Team members: The people working in the Pienta lab are dedicating to understanding the ecology of cancer, how cancer metastasizes and developing new therapies for patients suffering from cancer.

Sarah Amend:  Sarah is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab and received her undergraduate degree from N.C. State University in Biological Sciences and did her Ph.D. thesis work on contributions of the microenvironment to bone resident cancer at Washington University in St. Louis. She is studying the role of the malignant cancer niche in inducing cancer cell biodiversity.

Haley Axelrod:  Haley is a graduate student in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  She is a native of California and graduated from UC-Irvine with a degree in Biological Sciences. She is working on understanding mechanisms of cancer cell dormancy in the bone microenvironment.

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Heather Chalfin:  Heather is a Urology resident doing her research year in the Pienta laboratory.  She is studying the biology of disseminated tumor cells and their relevance in prostate cancer patients.


Amber DeGroot:  Amber is a graduate student in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. She is studying the epigenetic control of macrophage polarization.


 Stephanie Glavaris:  Stephanie is a research technician.  She plays a key role in consenting patients to help the lab collect blood and bone marrow from patients who are helping us by donating biospecimens. She is analyzing methods to study disseminated tumor cells.


Princy Parsana: Princy graduated from Johns Hopkins with a Masters degree in Bioinformatics in 2013.   Princy is a graduate student in Computational Science and is being joint mentored by Dr. Pienta and Dr. Alexis Battle to apply machine learning to studying epithelial to mesenchymal transitions as well as discovery from large datasets.


Diane Reyes:  Diane is a Nurse Practitioner who helps drive the Pienta lab translational research efforts.  She also teams with Dr. Pienta to deliver the best possible care of our patients.

Sounak Roy is an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins.  He is working on the role of CXCR4 and CXCR7 in prostate cancer metastasis.

Sounak Roy is an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins.  He is working on the role of CXCR4 and CXCR7 in prostate cancer metastasis.


Gonzalo Torga: Gonzalo is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab who did his MD in Spain.  He joined the Pienta lab in spring of 2014 to study translational research while developing new therapies for prostate cancer. He is interested in pursuing a career in Medical Oncology. 


Ken Valkenburg: Ken is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab who received his undergraduate degree from Ferris State and did his Ph.D. thesis at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, MI on Prostate cancer mouse models of APC and smad4.  He is currently studying the mobilization of PCa cells from the hematopoietic stem cell niche.



Don Vindivich:  Don Vindivich was neither born nor raised in Maryland however he is proud to say “Ich bin ein Baltimoron”. He studied at Towson University, obtained his degree and immediately began work in the Urology Department here at Johns Hopkins. Don has been the key leader of the laboratory under 3 Urological Research directors. Don’s major interests in the lab include rare cell isolation and facilitating the cataloging of human urological specimens.


Jelani Zarif: Jelani received his Bachelor of Science and M.S. degrees in Biological Science from Jackson State University. He received hisPhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University in the lab of Dr. Cindy Miranti in 2014.  He joined the Pienta lab to study prostate cancer biology and to develop new treatments for metastatic prostate cancer. He is studying the role of tumor associated macrophages in promoting cancer growth.