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Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory
Harrison Department of Surgical Research
Sunil Singhal, M.D.
Current Faculty Leaders
Dr. Sunil SinghalSunil Singhal, M.D. (2007 - present) is the Director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania and received post-graduate training at Johns-Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania. His research interests in nanotechnology, intraoperative immune suppression, muscle physiology, patient outcome, myeloid derived suppressor cells, and gene-expression and profiling are what drives the laboratories’ core experimental philosophy.
Dr. Sandy LevineSandy Levine, MD (2007 - present) Adjunct Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Evgeniy EruslanovEvgeniy Eruslanov, PhD (2013 - present) Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Current Lab Members
Michael Annunziata (2015 - present) graduated from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics. After graduation he worked in private equity with a focus on software and internet businesses, then returned to UPenn for post-baccalaureate studies. Currently, he researches the effect of the tumor microenvironment on local immune function and in model effector cell systems. He plans to pursue a career in medicine and become a Tai Chi Push-Hands master.
Michael Baldassari (2016 - present) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A in the Biological Basis of Behavior in 2013. From 2013 to June of 2016, he was the Tissue Procurement Coordinator and image Analysis Technician for the Department of Pathology at the Drexel University College of Medicine. Since then, he has taken a Harrison Surgical Scholar position in Dr. Sunil Singhal's Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory. He hopes to attend medical school in 2017 and is interested in a career in surgery.
Courtney Connolly (2016 - present) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with her B.A. in biology. Before joining the lab, she researched ectopic coagulation factor expression for hemophilia gene therapy and worked as a clinical research coordinator in the Ob/Gyn department.  She is interested in pursuing a career in medicine.
Ashley Dunbar (2016 - present) graduated from Yale University with her B.A. in History of Science and Medicine and completed her Post-Baccalaureate studies at UPenn. Prior to joining Dr. Singhal's lab, Ashley worked in the Neurology Department at the Yale School of Medicine doing research on self-reactive T cells in human autoimmune diseases. As a Harrison Surgical Scholar, Ashley is responsible for intraoperative imaging of cancer and implementing clinical models to test imaging in the laboratory. She is interested in pursing a career in medicine.
Jack Mizelle (2016- present) graduated summa cum laude in 2016 from Franklin & Marshall College with his B.S. in Biochemistry with a chemistry focus. At F&M, Jack studied the effect of small organic molecules on molybdenum adsorption onto pyrite, starting from his freshman year. During his junior year, Jack was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa; he acted as the PBK guide in senior year. As a Harrison Surgical Scholar, Jack works on the development of monitor systems involved in intraoperative molecular imaging of lung cancer through a mouse model system and through working with patients and surgeons in the OR to facilitate the identification of previously undetectable malignancies.  He plans on pursuing a career in surgery.
Andrew Newton, MD (2016 - present) graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is currently a general surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He will spend two years in the lab studying intraoperative molecular imaging for gastrointestinal and other malignancies. Upon completion of his general surgery training, he will pursue a fellowship in Surgical Oncology.
Jarrod Predina (2015 - present) MD, MTR graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is currently a General Surgery Resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  He is spending 3 years in the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory where his research focuses include  (1) intraoperative molecular imaging approaches for thoracic malignancies and (2) adjuvant immunotherapies for NSCLC and mesothelioma.   His work is being funded by the NIH, AASF, and the American Philosophical Society.  Following his General Surgery training, Dr. Predina will pursue a fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery. 
Abhishek Rao (2014 - present) graduated from the Drexel University with his M.S in Biomedical Engineering.  Prior to joining this lab, he worked for a small startup Biotech company where he developed and streamlined an ELISA kit to measure a protein to detect early onset or recurrence of liver cancer and its anti-tumor reversal effects in cancer.   Currently, he primarily focuses on understanding the effects of tumor microenvironment on effector cell interactions, through systematically designed procedures and analyzing them through flow cytometry and the usage of animal models.  He plans on pursuing a career in medicine and traveling the world.
Jason Standalick, Ph.D. (2016 - present) completed his doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania in the Immunology Graduate Group in 2008.  Following graduate school, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. David Wiest at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he studied the role of ribosomal protein RPL22 in alpha/beta and gamma/delta T cell and leukemia development.  Jason then worked at Vitae Pharmaceuticals using the fund of his training to advance a small-molecule inhibitor of ROR-gT from the pre-clinical stage through to Phase 1 testing.  In 2016, Jason joined Dr. Singhal's lab, and is using an array of cellular and molecular techniques to interrogate the role that "hybrid" neutrophils play in modulating the host's immune system response to lung cancer.  As a senior scientist in the lab, Jason is forwarding both independent projects as well as our combined cancer program efforts.
Leilei Xia (2016 - present) graduated from the Anhui Medical University in China with a medical degree. He also received his Master’s degree in Surgery (Urology) from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. Before coming to the United States, Leilei worked in the Department of Urology at Shanghai Ruijin Hospital and researched in the areas of urological cancer. He then visited as the clinical observer at Penn Urology. Currently, he is working with Dr. Singhal and Dr. Guzzo on the usage of intraoperative imaging for renal cell carcinoma, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer. He plans on pursuing a career in urology.
Ryan Zeh (2016 - present) graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with his B.S. in Neuroscience. While there, he worked at the Department of Neurosurgery’s Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center, primarily researching diagnostic tools, biomarkers, and treatments for mild and severe traumatic brain injury. Ryan’s current work aims to extend the applications of intraoperative molecular imaging of cancer into the field of neurosurgery through the development of laboratory models and clinical trials.


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