Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology


Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Postdoctoral fellows make key contributions to research in the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology (VCRB). These young scientists, who have completed their doctoral studies, advance women’s health by working with VCRB investigators to discover new pathways to treat and prevent diseases. When VCRB research was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic in the early months of 2020, the six fellows highlighted below were considered essential personnel and cycled into the lab to maintain irreplaceable laboratory resources, long-term experiments and the tissue banks. With the reopening of the lab, they are again pursing novel areas of inquiry.

Targeted Therapies and Diagnostics

Targeted Therapies and Diagnostics

Linah Al-Alem, PhD, with VCRB director Bo Rueda, PhD, has shown that a tumor-associated antigen called STn is elevated in ovarian cancer and associated with chemo-resistance as well as decreased survival, making it a key therapeutic target. In collaboration with a biotech company, a highly specific antibody-drug conjugate was developed and has led to reduced tumor growth. The team subsequently designed a custom companion diagnostic to detect STn levels in human serum, now being tested as a diagnostic tool to supplement CA125 and to monitor response to surgery as well as drug interventions.

Faculty Mentor
Bo Rueda, PhD, Director, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
PhD: Pharmacology, University of Kentucky, 2011
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: OB/GYN, University of Kentucky, 2011–2015
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2017–present

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Microbes that Promote Ovarian Cancer

Microbes that Promote Ovarian Cancer

Peichao Chen, PhD, in the lab of Cheng Wang, PhD, is studying microbial infections ― particularly the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis ― that promote high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Arising mostly from epithelia of the ovary and fallopian tube, this cancer comprises the majority of ovarian cancer cases and has the lowest survival rate. He is leading a new study examining how C. trachomatis transforms ovarian and fallopian tube epithelial cells, aiming to prevent this deadly disease or stop its progression in early stages.

Faculty Mentor
Cheng Wang, PhD, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
PhD: Hunan Normal University, Changsha, China, 2012
Assistant Researcher: Tongji University, Shanghai, China, 2012–2013
Assistant Professor: Wenzhou University, Wenzhou, China, 2013–2017
Associate Professor: Wenzhou University, Wenzhou, 2017–present
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2019–present

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Impact of Maternal Obesity on Offspring

Impact of Maternal Obesity on Offspring

Sezen Kislal, PhD, with Andrea Edlow, MD, is investigating how exposure to maternal obesity and a high-fat diet in utero can negatively affect the brain development of offspring in a sex-specific fashion and how this affects behavior. She is studying the placenta-brain connection, the relationship between maternal inflammation and the fetal innate immune response, and how the offspring’s sex can affect metabolic programming in maternal obesity, with the goal of finding ways to ameliorate deleterious changes.

Faculty Mentor
Andrea Edlow, MD, MSc, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
PhD:  Pennsylvania State University, 2015
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship:  Stanford University, 2015–2017
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship:  Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2019–present

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The Achilles Heel of Women’s Cancers

The Achilles Heel of Women’s Cancers

Xiangmin Lv, PhD, in the Wang Lab, is investigating key molecular pathways — particularly the Hippo/YAP signaling pathway — that initiate and promote the development of the most deadly type of ovarian cancer and the most prevalent uterine-cervical cancer. Combining cutting-edge molecular biology, cell and organoid culture, and animal models, he focuses not only on the tumor cell itself but also the interactions between cancer cells and immune cells, with the aim of finding novel targets to cure women’s gynecologic cancers.

Faculty Mentor
Cheng Wang, PhD, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
PhD:  University of Nebraska Medical Center, 2017
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship:  Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2017–present

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Checkpoints in Endometrial Cancer

Checkpoints in Endometrial Cancer

Unnati Pandya, PhD, with Dr. Rueda, is focusing on endometrial cancer, the most prevalent gynecologic cancer in the United States. She is investigating the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), which controls normal protein degradation including that of cell-cycle checkpoint proteins, to ensure regulated cell turnover. In the uterus, an imbalance of UPS proteins can lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation and cancer. She is testing the efficacy of novel small molecule inhibitors that disrupt specific actions of the UPS machinery, with the goal of developing new therapeutics.

Faculty Mentors
Bo Rueda, PhD, Director, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
Whitfield Growdon, MD, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
PhD: Cleveland State University, 2014
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: New York University School of Medicine, 2014–2017
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2017–present

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Vaginal Microbiome Transplant

Vaginal Microbiome Transplant

Laura Yockey, MD, PhD, in the lab of Caroline Mitchell, MD, is studying the vaginal microbiome, a community of organisms found in the vagina. She is focusing on bacterial vaginosis, a disorder involving disruptions in the microbiome associated with discomfort and poor reproductive outcomes. Available treatments have low success rates, resulting in high rates of recurrence. The lab recently initiated an FDA-approved trial for a novel treatment — a vaginal microbiome transplant — with the hope of developing an effective long-term solution.

Faculty Mentors
Caroline Mitchell, MD, MPH, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
Andrea Edlow, PhD, Investigator, Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology

Career Path
MD/PhD: Immunobiology, Yale University, 2012–2019
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, 2019–2020
Internal Medicine Residency, Massachusetts General Hospital, Stanbury Physician Scientist Pathway, 2020–2022

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