PEOPLE 2024-02-23T15:35:04+00:00


Ramin Shiekhattar, Ph.D.

Dr. Shiekhattar is the Director of Cancer Epigenetics Program, Chief of Division of Cancer Genomics & Epigenetics and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His laboratory has made a number of seminal discoveries identifying and characterizing important mediators of epigenetic regulation and noncoding RNA processing that contribute to cancer development.

Currently, the laboratory is exploring a class of long noncoding RNAs that arise from enhancer elements and behave similar to transcriptional enhancers. Importantly, the laboratory has pinpointed the RNA polymerase II-associated multiprotein complex, Integrator, as a critical component of the biogenesis machinery for these enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). The laboratory is interested in deciphering the function of Integrator and eRNAs in the context of relevant models of development and disease, using state of the arts genomics and proteomics approaches.


Monica Valencia, B.S.

Lab Manager

I am originally from San Salvador. I got my B.S in Microbiology and Immunology from University of Miami. For as long as I can remember I wanted to work in the Genetics field. I enjoy tailgating at the football games, doing Pilates and barre.

Research Associate 2

Omar Lopez, M.S.

I received my BS and MS in Chemistry from the Moscow MV Lomonosov State University, Russia. My work at Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana, Cuba included actively managing cancer research projects focused on molecular and cellular biology of the IFN system, understanding the mechanisms of HPVs cell transformation and the link between oncogenes and tumor angiogenesis. In 2009, I joined the Sylvester Cancer Center as research associate working in breast cancer, diabetes and leukemia research.

When I am not in the lab, I enjoy spending my time with my family gardening, exercising and traveling to fun places.


Felipe Beckedorff, Ph.D.

I obtained my Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of São Paulo in 2012. My previous postdoc I was studying the functions of lncRNAs in prostate cancer. In Ramin Shiekhattar’s lab I am using experimental (NGS) and computational technologies to determine the molecular mechanisms how Integrator leads the modulation of pause RNA PolII to a productive transcriptional elongation RNA PolII.

Also, I am interested to understand the roles of Integrator in the regulation of ncRNAs. Outside of the lab, I like to spending time with my family, enjoy the nice beaches in Miami.


Jingyin Yue, Ph.D.

I am from Tianjin, China. I obtained my Ph.D. from Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences-UMDNJ/Rutgers in 2012. I am focusing on unveiling the essential role of Integrator complex in mediating signal transduction pathways with next‐generation sequencing as one of the primary techniques. Integrator is recruited to both enhancer loci and promoters of genes which is required for stimuli-dependent gene activation.

I am also interested in characterizing and developing small molecular compounds targeting Integrator and other key players involved in RNA processing and establishing mechanism-based cancer therapeutic strategies. Another thing to do is to enjoy the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless State.


Helena Gomes dos Santos, Ph.D.

I received my PhD in Molecular Biosciences (Structural Bioinformatics) by the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, where I also got a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Biophysics. Between 2014 and 2016 I was a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University studying the evolutionary dynamics of protein structures of important cancer targets. At the SCCC, I am using/developing in silico tools to study the structural dynamics and interactions of Integrator and other molecules ­to elucidate the mechanisms of the (de)regulation in the cells. I am using those results for the rational drug design of new cancer therapies for bypassing chemotherapeutic resistance.

When I am not doing research, I enjoy Miami outdoors activities such as kayaking, volleyball and scuba diving.

Raghu Edupuganti, Ph.D.

I am an assistant scientist conducting research on enhancer RNAs in Shiekhattar’s lab. I was born and brought up in Andhra Pradesh, India. I conducted my doctoral research in molecular biology at Central Drug Research Institute in India. My postdoctoral studies mainly focused on embryonic stem cell pluripotency factors, mRNA modifications in health and disease. My current research interest is finding enhancer RNA functions in cancer biology.

When not at work, I enjoy reading, walking and biking.

Pradeep Kumar Reddy Cingaram, Ph.D.

I’m from Savaigudem, a small town in South India. I completed my masters in Biochemistry from the University of Hyderabad, India and further pursued my PhD from the University of Szeged, Hungary. I’m currently pursuing my postdoc since October, 2016. My current research includes study of the role of Integrator complexes in dynamic chromatin interactions across the entire genome using the genome-wide 3C analysis method (Hi-C) and also studying the role of integrator complexes in gene regulation through epigenetic modifications.

My go to destress method is salsa dance and I have been dancing for 5 years now. I also hit the gym once in a while.

Mina M. Tayari, Ph.D.

In 2016, I received my Ph.D from the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands, where I studied the role of long non-coding RNAs in B-cell lymphoma. I have had a long-standing interest in the exciting field of RNA biology, genetics and epigenetics in hematologic malignancies. Between 2016 and 2018 I was a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern university, Feinberg school of medicine, studying the role of UTX (KDM6A) in T-ALL. With a background in B cell lymphoma, T-ALL, I really look forward to expanding my knowledge in the field of AML. My current project focuses on therapeutic potential of LSD1 (KDM1A) in AML. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling and exploring different cultures and languages, staying active via swimming, running, bicycling or going on walks! and spending time with friends and family.

Harikumar Arigela, Ph.D.

I received my PhD in Genetics from Hebrew University (Israel) under the supervision of Prof. Eran Meshorer, where I focused on the role of SET during embryonic stem cell differentiation. In Dr. Shiekhattar’s lab my research focuses on understanding the role of oncogenic eRNAs in melanoma and pancreatic cancer. Concomitantly I am also interested in eRNA based therapeutic strategies. When not in the lab I like playing cricket, watching discovery channel and movies.

Sadat Dokaneheifard, Ph.D.

I got my B.S in Animal Biology and then completed my M.S in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Razi University, Iran, where I studied the genotyping of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). In 2015, I received my Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran, where I did my first postdoc as well. During my Ph.D. and first postdoc, I focused on computational prediction and experimental validation of miRNAs in the human genome, and functional analysis of these miRNAs in cancer and cell differentiation. I joined Dr. Shiekhattar’s lab to study Integrator functions in miRNA processing using high-throughput sequencing methods. I enjoy music, singing, swimming, and walking, and spending time with my friends.



Nina Kirstein, Ph.D. (June 2018-May 2021)

Present: Returned to Europe

John Thomas Siemon, M.D (July 2018-June 2020)

Present: University of Miami

Lucia Speroni, Ph.D.- Sr. Scientific Marketing Writer (Jan 2018- August 2019)

Present: Illumina Biotechnology Research

Lucas Ferreira da Silva, Ph.D. – Associate Postdoc Research (September 2017- December 2020)

Present: Harvard University

Ezra Blumenthal, Ph.D. – MD Student  (August 2015-July 2021)

Present: University of Miami

Teodora Gueorguieva, M.S. – Project Portfolio Manager (September 2016- May 2018)

Present: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Anda Zhang, Ph.D. – Technical Manager (August 2014-May 2018)

Present: Source Molecular Corporation

Sahra Borges, Ph.D. (November 2016-May 2018)

Present: Returned to Europe

Jenaro Garcia-Huidobro, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor (July 2015-Feb 2018)

Present: Center for Medical Research, University of Talca School of Medicine, Avenida Lircay S/N, Talca, Chile

Fan Lai, Ph.D. – Sr. Research Scientist (Jan 2007-August 2017)

Present: Ionis Pharmaceuticals

Chiara Pastori, Ph.D. – Assistant Scientist (April 2015-April 2016)

Present: University of Miami, Neuroscience

Alessandro Gardini, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor (Oct 2008-May 2015)

Present: Wistar Institute

Ulf Andersson Orom, Ph.D. – Professor (May 2008-Dec 2010)

Present: Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Belin, Germany

Ildem Akerman, Ph.D., M.Sc.- Associate Professor  (September 2007 – Sept 2009)

Present:Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellow
Associate Professor in Functional Genomics

Derly Acevedo, Ph.D. – 

Present: West Chester University, Department of Biology

David Baillat, Ph.D., – Assistant Professor of Biochemistry (Dec 2003-Aug 2012)

Present: University of Texas, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Orr G. Barak, M.D., Ph.D. (Jan 2001-Nov 2003)

Present: Pennsylvania Dermatology Partners

Daniel Bochar, Ph.D., – Lead Scientist, Molecular Screening at Cayman Chemical (Sept 98-Aug 2003)

Present: University of Michigan Medical School

Lihua Marmorstein, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Oct 98-May 99).
Present: Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic.

Alexander Kinev, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Oct 98-Oct 2001).
Present: President and CEO, Creative Science INC.

Hideo Beniya, Ph.D. Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (July 99-June 2001).
Present: Returned to Japan.

Yuanshu Dong, Ph.D.  Postdoctoral fellow (June 2001-Oct 2003).
Present: Assistant Professor, Indiana University.

Amuthan Govindasamy, Ph.D. Staff Scientist (Oct 2002-Dec 2004).
Present: Assistant Professor at Singapore University

Jessica Norman, Pre-doctoral fellow (Jan 2002-2006).
Present: Postdoctroal Fellow.

Christopher Wynder, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Oct 2003- Sept 2006).
Present: Assistant Professor, Departament of Biochemistry and Biomedical Science, McMaster University.

Tim Chendrimada, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Oct 2003-Aug 2006).
Present: Staff Scientist, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

Behzad Doratotaj, M.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Feb 2004-Dec 2004).
Present: Clinical Assistant Professor, NYU, Department of Medicine.

Kaiping Yan, Ph.D. Research fellow (Feb 2004-June 2011).
Present: Professor, Schulich Medicine and Dentistry.

Frederic Tort, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Oct 2006-Sept 2009).
Present: Staff Scientist, Barcelona Spain

Laurel Weill, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (Jan 2007-Aug 2009).
Present: Visiting Scientist, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona

Klaus Forschegger, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (March 2007-Sept 2009).

Malte Beringer, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow (June 2008-Aug 2011).
Founder at

Dimitra Saviolaki, Graduate student (Sept 2008-Dec 2011).
R&D Specialist at Medicon Hellas, Greece.

Swaminathan Kunchithapadam, Associate Professor (March 2012-March 2013).
Present: Associate Professor, Department of Biological Science National University of Singapore

Laine Heidman, Graduate Student (May 2015- Oct 2015)

Present: Candidate in Cancer Pharmacology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Matteo Cesaroni, Ph.D. – Senior scientist (July 2009-Dec 2012)

Present: Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Richard I. Gregory, Ph.D. – Professor (Nov 2003- Sept 2006)

Present: Boston Children’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School 

Min Gyu Lee, Ph.D. –  Associate Professor (Dec 2003- Feb 2007)

Present: Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Mohammed-Ali Hakimi –  Research Director (Dec 2000-Dec 2002)

Present: National French Health Institute

Easwari Kumaraswamy, Ph.D. –  Research Assistant Professor (Aug 2001-Jan 2006)

Present: University of Kansas Medical Center

Clément CARRÉ, Ph.D. –  Associate Professor (June 2007-Aug 2011)

Present: Drosophila Genetics and Epigenetics Institut de Biologie Paris