The University of Chicago
GCIS W338 | 929 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Phone: (773) 834-8309


Our Team

kay-macleodKay F. Macleod, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Macleod is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (B.Sc. Hons) and obtained her Ph.D from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Following post-doctoral fellowships at the Pasteur Institute, Lille, France (with Dominique Stehelin) and at the MIT Center for Cancer Research, Cambridge, MA (with Tyler Jacks), Dr. Macleod set up her own independent research laboratory at the University of Chicago in 2002. Promoted with tenure in 2009, Dr. Macleod currently also directs the NCI-funded T32 “Multi-disciplinary Training Program in Cancer Research” and is a co-Leader of the Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer (MMC) program at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC). At a national level, Dr. Macleod is a past-President of CABTRAC and a current member of NCI’s Subcommittee F.  Collecting bobble head dolls is a growing passion.

Current Lab Members:

Grazyna Bozek, M.Sc. (Research Professional/Lab Manager)

Grazyna graduated from university in Krakow, Poland and has over 30 years of research experience in molecular biology, cell biology and mouse genetics. Grazyna keeps the lab running smoothly, is responsible for overall maintenance of our mouse colony, and for training new people  in basic lab skills etc. Grazyna also assists in cloning, DNA and protein extraction, PCR and cell culture for her own project and others in the lab. Grazyna gets things sorted!

Damian Berardi, Ph.D. (post-doc)

I am a postdoctoral scholar originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I started doing experimental science very early in my career in the Institute of Oncology “Angel H. Roffo”, University of Buenos Aires, where I discovered my passion for breast cancer research and where I received my Bachelor degree, followed by my PhD Degree. After gaining experiences working in other labs around the world, I started my project here in Macleod Lab, where I examine the role of mitophagy adaptor proteins in breast cancer progression and metastasis. When I am not in the lab, I love cooking but not cleaning up the mess, LoL. I enjoy photography and playing piano too, as well as spending some hours with video games.

Georgina Mancinelli, Ph.D. (post-doc)

Like Damian, I am originally from Argentina and obtained my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and my PhD from University of Illinois, Chicago on the role of activin and the activin receptor in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In the Macleod lab, my research is focused on the role of mitophagy in cancer cachexia associated with PDAC using genetically engineered mouse models and human patient samples and where we hope to make a difference for this debilitating aspect of pancreatic and other cancers.

Althea Bock-Hughes (graduate student)

Hello! I am a third year PhD student in the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition. I grew up in Connecticut, and received my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and BA in Biology from Oberlin College and Conservatory. I then worked as a research technician for three years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. While there I worked in the lab of Martin Pollak studying the genetic drivers of chronic kidney disease in mouse models. This work helped spark my interest in biomedical research. In the Macleod lab I study the molecular mechanisms behind Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), and look forward to elucidating the role of specific mitophagy mediators in the regulation of lipid accumulation in the liver. Outside of the lab I like to knit and sing. I am also an avid TV watcher, and would love to talk to you about the latest prestige show on HBO.

Leah Ziolkowski (graduate student)

Hey everyone! I am a Molecular Metabolism PhD student originally from New Berlin, Wisconsin. I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my undergraduate studies where I received a dual degree in Chemistry and Human Nutrition. I am passionate about cancer cell metabolism, specifically in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma initiation, progression, and maintenance. Over the course of my PhD, I hope to make meaningful contributions to the PDAC field through my research. Outside of science, I love running, kayaking, and reading. Some of my favorite books are Sapiens, Why We Sleep, and Mindset. I am always looking for a good book recommendation!

Elizabeth Foster (undergraduate research assistant)

Hi! I am a 3rd-year undergraduate student majoring in the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine. I am also Pre-med and hope to go into women’s healthcare in the future. Working in the Macleod lab I aim to contribute what I can to pancreatic cancer research, as well as develop knowledge and skills that can be applied in my future health career endeavors. I am from Los Altos, CA, where my family lives with my dog and cat.  Aside from science, I love collecting vintage vinyl LPs and books, and I sing in multiple choirs.

Former Lab Members:

Huiping Liu, MD, Ph.D. 2006 (Pathology)
Post-doctoral fellow in Michael Clarke’s lab, Stanford University 2006-2009
First recipient of the University of Chicago Fellows Program (Cancer)
Current Position: Associate Professor, Northwestern University

Benjamin T. Spike, Ph.D. 2007 (Cancer Biology)
Post-doctoral fellow in Geof Wahl’s lab, The Salk Institute 2007-2015. Current position: Assistant Professor, The Huntsman Cancer Institute, The University of Utah.

Alexandra Dirlam, Ph.D. 2007 (Immunology)
Current Position: Manager Medical Policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota

Benjamin Dibling  Ph.D. Post-doctoral fellow (2003-2005).
Present position, Deputy Managing Director, Penn Center for Innovation, UPenn

James Knabb, Ph.D. 2010 (Cancer Biology)
Current Position: Technology Transfer Specialist at the National Cancer Institute.

Corbin Meacham Undergraduate 2008-2009
Graduate School at MIT (Hemann Lab).
Current position: Instructor, UT Southwestern .

Kristin Tracy, Ph.D. 2010 (Cancer Biology)
Current Position: Senior Scientist, Biomarin Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Sandra Barth, Ph.D. Post-doctoral fellow (2008-2011)
Present position, Senior Manager Scientific Affairs, bei PharmLex GmbH

Danielle Glick, Ph.D. 2011 (Cancer Biology)
Current position: Head of Computational Biology, Switchback Systems

Marina Sharifi, MD.,Ph.D. 2013 (Cancer Biology/MSTP)
Current position: Medical resident, University of Wisconsin

Chris Collier Medical School Student 2011-2012
Current position: Assistant Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine

Alexander Terry, Ph.D. Undergraduate 2013-2014
Current position: Medical School at NYU.

Bryan Ulrich Undergraduate 2014-2015. Current position: research technologist, The Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science, Harvard University.

Michelle (Beaton) Boland, Ph.D. 2016 (Metabolism). Current position: post-doctoral researcher at MedImmune.

Aparajita Chourasia Ph.D. 2016 (Cancer Biology).  Current position: Scientist at Celgene in Immuno-oncology.

Erin Mowers Ph.D. 2016 (Cancer Biology/ISTP). Currently back in medical school completing the MD part of her training.

Casey Kim Undergraduate researcher, 2017. Current position: medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lauren Drake Ph.D. 2016 (Pathology).  Current position: Senior Scientist, Abbott.

Ivan Liu Undergraduate researcher, 2019. Current position: medical student at the Emory University.

Maya Zafrir Ph.D. 2019 (Cancer Biology).  Current position: Senior Scientist, Applied Research, Abbott.

Logan Poole Ph.D. 2021 (Cancer Biology).