Meet the team!

Principal Investigator

Vince Luca, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellows

Qianqian Ming, PhD

David Gonzalez-Perez, PhD

Alice Chan, PhD

Daniel Antfolk, PhD

Research Associates

Charlotte Mason

Administrator

Dorca Soto

 

Dr. Vincent Luca - Principal Investigator

Research in my laboratory applies methods in structural biology, biophysics and protein engineering to illuminate the process of receptor signal transduction. A major goal our work is to apply mechanistic insight toward the development of "precision" biologics for the treatment of cancer. By using biochemically rigorous design strategies, we are working to (i) reprogram receptors to achieve novel functional outcomes and (ii) selectively agonize/antagonize receptor activity on a given tissue or cell type. 

 

Qianqian is originally from China and joined the lab after from after earning her PhD from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. Qianqian conducted her graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Udo Heinemann where she investigated how macromolecular structure and interactions regulate gene transcription. Qianqian's current research is focused on determining how unique structural features of canonical and non-canonical Notch ligands regulate signaling, and how biologics targeting Notch ligands can be used in cancer therapy. To relax, Qianqian likes to travel and read Keigo Higashino mystery novels.

Dr. Qianqian Ming - Postdoc

 

Dr. David Gonzalez-Perez - Postdoc

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David is a directed evolution aficionado who is developing new strategies to unlock the potential of E3 ubiquitin ligases for cancer therapy. David came to the Luca Lab from Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain (CSIC) where he earned his PhD with Dr. Miguel Alcalde. His thesis research employed directed evolution to optimize the activity of fungi-derived ligninolytic oxidoredutases and led to the development of a new synthetic vector for the expression of an artificial secretome in yeast. In his free time, David loves going to the beach, travel, and collecting Star Wars memoribilia.  

Alice was born in Paris, where she earned her BS and MS in Life Sciences and Biology. She next moved to Grenoble to pursue her PhD at the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) studying the structure/biophysics of the antibacterial drug target, Quinolinate Synthase. Alice continued to pursue her interest in structural biology as a postdoc at Moffit studying the inhibitory mechanisms of small molecule drugs. Her project in the Luca lab seeks to determine how interactions between Notch receptors and ligands induce unique biological outcomes. In her free time, Alice enjoys organizing social events, travel, and learning about other cultures.

Dr. Alice Chan - Postdoc

 
 

Elliot hails from Tallahassee, FL where he previously managed the biochemistry teaching laboratories at Florida State University. As Employee #1 of the Luca Lab, Elliot took advantage of his organizational experience to help build the lab from the ground up, and he now also leads his own independent research project. Elliot has always been intrigued by how cells “speak” to one another and he is currently studying how intercellular communication gives rise to polarity within tissues and how disruptions in this process cause cancer. When Elliot is not playing with yeast at work, he plays with them at home to brew different types of beers!

Elliot Medina - Graduate Student

Hind moved from Algeria with the aspiration of becoming a cancer researcher. She earned her B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science at Florida Gulf Coast University where her research focused on developing synthesis strategies for anti-cancer drug molecules. After completing her training and being certified as a board Medical Technologist, she decided to further challenge her abilities by joining the PhD program at Moffitt and the lab in 2021. Hind is interested in protein engineering and in developing the latest antibody therapies for the treatment of cancer. In her free time, Hind enjoys movie-making and video editing, spending time with her family, or learning new languages!

Hind Benmerabet - Graduate Student

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Srishti Singh - Graduate Student

Srishti is originally from India, where she earned her B.S. in biotechnology. She then earned her M.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida studying the structural biology of drug interactions with cancer surface markers. Srishti joined the Luca Lab in 2019 her work incorporates both technology development and the generation of first-in-class reagents for diagnosing and treating cancer. One key aspect of her research is the development of antibody-based strategies for antagonizing difficult-to-target cell surface receptors. When she is not engineering antibodies, Srishti enjoys shopping, traveling the world, and playing board games.

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Charlotte is originally from Clearwater FL and joined the lab after working in molecular medicine with Lyme disease at the University of South Florida. She has always been interested in signaling cellular pathways and protein-protein interactions and previously studied at the University of Florida utilizing porcine muscle as mutational models for genetic deficiencies. Her current research is investigating how tumor-expressed inhibitory receptors supress the activity of immune cells. When not in the lab, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, or playing competitive eSports.

Charlotte Mason - Research Associate

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Lab Alumni

Uriel Jean-Baptiste: PhD candidate, University of North Carolina