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Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program

Meet the Scholars

Scholars

Ian Blumenthal, PhDIan Blumenthal, PhD

Price Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Olson Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute

Ian Blumenthal, PhD, is a bioengineer, synthetic biologist and immunologist with a passion for advancing kids-first therapies toward the clinic. Blumenthal joined the laboratories of Dr. Jason Price and Dr. Jim Olson, where he designs targeted protein therapeutics that augment immune cells for the treatment of pediatric tumors with low mutational burdens. As an Invent Scholar, he aims to gain the skills and experience necessary to navigate the treacherous development and commercialization pathways for drugs to treat underserved and underrepresented patient populations, including children.

Blumenthal received two bachelor’s degrees in engineering from Dartmouth College, after which he trained at Mass General and the Broad Institute with Jim Gusella, PhD, and Mike Talkowski, PhD, in human neurodevelopment. He earned his PhD in bioengineering from the University of Washington, where he worked with Mike Jensen, MD, to develop a best-in-class drug regulation system for the modulation of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell activity after administration to patients.

Beyond research and therapeutics development, Blumenthal has a passion for all the outdoor adventures the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Instilled with the belief that there is no bad weather, just “weather,” you’ll find him outside between experiments in all seasons. When he’s not in lab or the mountains, he’s listening to music, cooking, gardening or enjoying a cup of coffee.

Natasha Bourgeois, PhDNatasha Bourgeois, PhD

Aitchison Lab
Center for Global Infectious Disease, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Natasha Bourgeois, PhD, is a microbiologist pursuing pediatric disease research and drug development. She is dedicated to a research career working with a team of passionate scientists to develop therapeutics that can cure pediatric infectious disease and cancer globally.

Dr. Bourgeois received a BS in biological sciences from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in pathobiology from the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. She has contributed to numerous biomedical research fields, including identifying biomarkers of evolutionary adaptation in West African antelope, characterizing regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis in yeast, and investigating host cell regulators of Salmonella, HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Dengue. Her graduate thesis research identified cellular factors with the potential to be therapeutically targeted to disrupt dengue infection in liver cells, where severe disease often manifests. Through the Invent@SC program, Dr. Bourgeois will expand her expertise in host-pathogen research to more translational work in infectious disease as well as cancer. With her lab mentor, Dr. John Aitchison, she is developing and testing nanobodies against viruses as well as glioblastoma. She is also continuing her education towards translational expertise with drug discovery, development, and commercialization courses.

Dr. Bourgeois is passionate about scientific outreach, communication, and mentoring, and will always take the time to explain the science behind medicine to anyone – including her four cats and lizard who probably don’t understand her. She is working on releasing her podcast called, You’ve Got a Disease! With Dr. Bourgeois. When not working on science, Dr. Bourgeois enjoys cooking Cajun or Latin meals she picked up from her parents, baking excessively sugary sweets for her friends, coaching CrossFit, or spending time outside paddleboarding, backpacking, and skiing.

Headshot of Stephen CarneyStephen Carney, PhD

Evans Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Stephen V. Carney, PhD, is a geneticist trained in the areas of cancer biology, immunology, and epigenetics. His work focuses on developing novel therapeutic combinations to improve the survival of pediatric patients diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor subtype that forms in the cerebellum. He will utilize patient derived xenografts and engineered mouse cell cultures to decode the tumor-specific vulnerabilities to novel drug inhibitors. He joined Dr. Myron Evans II laboratory in May 2023 to gain experience on drug screening procedures and clinical trial design.

Dr. Carney completed two bachelor of science degrees in Animal Science and Genomics & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. After graduating, he participated in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Case Western Reserve University studying cortical developmental defects in a neurodegenerative disease called ataxia telangiectasia. This prompted his interest in neuroscience, and he later crossed research disciplines to study brain cancer. He conducted his graduate work in Dr. Maria Castro laboratory at the University of Michigan, where he explored the reversibility of epigenomic reprogramming in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) mutant glioma to decipher its impact on resistance to radiotherapy.

Dr. Carney has a mixed heritage of African American and Native American ancestry. His maternal grandmother’s tribe resides on Walpole Island Reservation as part of the Bkejwanong territory located on the Canadian and Michigan border. Dr. Carney hopes to improve the representation of indigenous communities within the biotechnology space.

Headshot of David JohnsonDavid Johnson, PhD

Disis Lab
University of Washington 

David E. Johnson, PhD, is an Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Nora Disis's lab. His project is focused on developing and optimizing a vaccine for children with Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). Prior to Seattle Children’s, Dr. Johnson received his PhD from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory School of Biological Sciences where he studied how to use CRISPR based technology to elucidate and study novel therapeutics targets to treat glioblastoma.

In the future, Dr. Johnson hopes to establish his own lab and/or company whose research will be based in cancer biology with a therapeutic framework in mind. Dr. Johnson hopes to address the discrepancy in representation in science with focus on the fact that many specimens used in daily research are limited in representation within the U.S. While being aware of the intricate relationship black and brown communities have with science and research due to historical inequity, Dr. Johnson strongly believes that instead of scientific entities developing initiatives to collect data and specimen from black and brown communities, these same initiatives should, in parallel, also monetarily invest in building up communities that they are asking to help further their research. Through such an investment, Dr. Johnson hopes that black and brown communities could feel a sense of support and genuine partnership and be more open to participating in providing specimens to these scientific-based entities. Ultimately, Dr. Johnson hopes that in the future, the research he and other scientific-based entities conduct will work towards incorporating tissue samples and clinical data from various racial groups that will inevitably strengthen their science whilst simultaneously giving back to the community that provides this data.

In another life, Dr. Johnson believes if science and research were not his calling, he would be diving into the arts and becoming a comedic writer/actor with a potential side gig as a DJ.

Headshot of Bakyayita Rachel Kyeyune, PhD, MB ChBBakyayita Rachel Kyeyune, PhD, MB ChB

Adair Lab
Fred Hutch Cancer Center

Bakyayita Rachel Kyeyune, PhD, MB ChB, has a background in clinical research around infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases. She held various roles as a clinical trial coordinator, project manager and head of research program at some of Uganda’s leading research institutions.

Dr. Kyeyune is based at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center in Dr. Jennifer Adair’s lab, and her project focuses on discovering strategies to increase efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs of lentiviral transduction in the development of ex vivo treatments for hemoglobinopathies. The Adair Lab is combining Magnetically Assisted Transduction (MAT) which uses magnetic interactions to deliver the DNA into cells using nanoparticles to enhance the concentration of the LV vector and its uptake by the target cells.

Prior to joining the Invent@SC program, Dr. Kyeyune completed her PhD in International Health & Medical Research from the Ludwig Maximillians University (LMU) in Munich where she profiled hematological complications of people living with HIV who were just initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy. She also has extensive experience in the regulation of clinical trials in Uganda and several parts of Africa from her prior role as Manager for Clinical Trials at the National Drug Authority of Uganda.

Sinduja MarxSinduja Marx, PhD

Olson Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Sinduja Marx, PhD, is a biological engineer with a passion for translational research in the development of therapeutics and diagnostics. As an Invent scholar, she is focused on developing curative therapeutics for children with eosinophilic esophagitis, a severe autoimmune disorder. To bring her research to fruition, Dr. Marx will be starting her postdoctoral training at the laboratory of Dr. Jim Olson and collaborating with the Cerosaletti and Ziegler labs at Benaroya Research Institute, and the Kiem lab at Fred Hutch.  

Dr. Marx earned her BS in bioengineering with a specialization in biotechnology at the University of California, San Diego, where she joined research groups that developed nucleic-acid-based nanoscale bio-sensors. After graduating, she was a research associate at Illumina, working on the next generation of DNA sequencing technologies at the intersection of biochemistry, bioinformatics, electronics, and microfabrication. This inspired her graduate research, leading to her earning her MS and PhD in molecular engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she specialized in computational protein design and single-molecule biophysics under the guidance of Professor David Baker and Professor Jens Gundlach in the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Physics, respectively. 

Dr. Marx's doctoral research used de novo protein design approaches with the Rosetta software suite to design novel membrane nanopores using engineering principles. This work contributed to the first de novo designed membrane beta-barrels and laid the foundation for computational design and characterization of nanopores for accurate DNA sequencing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Marx's research centered on the enzyme nsp13, which is critical for SARS-CoV-2 virus replication. Using SPRNT, a nanopore technique developed in the laboratory of Dr. Jens Gundlach, she examined the mechanochemical motion of nucleic-acid processing enzymes with picometer resolution using nanopore data. This research advanced our understanding of nsp13 translocation and unwinding of nucleic acids, and also allowed for the measurement of nsp13 inhibition at single-nucleotide resolution.

Neelakshi Mungra, PhDNeelakshi Mungra, PhD

Jackson Lab
Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

In her research, Neelakshi Mungra, PhD, focuses on the engineering of affordable cutting-edge antibody technologies that can be used in the depletion of specific B-cell subpopulations that are involved in life-threatening autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Prior to joining Dr. Shaun Jackson's lab, Dr. Mungra completed her postgraduate work at the Medical Biotechnology and Immunotherapy Research Unit (MB&I) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she specialized in the development of modular antibody technologies aimed at facilitating precision medicine in oncology by differential diagnosis and immunotherapy. With a better understanding of the disease-specific cell surface profiles of patient biopsies, the field of targeted drug development can be expedited and tailored according to surface marker-specific patient groups best responding to specific immunotherapy or precision medicine. This is especially apparent in the management of a daunting disease like breast cancer.

Dr. Mungra was recognized for her outstanding academic performance and contribution to society by the Research Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers at the 2021 award ceremony of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa.

Headshot of Akinsola OyelakinAkinsola Oyelakin, PhD

Ramirez Lab
Norcliffe Foundation Center for Integrative Brain Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute
Olson Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Akinsola Oyelakin, PhD, is a biochemist trained in cancer biology and bioinformatics. He is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratories of Dr. Nino Ramirez and Dr. Jim Olson and will be developing novel therapeutic biomolecules for the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia. His research will build on his background in biochemistry and bioinformatics to engineer novel protein constructs that could also be adapted for a wide range of therapeutic applications.

Dr. Oyelakin obtained his BSc degree in Biochemistry at Babcock University in Nigeria and completed his graduate training at the University of Buffalo in New York. His graduate work identified a role for the ETS transcription factor EHF in the regulation of cellular redox homeostasis in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. In addition to his work in cancer research, his other research endeavors have contributed to our understanding of the gene expression programs governing salivary gland development and dysfunction.

Dr. Oyelakin is enthusiastic about translational science, and he hopes that his research as an invent scholar will improve the lives of people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Headshot of Sivasankaran M Ponnan, PhDSivasankaran M Ponnan, PhD

Jackson Lab
Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Sivasankaran M Ponnan, PhD, is a clinical microbiology specialist trained in infectious disease, immunology, and vaccinology. Dr. Siva earned his PhD from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in India. There, he researched to understand the mucosal and systemic immune response in HIV-exposed seronegative (HESN) individuals. He was awarded a young scientist fellowship by the Department of Health Research (Govt of India) to pursue his graduation studies. He is a curious scientist interested in immunotherapy, autoimmune diseases, and immune cell function, particularly in B and T cells. He has extensive expertise in cutting-edge single-cell profiling, including 47-parameter high-dimensional flow cytometry, multicolour cell sorting, and spectral cytometry.

Dr. Siva joined the Shaun Jackson Lab in June 2023 to gain experience in autoimmunity and immunotherapies. At SCRI, his research aims to improve our understanding of the immune pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases, particularly the role of B cells and T in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). His current project focuses on a comprehensive approach to investigate the role of B and T cell phenotypes in anti-CD19 CAR-T effector immunotherapy, how these cells maintain immune tolerance, and the efficacy and specificity toward complete remission of SLE. Dr. Siva firmly believes that a deeper understanding of the basic biology of cellular mechanisms underlying autoimmune disorders will facilitate the identification of cellular biomarkers that can be used to target immune therapies to achieve complete remission of the disease.  

Edward SongEdward Song, PhD

Vitanza Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Edward Song, PhD, earned a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology with a focus area of Gene Therapy and Vaccines at the University of Pennsylvania. Under the mentorship of Drs. Michael Milone, Daniel Powell, and Carl June at Penn Medicine, Dr. Song’s PhD project developed a combination therapy of CAR T cells with IAP antagonists to address the issue of tumor antigen heterogeneity for glioblastoma, which has been presented orally and on poster at ASGCT and ISCT conferences and published on Molecular Therapy – Oncolytics. Dr. Song’s first official day in grad school happened to be the day when the US FDA officially approved Kymriah, the first gene therapy / CAR T cell therapy approved in the US, which inspired Dr. Song to work on CAR T cell research at Penn for his PhD study. 

Dr. Song joined the Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholar Program in January 2023 and is focusing on CAR T cell therapy research for pediatric CNS tumors in Dr. Nicholas Vitanza’s Lab at Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Song is passionate about doing translational research to develop novel cellular immunotherapies from bench to bedside and is interested in commercializing new biotechnologies. 

On a personal note, Dr. Song’s hometown is Beijing, China, and he is passionate about helping international students and scholars to overcome language and cultural barriers for studying and working in the US. In his free time, Dr. Song is a huge fan of watching live sports, with some of his favorite teams including Bayern Munich, Union, Sounders, Mavericks, 76ers, Storm, Steelers, Eagles (Go Birds!), and Seahawks – the last of which he discovered is not an actual bird through Google. Dr. Song also loves taking road trips in the US and has driven across the country three times. 

Yusuke Suita, PhDYusuke Suita, PhD

Olson Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Yusuke Suita, PhD, is a cancer biologist with an entrepreneurial spirit. He received his PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology from Brown University. Under the guidance of Drs. Nikos Tapinos, Jie Shen, Ritambhara Singh, and Mamiko Yajima, he developed a groundbreaking cancer cellular trap for glioblastoma, alongside the construction of machine-learning models predicting gene expression in glioblastoma cells using multiple epigenetic markers. 

In the Invent@SC program, Dr. Suita is developing a new local immunotherapy for pediatric brain tumors using the combination of protein- based immunotherapy and hydrogel along with computational design under the guidance of Drs. Jim Olson and Cole DeForest. An experience within his own family sparked his personal motivation to embark on this path; contrary to the initial prognosis of one month, he witnessed his grandfather's life remarkably extended by two years, owing to an innovative treatment that halted tumor progression. His grandmother’s profound gratitude catalyzed his determination to create novel therapies for currently underserved cancer types. His overarching goal is to engineer a transformative therapy that elevates cure rates for young patients, fostering a society where cancer is not a source of fear but a manageable condition.

While at Brown, Dr. Suita was elected to the New England Medical Innovation Center Med Tech program, where his research pitch received recognition from potential investors. Looking ahead in the Invent@SC program, he aspires to present both his vision and the treatment prototype to investors – ultimately bringing the treatment from bench to bedside, with the support of his clinical and biotech mentors.

When Dr. Suita is not in the lab or chatting about science with others, he can be found savoring delicious foods, cheering for the Japan national soccer team, or enjoying the thrill of skiing down slopes.

Eman Taha, PhDEman Taha, PhD

Bleakley Lab
Fred Hutch Cancer Center
Adair Lab
Fred Hutch Cancer Center

Eman Taha, PhD, is an Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the laboratories of Drs. Marie Bleakley and Jen Adair. Her work focuses on developing a therapeutic for children with high-risk leukemia.

Dr. Taha holds bachelor's and master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Ain Shams University in Egypt. She earned her PhD from Okayama University in Japan while supported by the Egyptian Japanese Education scholarship. Prior to becoming an Invent@SC postdoc, Dr. Taha was a research fellow at the Center for iPS Cell Research & Application of Kyoto University and at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center.

Her goal is to develop therapeutic products that not only alleviate suffering and enhance patient outcomes, but also exhibit exceptional efficacy and safety for sustained long-term benefits. Looking ahead, she aims to establish a biotech company dedicated to advancing pediatric oncology by developing and bringing life-saving and affordable treatments to the clinic.

Elzani van Zyl, PhDElzani van Zyl, PhD

Kaushansky Lab
Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Elizabeth (Elzani) M. van Zyl, PhD, is an Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Alexis Kaushansky’s lab. Her work is focused on therapeutic development to treat relapsing forms of Plasmodium vivax malarial infections. P. vivax dormant forms are extremely difficult to target, and most currently available drugs do not address malaria relapse. Through this research, she aims to gain drug development and drug screening experience. 

Dr. van Zyl has an educational background in biomedical engineering, having earned her bachelor of science, master of engineering and doctoral degrees from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts. Her career trajectory was profoundly influenced by the high incidence of burn injuries in her homeland of South Africa. It was this concern that drove her to embark on her doctoral research, which focused on improving the functionality of bacterial-derived cellulose materials - more commonly known as kombucha SCOBYs - for wound dressing applications. Dr. van Zyl's work included the development of novel methods for producing optically transparent bacterial cellulose materials to facilitate wound site visualization and the design of bifunctional antimicrobial peptides to provide surface antibacterial activity, thereby combating and preventing wound site infections.

Dr. van Zyl’s passions outside of the lab include bringing awareness to invisible disabilities, rock climbing, skiing, and exploring all of Washington State’s beautiful bodies of water with her water-obsessed dog.

Affiliate Members

Affiliate members are postdoctoral scholars employed by Seattle Children’s who are working on “Discovered Here” therapeutics.

Headshot of Aditi DeshpandeAditi Deshpande, PhD

Parish Lab
Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Aditi Deshpande, PhD, is a trained microbiologist with special interests in antimicrobial resistance and drug discovery. Bacterial physiology and the way they can adapt to their environment fascinates her. Her current research project focuses on studying novel small molecules which target respiration in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. She aims to better understand the mode of action of these chemical molecules under different physiological conditions and how they can be introduced into the treatment regimen for tuberculosis.

Before joining the Parish Lab, Dr. Deshpande completed her PhD in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M University at College Station under the guidance of Dr. Julian Hurdle. She has worked on antibacterial resistance of the anaerobe Clostridioides difficile and has studied the intersection of iron metabolism in drug resistance and virulence of the pathogen.

Eric Scott Nealy, PhDEric Nealy, PhD

Olson Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Eric Scott Nealy, PhD, is a postdoc in Dr. Jim Olson’s lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Prior to working at Seattle Children’s, Dr. Nealy earned his B.S. from UCLA and his PhD from the University of Washington. Dr. Nealy’s research centers around treating children with brain tumors by teaching their immune system to identify and eliminate any remnant cancer cells. He is excited about this work because it is potentially a safer and more thorough way to treat sick kids compared to chemotherapy and radiation, which can harm the patient.  

Dr. Nealy grew up in an impoverished, rough neighborhood in Los Angeles where young people did not have many positive opportunities available to them. The role models he saw on television who looked like him were mostly in the entertainment industry. He vividly remembers how exciting it was to learn about Black scientists, inventors, and astronauts like Mae C. Jemison, George Washington Carver, and Charles Drew, as he rarely saw his community portrayed in these careers.  

Exposure to these individuals helped Dr. Nealy develop a passion for all things science: outer space, computers, and medicine. The subject quickly became his favorite in school, but it was not until cancer struck his family that he decided to turn this passion into a career path. His mother is a breast cancer survivor and his father passed away from metastatic pancreatic cancer. These experiences led him to dedicate his life to a career in cancer research so he can develop treatments that will hopefully save lives and prevent other families from also experiencing loss due to cancer. He credits his family and teachers who encouraged him to pursue his career by obtaining a college education and beyond.  

Outside of research, he is passionate about mentorship and encouraging young, Black students to pursue careers in science. Through his involvement in the Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program, he aims to inspire and give Black students the confidence to pursue successful careers as well. Dr. Nealy is passionate about assisting underserved students in charting their futures in academia, biotech and beyond.

Fernanda Rodrigues da Costa, PhDFernanda Rodrigues da Costa, PhD

Parish Lab
Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Fernanda Rodrigues da Costa, PhD, is a microbiologist trained in areas of antibiotic discovery, biochemical and biophysical characterization of proteins involved in cell wall formation in bacteria and characterization of bacterial resistance mechanisms and pathogenesis. She is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tanya Parish’s lab at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where she has been working on tuberculosis biology and drug discovery. Her research project aims at identifying tuberculosis drug candidates with a novel mode of action focusing on understanding their mechanism of action, mode of kill, resistance mechanisms, and drug target identification and validation.

Prior to joining the Parish lab, Dr. Rodrigues da Costa completed her doctorate studies at Brazillian National Laboratory (LNBIO)/Universidade Estadual de Campinas, where her main project involved the identification of new antibiotics in libraries of natural products. During that period, she also had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program and do a scientific internship at the Institut de Biologie Structurale in France, where she worked on a project concentrated on the study of proteins that form a complex involved in cell wall formation in bacteria. During her master studies, she was trained in a clinical microbiology laboratory, where the focus of her research was the characterization of bacterial resistance mechanisms, mainly in those pathogens considered priority by World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Rodrigues da Costa has been working on bacteriology field for the past eleven years and has become passionate about research on new antibiotics and bacterial pathogenesis.

Headshot of Emma WrennEmma Wrenn, PhD

Lawlor Lab
Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer ResearchSeattle Children’s Research Institute

Emma Wrenn, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Beth Lawlor’s lab in the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research. Her current research focuses on the relationship between epigenetic plasticity, the tumor microenvironment, and metastasis in Ewing sarcoma.

She received her PhD from the University of Washington’s Molecular & Cellular Biology Graduate Program. Dr. Wrenn conducted her dissertation research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Dr. Kevin Cheung’s lab, studying how cell-cell interactions promote metastasis in breast cancer partly through the formation of intercellular reservoirs of signaling molecules in nanolumina.

Her postdoctoral work is specifically focused on identifying new therapeutic strategies for metastatic or relapsed Ewing sarcomas, which have very poor survival rates. Ewing sarcomas are driven by fusions of EWS and ETS transcription factors, most commonly EWS::FLI1. While they are typically driven by a single oncogene, Ewing sarcomas display a surprising amount of intra- and inter-tumoral heterogeneity. Dr. Wrenn is working on understanding the biological basis of this heterogeneity, and how it contributes to disease progression and resistance to treatment. Her work in the Lawlor lab has helped identify a subset of mesenchymal and extracellular matrix-associated genes which subpopulations of tumor cells express that promote tumor aggression. Her current work focuses on identifying key upstream regulators of this cell state plasticity that can be targeted to reduce metastatic progression, and on developing therapeutic strategies to destroy the pro-metastatic microenvironment generated by these tumors.