Team

Dr. Tsui-Fen Chou, PhD

Dr. Tsui-Fen Chou's story begins on the island of Taiwan, where she graduated from National Taiwan University, the country's most prestigious university. She left this tropical climate for the icy lakes of the Midwest, completing a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Assuming she had experienced enough snow to last a lifetime, she returned to the tepid climates of Southern California as a post-doctoral fellow in the Deshaies Lab at the California Institute of Technology, wherein she played a pivotal role in the discovery of a new class of potential anti-cancer drugs targeting the enzyme p97.

Building off of her successes, in 2012, Dr. Chou catapulted to a faculty position at LA BioMed, where she was Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Division of Medical Genetics, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Chou is also a member of the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is interested in understanding the mechanisms of disease causing mutations of p97/VCP ATPase, a key player in cell proteasome and autophagy function, and has used p97 inhibitors as tools to develop pathway-specific inhibitors. Her main research focus is on discovering underlying mechanisms that may lead to new therapeutic targets for cancer and rare disease.

She is an excellent teacher and mentor - dedicating time to train students at every level (high school, college, graduate, etc.) - and is heavily invested in the success of her current and former employees and students. She is generous with her knowledge and enjoys sharing her extensive experience in medicinal chemistry, cancer cell biology, and biological chemistry with a particular interest in proteomics and enzymology.

Training:

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Proteomics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Education:

  • Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN Minor: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

  • B.S., Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Postdoc

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Feng Wang, PhD

Until recently, a researcher with a major Chinese pharmaceutical company, Feng Wang brings both his academic and industrial experience in medicinal chemistry to the Chou Lab to assist in the development of small molecule inhibitors of p97/VCP and its mutations. Previously working to develop treatment therapies for diabetes and liver disease, Feng is thrill with the opportunity to join Dr. Chou to address cancer and rare genetic disease.

Dr Wang holds patents in preparation and application of anti-thrombus oligo peptides and curcumin derivatives. His proficiency in compound synthesis, mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography will greatly assist the lab's efforts to diminish cancer resistance to therapy.

Past Work/Training:

Post-doc in Molecular Biology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

Beijing Sun Capital Pharmatech Co.,Ltd

Education:

Ph. D., Medicinal Chemistry, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

M.A., Medicinal Chemistry, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

B.S., Pharmacy, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

Postdoc

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Shan Li, PhD

With a PhD in medicinal chemistry in 2014, Shan Li has acquired years of teaching and lab research experiences related to the ongoing work in the Chou Lab. Shan Li’s main focus during her PhD was on the synthesis and biological activity-based evaluation of small molecule lead compounds. Building on her past experiences, she has become proficient in peptide liquid phase synthesis, structure and purity analysis techniques, anti-tumor and thrombolytic animal models, and various bioassay techniques.

As a post-doc in Dr. Chou’s lab, Shan’s mainly focuses on: 1) building iPSC-derived IBMPFD/ALS diseased cells and using proteomic approaches to explore the roles of p97/VCP in neurodegenerative diseases; 2) using biochemistry and cell based assays to develop small molecular p97 inhibitors for cancer therapy.

Past Work/Training:

Lecturer, Department of Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

Postdoctoral Fellow, LA BioMed at Harbor-UCLA, CA, USA

Teaching Assistant, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China

Teaching Assistant, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University

Education:

Ph.D., School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University,Beijing, P.R.

B.S., School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R.

Postdoc

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Kai-Wen Cheng, PhD

My primary research interests are related to the area of drug development with an emphasis on clinical translation. During my Ph.D., my research focus was to develop a bacterial b-glucuronidase (bG)-specific inhibitor as a chemotherapy adjuvant and chemoprevention drug for colorectal cancers. Bacterial bG enzyme activated drugs or carcinogens are detoxified through hepatic glucuronidation, thus promoting intestinal toxicity and carcinogenesis. In another project, we developed a platform in which human mAgs were expressed in native form on cell adjuvants made with membrane-bound cytokines. These were then used to immunize syngeneic mice directly for anti-membrane protein antibody production.

I joined Dr. Tsui-Fen Chou’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in February 2019. My major research projects here will involve optimizing protein expression and purification for enzyme replacement therapy in the treatment of a rare genetic disease.

Past Work/Training:

Postdoctoral fellow, Center for Biomarkers and Biotech Drugs, Kaohsiung Medical University

Postgraduate student, Center for Biomarkers and Biotech Drugs, Kaohsiung Medical University

Education:

Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

M.S., Cancer Immunology and Biotechnology, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

M.S., Oral Biology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

B.Sc., Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Postdoc

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Gang Zhang, PhD

Gang’s research interest is focused on discovery of active small molecules in cancer and tuberculosis. He could design and synthesize target molecules by molecular modeling and organic synthesis. He could also construct plasmid and express recombinant protein in E Coli. During his doctoral study, Gang participated in discovery of TBI-166 against tuberculosis, which is in phase I clinical trial in China. Thereafter, he discovered the first bi-substrate inhibitor of N-terminal methyltransferase 1, which is a druggable anticancer target. To date, he holds three licensed patents.

Gang joined Chou lab in March 2019. His current project is discovery of RUVBL1/2 complex inhibitor as anti-cancer agents.

Past Work/Training:

Associate Professor, Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China

Postdoctoral Reserch Fellow, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Education:

Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China

M.S., Medicinal Chemistry, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, China

M.S., Clinical Pharmacy, Jinzhou Medical University, Jinzhou, China

Graduate Student

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William Rosencrans

William Rosencrans is graduate student in the Caltech Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics PhD option. A native of Long Island, William graduated from Colgate University with a Degree in Physics and biology. William has spent time conducting research in a wide variety of research areas from physical optics to ecology. During his undergraduate degree, his main research focused on the role of the stem cell transcription factor, KLF4, in regulating mitochondrial health. Traveling to the National University of Singapore, William conducted research on the biopolymer physics of chromatin. After returning to the US, he began working as an intern and later as an Intramural Research Fellow in the lab of Sergey Bezrukov at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) outside of Washington D.C. In this position William used single-molecule biophysics to study the regulation of mitochondrial channel proteins known as VDACs. Moved by the desire to see basic research findings in molecular and cellular biology translate into novel therapies for patients, William joined the Chou lab to develop novel small molecule therapeutics that could rewire endogenous cellular pathways. Now working in collaboration with the lab of Richard Youle at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), William is working to translate discoveries in autophagy into novel drug targets for neurodegeneration.

Outside of the lab William enjoys hiking, cooking, and hosting friends.

Past Work/Training:

Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Fellow at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Section on Molecular Transport.

Undergraduate Research Assistant at National University of Singapore, Department of Physics.

Research Assistant Colgate University, Department of Biology/Department of Physics

Research Assistant Long Island University, Lab of Molecular Genetics

Education:

B.A. in Physics, minor in Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

Research Associate

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Nadia Houerbi


Past Members

  • George Lopez (October 2019 - June 2021)

  • Nallely Ruiz-Lopez (October 2019 - April 2021)

  • Rod Carlo Columbres (September 2018 - July 2020)

Medical Student at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Shae Chambers (October 2019 - February 2020)

Applying for MD program
  • Betty Anderson (2017- September 2019)

  • Dr. Anna Luzzi, PhD (May 2017 - April 2019)

  • Caitlin Doherty (September - December 2018)

Taking classes and applying a Ph.D program
  • Chelsee Sauni (September 2016 - September 2018)

Pursuing a Masters in Public Health Administration
  • Xi Hu (February 2017 - February 2018)

  • Taiping Gan (February 2017 - February 2018)

  • Andrew Vandenberg (November 2016 - June 2017)

Currently seeking his PhD in Nutritional Chemistry at Columbia University
  • Mengqing Chen (May 2016 - May 2017)

  • Jinying Yu (October 2016 - April 2017)

Pursuing a career in the plant biology/chemical industry in China
  • Derek Moen (May 2014 - February 2017)

Pursuing a career in the financial services industry
  • Balbir Kaur (May 2016 - August 2016)

  • Julie Pham (May 2016 - August 2016)

  • Dr. Shan Li, PhD (May 2015 - July 2016)

  • Daniel Wang (June 2015 - June 2017)

Continuing an accelerated BS/MD program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Xiaoyi Zhang, PhD (May 2014 - August 2015)

Now an assistant professor at School of Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China
  • Dr. Lin Gui, PhD (May 2014 - August 2015)

Now an assistant professor at School of Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R. China
  • Daniel Wong (September 2014 - May 2015)

Now a student at Brown University Medical School

Summer Students

2013

Francess Odibo

Megan Mercado

2014

Francess Odibo

Hunter Peden

Kimberly Wang

2015

Jose Palafox

Ashlee Quezada

2016

Stephanie Del Rosario

Lawrence Koh

2017

Isabelle Chiu

2018

Shavonna Jackson

Udochi Okorie

Joshua Ni

Megan Madrigal

2019

Nathan Oh

Abbie Maemoto

Grace Sheng

2020

Ella Ramamurthy