Hollern Lab

Daniel Hollern PhD, Assistant Professor

Principal Investigator

My passion for science and cancer research began with my grandfather’s diagnosis with a rare form of malignancy, angiosarcoma of the scalp. The news that my grandfather was sick with incurable metastatic disease shattered my world. Next my uncle was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer in the same year. For both my uncle and my grandfather, there were no effective treatment options at the time of their diagnosis. Yet, the emergence of immune therapies offer hope for new treatments.  This is why I am intensely focused on studying the immune system. If we knew how to control our immune cells at will, we could solve the majority of human health problems. In particular, I am fascinated by the ability of B cells to survey the cell, molecular, and antigenic landscape of the body and modulate the function of innate and adaptive immunity. By study of B cells, we aim to identify factors that restore appropriate function or obtain desired anti-tumor responses from B cells and our immune system. With our research, I hope to deliver new concepts for the improved prevention and treatment of cancer.

Sara Basbous, PhD

Research Scientist

I received my PhD degree from the University of Poitiers in 2016. I then completed my postdoctoral studies on the role of Rnd3, an atypical Rho GTPase, in hepatocellular carcinoma. For the last two years, I was an assistant professor at Bordeaux University. Recently, I joined the Hollern lab as a research scientist to pursue my interest in liver cancer. My principal goal is to map the molecular and cellular changes in liver cancer induced by metabolic syndrome and aging. I am especially interested in studying the role of B cells during the different steps of carcinogenesis.

Kendrick Nguyen

Graduate Student

I am a current UCSD Grad Student who has been trained in classical immunological techniques. During my undergraduate studies I worked in an Immunology lab which struck my interest in Immunology. After undergraduate I worked on developing whole cell tumor vaccines in a myriad of different cancer types and successfully pushed them into phase I clinical trials. I am currently interested in immunology with a focus in cancer immunotherapy.

Georgia Lattanzi, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am an immunologist expert in the study of rare immune cell populations, such as invariant Natural killer T cells (iNKT) which acquired new interest in the field of tumor immunotherapies. I have always been fascinated by the intricate connection of the microbiota and the immune system. During my PhD I developed a translational project in colorectal cancer, highlighting a potential negative effect of Fusobacterium nucleatum on iNKT cells, which induced a pro-tumorigenic phenotype on neutrophils and affected patients’ survival rates. Here at Salk I will study the carcinogenic potential of unique pathogens in breast cancer, with a clear focus on tumor initiations, angiogenesis and immune cells interactions. These innovative studies may shade lights on previously unknown risk factors in breast cancer.

Monika Ramos

Graduate Student

Monika currently is a PhD student in the UC San Diego Biological Sciences PhD Program pursuing a specialization in immunology. Her primary focus is understanding the B cell response and consequence of cancer cell state on immune function in breast cancer liver metastasis. Other scientific interests Monika has involves the remodeling of a cancer cells environment to support growth and uncovering factors governing recognition of cancer cells by B cells. Monika graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. During her undergraduate studies and after graduating, she worked for an Artificial Intelligence Drug Discovery startup company. Over the course of 2.5 years, she worked on projects that identified small molecule drugs for autoimmune disorders, SARS-CoV-2 and various cancer types. Specifically, Monika contributed to the indication and target selection, design of the computational platform, and in vitro and in vivo experimental validation. In her spare time, Monika enjoys yoga, painting, exploring the outdoors, and camping.

Isabella Arenas

Lab Tech I

Isabella Arenas, with a background in data science, has contributed to bioinformatics and machine learning projects, focusing on data-driven solutions in biotechnology. Her experience includes using machine learning to predict cellular behavior at Eli Lilly and Co. and conducting RNA-Seq analysis at The Salk Institute to explore cancer treatments. Educated in bioinformatics and skilled in several programming languages, Isabella is dedicated to applying her knowledge to support research and development in healthcare.

Jake Zeimet

Lab Tech I

Jake studied Biomedical Engineering at Cal Poly. During his undergraduate years he worked in a tissue engineering lab where he developed foundational  biologic techniques and obtained experience in eTCR immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy via several industry internships. Specifically, Jake has studied the effects that gene knock outs in eTCRs have in serial exposure to cancer cells. He am interested in Biomedical Sciences with a focus in cancer  immunology. Outside of lab work, Jake enjoys playing beach volleyball, reading, camping, and golfing.