about us

Meet the Mani Lab

Our team is passionate about their research dedicated to determining the underlying molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis and improving patients’ lives.

Experts in the field of cancer biology

Major areas of research in the Mani lab include:

  • Adaptive immunity in EMT and metastasis
  • Genomic and epigenomic analysis of cellular plasticity during metastasis
  • Identification, characterization, and development of small molecules for treating therapy resistance and metastasis
  • Role of hybrid EMT in tumor metastasis

 

Sendurai A. Mani, Ph.D.

Sendurai A. Mani, Ph.D.

Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University
Associate Director of Translational Oncology at Brown University Legorreta Cancer Center
mani@brown.edu

Sendurai A. Mani is a Professor in the Department of  Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University. He is also the Associate Director of Translational Oncology at Brown University Legorreta Cancer Center. Dr. Mani earned a Ph.D. from The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and then did postdoctoral work with Dr. Robert A. Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. He then joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas as an Assistant Professor in December of 2007 and has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2013. In late 2022, Dr. Mani joined Brown University Legorreta Cancer Center as a professor and Associate Director of Translational Oncology.  Dr. Mani has received numerous prizes and awards for his research, including a Jimmy V foundation’s V-Scholar Award and The American Cancer Society Research Scholar award. Dr. Mani’s original finding demonstrating the cancer cells acquire stem cell properties by activating latent embryonic epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program provided the foundation and explanation for the presence of plasticity within the tumor as well as the development of resistance to various treatments.

Petra den Hollander, Ph.D.

Petra den Hollander, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University
petra_den_hollander@brown.edu

Petra den Hollander is an Assistant Professor in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Her research focus is on understanding the aggressiveness of triple-negative breast cancers, and to identify targets and agents to overcome resistance mechanisms. During her graduate training she worked on the identification of protein complexes that were important in breast cancer growth and estrogen hypersensitivity. For her postdoctoral training Dr. den Hollander collaborated with the Bioinformatics Research Lab, and the Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in the development of a new high-throughput sequencing technique to aid in the discovery of genetic alterations in cancer. In the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention at MD Anderson, Dr. den Hollander used preclinical animal models for the development of new strategies in triple-negative breast cancer prevention and treatment. Her current research is focused on identifying the underlying mechanisms of the induction and maintenance of cancer stem cells and their resistance mechanisms using single cell ‘omics’ techniques identifying targets to successfully treat cancers and prevent metastatic progression. 

Nick A. Kuburich, Ph.D.

Nick A. Kuburich, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Brown University
kuburich@brown.edu

Nick is from Northwest Arkansas. He graduated with Honors from Arkansas Tech University, where he studied biology. Nick received his Ph.D. in Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Cell Biology from Oklahoma State University, where he worked in Dr. Hadwiger’s lab. He studied the cellular signaling of the model organism Dictyostelium. His research focused on characterizing post-translational modifications of a phosphodiesterase and characterizing the functionality and regulation of an atypical MAPK.

At M.D. Anderson, Nick was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Mani’s lab in the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology and an NCI T32 research fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology. Here, he worked on cancer biology and metastasis, specifically in characterizing the function of the cytoskeleton’s intermediate filaments.

Nick has continued his research with Dr. Mani at Brown University, where he primarily works on the characterization of the mesenchymal intermediate vimentin, a protein that is both a marker and active enforcer of the mesenchymal state. Vimentin is tightly regulated by phosphorylation in the cell, controlling its assembly and disassembly for its functions in motility and structure in the cell. However, stabilizing vimentin phosphorylation leads to deleterious consequences for specific cells that have initiated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Through research in the Mani lab and collaborations, Nick has shown that vimentin can be stabilized using small molecules, leading to the inhibition of carcinoma cells with mesenchymal properties. His end goal is to develop targeted therapies that will be given with standard chemotherapies to treat TNBC. Nick’s hobbies are reading, playing video games, watching anime, and cooking.

Thiru Sabapathy, Ph.D.

Thiru Sabapathy, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Brown University
thiruvarutchelvan_sabapathy@brown.edu

Thiru Sabapathy received his PhD in receptor and membrane biology from Curtin University, Australia, where he investigated the molecular events involved in the interaction between insulin and its receptor, and how diet-related changes in the lipid environment of plasma membrane affects this interaction. He then performed his postdoctoral research on antimicrobial peptides’ selectivity for cancer cells in exerting their cytotoxic effects, using a range of biophysical approaches. Thiru joined the Mani Lab in 2022 as a postdoctoral fellow investigating the synergistic role of the combination of p38 MAPK inhibitors and chemotherapeutic drugs on primary tumor growth reduction and metastasis prevention in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). His current research focuses on using preclinical mouse models to evaluate various combination therapies
including immune checkpoint blockade therapy for TNBC.

Henri Blouin

Henri Blouin

Administrative Coordinator, Brown University
henri_blouin@brown.edu

Henri is the administrative Coordinator for the Mani lab. Please reach out to him for any assistance regarding admin-related work or questions in the Mani lab!

Breanna Demestichas

Breanna Demestichas

Graduate Student (Ph.D.), Brown University
breanna_demestichas@brown.edu 

Breanna is a graduate student in the Mani lab. She studied at Binghamton University for her BS in Cell/Molecular Biology and BA in Mathematics. As an undergraduate, her research focused on applications of bioorthogonal chemistry in the synthesis of stable and homogeneous antibody-drug conjugates. She then worked in the lab of Dr. Tobias Janowitz at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, focusing on the systemic effects of cancer and specifically exploring the endocrinological effects impacting immunotherapy efficacy in pre-clinical models. In the Mani lab, she looks forward to exploring the factors that influence immune system dysregulation and mechanisms of immune evasion during metastasis.

Joanna Joyce Maddela

Joanna Joyce Maddela

Graduate Student, Brown University
joanna_joyce_maddela@brown.edu 

Joanna is a Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, and Biochemistry (MCB) Ph.D. student in the Mani lab since Spring 2023. She studied at California State University, Northridge to get her BS in Cell and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. As an NIH RISE/MARC Fellow, she investigated factors that may be regulating intratumoral heterogeneity in triple negative breast cancer. In the Mani lab, she is exploring the mechanisms governing breast cancer stem cell fate. Outside the lab, she loves to play video games, crochet, cook, bake, watch anime, listening to K-pop, and go on hikes!

 Diana Ferreyra Faustino

Diana Ferreyra Faustino

Graduate Student, Brown University
diana_ferreyra_faustino@brown.edu

Diana is a Pathobiology PhD student in the Mani Lab. She studied at CUNY BMCC for her AS and transfered to SUNY Binghamton University for her BS in Molecular Biology. As an LSAMP and CSTEP undergraduate her research focused on neurobiology, specifically on behavioral biology at different development states during opioid addiction treatment. She then worked at Merck Sharp & Dohme, where she focused on the pharmacokinetics of membrane transport proteins and small molecules. She helped in assay development, automation and exploratory research. In the Mani Lab, she looks forward to exploring the intricacies of pancreatic cancer and how stemness influences the microenvironment. Diana is originally from Peru and moved to the United Stated in 2016. She loves traveling, food, anime/movies, gardening and hiking.

Claire Gould

Claire Gould

Research Assistant, Brown University
claire_gould@brown.edu

Claire is a research assistant in the Mani Lab. She received her BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. As an undergraduate researcher, she investigated the evolution and development of the vertebrate head skeleton in the Medeiros Lab. After graduating, she worked for a year and a half at Biodesix, a lung cancer diagnostics company, where she helped in the ongoing development of a pan-cancer minimal residual disease assay, as well as the implementation of next-generation sequencing, droplet digital PCR, and single-cell capture platforms in biomarker development and discovery. In the Mani lab, she is excited to support the spatial and single-cell transcriptomics projects, as well as expand her experience in the cancer field.
Claire is originally from Denver, Colorado, and enjoys hiking, soccer, and being outdoors in her free time.

Matt Manwaring

Matt Manwaring

Research Assistant, Brown University
matthew_manwaring@brown.edu

Matt is originally from New Hampshire and is a research assistant in the Mani Lab. He obtained a BS in Biochemistry from St. Lawrence University with a background in neuroscience and molecular biology. After graduating, Matt worked at FYR Diagnostics in Missoula, MT for almost two years. While at FYR Diagnostics Matt worked on the development and discovery of novel diagnostic approaches for multiple cancers and neurodegenerative disorders through a focus on liquid biopsies and targeting post translational modifications. Upon joining the Mani Lab he is looking forward to applying techniques aimed at the single cell level, expanding his own knowledge of cancer metastasis, and helping translate the work being done in the lab to a diagnostic or therapeutic application. Matt can be considered one of those pesky outdoor enthusiasts when not in the lab. Additionally, since cooking for himself, Matt has discovered a great appreciation for delicious food. 

Kitti Banga

Kitti Banga

Masters Graduate Student, Brown University
kitti_banga@brown.edu

Kitti was born in Szombathely, Hungary and moved to the United States in 2008. She’s lived in numerous places across the United States, but she’s enjoying the New England area since moving to Rhode Island for graduate school. Outside of the lab, she enjoys taking road trips and spending time with friends and family. Kitti joined Brown University’s Biotechnology ScM program in Fall 2023. Previously, she studied at New Mexico State University for her bachelor’s degrees in Biology and in Genetics & Biotechnology. She worked as a MARC Research Fellow, where she worked on examining the accessible chromatin regions between duplicated gene copies in the tetraploid Leucaena trichandra. Kitti looks forward to working in the Mani Lab, where her main focus will be on research involving bioinformatics. Her goal is to use single-cell transcriptomics to characterize multinucleated cancer cells. Currently, she is completing a Genomic Assay Development Co-op at Tessera Therapeutics, while remotely performing the bioinformatic analyses.

 

Julia Kiselka

Julia Kiselka

Masters Graduate Student, Brown University
julia_kiselka@brown.edu

Julia is an ScM student in the biotechnology program, matriculating in the fall of 2023, and anticipates graduating in spring 2025. Previously, Julia worked in the Lichtenberger laboratory at the University of Arizona. There, she utilized cyclic voltammetry and linear sweep voltammetry to characterize the electrochemical properties of novel dimetal catalysts for hydrogen fuel production. Her work centered on identifying the efficiency, speed, and lifetime of aromatically bridged [2Fe-2S] clusters for electrocatalytic hydrogen production. She subsequently transferred and graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.S. in Neuroscience. In the Mani lab, Julia studies the interactions between intermediate filaments and their effects on triple-negative breast cancer characteristics.

Originally from Poland, Julia has lived in several countries around the world. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, ice skating, and skiing.

Shrey Mehta

Shrey Mehta

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
shrey_mehta@brown.edu

From sunny Los Angeles, California, Shrey Mehta has been enjoying seasonal New England through vintage cafes, peaceful walks through nature, and documenting exciting memories with his camcorder. Shrey is an undergraduate student at Brown (class of 2026) intending to concentrate on Neuroscience. His current research interests lie in investigating the underlying mechanisms and patterns of progressive diseases, such as challenging and invasive cancers. He aspires to utilize this up-close understanding in order to improve the early diagnosis of such illnesses in the medical field. Moving forward, Shrey looks forward to diving deeper into cancer pathology and learning about all aspects of the research process with the Mani lab. Right now, his work focuses on the relationship between fatty acid metabolism and the metastatic potential of breast cancer stem cells, striving to uncover another angle of disease treatment.

Bilal Ali

Bilal Ali

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
bilal_ali@brown.edu

Bilal Ali is a first-year undergraduate student intending to concentrate in Computer Science and Applied Math-Biology. His current research interests lie in investigating genetic mechanisms involved in tumor formation and cancer metastasis. He aspires to study the intersection between machine learning and biology to expedite the process of detection, prognosis, and administration of cancer treatments. In his free time, Bilal enjoys playing soccer, running, and discovering new music.

Joel Gonzalez

Joel Gonzalez

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
joel_gonzalez@brown.edu

Joel Gonzalez is a third-year undergraduate student from the Bronx, New York, studying Immunobiology and Public Health. His current research interests revolve around viral diseases, cancer pathogenesis, and drug discovery. He has experience working with avian viruses, human viruses, bacteria, and epidemiological data. He aspires to develop his own biotech company someday, focusing on developing novel therapeutics for viral oncogenic diseases. Outside the lab, he likes to go on hikes, play basketball, and explore.

Yumiko Imai

Yumiko Imai

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
yumiko_imai@brown.edu

Yumiko Imai is a second-year undergraduate student from Haddam, Connecticut, concentrating in Cell and Molecular Biology. She is currently interested in AML and also immune cell infiltration in tumors. In the Mani Lab, Yumi hopes to learn all about the research process and study cancer stem cell properties. Outside of the lab and classroom, she spends her time volunteering at the Miriam Hospital, finding delicious restaurants in Providence, and hiking in the White Mountains.

Former Mani lab members from Brown

Julie Yeo

Julie Yeo

Undergraduate trainee, Brown University
julie_yeo@brown.edu

Julie Yeo is a fourth-year undergraduate student from Rockville, Maryland, concentrating in Immunobiology on the pre-med track. Her research interests lie in understanding the complex interactions between cancer and the immune system, as well as discovering targeted therapies that harness the immune microenvironment to improve patient outcomes. Her current research investigates how different phenotypic states along the epithelial-mesenchymal spectrum align with changes in cancer cell stemness and immune evasion properties. Outside of the lab, Julie is a TA for Principles of Immunology and a volunteer at the Rhode Island Free Clinic. In her free time, she enjoys skating with Brown’s Figure Skating Team and crafting letters with Snail Mail @ Brown.

Orly Richter

Orly Richter

Undergraduate trainee, Brown University
orly_richter@brown.edu

Orly is a senior undergraduate concentrating in Biology. Her previous research experience includes studies of molecular parasitology and invasive lobular carcinoma. In the Mani Lab, she is excited to further explore epithelial-mesenchymal transition mechanisms and targeted treatments and to broaden her experience in the field of cancer research. Outside of the lab, Orly enjoys competing with the Brown Equestrian Team, tour guiding for prospective Brown students, and crocheting. 

Xiuyuan (Shawn) Xiangli

Xiuyuan (Shawn) Xiangli

Masters Graduate Student, Brown University
xiuyuan_xiangli@brown.edu

Xiuyan (who goes by Shawn) is from Beijing, China. Shawn is an ScM student in the biotechnology program matriculating in Fall 2023. He studied at Case Western Reserve University for his BS in biochemistry. For his undergraduate, he studied the mechanism of F-CAR-T cells in B-cell acute leukemia and also evaluated the differences between F-CAR-T cells and C-CAR-T cells. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books, watching movies, and playing basketball. In Dr. Mani’s lab, Shawn is studying the role of EMT in the regulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Outside of lab, Shwan likes to play video games and read books. 

Lisa (Seo Hyun) Baek

Lisa (Seo Hyun) Baek

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
seo_hyun_baek@brown.edu

Lisa (Seo Hyun) Baek is a first-year undergraduate studying Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at Brown University. Through her time at Brown, she hopes to learn of the broad applications of mathematics in medicine through research involving bioinformatics and mathematical oncology. Currently, she plays the cello in the Brown University Orchestra and is part of the Design x Health team at Brown.

Adam Ibrahim

Adam Ibrahim

Undergraduate Student, Brown University
adam_ibrahim@brown.edu

Adam Ibrahim is a first-year undergraduate student at Brown University concentrating in neuroscience. While interning with Weill Cornell Medical College as a high school student, he was introduced to the existing racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes and their various biological and social causes, a topic he decided to explore further for his International Baccalaureate extended essay. His research interests include the study of possible approaches that can be used to better outcomes for individuals diagnosed with this aggressive subtype. In his free time, he enjoys reading fantasy novels, listening to new albums, and spending time with friends outdoors.

Nya Love

Nya Love

Summer Undergraduate Student, Brown University
Nya_love1@brown.edu

Nya was a summer student in the Mani lab in 2023. Here she worked with Dr. Nick Kuburich on characterizing the changes of the tumor immune microenvironment following treatment with an anti-cancer stem cell agent. 

Our Approach

We combine state-of-the-art technologies focused on single-cell omics, such as single-cell DNA and RNA sequencing, spatial transcriptomics, multispectral imaging, life cell multi-color time-lapse imaging, and other platforms, with varied in vivo models with the intent to develop the next generation of therapeutics for these highly challenging cancers. At the center of our approach is the unique team of passionate and innovative researchers and collaborators in the Mani lab.

Our Mission

The Mani Lab investigates how cancer cells develop metastasis and resistance to treatments through invoking the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, cellular plasticity, and cheating the immune system. The Mani Lab identifies the underlying biology and develops treatment strategies for these highly aggressive tumors using preclinical models, patient tumor tissues, and genomic data from patient tumors.

Our Vision

Our vision is to create new cancer therapies through basic and translational science using preclinical models of cancer progression and metastasis.

Assembled and maintained by Nick Kuburich, Ph.D.