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People

Principal Investigators

Jennifer R. Grandis, MD

Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Associate Vice Chancellor, Clinical and Translational Research
Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor
Email: [email protected]

Full Bio

Jenny Grandis co-directs the Head and Neck Cancer Laboratory at UCSF with Dan Johnson and Patrick Ha. She is a physician scientist who received her clinical and research training at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research efforts are focused on elucidating and targeting key signaling pathways and genomic alterations in head and neck cancer with the goals of enabling precision medicine studies based on strong studies in relevant models. She leverages access to head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and their biospecimens to optimize translational research studies that include developing novel therapies in the laboratory for clinical application as well as generating and interrogating relevant preclinical models to determine the underlying mechanisms of clinical findings. She helped lead the national efforts to determine the genetic and epigenetic landscape of HNC (as corresponding author of a 2011 Science paper and co-leader of the TCGA HNC Working Group) and now routinely deploys these findings to help guide the delivery of HNC precision medicine. She directed the Head and Neck Cancer Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 1998-2014, where she was a Distinguished Professor. She served as PI of the NCI-supported Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Head and Neck Cancer at the University of Pittsburgh from 2002-2014 and currently serves as Co-PI of the SPORE in a MPI format (through 2020). Since 2008, she has been an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor. At UCSF, she is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research and Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she also directs the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Jenny is particularly focused on training the next generation of investigators and has greatly enjoyed mentoring dozens of medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. She is married to Don Grandis, a cardiologist at UCSF and has two grown children, Ben and Anna. She enjoys running, hiking and the beauty of the Bay Area. Other hobbies include reading, cooking, baking and quilting.

 

Patrick Ha, MD
Chief, Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery
Irwin Mark Jacobs and Joan Klein Jacobs Distinguished Professor of Head and Neck Surgery
Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Email: [email protected] 

Full Bio

Patrick Ha, MD is a Professor and the Chief of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He also holds the Irwin Mark Jacobs and Joan Klein Jacobs Distinguished Professorship in Head and Neck Surgery. Prior to joining UCSF’s Department of OHNS in 2015, Dr. Ha was a clinician scientist and an associate professor on the full time faculty at Johns Hopkins working at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Patrick’s clinical expertise covers the full breadth of head and neck surgery, including a focus on thyroid and parathyroid surgery, as well as endoscopic laser and transoral robotic approaches for throat cancers. His current area of research is focused on the molecular changes occurring in salivary gland adenoid cystic carcinoma, and he has held multiple NIH grants towards this aim, including a current R01 award. In addition, he serves on the editorial board of several journals including Head and Neck and Oral Oncology and on NIH study section panels. While at Johns Hopkins, he held the role of associate residency program director and won several teaching awards for his work with medical students and residents.

He now co-directs the UCSF Head and Neck Cancer Signaling Lab along with Dan Johnson and Jenny Grandis, where he maintains his focus on adenoid cystic carcinoma as well as leading the Oral Head and Neck Cancer Research Group, which brings together scientific experts across UCSF to collaborate on head and neck cancer research.

Daniel E. Johnson, PhD
Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Email: [email protected] 

Full Bio

Daniel Johnson co-directs the Head and Neck Cancer Laboratory at UCSF with Jenny Grandis and Patrick Ha. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from Princeton and did his postdoctoral training in the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF. From 1993-2016 he was a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was Scientific Director of the Acute Leukemia Working Group, recipient of an excellence in mentorship award, and a co-leader of the School of Medicine Career Mentoring Program for junior faculty. Since joining the UCSF Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery as Professor in 2016, he has focused his research exclusively on head and neck cancer (HNC). He is particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms of cell death activated by novel therapeutic targeting agents. He further seeks to elucidate the cellular defects that contribute to cell death blockade and resistance to targeting agents, with the goal of devising strategies to overcome this resistance. He places an important focus on translating findings from the lab into investigator-initiated clinical trials. To facilitate this translation he has developed and maintained long-standing collaborations with clinician scientists with expertise in head and neck cancer (Jennifer Grandis, MD, Julie Bauman, MD) and acute myeloid leukemia (Robert Redner, MD). This has allowed him to successfully foster the development of clinical trials in both HNSCC and AML that are based in whole, or in part, on findings from my laboratory. He has greatly enjoyed serving as primary mentor for a diverse group of individuals, including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and junior faculty, and has enjoyed particular success in helping advance his mentees to positions as independent investigators.

Daniel is married to Sylvia Johnson and has three children, Rachel, Josiah, and Matthew. He enjoys woodworking, mentoring Jr. and Sr. High youth, and singing.

Jenny Grandis co-directs the Head and Neck Cancer Laboratory at UCSF with Dan Johnson and Patrick Ha. She is a physician scientist who received her clinical and research training at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research efforts are focused on elucidating and targeting key signaling pathways and genomic alterations in head and neck cancer with the goals of enabling precision medicine studies based on strong studies in relevant models. She leverages access to head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and their biospecimens to optimize translational research studies that include developing novel therapies in the laboratory for clinical application as well as generating and interrogating relevant preclinical models to determine the underlying mechanisms of clinical findings. She helped lead the national efforts to determine the genetic and epigenetic landscape of HNC (as corresponding author of a 2011 Science paper and co-leader of the TCGA HNC Working Group) and now routinely deploys these findings to help guide the delivery of HNC precision medicine. She directed the Head and Neck Cancer Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 1998-2014, where she was a Distinguished Professor. She served as PI of the NCI-supported Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Head and Neck Cancer at the University of Pittsburgh from 2002-2014 and currently serves as Co-PI of the SPORE in a MPI format (through 2020). Since 2008, she has been an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor. At UCSF, she is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research and Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she also directs the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Jenny is particularly focused on training the next generation of investigators and has greatly enjoyed mentoring dozens of medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. She is married to Don Grandis, a cardiologist at UCSF and has two grown children, Ben and Anna. She enjoys running, hiking and the beauty of the Bay Area. Other hobbies include reading, cooking, baking and qui

Research Team

Cory Hyun-su Kim  l  Junior Specialist  I  Email: [email protected]

Hyun-su, also known as Cory, graduated from University of California, Davis in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As an aspiring pre-med with a special interest in otolaryngology, he is working closely with Dr. Patrick Ha and Dr. Oren Humtsoe to investigate the alternative splicing events and unique transcripton factor signalings in adenoid cystic carcinoma. When he is not working in the lab, Cory enjoys exploring the city, listening to music, and watching Netflix and Korean shows.

 

 

 

Hadas Tal  l  Junior Specialist  l  Email: [email protected]

Hadas received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Tel Aviv University, Israel. Seeking to continue her studies and research she is working with Dr. Daniel Johnson and Dr. Zhibin Cui to reveal caspase-8 mutation function in Head and Neck cancer. When she is not working in the lab, Hadas loves playing soccer with her husband—Yoni, painting, and listening to audio books.

 

 

 

 

Hua Li, PhD  l  Specilaist  l  Email: [email protected]

Hua received her PhD from China Agricultural University and did her postdoctoral training in the University of Pittsburgh. She joined the Grandis lab in 2012 and moved to UCSF with Dr. Grandis to join the Head and Neck Cancer Lab in 2015. Her work has been focusing on developing the Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model and creating a PDX tumor library for therapeutic modeling. Outside of the lab, Hua enjoys reading, yoga, tennis and hiking.

 

 

 

Janice Cho  l  Medical Student  l  Email: [email protected]

Janice Cho is originally from Los Angeles. She is a medical student from Wake Forest University and a HHMI Medical Fellow. She is currently studying the oncogenic potential of non-canonical PIK3CA mutations in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. She received a BA in human biology and Spanish from Pitzer College. Apart from lab work, she enjoys hiking, spinning, traveling, learning new languages, and rooting for the Dodgers.

 

 

 

Joseph O. Humtsoe, PhD  l  Assistant Researcher  l  Email: [email protected]

Joseph Orenthung Humtsoe/Oren comes from Nagaland, a small tribal hill state geographically located at the far east of India. He earned his MS and PhD in Biochemistry from the North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong, India, and received his post-doctoral training at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University, Houston, TX. Prior to joining the Head and Neck Cancer Laboratory and team up with Dr. Patrick Ha, he was at the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, UCSF (Dr. Randall Kramer lab), studying the mechanistic aspects of growth factor receptor signaling in head and neck cancer.

He loves playing soccer (now retired!!), and hiking in wide open spaces.

 

 

Lanlin Hu  l  Visiting Scholar  l  Email: [email protected]

Lanlin Hu is a visiting graduate student from Sichuan University in China, where she investigated the chemo-resistance to 5-FU in colorectal cancer cell lines. In December 2016, she joined the Head and Neck Cancer Lab to study the impact of Sulforaphane on chemo-prevention and cytotoxicity induced by Natural Killer cells in HNSCC.

Lanlin is from Chengdu, a southwestern city in China that is famous for spicy cuisines, cute pandas, and the beautiful scenery. She loves eating delicious food, and she enjoys cooking, watching movies, and traveling.

 

 

Nan Jin, PhD  l  Post-doctoral Scholar  l  Email: [email protected]

Nan Jin received her PhD from the State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, China. She joined the Grandis lab in June, 2018. She always put her scientific insights into the translational challenges faced by molecularly-targeted cancer therapies. She focuses on determining the impact of targeting PI3K and examining biomarkers of PI3K inhibitor resistance by analyzing paired biospecimens and PDXs developed from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients enrolled on a window-of-opportunity trial of the PI3K inhibitor BYL719. Now she is working on delineating the oncogenic potential of non-canonical PIK3CA mutations in HNSCC. In her free time, she loves gym workout every day and enjoys traveling with family and friends.

 

 

Rodell Santuray  l  Medical Student  l  Email: [email protected]

Rodell is originally from the Los Angeles area. He received his BS in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Johns Hopkins University. After working in the biotechnology industry, he realized his passion for working with patients. He is now a medical student at UCSF and joined the Head and Neck Cancer Lab in July 2017 to study the functional consequences of PTEN loss in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Outside the lab, he enjoys cooking, eating, and traveling with his wife, Aparna. 

 

 

 

Yan Zeng, MD  l  Staff Research Associate  l  Email: [email protected]

Yan Zeng is a staff research associate in the lab. She joined the Grandis Lab in July 2011 and moved to UCSF to join the Head and Neck Cancer Lab in July 2015. She received her MD degree in China. Her responsibility includes bench work and animal work.

Yan is married and has two children, Michelle and Devin. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, and playing tennis and ping pong.

 

 

 

Yun Sae (Simon) Lee, MD, PhD  I  Visiting Scholar  I  Email: [email protected]

Yun Sae Lee has joined the head and neck lab since March 2018 as a visiting scholar. He received MD and PhD degree at Ulsan University in Korea. He is, currently, an associate professor of Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical Center. Head and neck cancer, thyroid cancer, pediatric airway, and facial nerve reanimation are his major clinical field. The tumor phenotype changes from CYLD knock-out in HPV (+) cancer and combination therapy of anti-PD-1 agents with anthracycline are his recent research topic.

He enjoys reading, traveling, and playing tennis with his daughter.

 

 

Zhibin Cui  I  Post-doctoral Scholar  I  Email: [email protected]

Zhibin Cui is a postdoctoral researcher in the Head and Neck laboratory. He received his DDS and PhD from China, and his PhD research direction was to study the function of potential diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers in head and neck cancer. His research interest has always been the clinical and biological study of head and neck cancer. In Dr. Grandis, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ha’s head and neck cancer research group, he currently focuses on the functional study of one of the most frequently mutated genes CASP8 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, exploring to understand the noncatalytic function of caspase-8 mutations in cancer initiation and progression. In his free time, he enjoys the happy moments with his wife and his two sons, Alexander and Vincent.