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
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.
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
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
Melissa Meister - Grants Administrator
Melissa is a Moffitt Cancer Center veteran who keeps operations in the the Luca Lab running smoothly. When not handling grants at work, Melissa can be found sailing with the pirates at the Tampa Bay Gasparilla festival or attending various concerts in the area.
Uriel Jean-Baptiste: STAR-PREP program at University of Maryland School of Medicine