Current Trainees

Michael Zhang
mentors: Sanjiv Sam Gambhir and Gerald Grant
(12/1/2019 - 11/30/2021)

Michael is a 4th year neurosurgery resident with a primary interest in CNS tumor imaging and immunology. He studied health economics and global health as an undergraduate at Harvard (2008-2012). During this period and under the guidance of Professor Gregory Verdine, he used X-Ray crystallography to evaluate how a DNA glycosylase (MutM) interrogates damaged DNA base-pairs for removal. Michael subsequently came to Stanford for medical school, where he worked with Dr. Samuel Cheshier to study anti-CD47 induced phagocytosis in glioblastomas elimination. As a surgical trainee, he now continues various avenues of clinical research including CNS applications in radiosurgery, radiomics, and medical administrative databases. As an SCIT Fellow, he will specifically be working with Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir to develop potential immuno-PET tracers to characterize CNS immune-suppression.

Eduardo Somoza
mentor: Sandy Napel
(9/16/2019 - 9/15/2021)

Eduardo received his B.S.E. (2010) and M.Sc. (2012) in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical imaging at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  In 2010, he was awarded the National GEM Consortium MS Engineering fellowship. After completion of his graduate degree, Eduardo worked as a research scientist at Johnson & Johnson Consumer and as an imaging scientist at Molecular Imaging Inc. In 2015, Eduardo enrolled at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC to focus on medical health disparities in low income communities and received his M.D. in 2019.  His main research interest is using medical imaging to address cancer health disparities in low income communities.

Masoud Badiei
mentor: Lei Xing
(8/26/2019 - 8/25/2021)

Masoud Badiei Khuzani received the B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering (communication systems) from Tehran Polytechnic, Tehran, Iran, in 2011, and the M.Sc. degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada, in 2013. He received his Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics with the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. His research interests include optimization on manifolds, distributed optimization, and information theory. In 2016, he received the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.

Maxine Umeh
mentor: Melanie Hayden Gephart
(8/26/2019 - 8/25/2021)

Maxine earned her B.S in Developmental Biology and MS in Quantitative and Systems Biology at UC Merced in 2010 and 2013, respectively. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology with an emphasis in Translational Research from UC Davis in 2019. Her overarching research interest lies in elucidating molecular mechanisms of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), as there is a disproportionately higher frequency and poorer clinical outcome of TNBC in African-American women. Specifically, Maxine is interested in using bioinformatics and computational tools, including quantitative imaging techniques, to enhance TNBC diagnosis and treatment. Her previous research focused on identifying novel molecular mechanisms and signaling axes that could serve as therapeutic targets for the treatment of TNBC, using microRNAs and dead-Cas9 technology. As a SCIT postdoctoral fellow, Maxine will work with Dr. Melanie Hayden Gephart, a brain tumor neurosurgeon, to study TNBC metastasis to the brain.

Muna Aryal Rizal
mentor: Jeremy Dahl and Raag Airan
(2/1/2018 - 1/31/2020)

Muna Aryal earned her MS and PhD in Physics at Boston College in 2014. Her interests focus on developing an ultrasound–based controlled drug design/delivery platform that can positively impact cancer/neurodegenerative patient care. She has been working on an application of early stage medical technology: Focused Ultrasound (FUS) for the treatment of central nervous system diseases in preclinical animal models. She uses this technology to deliver drugs to the brain either by combining with microbubbles to reversibly open the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) or nanodroplets to locally uncage drug upon sonication. During her Ph.D. thesis and postdoctoral training with Nathan McDannold at Harvard University, she demonstrated that FUS mediated BBB opening allowed sufficient delivery of chemotherapeutics non-invasively to the rat brain tumor to reduce tumor size and increase their survival. During her second postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Raag Airan at Stanford, she has been using FUS to uncage drug from polymeric-nanodroplets in the brains of rats, and studying the resultant changes in brain function and behavior. However a method is needed to visualize the drug-uncaging event to validate and calibrate the delivered drug dose in a controlled fashion. As a SCIT fellow, she will work with Dr. Jeremy Dahl and Dr. Raag Airan to develop and test the feasibility of passive acoustic imaging (PAI) during FUS drug uncaging from nanodroplets, and determine the spatial and temporal dynamics of the ultrasonic drug uncaging event with respect to its resultant biological effects. Together, this drug delivery phenomenon will be dynamically recorded using the fusion of FUS, PAI, and PET imaging technologies in a large translational animal model. If successful, this effort could yield a closed-loop system for ultrasonic drug delivery, with real time imaging and calibration of the delivered dose that is primed for translation to the clinic immediately.