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. Building on her work performed as a post-doc at MIT, the Macleod Lab initially focused on the role of the RB tumor suppressor gene in stress responses and cellular homeostasis and how these mechanisms are derailed in cancer. Findings from this research (showing regulation of autophagy modulators by RB/E2F) lead to exciting new directions in more recent times (post-2008) examining the role of autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction in cancer. The current research goals of the lab are to understand how autophagy modulates tumor progression to metastasis, with an emphasis on understanding the role of autophagy in breast cancer. Related work examines the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in breast cancer, pancreas cancer and liver cancer in addition to analysis of mitochondrial homeostasis in normal liver metabolism.

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!

laurenLauren Drake, Ph.D. (post-doc)

Lauren grew up outside of Rochester, NY and headed east for college on the North Shore of Boston.  She earned her bachelor’s of science in biology from Gordon College, where she solidified her enjoyment of studying biology and made the decision to pursue a Ph.D.  After graduating from Gordon College, Lauren spent two years as a research technician studying neuroblastoma in the laboratory of Dr. Rani George at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  Lauren entered the Molecular Pathogenesis and Molecular Medicine program at the University of Chicago in the fall of 2010 and joined Dr. Kay Macleod’s laboratory in the spring of 2011 completing her research dissertation on understanding the role of the mitophagy regulator, BNip3, in the initiation and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma and graduating with her Ph.D. in 2015. Lauren is pursuing her research into the role of BNIP3 in liver homeostasis and liver cancer as a post-doctoral scholar in the Macleod Lab.

mayaMaya Zafrir Springer (graduate student)

Maya obtained her B.S. in biological sciences from DePaul University in 2010. She worked as a research technician at the University of Chicago before matriculating as a graduate student in the Committee on Cancer Biology in 2013. Her research project investigates novel interacting partners and nuclear functions of BNIP3 in tumor growth and metabolism across different cancer types.  Maya’s research goals are to  define novel mechanisms underlying metastasis in order to devise more effective therapies that  target this deadly stage of cancer. Maya is also a leading member of the student acappella group, the “Histones”.

Headshot LoganLogan Poole, M.Sc. (graduate student)

Logan earned his B.S. in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Northern Iowa in 2014. Upon graduating, he matriculated as a graduate student in the Committee on Cancer Biology at the University of Chicago, joining the Macleod lab in 2015. Logan’s research project investigates the post-translational modification of BNIP3 and how this affects BNIP3 function in mitochondrial stress responses. Logan is a member of GRIT and was the student graduate recruitment chair for 2017-2018.

Alexandra Smith (graduate student)

Alex graduated from Bard College, NY in 2015 with BA in Biology and then pursued her passion for research as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at the NIH from 2015 to 2017. In 2017, she entered graduate school at the University of Chicago Cancer Biology program and in 2018 following a very successful research rotation, joined the Macleod Lab. Alex’s project is to define the functional and physiological significance of BNIP3 and NIX interaction in tumorigenesis. In other activities, Alex is a member of GRIT and was the Cancer Biology representative at the annual ABRCMS meeting in Indiana in November 2018. Alex is also a member of the Cancer Biology recruitment committee and the Activism committee chair for WiBS (Women in Biological Sciences).

Ivan Liu (Research Assistant)

Ivan worked in the Macleod Lab as an undergraduate  at the University of Chicago and since graduating in 2018 with a BA in Economics, is now working full-time as a Research Assistant. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Ivan’s research in the lab is to understand the role of mitophagy in cell cycle control. Ivan’s long term goal is to attend Medical School starting in 2020. Out of lab, Ivan snowboards, plays basketball and watches NBA games.

Esther Ochoa (undergraduate research assistant)

Esther is sophomore in the College of the University of Chicago majoring in Biosciences. Since her freshman year, Esther has been working in the Macleod Lab as an undergraduate research assistant and was awarded a UChicago College Research Fellowship to support her work in the lab. Esther is using CRISPR to knockout mitophagy adaptors in breast epithelial cell lines to determine the effect of disrupted mitophagy for tumor cell growth in response to Ras transformation, hypoxia and other stresses. In addition to her research, Esther is also a member of the UChicago cycling team, the UChicago Triathlon team and member of the UChicago Chamber Music Association.

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: Principal Medical Policy Research Consultant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota

Benjamin Dibling  Ph.D. Post-doctoral fellow (2003-2005).
Present position, Director, Technology Transfer Office, UPenn

James Knabb, Ph.D. 2010 (Cancer Biology)
Current Position: Licensing Associate at the National Cancer Institute.

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

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

Sandra Barth, Ph.D. Post-doctoral fellow (2008-2011)
Present position, Medical Adviser, Yes Pharmaceuticals, Germany

Danielle Glick, Ph.D. 2011 (Cancer Biology)
Current position: Post-doctoral researcher, UIC.

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: Medical School Resident

Alexander Terry Undergraduate 2013-2014
Current position: MD/PhD program at UIC.

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 2014-2017. Current position: medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.