career objective is to conduct innovative science that advances our understanding of neurodegenerative conditions, most keenly focused on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), in ways that will help develop new diagnostics and treatments for the large number of people suffering from these devastating conditions.
Eun Kyung Lee, PhD
Eun Kyung Lee is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health working under the supervision of Dr. Darcy Freedman. Eun Kyung’s previous training is in environmental health and data science. She obtained her PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University at Albany, SUNY, where her research work focused on examining the environmental impacts associated with agricultural production in U.S. Midwest using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach, and assessing respiratory effects associated with living near biorefinery facilities in New York State. Eun Kyung received her Master of Public Health from Tufts University and B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
Prior to joining the Swetland Center, Eun Kyung worked with a policy research organization in Guatemala to examine potential environmental risk factors related to food insecurity. In addition, she worked with a non-profit healthcare advocacy organization in Massachusetts aiming to promote access to health care through community-outreach. While growing up, living and working in diverse metropolitan and rural areas in international settings and the U.S. and evidencing many preventable health inequities potentially linked to environmental pollution, poverty, discrimination, lack of quality food, education and health care has been long-lasting motivations to continue working in the public health and environmental health fields.
Currently, at CWRU, Eun Kyung is involved in food systems and COVID-19 related projects across Ohio. For the Translational Fellow Program, Eun Kyung has been focusing on enhancing data dissemination using Farmers’ Market (FM) Tracks data across the U.S. She looks forward to continue working on improving FM Tracks technology through conducting a series of interviews and dissemination of findings to better serve the end users and promote better access to healthy diets for low-income consumers.
Ian Drummond, MD
Jesse Davila Calderon
Jesse is a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Case Western Reserve University. He obtained a bachelor’s degree of science in chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras and participated in multiple research experiences as an undergraduate student. Currently, he studies mechanisms regulating the replication of RNA viruses such as Enteroviruses and Coronaviruses which lead to the identification of an antiviral discovery pipeline.
As a CVMP mentee, Jesse will be exploring the market space for antiviral therapeutics and the potential commercialization of technologies developed at Case.
Jessica de Abreu
Jessica is a PhD candidate in the department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on developing controllers for functional electrical stimulation to revert upper-limb paralysis. Currently, Jessica is developing a Neural Tissue Mapper to assist surgeons in quickly and precisely mapping targeted neural tissue to motor actions in the operating room. She is also the creator of NUPA, an initiative to teach computer programming to underprivileged youth in Brazil.
Jose-Andres Portillo, MD
Mei Zhang, PhD
Roberto Martinez, MD MPH
Selva Jeganathan, PhD
Dr. Jeganathan completed his graduate work in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University under the advisement of Dr. Agata Exner. His work focused on improving the distribution and retention of a drug delivery system in a solid tumor to improve therapy for cancer patients. The translational nature of his work inspired him to understand the details of bringing a biomedical product into the clinic leading him to join the Translational Fellows Program. To understand the market better, he joined and completed two other commercialization accelerator programs, I-Corps@Ohio and Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation (C3i) Program. Through the guidance of the mentors and upon completion of these programs, Dr. Jeganathan is now focused on improving management of prostate cancer, a disease riddled with several challenges. He is currently working on developing a targeted nanoscale ultrasound contrast agent to improve the detection of aggressive prostate cancers.
Seth Fillioe, PhD
Seth Fillioe, PhD., is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Decker lab. Seth received his Bachelor’s Degree (2012) in chemistry from Hofstra University and both his Master’s Degree (2017) and Doctoral Degree (2020) from Syracuse University, also in Chemistry. His Doctoral research focused on using Near-Infrared spectroscopy to assess spinal cord injury in a rat model immediately following injury, while minimizing invasive procedures and contact to affected areas. His main research interests involve biomedical technologies and extending his knowledge in chemistry and spectroscopy to physiology.
Tej Pareek, PhD
Thomas J. Sweet, PhD
William was born and raised in Reno, NV which is also where he completed a bachelor’s in chemistry (University of Nevada, Reno). After undergrad William had to explore the world so he did a master’s in organic chemistry at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. After his studies, William worked at the National Institutes of Health as a post-bac. William is now in the third year of the MD/PhD program doing his biomedical engineering graduate work in the Gurkan and Tesar labs. The lab is focusing on building a blood-brain barrier model to investigate leukemia therapies. William is excited to be in the Translational Fellowship program so that he can also experience biotech industry and determine how it will fit into his career.