ROBERT ROSTOMILY, MD
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Dr. Rostomily has a long-standing clinical and research interest in neuro-oncology. During this time he completed a research fellowship with Dr Ton Reh where his long-term interests in developmental transcription factor regulation of stem cells, neural cancer phenotypes and invasion were formed. After serving a military scholarship commitment as USAF staff neurosurgeon (Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, TX) he completed a skull base fellowship with Dr Laligham Sekhar at GWU and then took a faculty position at the University of Washington. At the UW he resumed his research collaboration with Dr Reh and after completing a K08 training grant he continued an independent research career through NIH funded proposals to study aging models of glioma, the role of the bHLH transcription factor TWIST1 in glioma and a microfluidic preclinical screening platform for testing of drug responses in tumor derived slice cultures.   His additional research interests include the functional and clinical relevance of intra-tumoral molecular heterogeneity, epigenetics and MGMT promoter methylation, electrophysiology of GBM stem cells and the basic and translational biology of brain metastasis.  He spends his spare time keeping up with his four adult kids remotely and hanging out in his bubble with his wife Gigi and dog Ragnar while occasionally fishing and perfecting a smoked brisket.

ANDREI MIKHEEV, MD/PhD
RESEARCH SCIENTIST; PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Andrei Mikheev graduated with an MD from St. Petersburg Medical School and PhD from Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon graduation he was awarded IARC research training fellowship at the laboratory of Dr. Montesano at IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France) and International research training fellowship at Instituto Nazionale per la Ricera sul Cancro, Genoa, Italy. He received his Post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His research interests then took him to University of Washington, Seattle to join Dr. Robert Rostomily’s laboratory in 2007. Since then he has been leading the lab in glioblastoma research with a specific interest in the role of aging in GBM malignancy. He created multiple syngeneic mouse models aimed to use in immune checkpoint therapy studies. He investigates bHLH transcription factor network and collaborates on other studies aimed to find novel potential targets of glioma malignancy.

MONIKA VISHNOI, PhD
RESEARCH ASSOCIATE II

Monika Vishnoi completed her Ph.D. in Cancer Genetics from the SGPGIMS, Lucknow, India, and MSc in Molecular biology and Biotechnology from the GB Pant University, India. She received prestigious senior research fellowship grant from ICMR, India to pursue her cancer research at SGPGIMS, India. She has deep expertise in the field of translational research, liquid biopsy, cancer dormancy residual disease, and brain cancer with personal motivation to provide quality life to cancer patients. She played a critical role in the development of a novel 4D ex vivo lung cancer model to study circulating tumor cells (CTCs) dissemination in cisplatin drug therapy. She also developed CTCs-derived xenograft models to characterize the functional and molecular properties of CTCs during the metastatic brain cascade of breast and melanoma. She joined Dr. Rostomily’s lab to pursue her research on understanding the role of tumor microenvironment in brain cancers including GBM and BMs.  Her current lab interests are to  (i) identify novel targeted signaling pathways involved in matrix modeling and (ii) develop pre-clinical therapeutic screening models to enhance precise drug therapy in brain cancer patients, by using tools such as PDX mice, oncoslice, 3D bioprinting, microfluidic device, etc. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.

Vishnoi M, Scranton RA, Asante SK, Rostomily RC. (2020) Basic Biology of Brain Metastasis. In: Ramakrishna R., Magge R., Baaj A., Knisely J. (eds) Central Nervous System Metastases. Springer, Cham.
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-42958-4_2

ARVIND PANDEY, PhD
POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW

Arvind Pandey earned his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology (IIDS) from the University of Allahabad, India. Dr. Pandey works as a Research Investigator in the Department of Neurosurgery and Translational Research, Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI). Dr. Pandey has been associated with the frontier area of translational oncology and radiation oncology with a particular emphasis on cancer prognosis, radio/chemo-resistance, immune response and development of combinational cancer-therapeutics. He has received many prestigious honors and awards including the “SPG Performance Grant Award” from Houston Methodist in 2019. His current research interests specifically aim to understand the crosstalk of cancer-specific cellular signaling with DNA repair and immune response in the resistant tumor. In Dr. Rostomily’s Lab, he is actively working on various projects (1) Harmine-Twist1 axis in Glioblastoma. (2) 3D printed ECM component and drug response in Glioblastoma (3) Identification of potential new targets in Glioblastoma treatment. (4). Twist1-E12 interaction and Glioblastoma.

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=MhjO8rIAAAAJ&hl=en

SVETLANA MIKHEEVA, MS
SENIOR RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Svetlana earned her MS in Computer Science and engineering from Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon graduation, she joined Dr. Kevin Jarrell’s laboratory at Boston University and was involved in research that focused on studies of group II intron as a tool to direct nucleic acid manipulations. Her study on ribozyme catalyzed gene assembly resulted in US patents. Her work contributed to startup company Modular Genetics, focusing on development of gene engineering systems. After moving to Seattle, she continued her work as a molecular biologist at the University of Washington. She was involved in the development of microarray technology for expression profiling. She applied this technology to study human cells following HIV-1 infection and to investigate teratogenic effect of heat shock on mouse embryonic development. She joined the Rostomily lab in 2005 as its manager and worked on expression profiling of genetically engineered glioblastoma cells. She is currently leading viral mediated recombinant DNA transfer studies to investigate mechanisms of glioma stem cell invasion, tumorigenicity and drug resistance in vitro and in vivo. In her free time, she loves to play piano, knit and garden. In fact, her first publication in US was in the Knitting Magazine.

SHAWN BRISBAY
LAB MANAGER

Shawn, an original Houstonian after a stint in the 82nd airborne as a medic, earned his BS from Texas A&M in Marine Biology. He has worked and managed in Molecular Pathology and Veterinary Pathology labs at MD Anderson, Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at UT Health before joining the Rostomily Laboratory.

Manuel Rojas
RESEARCH OPERATIONS MANAGER

Manuel currently serves as the Operations Manager for the Glioblastoma and Brain Metastasis (GBM-BM) research lab. He has nearly 8 years of experience in research administration and 13 years in financial services. Mr. Rojas is responsible for being a liaison between the GBM-MB lab, executive leadership and managing the team’s financial and administrative functions. His prior experience derive from serving in the departments of Cardiovascular and Epigenetics at Houston Methodist. Mr. Rojas’ dedication to research stems from being a part of novel discovery and therapeutics that will ultimately help those patients that are in urgent need of healing. As a native Houstonian, Mr. Rojas earned his B.B.A and M.B.A from the University of Houston-Downtown, in 2008 and 2013, respectively

SAWANA TILLETT

Sawana Tillett is Dr. Rostomily’s Clinical, Research and Administrative Assistant for his Neurosurgery practice and Translational Research. Sawana is a native Texan with over 20 years of experience in research administration. She began her admin research career at Baylor College of Medicine in the Cardiology, Pulmonary and Surgery Departments, with her final stop in Medical Ethics before joining Houston Methodist. Her career at Methodist began in the Office of Governance & Faculty Affairs where she later joined the department of Cardiovascular Sciences. She started with Dr. Rostomily soon after he arrived at Houston Methodist and recently began providing support to Dr. Philip J. Horner, Co-Director, Center for Regenerative and Restorative Neurosurgery. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, traveling and all things outdoors, watching football, basketball, and listening to all genres of music. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and volunteers regularly with The Bread of Life (St. Johns United Methodist Church, Downtown), her passion is serving others.

Rostomily Lab Alumni

Pooja Gandhi, Sr Research Assistant; Current- Institute Associate Scientist III, Translational Research to Advance Therapeutics and Innovation in Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Zeynep Dereli Korkut, Post-doctoral fellow; Current – Research Scientist, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Naze Gul Avci, Post-doctoral fellow; Current – Research Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston
SAI ASHISH VASA, Undergraduate, Rice University.  Current – Research Assistant, University of Virginia
Maga Sanchez, Research Assistant; Current- Histotechnologist MD Anderson Cancer Center
Julia Pollak, Post-doctoral fellow; Current- Scientist, Resolution Biosciences, Seattle, WA
Lisa Horowitz, Post-doctoral Fellow; Current- Research Scientist Department of Pathology University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Liza Severs (nee Kobelt), Research Assistant, Current- PhD Student, Department of Neurobiology, University of Washington, Seattle
Kathleen Fink (nee Tozer) MD, Post-doctoral fellow; Current- Assistant Professor Neuroradiology, University of Washington School of Medicine
Rohan Ramakrishna MD, Post-doctoral fellow; Current-Associate Professor of Neurosurgery Weill Cornell Medical Center
Hunter Underhill MD PhD, Post-doctoral fellow; Current-Assistant Professor Pediatrics University of Utah
Mari Tokita MD, Post-doctoral fellow, Current- Associate Laboratory Director at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, San Diego CA
Elizabeth Stoll, PhD Student (co-mentored with Phil Horner); Current- Western Institute for Advanced Study, Denver, Colorado
Sutapa Ray PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow; Current- Business Development Manager Impel NeuroPharma, Seattle WA
Rob Oxford, MD, Post-doctoral Fellow; Current – Neurosurgeon, Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery
Maria Elias, Research Assistant; Current- PhD University of Utah, Scientist Myriad Genetics, Salt Lake City, Utah