Alana Christie

Alana Christie - Biostatistical Consultant

I was born and raised here in Dallas, Texas. I graduated in 2011 from the University of Oklahoma with a BS in Mathematics and an MS in Biostatistics. I joined the Simmons Cancer Center Biostatistics Shared Resource in March 2012 and began providing statistical support on projects with Dr. Brugarolas’ lab shortly after.

Ming Gao

Ming Gao - Postdoctoral Fellow

I obtained my Ph.D. in cancer biology at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio in December 2018. My graduate work focused on investigation of the role of the Hippo signaling pathway in pancreatic diseases. In January 2019, I joined the Brugarolas lab for my post-doctoral training. My project focuses on the most aggressive type of clear cell renal cell carcinoma - BAP1/PBRM1 double-mutant tumors - which we are studying in a genetically engineered mouse model. In my spare time, I like running, hiking, playing basketball, and watching movies. Mostly, I like playing games with my little girl.

Debbie Harvey

Debbie Harvey - Sr. Administrative Assistant

I am the Sr. Administrative Assistant for Dr. Brugarolas and joined the lab in May of 2015. I was raised in Ft. Worth, Texas and attended The University of North Texas where I received a Business degree. I am very excited about having the opportunity to work with the Brugarolas team and to witness the important work being conducted in the lab.

Wei He

Wei He - Visiting Scholar

I am a urologist from China, with a focus on minimal surgery for renal cell carcinoma. I received my M.D. degree at Peking University First Hospital. I joined the Brugarolas lab in Dec. 2018, in pursuit of understanding molecular mechanisms underlying RCC. The people here are very nice and enthusiastic. My project involves studying the role of BAP1 in driving clear cell RCC.

Payal Kapur

Payal Kapur - Collaborating Pathologist

I am a staff pathologist at UT Southwestern. I have been exposed to pathology training at two training programs in opposite sides of the world – Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology. My research interests include characterizing adult tumors and developing prognostic, predictive and diagnostic markers. I am currently involved in multiple collaborative projects in genitourinary pathology. Investigating the biology of renal cell carcinoma has been most exciting. Dr. Brugarolas is an excellent mentor and a great collaborator and it has been fun working with him. 

Yuanqing Ma (Eric)

Yuanqing Ma (Eric) - Postdoctoral Fellow

I was born and raised in Shanxi Province, China. I attended Sun Yat-sen University and obtained a degree in Cellular Biology. I then received my Ph.D. degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing in 2015. Shortly after graduating I joined the Brugarolas Lab. I am interested in cancer biology and have been working to understand molecular mechanisms of HIF-2 regulation in kidney cancer.

Renee McKay

Renee McKay - Director of Research Administration

I am originally from Swansea, MA, and attended college at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where I obtained a B.A. in Sociology and a B.S. in Biology. I received my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. My thesis work focused on the role of the homeobox gene Ultrabithorax in Drosophila midgut development. I then moved to Dallas for my post-doctoral training with Jonathan Graff at UT Southwestern. Initially, I worked on identifying genes involved in embryonic development using Xenopus laevis as a model, but then the lab switched focus to the study of adipogenesis. In 2008, I joined Dr. Luis F. Parada’s Iab, where I assisted Dr. Parada with grant and manuscript writing. And in September of 2013, I joined Dr. Brugarolas as the Director of Kidney Cancer Program Research Administration. 

Renee McKay

Tiffani McKenzie - Senior Histology Technician

I joined the Brugarolas lab in May 2016, as the Histology Technician. I was born and raised in Dallas. I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I received my HT(ASCP) certification in 2006.

Oreoluwa Onabolu

Oreoluwa Onabolu - Research Assistant I

I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2017. While I was at Fisk, I was involved in a research lab that focused on Parkinson's disease, using the worm, C.elegans to test the effects of dopamine on swimming-induced paralysis in water. I also worked in another lab that focused on extracting toxins, which could serve as potential cancer drugs, from marine microbes. I joined the Kidney Cancer Program at UT Southwestern in July 2017 as part of Dr. Brugarolas' Xenograft and Histology team to help with the discovery of viable treatments for renal tumors using mouse models.

Michelle Parish

Michelle Parish - Director of Communications

A Dallas native, I’m an experienced marketing communications professional with a broad agency and corporate background honed from working in the financial services, consumer products, hospitality, and commercial real estate sectors. Whether it’s developing communications strategies and awareness campaigns, pitching story ideas to the media, creating engaging content or just generally bringing vision and voice to an organization’s initiatives, I love making it happen! I earned my B.A. and B.F.A. from Southern Methodist University. I became involved in the cancer community several years ago, volunteering as a patient advocate with breast cancer organizations including the Young Survival Coalition and Living Beyond Breast Cancer/, as well as the National Cancer Institute’s Council of Research Advocates. I’m thrilled to be part of Dr. Brugarolas’ award-winning Kidney Cancer Program, promoting the ground-breaking research and advancements being developed by the Brugarolas Lab.

Gopinath Prakasam

Gopinath Prakasam - Postdoctoral Fellow

I come from Tamil Nadu, India. I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Molecular Cancer Biology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 2017. My doctoral dissertation was focused on cancer metabolism; specifically, I studied the deregulation of glycolytic enzymes that contributes to cancer progression. I joined the Brugarolas lab in July of 2018, to pursue cutting-edge knowledge in the basic biology and translational research of kidney cancer. My research is focused on investigating the aberrant signaling pathways that drives the subtype of renal cancer called “Translocation Renal Cell Carcinoma”.

Gopinath Prakasam

Faeze Saatchi - Postdoctoral Fellow

I received my Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University. During my Ph.D., I studied the cross-talk between metabolic players including the TCA cycle enzyme fumarase and the metabolite fumarate and chromatin modifying enzymes during DNA damage response. I joined the Brugarolas lab for my postdoctoral training in June 2019. My research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying therapeutic resistance and tumor aggressiveness in RCC.

Christina Stevens

Christina Stevens - Lab Manager

I was raised in St. Louis, MO and received a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Agricultural Sciences from Abilene Christian University in December of 2016. I joined the Brugarolas lab in June 2017 as a part of the xenograft team that develops mouse models from patient tumors to screen for potentially effective cancer therapies. I am very excited for the opportunity to be involved in research and to further my understanding of cancer biology.

Vanina Toffessi Tcheuyap

Vanina Toffessi Tcheuyap - Research Assistant II

I am originally from Yaoundé, Cameroon, and I received a M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of North Texas, Denton, TX. My thesis work focused on the development of a von Willebrand factor zebrafish mutant using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. I joined the Brugarolas lab in summer of 2018, and am working on the evaluation of potential molecularly targeting therapies in RCC tumorgraft models. I am happy to be back and to contribute to the innovative research of the KCP that should one day provide novel treatments and lead to better outcomes for kidney cancer patients.

Bianca Watkins

Bianca Watkins - Research Technician II

I was born and raised in Waco, Texas and earned my Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience from The University of Texas at Dallas in May of 2018. In August 2019, I joined the Brugarolas xenograft project team to assist with investigation of factors involved in renal cell carcinoma through creation of mouse models via xenotransplantation, with the intent to potentially develop therapy treatments. I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the field of cancer research and plan to further my knowledge and education with the goal of pursuing further schooling to obtain a MD and/or PhD.

Layton Woolford

Layton Woolford - Research Assistant I

I'm a Texas native and obtained my Bachelors in Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. I began working in the lab in April of 2017 and am part of a team that uses mouse models to predict patient response to various chemotherapeutics. I have been very fortunate to join such a wonderful team and am confident that my time here will prepare me for my future studies. I intend to pursue a medical degree or an MD/PhD.

Juan Yang

Juan Yang - Postdoctoral Fellow

I received my Ph.D degree at the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015, and then joined Dr. Brugarolas’ lab for post-doc training. My study focuses on mechanisms of drug resistance in ccRCC.

For Patients