11th Annual Cancer Research Day

Harper 03
RC3 Scholars

Innovative cancer-focused science was once again on display as the HCRI celebrated the 11th Annual Cancer Research Day on March 27, 2023, in the Morris Inn at Notre Dame.  The morning began with a highly interactive poster session.  Research results from undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars and technical staff were eagerly presented in poster format by 73 well-prepared investigators.  New this year was the participation of our Research Cures Cancer Corps (RC3) scholars from our summer 2022 high school program!  The three-hour session allowed ample time for questions, debate, exchange of ideas, and proud photos. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the poster judges who had a challenging time picking the top posters in each category for the Best Poster awards (listed below).

Career Panel
Career Panel

The afternoon commenced with three concurrent sessions of oral presentations from 15 trainees (listed below).  This was followed by a Career Panel comprised of former Notre Dame graduate students pursuing non-academic careers.  The panel consisted of Dr. Marwa Asem, Senior Scientist II, Oncology Discovery at Abbvie, Chicago, IL; Dr. Ricardo Romero Moreno,  Senior Scientist at Astra-Zeneca, Gaithersburg, MD; Dr. Roy Stillwell, CEO and Co-founder at Nearwave, South Bend, IN; and Dr. Katherine Ward, Vice President, Strategic Operations & People Analytics at IQVIA, Durham, North Carolina.   The lively Q&A focused on effective strategies to help launch a career after graduate school and gave tremendous insight into the business culture and expectations outside of academia. 

The Keynote Session began with a short video featuring two current HCRI graduate students and one undergraduate student who discussed the personal motivations behind their research choices and highlighted the students as individuals outside of the lab. The production team for this year's HCRI Student Produced Film, in partnership with Notre Dame's Department of Film, Television, and Theater, included Joel Mandell, Ted Nagy, Ian Oh, and Grace Beutter. The production team focused on highlighting two graduate students (Janeala Morsby and Sarah Nano) and one undergraduate student (Luke Holen).




Harper 03
Poster Session

The HCRI was honored to host two faculty speakers from the University of Galway participating in the collaborative Biseach Initiative with HCRI. Dr. Sharon Glynn provided a snapshot of her research on the link between nitrosative stress and human endogenous retroviruses in metastatic prostate cancer.  Glynn was followed by Dr. Corrado Santocanale who delivered a mechanistic look at CDC7 kinase and regulation of DNA replication dynamics.  Dr. Roy Stillwell then presented his translational work with Dr. Tom O’Sullivan on the development of point-of-care optical imaging technology for breast cancer detection.

Dr. Sharon Glynn
Dr. Sharon Glynn





Harper 03

Dr. Corrado Santocanale


The session culminated with an inspiring and eye-opening Keynote presentation from Dr. Robert Winn, Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center, Senior Associate Dean for Cancer Innovation and Professor of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, VCU School of Medicine.  As an alumnus of Notre Dame, Dr. Winn recalled how interactions with Fr. Robert Augsten were transformative in directing his educational trajectory toward a career in medicine. Dr. Winn challenged the audience to focus on equity in access to cancer detection and treatment.  He introduced the concept that it is not only the tumor mutational profile (i.e., your DNA) that significantly impacts your cancer outcome, but your zip code, or ZNA,  as well. Dr. Winn emphasized his belief that the University of Notre Dame in general and HCRI in particular was well positioned to make a significant contribution to overcoming these inequalities. 

Harper 03

Dr. Robert Winn

Please save the date for the 12th Annual Cancer Research Day, to be held on April 15, 2024, when we are honored to host Dr. Nicholas Petrelli, the Bank of America endowed medical director, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research, ChristianaCare, Delaware, and University of Notre Dame Class of 1969. Under Dr. Petrelli’s leadership, the Graham Cancer Center was selected as a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and one of the original 16 NCI Community Cancer Centers Programs (NCCCP).

Please join us in congratulating our 2023 award winners (award winners receive a conference travel grant):

DR. MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ MEMORIAL AWARD – presented to a member of our clinical community who has been highly beneficial to the HCRI Tissue Biorepository
Tricia Coatie, MSN, RN, OCN, Elkhart General Hospital



1st place - Emily Richardson, PI - Sharon Stack

Evaluation of The Effect of SREBP1 Inhibitor With Chemotherapy As A Potential Combination Therapy Against Obese Ovarian Cancer

2nd place - Andrew Kim, PI - Margaret Schwarz

Exploring the Role of Nicotinamide in Vascular Growth and Disease Progression

3rd place - Semeon Afework, PI – Tyvette Hilliard

Generational Obesity Alters the Ovarian Metastatic Niche and Promotes Ovarian Cancer Metastasis


Graduate Student 

1st place - James Schofield, PI - Zachary Schafer

Enhanced Acod1 Expression in Cancer Cells Promotes Immune Evasion

2nd place - Julia Spear, PI – Katherine White 

Single-cell Intracellular pH Dynamics Regulate the Cell Cycle by Timing G1 Exit and the G2 Transition

3rd place - Tatiana Rosales, PI - Brian Baker

Immune Implications of Peptide Register Shift in Class I MHC Protein


1st place - Himani Sharma, PI - Chia Chang

A Scalable High-throughput Isoelectric Fractionation Platform for Bias-free Extracellular RNA Nanocarriers Fractionation from Plasma, Urine, and Saliva



Christina Troll (White lab), “Cellular Protrusion Dynamics and Migration Driven by Increased Intracellular pH”

Koryn Isa (Hilliard lab), “Age Mediates Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma Metastasis and the Peritoneal Microenvironment”

Marycruz Flores-Flores (Zartman/Marcos lab), “Characterization of Cell Recruitment Mechanism Driven by Vestigial in the Imaginal Wing Disc of Drosophila Melanogaster”

George Gray (Baker lab), “Characterizing and Quantifying T cell Receptor Cross-reactivity”  

Nalin Maniya (H. Chang lab) “A Quantitative Immuno-Assay Liquid Biopsy Platform for Extracellular Vesicles with an Anion-Exchange Membrane Sensor”

Sarah Nano (Nieber lab), “Osteocyte and Osteoblast Paracrine Effects on Cancer Proliferation in 3D Bone Mimetic Cultures”

Jun Yang (Zorlutuna lab), “3D Age-Related Breast Cancer Model with Mouse Extracted Collagen for Drug Screening”

Leah Lund (White lab), “Characterizing Cancer Specific Intracellular pH Dynamics during Tumor Microenvironment Stiffening and Metastasis” 

Daniel Montes-Pinzon (Hanjaya-Putra lab), “Development of a High-Throughput Drug Screening Platform Via Pipetting Gel Droplet Micro-Organoids Models”  

Reihaneh Safavisohi (Stack lab), “Roles of Extracellular Vesicles in the Aging Microenvironment and Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Progression: Cell Adhesion and Proteome Profiling”

Michelle Lee (Awasthi lab), “Enhancing Nanoparticle-based Chemotherapy Response by a Dual AKT and ERK Pathway Inhibitor in Gastric Cancer Preclinical Models”

Olivia Sanders (Prosperi lab), “Secreted Factors Influence Response to Chemotherapy in APC-mutant TNBC Cells”

Dimitri Scofield (Nallathamby lab), “Magneto-electric Silica nanoparticles (MagSiNs) for ‘On-Demand’ Delivery of Paclitaxel into Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Cells”  

Gyoyeon Hwang (Bilgicer lab), “Prodrug-loaded Liposomal Nanoparticles as a Potential Drug Delivery Strategy Specifically Targeting Lung Cancer Cells”  

Courtney Flatt (Littlepage lab), “Cxcr2 as a Therapeutic Target in Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis”    



Exceptional Mentor Award - Alicia Wei (graduate student, O'Sullivan lab)

Exceptional Team Science Award  - James Schofield (graduate student, Schafer lab)

Exceptional Team Science Award - Himani Sharma (post-doctoral, H. Chang lab)