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.

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.

Catherine Scarlett Harvey
Graduate Student

Cat received her BS in biology from the College of William & Mary. Before coming to the BISI-MOCB program, she worked for two years as a postbac at the National Cancer Institute where she investigated the mechanisms involved in meiotic recombination.​

Elizabeth Kathryn Izydore
Graduate Student

Lizzy received her BS in Biology from the University of Maryland. She worked for 2 years as a postbac at the National Institute on Aging where she studied altered gene expression in senescent human myoblasts before joining the MOCB program.

Emma Gentry
Graduate Student

Emma received her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Liberty University in 2022. Prior to coming to UMD, she studied the regulation of glucose sensing receptors by casein kinases in S. cerevisiae in the lab of Dr. Jeong-Ho Kim."

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.

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

  • Mason Trappio, Founder of The Pattern House of Olonade
  • 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:

  • Reynold Yu, Bioinformatics Scientist at NIH
  • Huijing Xue, Postdoctoral Fellow at NIH
  • Yantenew Gete, US Army Scientist
  • Haoyue Zhang, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Shenzhen Bay laboratory, China
  • Di Wu, Ph.D, Research Fellow at NCATS/NIH, MD
  • Kun Wang, Ph.D, Research Fellow at NCI/NIH, MD
  • Ji Young Choi, M.S., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow at UMD
  • Markus Brown, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard
  • Xiaojing Mao, Ph.D.,  Scientist at Complete Genomics Inc.

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