Research Staff

Staff, Postdocs & Fellows

  • Dana C. Baiu, PhD
    Associate Scientist

    Dana holds an M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Bucharest, Romania. Her graduate and postgraduate research focused on the role of antigen presentation in the modulation of immune responses in the context of vaccination, autoimmunity and transplantation. Currently, her research focuses on the study of gamma-delta T cells during hematopoietic cell recovery after bone marrow transplantation to improve therapies for pediatric solid malignancies, and on magnetic nanoparticle targeting to GD2-expressing tumors to improve diagnosis and imaging of pediatric neuroblastoma.

  • Sean P. Rinella, MPH
    Graduate Research Assistant
  • Ankita Shahi, PhD
    Assistant Researcher

    Ankita joined our team in 2015 as an associate research specialist. She obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology from Bangalore University, India. She received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from the Department of Pharmacology, Chosun University, South Korea. Her graduate research work focused on finding the role of Mismatch-Repair Protein MSH6 in double strand break repair through upregulation of non-homologous end-joining by association with Ku70. Her major work in our lab focuses on the anti-tumor response of phospholipid ether analogs and its combined effect with radiation on DNA damage repair.

  • Suresh Veerankutty, PhD
    Honorary Fellow

    A Visiting Professor, Suresh joined the Otto laboratory in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health as a part of a UGC Raman Fellowship Program from the Indian Government. Suresh completed his PhD from Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, Kerala, India and is an active Faculty in the Government Victoria College Palakkad, Kerala, India. In the Otto laboratory, Suresh actively works on mechanisms of immune activation through targeted radionuclide therapy using a cancer-selective alkyl-phospholipid ether.

  • Gerald E. Weiss
    Associate Research Specialist

    Jerry is a postgraduate student that joined Dr. Otto’s laboratory in the Department of Pediatrics in 2017. Jerry plans to pursue a career in medicine and medical research in the near future, and is actively involved in the study of novel therapies for cancer. In the lab, Jerry’s research focuses on the development and testing of new cancer-targeted molecules for the immunotherapy of pediatric cancer.

Undergraduate Students

  • Alexander L. Boruch
    Student Researcher

    Alex is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Psychology, and he currently plans to pursue a career in medicine. Alex participates in research with in vivo experiments evaluating tumor growth rates and response to small molecule anticancer agents.

  • Elaine M. Dandan
    Student Researcher

    Elaine is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in 2018 in Biology, with a certificate in Religious Studies. Elaine’s research has focused on determining whether a novel graft engineering technique developed by Dr. Otto decreases the incidence of graft versus host reactivity. Her research was the subject of a UW-Madison Summer Term Research Experience Program scholarship in 2017.

  • Simran Kaur
    Student Researcher

    Simran is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in 2019 in Biology, with a certificate in Entrepreneurship and Global Health, and planning to pursue medical studies in the future. In the Otto lab, Simran works on in vitro experiments testing the effects of an alkyl-phospholipid ether in combination with radiation on cell signaling during double strand DNA break damage and repair.

  • Nicole M. Philipps
    Student Researcher

    Nicole is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in 2018 in Biology, with certificates in Environmental Studies and Global Health. Nicole is working in Dr. Otto’s lab on in vivo modeling of the reconstitution of a new immune system following bone marrow transplantation. After graduation, Nicole plans to pursue a career in pediatrics or obstetrics.

  • Mackenzie S. Rabas
    Student Researcher

    Mackenzie is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Neurobiology with a certificate in Studio Art, preparing to pursue a career in medicine. Mackenzie’s research within the Otto lab focuses on in vivo models of targeted radiotherapy of pediatric cancers using beta-emitting radionuclides.

  • Kevin S. Thayyil
    Student Researcher

Alumni

  • Saswati Bhattacharya, PhD
    Saswati C. Bhattacharya , PhD

    Saswati received her PhD in Science from Jadavpur University in West Bengal, India. Her research in Dr. Otto's lab focused on the induction of the apoptotic pathways leading to cancer cell killing by a cancer-selective phospholipid ether molecule, and its effect on key cell-survival molecules, such as the protein kinase Akt.

  • Tom DuBois
    Tom D. DuBois

    Tom was a senior undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Neurobiology with a Certificate in Global Health. Tom enjoyed volunteering at two local medical clinics and served as the Director of Development for a non-profit organization in Madison, the Healthy Classrooms Foundation. Tom's research in the Otto Lab focused on the anti-tumor properties of the novel phospholipid ether molecule CLR1404. He graduated in 2013, and enrolled in medical studies.

  • Mohamed Elsaid
    Mohamed Elsaid, MD

    Mohamed obtained his MD, MBBS degree in 2005 from the University of Khartoum, Sudan. He finished his Pediatric residency at the Children's Hospital of New Jersey in 2013. He then joined the department of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin as a Pediatric Hematology Oncology fellow in June of 2013. His research project focused on integrating targeted therapies for childhood cancer, specifically neuroblastoma.

  • Kyle Kloepping
    Kyle C. Kloepping, PhD

    Kyle holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Biotechnology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a Ph.D. in Free Radical and Radiation Biology from the University of Iowa. His graduate research primarily focused on the development of a mitochondria-targeted therapy for metastatic melanoma. He research for the Otto lab focused on the development of a novel phospholipid ether analog for combined targeted molecular radiotherapy and immunotherapy in pediatric solid tumors.

  • Sarah Laudon
    Sarah M. Laudon

    Sarah was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Genetics with a Certificate in Global Health. She graduated in 2015 and planned on attending professional school to work in a pediatrics field. Her research focused on the phospholipid ether molecule CLR1404 and its potential to be of use for neuroblastoma treatment.

  • Roberta Marino, PhD
    Roberta C Marino, PhD

    Roberta graduated with a MS degree from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, and obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in a joint program administered by the Federal University of São Paulo, and the University of Tennessee and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Her work with the Otto Lab focused on the evaluation of a novel compound for simultaneous tumor imaging and cancer therapy. After completing her postdoctoral training, Roberta joined a pediatrics research team in St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

  • Meghan McElreath
    Meghan R. McElreath

    Meghan was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with a Certificate in Global Health. Her research within the Otto Lab focused on the use of iron nanoparticles to specifically target and treat GD2-expressing tumors such as neuroblastoma, for which he received the prestigious Hilldale Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2013. Meghan is currently a medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

  • Bryan D. Menapace
    Bryan D. Menapace

    Bryan was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Biochemistry with a Certificate in Business. He worked the Otto Lab from October 2001 - December 2012, focusing on induction of apoptosis and necrosis in neuroblastoma through targeted inhibition of the Akt-pathway, and specific neuroblastoma tumor targeting and killing using nanoparticles. Bryan is a medical student at  Loyola University Medical School in Chicago, and will graduate in 2017. His goal is to become a pediatrician.

  • Sorabh Singhal
    Sorabh Singhal

    Sorabh was an Undergraduate Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Biochemistry with Certificates in Global Health and Leadership. Sorabh joined the lab in January 2013, and has focused on determining the cytotoxic effect of an alkylphosphocholine on various established neuroblastoma and sarcoma cell lines in vitro. Graduating in May 2016, he plans to pursue a career in medicine.

  • Matthew Wolf
    Matthew J. Wolf

    Matthew majored in 2016 in Biochemistry and Spanish from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently attends the Medical College of Wisconsin in Green Bay. His undergraduate research in the Otto Lab was focused on the anti-tumoral effects of a cancer-targeted alkyl-phospholipid ether and its influence on the communication between tumor cells and macrophages, for which he received the prestigious Hilldale Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2014.