Lab Alumni: Where are they now?

Principal Investigator

Laura D. Wood, MD, PhD

Photo microscopeLaura D. Wood, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Division of Gastrointestinal and Liver Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Wood received her BS in Biology from the College of William & Mary, graduating Summa Cum Laude with membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She then went on to earn both her MD and PhD from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with membership in Alpha Omega Alpha. She completed her PhD research in the laboratory of Dr. Bert Vogelstein, where she led the first whole exome sequencing studies in human cancers. Dr. Wood then went on to complete residency in Anatomic Pathology (serving as Chief Resident in her final year) and fellowship in Gastrointestinal and Liver Pathology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Now, she leads her own basic science laboratory focused on molecular characterization of pancreatobiliary cancers and their precursor lesions. In addition, she signs out clinical specimens on the Gastrointestinal and Liver Pathology services.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Naziheh Assarzadegan, MD

Naziheh earned her MD from Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences in Iran. After that, she moved to Canada and spent two years as a gastrointestinal research assistant at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, Canada. During that time she was involved in various research projects related to prognostic factors in colorectal cancer such as tumor budding and the host-immune response. She then completed her AP/CP residency at the University of Florida, Gainesville followed by a year of general surgical pathology fellowship.

As a postdoctoral research fellow in the Wood laboratory, she will focus on comparing the immune microenvironment of IPMNs and pancreatic adenocarcinomas.

Alicia Braxton, DVM

Alicia earned her DVM from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. As a postdoctoral fellow, she is concurrently completing a Laboratory Animal Medicine residency and PhD training. Through the Cellular and Molecular Medicine program, Alicia is studying pancreatic precursor lesions using next generation sequencing as a strategy for early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Michael Pflüger, MD

Michael obtained his MD from Goethe University School of Medicine in Frankfurt, Germany. After starting his residency at the Department of Surgery at Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, he joined the Wood lab for a postdoctoral research fellowship. The focus of his experimental work is on development and characterization of novel in vitro cell lines of pancreatic ductal epithelium.

Kohei Fujikura, MD, PhD

Kohei received his BS in Biology from the University of Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan. He then went on to earn both his MD and PhD from the Kobe University School of Medicine in Kobe, Japan. He is a clinical pathologist with a special interest in pancreatobiliary cancers and their precursor lesions. He joined the Wood lab as a postdoctoral fellow in 2018, and his current projects investigate the genetic and cellular events of pancreatic tumorigenesis. In addition, he is also focused on morphological analysis of the pancreatobiliary systems.

Graduate Students

Peter Chianchiano, MS

Peter earned his B.A. in Biology and French from Drew University in Madison, NJ. He conducted his undergraduate research in neuroscience, focusing on the neuroendocrinology of PTSD, and the role of oxytocin in the disorder. Peter then went on to complete his M.S. in Biology from New York University where his thesis work focused on Toll-like receptor stimulation as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease. Peter is now a graduate student in the Pathobiology PhD Program where he will be studying pancreatic cancer in organoid models.

Yea Ji Jeong, DVM

Yea Ji JeongYea Ji earned her DVM from Konkuk University, Seoul South Korea in 2014. She previously worked as an associate veterinary pathologist at Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, diagnosing veterinary infectious diseases and cancer. As a Pathobiology graduate student in the Wood Lab, she is excited to explore the new field of pancreatic cancer research.

Bernat Navarro Serer, BS

Bernat moved to the United States from Barcelona to acquire his BS in Biotechnology and Biochemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His previous research focused on Aurora A in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, a kinase involved in many mitotic events such as centrosome separation, maturation, and duplication. As a graduate student in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine program, Bernat is excited to use organoid models to explore the field of pancreatic cancer.

Alejandra Trujillo, BS

Alejandra moved to the United States from Medellin, Colombia to continue her education at High Point University where she earned her BS in Biology. Her undergraduate interest in cell and molecular biology led her to conduct research on membrane trafficking and the ability for irregularities to cause diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. As a previous research technologist in the Wood and Roberts labs, Ale developed an IPMN organoid biobank and established the pancreatic cancer organoid protocols now used in the lab. Recently, Ale joined the Wood lab as a graduate student in the Human Genetics PhD program. She is exploring KRAS polyclonality in normal pancreas to better understand the earliest stages of pancreatic tumorigenesis.

Visiting Students

Martine Jongepier, BS

Martine received her Bachelors of Science from Utrecht University in The Netherlands, which is also where she is currently a student at the Graduate School of Life Sciences. She wrote her first thesis about ‘liquid biopsy’ by the detection of circulating tumor DNA in lung cancer and melanoma. As a visiting student of the Wood lab, she is studying the immune infiltrate in the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic precursor lesions.

Masters Students

Stephanie Mou, BS

Stephanie earned a B.S. in Biology and Mathematics at the University of Arizona. She is currently pursuing a Master of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. She spent a summer studying the effects of chemotherapy treatment on pancreatic cancer by looking at tumor composition. She is excited to continue this interest in pathology in the Wood lab and learn more about the different tumor compositions in pancreatic cancer and their precursor lesions.

Undergraduate Student

Jaanvi Mahesh Babu

Jaanvi is currently working towards a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology along with a minor in French at Johns Hopkins University. She intends to pursue a medical degree after graduating with the hope to become a pathologist. In the Wood Lab, she is studying pancreatic precursor lesions using next generation sequencing as a strategy for early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

Laboratory Technician

Arnique Coutain

Arnique grew up in Baltimore, MD. She is a graduate of the BioTechnical Institue of Maryland, which focuses of rigorous laboratory practices such as aspectic technique. In addition to managing day-to-day operations in the Wood Lab, Arnique is interested in approaches to RNA quantification including qRT-PCR.

Research Technologist

Cameron Dowiak, BS

Cameron graduated from Marietta College in Marietta, OH, where she earned her B.S. in Biochemistry. She conducted undergraduate research in air dispersion modeling, building and validating an AERMOD model predicting the dispersion of manganese within the Ohio River valley. As a previous research aide in the Anticevic lab, Cameron also conducted research using a multimodal MRI imaging approach to characterize brain circuits in psychiatric illnesses. She is excited to be a part of the Wood Lab, working as a research technologist facilitating lab collaborations between institutions. Her focus is in novel imaging approaches for pancreatic cancer.