Petritsch Lab Team

Claudia K. Petritsch, Ph.D

Dr. Petritsch is an Associate Professor in Research at the Department of Neurosurgery, affiliated faculty member at the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute and the Stanford Bio-X program. She directs the Petritsch research team and the fresh tissue collection core in Neurosurgery.

Claudia earned her PhD (Dr. rer.nat) at the Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, where she trained in cancer signaling, and conducted postdoctoral studies on neural stem cells and asymmetric cell division in the Lab of Dr. Yuh Nung Jan at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of San Francisco, California. After two years as an instructor and head of a research team in Munich, Germany, Dr. Petritsch returned to UCSF to conduct research in oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, angiogenesis and immune regulation in glioma. Dr. Petritsch is an expert in brain stem and progenitor and glioma biology, in vitro and in vivo model development and tumor-immune interactions. Her research identified conserved mechanisms of cell fate determination in mammalian brain progenitors and led to a paradigm shift in understanding how brain progenitor cells self-renew and differentiate. She guided the generation and distribution of several immune competent mouse models for studies of the glioma immune microenvironment.

Contact: cpetri@stanford.edu

Lab Managers

Hope Lancero, PhD

 

Postdoctoral Scholars

Azad Cheko, MD, PhD

Azad earned his MD from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. He became a German board-certified neurosurgeon in November 2020. He completed his Doctoral Thesis at the University Hospital of Marburg, Germany. During that time, he researched how the ingestion of statins before an infarct event is associated with the development and treatment outcome of a SIRS (Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) in patients with supratentorial space-occupying cerebral infarction. During his last year of university, he also researched the role of various protein-coding genes in the development of vestibular schwannoma. Apart from being very active surgically, his time in the lab has been very enriching and he will now continue his scientific research by collaborating on understanding the biology of brain metastases and on finding solutions in the treatment of these tumors by combining basic and clinical scientific research. His goals are centered around fixed tissue analyses and model development and he compiles patient-matched primary cancer-brain metastases tissues for generating tissue microarrays and gene expression profiling using nanoString nCounter technology. Using these approaches, he characterizes features such as invasiveness, vascular co-option, proliferation, stemness and cell-type heterogeneity. With TMAs he specifically analyze sthe immune landscapes, including the frequency and activities of microglia, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). His second project is to centrally generate and validate clinically relevant, experimental syngeneis and xenograft models for brain metastases. These are critical tools to validate molecular data derived from primary patient material and for functional and preclinical testing and grafting at different locations to identify metastatic seed cells and characterize them by next generation sequencing.

Contact: aacheko@stanford.edu

Fun Fact: He wanted to be a fighter pilot as a kid.


Jongwhi Park, M.Sc, Ph.D.

Jongwhi Park received his Ph.D in Neuroscience from Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria in 09/2018. He examined the functional role of an endogenous inhibitor of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling in brain tumor, glioblastoma using analyses of publically available databases and in vivo tumorigenicity tests. Prior to that, he obtained an M.Sc from Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany after completing his B.Sc from Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. His current research is focused on understanding the tumor microenvironment and the mechanisms of malignant progression in low-grade glioma for more effective and targeted therapies.

Contact: jongwhi.park@gmail.com


Lulu Xing, PhD

Lulu received her undergraduate degree in Biomedicine from the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. In December 2016, Lulu was awarded a PhD degree in neuroscience from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the University of Melbourne, where she identified a major underappreciated role for subventricular zone-derived neural precursor cells in the process of myelin regeneration after demyelinating injury. Since late 2016, Lulu worked at Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tobias Merson’s group, with a focus on developing mouse models to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying myelination mediated by distinct types of endogenous brain stem cells in health and disease. In particular, Lulu developed a novel mouse model of conditional OPC ablation, which could be adopted in different contexts to further advance our knowledge and understanding of OPC biology. Lulu will join the Petritsch lab in mid-October 2022 as a research scientist, seeking to understand the role of OPCs in the development of glioma as tumour-initiating cells and how they are regulated by complex interactions with several cell types within the tumour microenvironment, using a combination of transgenic mouse models, advanced imaging techniques and single cell biology approaches.  

Fun fact: Lulu enjoys creative painting, photography, musicals and reading books on Asian history and philosophy in her spare time.   


Interns

Bryce Bagley, BS, MS, MD Candidate

Bryce is a first-year medical student at Stanford working on the development of novel mathematical tools for understanding complex biological processes, and on integrating both these novel methods and existing methods into basic bioscience and translational biomedical research. Specifically, he is focused on complex systems science and inference methods for studying clinical and biological features of the brain pathologies studied in the Petritsch lab. This is a new area of research in the lab, which Bryce is spearheading.

His work additionally includes data analysis for experimental projects in the lab, and mathematics education within medicine. Bryce’s secondary research advisor is Dr. Michael Lim, also of the neurosurgery department.

Before joining the lab he did research in computational molecular physics at UCSF, optimization and quantum computing at Princeton, high-performance computing methods for computational neuroscience at WUStL, theoretical physics and eco-evolutionary dynamics in the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, and machine learning for neuroimaging at Stanford Medical School. His prior education was in graduate school in theoretical physics at Stanford, and as an undergraduate he attended Washington University in St. Louis studying biophysics, computer science, and systems engineering.

Collaborators: The Treehouse Initiative led by Dr. Olena Vaske at UCSC, and locally at Stanford Dr. Michael Lim in the Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. Olivier Gevaert in the Department of Biomedical Data Science, and Dr. Mykel Kochenderfer in the Departments of Computer Science and Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

Fun fact: In high school Bryce was a professional playwright.


Ashika Maniam 

Undergraduate Researcher

Ashika is an incoming second-year undergrad student at the University of California, Davis, majoring in human biology. She joined the Petritsch Lab in Summer 2022 to help investigate the use of anti-cancer therapeutics on pediatric brain cancer. She will be working with patient-derived cancer cells and will induce them with lentivirus to monitor tumor growth in response to the drug. In the Bers lab at UC Davis, she is involved in projects related to AAV transfections. Outside of the lab, Ashika is involved in a student-run clinic, which provides free medical and dental services to the homeless population in the Sacramento area. She also enjoys playing piano and leads a K-12 program teaching music theory at her local Salvation Army.

Kristiane Maynard

Undergraduate Researcher

Kristiane is a second year undergraduate at Tulane University pursuing a major in Neuroscience, a minor in Latin American studies, and a gender-based violence certificate. She has joined the Petritsch Lab for summer 2022 to gain experience in a lab setting and learn about drug therapeutics, cell lines, and exploring the biological mechanisms. Through this experience she hopes to further develop her research interest in neurosciences and related fields. Additionally, she plans to attend Medical School and/ or pursue a PhD. Beyond academic interests, Kristiane has been a competitive beach and indoor Volleyball athlete for many years and continues to love to play recreationally and competitively. She also has a passion for social justice and community engagement as she is working in the fall as a Community Engagement Advocate facilitating workshops on various social justice topics. She also loves to express herself creatively whether it be drawing and painting, playing trumpet, or exploring new music.   


Emon Nasajpour, BSc, MD candidate

Emon is a third-year medical student at the Florida State University College of Medicine who had dreams of pursuing a career as a researcher and neurosurgeon or neurologist as far back as he can remember. He previously worked with Dr. Michael Waters at the University of Florida conducting research on SCA-13. He was a caretaker for a woman with Alzheimer’s Disease in New York City and helped her adhere to a protocol developed by Dr. Dale Bredesen at UCLA. This experience has further shaped his interest in neurological diseases. After completing two years of medical school, and various roles, he built interests in various specialties of medicine and is now taking a year off from medical school to conduct research in the Petritsch Laboratory. In the Petritsch lab, Emon coordinates the patient-derived model development, and he spends his days often interrogating and assembling patient-databases, surgical schedules, and enjoys communicating with neurosurgeons, the OR staff, picking up tissue from the OR, processing it for cell culture and xenograft development. He conducts research in collaboration with the UC Santa Cruz group identifying gene outliers in the RNA expression profile of patients with brain tumors undergoing surgery and treatment at Stanford. He validates the drug sensitivities in patient-matched and -derived tumor cells from and looks for novel therapeutic approaches to prevent tumor recurrence and overcome therapy resistance. Over the next few months, he will extend this approach to more patients, and envisions completing a full bedside-to bench-to bedside circle by gathering sufficient in vitro and in vivo data (in mouse models) to make personalized treatment recommendations for children with brain tumors who are not responding to standard of care.

Collaborators: The Treehaus Inivitative at UCSC headed by Dr. Olena Vaske; Drs. Grant, Mahaney, Hong, and Prolo (pediatric neurosurgery);

Fun Fact: Emon plays competitive table tennis, and breeds and shows South African Boer Goats with his Dad.


Gianna Perez

Undergraduate Researcher

Gianna is a first year undergraduate student at College of San Mateo. Her current major is Biology. She has a passion for science and is hoping to inspire other first-generation college students to pursue STEM. She joined the Petritsch lab during Summer 2022 as an intern performing cell-based assays to determine the efficacy of cancer therapeutics on patient-derived glioblastomas (GBM).  She has been successful in screening cells that are both sensitive and resistant to our therapeutics. Gianna is now investigating the efficacy of single and combination of our therapeutics on patient-derived cells. Gianna is interested in how cells become cancerous and the mechanisms of how the cancer spreads and how we can stop it. During her free time, Gianna enjoys Polynesian Dancing and playing volleyball with her sisters. Gianna led her volleyball team to the Junior National Championships in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. She also won several trophies. While in highschool, Gianna created a tutoring program to help first generation minority students get into college and feel prepared for their application process. She made it easier to access the tutoring center and allowed students to feel more confident applying to scholarships and writing essays. She is continuing this program at the College of San Mateo. In her free time she also loves to tutor young kids and work with them on their school projects.


Caitlynn To-Duyen Tran

Undergraduate Researcher

Caitlynn is a first-year undergrad at Stanford University who is planning on majoring in Chemistry. She joined the Petritsch Lab in Fall 2021 in hopes to get involved with the patient derived cell lines. Having done research in medicinal chemistry and drug design, she is interested in exploring a more clinical approach to treatment and working with different therapeutics this coming year. In addition to research, Caitlynn enjoys dancing in various styles, whether that be recreationally or competitively. She is also involved with Science Olympiad through coaching junior high school students and organizing a local tournament for high school students to compete. 

Contact: caitlynn@stanford.edu


Alumni

Postdoctoral scholars

2019-2021 Anne Marie Barrette (Scientist, TrueBinding)

 

Former students

2019 Alex Washburn (Bowdoin College)

Natalie Pedicino (graduate program UCSC)

Alexa Gwyn (Vassar)

Ameera Waterford (Undergraduate student, Stanford University)