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

Email

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

Lab Manager

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Nallely Ruiz-Lopez

Nallely Ruiz-Lopez has a B.S in Biology with a concentration in Microbiology from California State University Dominguez Hills in spring of 2016. Before joining the Chou team, Nallely worked as a research assistant at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where she studied orphan childhood neurological diseases and Alzheimer's Disease. Her work involves using Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIID patient derived hiPSC to generate isogenic cell lines using CRISPR Cas9.

Currently in Dr. Chou’s lab, Nallely serves as Lab manager.

Past Work/Training:

Research Assistant at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Education:

B.S.,Biology, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Research Associate

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Rod Carlo Columbres

Rod Carlo Columbres graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in spring of 2018 with a BS in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. Before graduating from UCLA, Rod gained clinical and research experience both on and off campus. Rod has worked as research assistant at UCLA Cardiovascular Research Laboratory and Seizure Disorder Center where he performed molecular genetics techniques, behavioral experiments and reviewed epileptic brain Electroencephalograms in mice. As a laboratory support technician at UCLA, Rod prepared chemical reagents and managed laboratory supplies in lower and upper division chemistry laboratory courses. He has also served as a Project Coordinator for Pilipino Transfer Student Partnership where he co-spearheaded a peer advising program at El Camino Community College.

Currently in Dr. Chou’s lab, Rod is studying the p97/p47 mediated golgi re-assembly pathway. He also focuses on mammalian and bacterial overexpression and protein purification of: WT and mutant p97, and VCIP135. Outside of the lab, Rod teaches gifted students through Institute for Educational Advancement and Saturday Science Academy II at Charles Drew University, while also taking time to hike, bike and go to the movies.

Past Work/Training:

Staff Research Associate II Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Research Assistant Neonatal/ Congenital Heart Laboratory

Research Assistant Seizure Disorder Center

Support Technician UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Education:

B.S., Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Graduate Student

George Lopez

  • Past Work/Training:

Research Assistant at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

  • Education:

B.S.,Biology, California State University, Dominguez Hills

M.S.,Biology, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Past Members

  • 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