Neurosurgery: Brain Tumor Stem Cell Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, known by his patients as Dr. Q, received his undergraduate from UC Berkeley and earned his medical degree from Harvard with Honors. He did his residency at the University of California San Francisco, and currently works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. His titles include Professor of Neurological Surgery, Professor of Oncology, Director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and Director of the Pituitary Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Q also oversees two labs in his efforts to discover the ability of stem cells to fight brain cancer. In his free time Dr. Q enjoys mentoring, training for his half-marathon fund raiser run, and spending time with his wife and three kids.

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Hopkins Faculty

Assistant Professor

Hugo Guerrero-Cazares

Dr. Hugo Guerrero-Cázares received his M.D. in September 2000 and a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences in February 2007 from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. He moved to Baltimore, MD with his family to join the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory in March 2007 and is currently an Assistant Professor. Dr. Guerrero-Cazares participates in multiple research projects in the lab, particularly on studying the effects of Slit proteins on the migration of Brain Tumor Stem Cells. For this project he developed a model to evaluate the migration of human cells on human tissue. In 2015, Dr. Guerrero-Cazares was promoted to Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Awards & Grant support: MSCRF (TEDCO)

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Assistant Professor

Kaisorn Chaichana

Kaisorn Chaichana, currently an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, completed a two year research fellowship funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Kaisorn received his B.S. in 2003 from the University of Utah and majored in Biology. Kaisorn joined the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Lab in June 2006. He is interested in studying the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) on the migration of normal neural stem cell and tumor stem cell migration. He is also trying to determine the phenotype of the invading brain tumor cells that make brain tumors resistant to treatment. He is also working on identifying ways to improve outcomes for patients with brain tumors following surgery.


•The Paul Ehrlich Young Investigator's Day Award
•The Henry Strong Dension Student Research Award
•Walter Dandy Clinical Research Award

Paula Schiapparelli

Dr. Paula Schiapparelli, currently a Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, received her Biology and Biochemistry degree from University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. After obtaining her PhD degree in that same institution, she decided to continue her training as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Brain Tumor Stem Cell laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, under the mentorship of Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa.

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Chikezie Eseonu

Chikezie Eseonu, currently a neurosurgery resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, received his MD from the Yale School of Medicine in 2011. Chikezie received his bachelors degree in biomedical engineering in 2007 from Harvard University. He is interested in studying drug delivery to malignant brain tumors, focusing on developing novel biodegradable nanoparticles that deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) under the mentorship of Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa and Jordan Green. He is also working on improving patient outcomes following brain tumor surgery by evaluating various neurosurgical techniques.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Juan Carlos Martinez-Gutierrez

Juan Carlos received his MD in January 2013 from Monterrey Tec School of Medicine in Mexico. He first joined the Q-lab as a Research Scholar in January 2012 being awarded a prestigious year-long training position by the Mexican Ministry of Health. In January 2013, after receiving his degree, Juan Carlos was recruited as a full-time Postdoctoral Fellow. Juan Carlos is interested in studying the molecular mechanisms of brain cancer malignancy in search of novel targets for clinical therapeutics.

Sara Ganaha

Sara Ganaha is a post-doctoral fellow (M.D) from Okinawa, Japan / Toronto, Ontario. Sara completed her BA in biology/biochemistry in 2006 at Carleton College, MN, and conducted translational research at the University of Minnesota until 2007. In March 2014, Sara joined the Hopkins neurosurgery team as a sub-intern. Currently, she is studying the role of NKCC1 and its effect on brain tumor migration under the mentorship of Dr. Paula Schiapparelli in Dr. Quinones' lab. Sara is blessed to serve as a member of the Johns Hopkins International Christian Fellowship. In her spare time, she enjoys baking brownies and learning new languages.

Alejandro Ruiz-Valls

Alejandro received his MD in June 2012 from the Universidad de Valencia, Spain. As part of his training he decided to join the Dr. Quiñones' lab as a post-doctoral fellow to help elucidate the molecular mechanisms that drive CNS malignancies. Alejandro is interested in molecular intricacies that regulate brain and spinal cord malignancies, as well as novel therapeutic molecules to treat this diseases.

Yuxin Li

Yuxin Li is a surgeon at the Department of Neurosurgery in Jinan General Hospital, Jinan, China. During his past working experience, Yuxin not only devoted himself to take care of his patients, but also he was involved in several research projects of great importance. He received his M.D. in June 2004 and a Ph.D degree in June 2012 from the Fourth Medical Military University in China. In July 2015, Yuxin joined the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory as a post-doctoral research fellow where he is exploring the molecular mechanisms of brain cancer malignancy. Currently, he is working on a project that is investigating the use of nanoparticle-transfected human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs) as a potential brain tumor therapeutic.


Young Lee

Young Lee is a Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a 4th year medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. Young received his B.S.P.H. in 2011 from the Gillings Global School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he majored in Biostatistics. He joined the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory in May 2014. In collaboration with Jordan Green, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical engineering, he is exploring the use of nanoparticle-transfected human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs) as a potential brain tumor therapeutic. After finishing his Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellowship year, he plans to finish medical school at Vanderbilt and match into Neurological Surgery residency.

Medical Students

Cheetel Algoe

Cheetel Algoe is a 4th year medical student at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She has previously performed clinical research at the Neurosurgical Center Amsterdam (NCA), Academic Medical Center on the consequences of shunt misplacement and its avoidance. Now, she is interested in exploring the basic and translational science of the neurosurgical treatment of brain cancers.

Cheetel joined the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory in May 2015. In collaboration with Jordan Green, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, she is exploring the use of nanoparticle-transfected human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs) as a potential brain tumor therapeutic. After finishing her research elective in the laboratory, she will complete 2 years of rotations at the University of Amsterdam as part of her MD degree. Cheetel plans to match into Neurological Surgery Residency. In her free time, she loves to dance and do kickboxing.

Montserrat Lara Velazquez

Montserrat is a fourth year MD/PhD student from the PECEM program of the School of Medicine of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She has been involved in several projects in the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Mexico City.
Currently, she is under the guidance of Dr. Paula Schiapparelli for Dr. Quinones’ lab in a project that is investigating the clinical efficacy of local chemotherapeutic treatment application for glioblastoma multiforme. Her main long-term goal is to become a neurosurgeon-scientist focused on brain tumor research. Upon graduating, she plans to participate in several international experiences in order to gain a holistic approach to neurosurgery.

Kyle Inman

Kyle Inman is a second year medical student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology at Rhode Island College. In 2015, Kyle joined the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory where he is investigating the effects of Hippo pathway inhibition on in vitro growth and migration of glioblastoma cells. He is also conducting an in vivo survival analysis with Hippo pathway inhibitor verteporfin in malignant meningiomas. Currently, he intends to take a year off from medical school to pursue research full-time during 2016-2017.

Graduate Students

Sagar Shah

Sagar R. Shah is a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Sagar completed his BS in biological sciences and a minor in mathematical sciences with general and departmental honors in both disciplines at Clemson University in 2006 and was bestowed the university’s highest honor, the Norris Medal. Subsequently, he completed his MS in bioengineering at Clemson University in 2007 through a 5-year BS/MS program. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and is interested in understanding the genetic controls of cancer cell growth and death. Sagar's interests range from understanding American public policy to mentoring at a local school.

Awards & Grant support: NSF

Rawan Al-kharboosh

Rawan Al-kharboosh is a PhD student in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She graduated with honors in Public Health and received her Masters in Tumor Biology from Georgetown University - Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center where she graduated top of her class in 2012.

She is currently working on modified mesenchymal stem cells derived from human adipose tissue (hMSCs) to target and combat glioblastomas. Her future work will center on investigating therapeutic modilities to combat brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs) implicated in brain cancer progression and resistance. Since BTICs appear to underlie the ability for GBM migration and proliferation, inducing their differention may attenuate the malignant features of high grade gliomas. Her current work is centered on virally-transduced and nanoparticle transfected hMSCs in collaboration with Dr. Jordan Greens lab at the institute for nanobiotechnology to deliver targeted therapy to BTICs. In addition, she is using a nanomedicine ased approach to target oncogenic pathways implicated in proliferation and migration using siRNA in collaboration with the Green lab. Her interests also lies in exploring the immune cells in the CNS and the different ways in which it can be manipulated to stifle cancer progression via targeted therapy using mesenchymal stem cells known to intrinsically home to areas of insult in the brain.

Kimberleve Rolón-Reyes

Kimberleve Rolón-Reyes started her undergraduate studies in Biology with human approach at Universidad de Puerto Rico, Bayamón. During her studies she met professors who awoke her interest in science and teaching through their wonderful lectures and skills to transmit their passion for science. Under their supervision Kimberleve understood that she wanted to link her future professional life with scientific studies with the exploration of the nervous system functions, specifically the brain, since it has a centralized role in the control over the other organs of the body and processes of an organism. After completing her BA Kimberleve decided to take a year off in order to participate in a research project and finally have a taste of what science work is. During this year Kimberleve was working in Dr. Lilia Kucheryavykh’s research laboratory from Universidad Central del Caribe in Puerto Rico. This laboratory is focused on glioma (brain cancer) research and she was fascinated with this area of investigation. After this research experience, Kimberleve decided to dedicate her life to cancer investigation in order to develop strategies to destroy brain cancer at an early stage as well as to develop approaches for prevention, treatment, and ultimately cure. After a year of doing brain cancer research work as a research assistant Kimberleve started her Ph.D. studies in the cellular and molecular biology program from UCC to continue her previous research and start her scientific career. Some of her research data obtained during the first two years of work in the lab was included in a currently published paper (Kucheryavykh et al., 2012). After completing her Ph.D., Kimberleve is looking forward to maintain her emphasis in cancer investigation as well as on teaching. Her goals are to start a postdoc and establish her own research laboratory to continue studies in brain cancer.

As part of her extracurricular activities, Kimberleve is part of a graduate student association known as the Association for the Advancement of Scientific Knowledge. The purpose of this association is to encourage students from different educational levels to participate in activities related to laboratory research work in order to become familiarized with science as well as to acquire experience. Besides science, Kimberleve is also involved in other activities. Having a musician father she found herself interested in music. This is why she spends part of her time learning how to play guitar. She is also an animal lover so she enjoys walking and playing with her dog and likes to go to the beach as she finds this a very relaxing activity. Furthermore she treasures her family and loves to spend most of her free time with them.

Myungjun Ko

Myungjun Ko is a PhD student in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Myungjun received his B.S. in 2014 from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and majored in biology with honors. Currently, Myungjun’s project focuses on the role of endosomal sodium-hydrogen exchanger isoform 9 (NHE9) in chemoradiational resistance of GBM and stem cell-like properties of BTICs under the mentorship of Dr. Quiñones and Dr. Rajini. The goal of this project is to establish a novel therapeutic target for GBM. After finishing his PhD training, he plans to go to medical school to become an oncologist/physician scientist.

Research Technologist

Bhavika Patel

Bhavika Patel received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in 1994. She worked as a laboratory coordinator at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit - Johns Hopkins University for 14 years studying the various effects of a broad range of drugs administered under controlled circumstances to human volunteers in the laboratory, developing, and evaluating behavioral interventions that address the interrelated problems of drug addiction, poverty, and health. Ms. Patel joined Dr. Q's laboratory group in June 2014 as a laboratory manager and shifted her research focus to cancer. In Dr. Q’s laboratory she provides technical support, assists in purchasing supplies, enforces compliance with safety regulations, and provides general laboratory assistance. In addition, Ms. Patel coordinates the maintenance of the tissue culture bank. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, participating in temple services, and watching Bollywood movies.

Undergraduate Students

Anna Clements

Anna Christina Clements is a third year undergraduate from Fairfax, Virginia, majoring in Neuroscience and Spanish at Johns Hopkins University. She joined the lab in January 2015 and is currently working with Dr. Hugo Guerrero-Cázares and Emily Lavell, investigating the effect of Slit and Robo proteins on the migration of brain tumor stem cells. Anna is also a member of the Hopkins Track and Field team. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering on campus and playing the piano. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school.

Ope Olukorede

Ope Olukorede is a second year undergraduate from Boston, MA, majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology and psychology at Johns Hopkins University. She is working with Paula Schiapparelliu200b, investigating evaluation of migratory capacity of Glioma stem cells and specifically studying the role of the NKCC1 cotransporter in glioblastoma stem cell migration. In her free time, she enjoys reading, singing, biking and baking

Jennifer Rios

Jennifer Rios is a second year undergraduate from Saratoga, California, majoring in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. She joined the lab in September of 2014 and is currently working with Young Lee, investigating the use of nanoparticle-transfected human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs) as a potential brain tumor therapeutic. After graduating, she hopes to go to medical school.


Dr. Curt Civin

Hematopoetic Stem Cells

Dr. Civin’s Laboratory is located at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His laboratory focuses mainly on normal and malignant stem cells. Dr. Civin’s laboratory has created a NOD-SCID (non obese severe combined immunodeficiency disease) mouse that allows for engraftment of foreign cells.

Dr. Xingde Li

Dr. Xingde Li is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering at WSE and a Fellow of OSA, SPIE and AIMBE. His research interest centers on development of cutting-edge and translational biophotonics technologies that interface and bridge basic engineering research and medical diagnosis and intervention.

Dr. Steven Goldman

Dr. Goldman is the Chairman of Department of Neurology, Chief of Division of Cell and Gene Therapy, Glenn-Zutes Chair in Biology of the Aging Brain, and Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Goldman collaborates with Dr. Quinones’s research laboratory in establishing a molecular atlas of the neural and glial progenitor cell populations of the adult human brain, as derived from both normal brain tissue and from primary brain tumors.

Dr. Jose Manuel Garcia-Verdugo

EM World Expert

Dr. Garcia-Verdugo’s laboratory is based in the Instituto Cavanilles in the University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain. His focus is on adult neural stem cells and on their possible use for brain cell therapy.

Dr. George Jallo

CSF Proteins and Factors
Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) Collaborator

Dr. Jallo is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Jallo's laboratory research is focused on the development of an animal model for brainstem and intramedullary spinal cord tumors. Dr. Jallo and Dr. Quinones collaborate through a grant from the Children’s Cancer Foundation to elucidate the putative role of the pediatric subventricular zone in the development of brain cancer stem cells.

Dr. Hongjun Song
Cell Migration
Dr. Song’s Laboratory is located in the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Song's laboratory is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal development of adult neural stem cells in the adult central nervous system as well as the mechanisms involved in migration.

Dr. Oscar Gonzalez-Perez
EGF Cell Activation
Studies the mechanism of migration and invasion of transit-amplifying neurogenic precursors stimulated by Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) in vivo.

Dr. John Laterra

John J. Laterra is a research scientist at Kennedy Krieger Institute. He is also a professor in the Department of Neurology, Neuroscience and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Kennedy Krieger Institute. He is the director of the Division of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Andre Levchenko

The Levchenko lab studies intraceullar signal transduction and cell-cell communication by combining molecular biology, microfabrication and imaging techniques and combining them with the state of the art modeling studies to investigate how living cells can sense their environment and how this sensing ability can help them establish communication leading to complex ensemble responses.

Dr. Jordan Green

Dr. Jordan Green is an Assistant Professor in the Biomaterials and Drug Delivery Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Green's Biomaterials and Drug Delivery Laboratory is acutely interested in biomaterials, drug delivery, gene therapy, nanobiotechnology, and cell engineering.

Dr. Peter C. Searson

Dr. Peter Searson is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include: Cell biophysics: photolithography, soft lithography, microfluidics, electrochemistry, live cell and fluorescence microscopy to study the role of physical interactions and mechanical forces in cell behavior; Quantum dots for biology and medicine: quantum dot synthesis and characterization, surface engineering, quantitative profiling of cancer biomarkers, tumor targeting in animal models.

Dr. Helim Aranda-Espinoza

Dr. Helim Aranda-Espinoza is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland. His research interests include the application of the theoretical and experimental machinery of physics and engineering to obtain a quantitative understanding of specific problems inspired by biological systems. Specifically, his long term aims are to develop a fundamental understanding on cell mechanics and the mechanisms by which motile cells adhere, spread, and crawl over adhesive substrata with a primary focus on neurons and cells involved in cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Alessandro Olivi

Dr. Alessandro Olivi, Professor of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, focuses on the surgical treatment of primary and metastatic tumors of the brain and spinal cord. He performs microsurgery on skull-based tumors, such as acoustic neuromas, meningiomas and vascular lesions. Additional clinical interests include cerebrovascular conditions and craniofacial reconstructions.