Unfortunately we do not have openings for summer or undergraduate research positions

Current Lab Members

Kan Cao, Ph.D
Principal Investigator

Kan Cao received a B Sc degree in Biology from Nanjing University China in 1997, and a Ph.D. degree in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University in 2005. She did her postdoctoral fellowship in genomics at the National Institutes of Health between 2005-2010. She is an associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland College Park.Dr. Cao was named the New Scholar in Aging by the Ellison Medical Foundation in 2011, received Board of Visitors junior faculty award from the University of Maryland in 2013, and was the finalist of the Invention of the Year by the University of Maryland in 2016. In 2018, she received Norma M. Allewell Prize In Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland.

Yantenew Gete
Graduate Student

Yani earned his BS degree in Biological Science and graduated with honors in the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2012. Afterwards, he spent the last four years working as a postbac at NIH before joining the UMD BISI program. His will focus on the analysis of the cellular stress in the Progeria smooth muscle cells.

Xiaojing Mao, M.S.
Graduate Student

Xiaojing earned her Master degree from the University of Southern California, where she studied ribosomal genesis in osteoblast differentiation. Her current project focuses on characterization of the peroxisomes in progeria cells and study the enzymes that carry out the ROS scavenging activities in peroxisomes.

Reynold Yu
Graduate Student

Reynold is interested in finding the correlations and differences between normal aging and HGPS. His current project seeks to find the effect of progerin expression in normal individuals and how progerin alters splicing patterns.

Huijing Xue
Graduate Student

Huijing received the BS degree of Medicine in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her current project focuses on characterization of actin and lamin dynamics in normal neurons and in vitro AD cellular model.

Sylvester Gates
Graduate Student

I am enrolled in the BISI-MOCB program. My main work in the Cao lab focuses on studying the dynamic properties of both actin and calcium in hNPC throughout differentiation and using functional dynamics to understand and build functional networks of both neuronal and glial cells.

Sahar Vakili
Graduate Student

Sahar received her M.Sc. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Georgetown University where she studied melanoma invasion, metastasis and chemoresistance. Before joining the MOCB PhD program, she worked as a research specialist and lab instructor at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). Her project in the Cao Lab focuses on studying non-cell-autonomous regulations involved in cardiovascular dysfunction in HGPS.

Markus Brown
Graduate Student

Markus earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park and subsequently began his PhD, which is a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute at the NIH. His project focuses on the impact of the WNT signaling transcription factors on colorectal cancer transcriptional dynamics.

Ami Thaivalappil
Undergraduate Student

Abhirami (Ami) is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, where she studies Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. In the lab, she works with her mentor, Xiaojing Mao, and recently started her honors thesis to characterize the effect of Methylene Blue and Toluidine Blue on progeria cells.

Neelesh Mupparapu
Undergraduate Student

Neelesh is currently an undergraduate BK scholar student pursuing a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Maryland. He is in the Gemstone Program, and his team project focuses on the use of artificial intelligence/deep-learning methods to improve clinical diagnosis of mental disorders and address inherent racial inequity within misdiagnoses. He is also in the Bioengineering Honors Program, and his project will investigate the cardiovascular pathology and molecular mechanism of atherosclerosis/vascular calcification in HGPS. The aim of the current project is to examine endothelial-smooth muscle interactions in order to study the calcification phenotype exhibited by HGPS patients.

Mason Trappio
Lab Manager

Mason earned his BS degree in Physiology and Neurobiology in 2012 and joined the Cao lab in 2016.

Previous Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Zheng-Mei Xiong, Ph.D, M.D., Staff Scientist at NIH
  • Linlin Sun, Ph. D, Investigator, Zhejiang University, China
  • Pratima Bharti, Ph.D., Principal Scientist at Pfizer
  • Haibei Luo, Ph.D., now a manager at Shanghai Kehua Bio-engineering Co., Ltd., China


Lab Managers

  • Megan Leung, Program Administrative Specialist, CBMG, UMD
  • Michael O’Donovan, Business Development Manager, MP BIOMEDICALS, MD
  • Christina LaDana, Nurse, St Joseph Hospital, Baltimore, MD
  • Julia Kieckhaefer, Postdoctoral fellow, UPenn, PA
  • Eunae Ko, Medical student, Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, GA


Graduate Students:

  • Haoyue Zhang, Ph.D. Investigator, Shenzhen Bay laboratory, China
  • Di Wu, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow at NCATS/NIH, MD
  • Kun Wang, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow at NCI/NIH, MD
  • Ji Young Choi, M.S., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow at UMD


Undergraduate researchers:

  • Steven Margolis, Resident, NYU Medical Center
  • Melissa Bui Truong, Senior Associate at ACON Investments, LLC
  • Jason Albanese
  • To-Lam Nguyen, Resident, Univ. of Maryland school of Medicine
  • Celeste Witting, Resident, Stanford Hospital, CA
  • Florian Bigot, Nurse at MedStar Washington
  • Helen Cai, Dentist, NYC
  • Zeshan Tariq, Medical student at University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine