Lab members


Dr. Paola Betancur is an expert in gene regulation and genomics. She received her undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University, NY in Biology, and her PhD from Caltech in Cell Biology. Paola performed her postdoctoral work at Stanford University, in the laboratory of Dr. Irv L. Weissman, where she studied the genomic mechanisms that activate an immune evasion program in cancer cells through CD47 upregulation.


If Paola is not in the lab, for urgent matters, lab members and collaborators can find her at the Parnassus campus gym.

Paola Betancur, PhD 
Principal Investigator  

[email protected]



Dr. Di Benedetto`s research goal has been to understand the molecular pathways altered in breast cancer to design novel therapies for targeting cancer cells specifically. As a postdoctoral fellow, she is investigating the role of a genomic variant within a super-enhancer that upregulates CD47 a “don’t eat me” signal in response to inflammation in breast cancer.

If not in lab, Carolina enjoys going for long walks along the bay, exploring California cuisine with friends, and travelling. She also enjoys modern and contemporary literature; Hesse, Cortazar and de Beauvoir are among her favorite writers.

Carolina Di Benedetto, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow 

[email protected]



Dr. Shobhit Saxena is interested in cancer biology. The new field of non-coding RNA could be highly beneficial for human health. He is interested in the factors that directly affect breast cancer biology. 


If Shobhit is not in the lab, he loves to be in the mountains and seashore to listen to the music of Mother Nature.


Shobhit Saxena, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow 


[email protected]



Dr. Taimoor Khan has a previous experience of utilizing bioinformatics and experimental methods in the broad field of biology. His main goal is to better understand breast carcinogenesis and extract novel knowledge which may help in designing future therapies for cancer. Currently, he is focused towards learning advanced computational and experimental techniques with potential utility against cancer.   


Apart from lab-work, Taimoor enjoys watching or playing soccer, listening to music, and planning for travel adventures.

Taimoor Khan, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow 


[email protected]



Donna Vong is currently a 3rd year Molecular & Cell Biology and Toxicology student at UC Berkeley with hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field in the future. She is interested in developing cancer therapies and understanding how cancer cells go undetected in the immune system. She is also interested in understanding how to inhibit proliferation of the cancer cells and promote apoptosis.

If not in the lab, Donna enjoys grocery shopping and cooking in her kitchen. She also enjoys playing video games and binge watching cooking shows or crime shows on Netflix.

Donna Vong
Undergraduate (volunteer), UC Berkeley



Mustapha El Zeini
Undergraduate (volunteer), UC Berkeley


Mustapha El Zeini is currently a 4th year Bioengineering student at UC Berkeley, specializing in computational biology and cellular tissue engineering. With the help of lab members, he’s interested in further understanding how cancerous cells become resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. In the future, he hopes to pursue a medical career, and do further cancer research in the hope of developing therapies. Mustapha is a first generation to go to college, funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program

If not in the lab, you can find Mustapha playing basketball with his friends, or catching an NBA game. He also enjoys reading books about all kinds of subjects.


Anthony Rodriguez-Lemus
Assistant, Specialist

Anthony is a PROPEL post-bac student and has a B.S in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UC Santa Cruz. He is interested in learning new molecular techniques that can be translated into a microbial setting and in understanding the nuances of cancer biology research.  He hopes to further develop his knowledge on Biology before he returns to UC Santa Cruz for graduate school.


When not in lab, you can usually find him by the seashore, in the gym or finding new trails to hike. He is also interested in discovering new music and occasionally editing videos




Previous Lab Members


Zainab Choudhery is currently a 4th year Biomedical Engineering student, specializing in biomechanics and cellular tissue engineering. With the help of lab members, she hopes to further understand the DNA code protecting cancerous cells from detection and destruction by the immune system.


During this pandemic, if you do not find her glued to her computer screen working on research or various assignments for school, you can find her at Fort Funston hiking down a scenic trail.

Zainab Choudhery
Undergraduate, UC Davis

[email protected]



Justin Oh
Undergraduate (volunteer), UC Berkeley


[email protected]


Justin is currently a 2nd year Molecular & Cell Biology and Business Administration student, hoping to pursue a career in the medical and/or biotechnology fields in the future. He is greatly interested in unravelling the genetic code of cancer cells to understand how to inhibit proliferation while targeting apoptosis in these harmful cells.  

Outside the lab, you can find Justin either walking through the city or park with his camera, taking aesthetically pleasing photos, or cooking and baking his favorite foods in his kitchen.



Katie Lin
Undergraduate (volunteer), UC Berkeley

[email protected]

Katie Lin is currently a 3rd year Molecular & Cell Biology and Public Health student, with hopes to pursue a medical career in the future.  She is passionate in learning more about the duality of inflammatory genes in the immune system and their ability to detect and destroy cancerous invaders. 

If not in lab, find Katie taking night strolls around Berkeley, grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, and cooking new recipes with her cast iron skillet. 




Chananat (Gao) has almost 20 years of research experience in molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, bacterial genetics, cancer and redox signaling, with expertise in a wide range of techniques! Her passion is helping others to solve scientific problems.

Her philosophy of life is: "Life is too short to not believe in science".

Chananat Klomsiri (Gao), PhD
Assistant Specialist, Now at Cellsonics