Meet our CVMP Mentees

Current CVMP Mentees


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.

Chhavi Jain, PhD

David Shafran, MD

Denise Dewald, MD


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 Tuna


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

Jessica de

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.

Jessica Scarborough

Jose-Andres Portillo, MD

Mei Zhang, PhD

Nathan Makowski

Roberto Martinez


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.

Selva Jeganathan, PhD

Timothy Walker

Xiaoye Qian


Yehe Liu

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.



CVMP Mentee Alum 



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.


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.

Kihwan Kim

Tej Pareek, PhD

Thomas J. Sweet, PhD