Meet the team!

Principal Investigator

Vince Luca, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellows

Qianqian Ming, PhD

Daniel Antfolk, PhD

Research Associates

Charlotte Mason

Kylie Harris

Graduate Students

Elliot Medina

Srishti Singh

 

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. Daniel Antfolk - Postdoc

Daniel came to the lab from Finland, where he earned his MSc in Biosciences and PhD in Cell Biology. During his PhD, he trained with Dr. Cecilia Sahlgren at Åbo Akademi University, studying the regulation of Notch signaling, with a specific focus on endocytosis of Notch ligands and receptors. He is currently a Sigrid Juselius postdoctoral awardee at Moffitt. Daniel is looking to use a combination of cell biological skills while learning protein engineering to study various aspects of Notch signaling as well as other interesting membrane proteins. In his free time Daniel enjoys testing new food and wine, traveling, golfing and other outdoor activities.

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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

 

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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Kylie Harris - Research Associate

Kylie is originally from central Florida and earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of North Florida. After graduating, she worked in a structure-based drug discovery lab at a pharmaceutical company in Seattle, WA studying membrane protein drug targets. In the Luca Lab, Kylie is using various protein engineering strategies to synthesize ligands that stimulate T cell expansion as part of Moffitt's TIL therapy platform. When she’s not in the lab, she enjoys kayaking, yoga, and tabletop games.

 
 

Lab Alumni

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

David Gonzelez-Perez, PhD: Research Scientist, CSIC, Madrid

Alice Chan, PhD

Hind Benmerabet: Masters student, USF education program