If you are interested in becoming an affiliated member of the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU, please send our administrator, Kimberly Justin at kjustin@fiu.edu, a copy of your CV, biography, and statement of collaboration.

Core Investigators

Charles J. Dimitroff, PhD
Director, Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU
Professor, Department of Translational Medicine
Florida International University

Charles Dimitroff’s research focuses on understanding how sugars or ‘glycans’ regulate immune and cancer cell functions with the goal of developing new approaches to boost the immune system to fight diseases and to treat cancer progression.

Find more information on the Dimitroff lab

Robert Sackstein, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President for Global Medical Affairs

Professor, Department of Translational Medicine
Florida International University

Robert Sackstein is an authority in stem cell-based "regenerative" medicine, immunology, and glycobiology, and his research efforts have defined how cells in blood flow migrate to target tissues. He is widely recognized for developing a platform technology known as "glycosyltransferase-programmed stereosubstitution" (GPS) for steering the trafficking of intravenously administered cells directly to sites of tissue injury or cancer, a necessary first step in achieving the promise of regenerative therapeutics and of adoptive cell immunotherapy.

Find more information on Dr. Sackstein's lab

Karen Abbott, PhD
Associate Director, Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU
Associate Professor, Department of Translational Medicine
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Florida International University

Karen Abbott has been a leader in the field of glyco-proteomics and biomarker discovery for over 14 years. Dr. Abbott’s lab has been focused on the discovery and development of a human antibody that can target a specific form of N-linked tumor glycan found on glycoproteins abundantly expressed on ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and lung cancer. This research has the potential to lead to new serum-based diagnostic assays and new therapeutic strategies to target these cancers.

Find more information on the Abbott lab

Kevin Brown Chandler, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Translational Medicine
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Florida International University

Kevin Chandler's research interests include understanding how aberrant protein glycosylation contributes to the pathogenesis of oral cancer, and the application of this knowledge to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment. His background is in biochemistry and analytical chemistry with a focus on mass spectrometry-based analyses of glycoproteins as applied to tumor angiogenesis and tumor biology.

The goal of his current research is to understand how N-glycosylation regulates (1) epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and (2) vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR2) in colorectal cancer. His research has recently demonstrated a role for β-catenin and CREB-binding protein (CBP) in altering fucosyltransferase activity in oral cancer.

Affiliate Members

Joong Ho Moon, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Florida International University

Joong Ho Moon’s research group is interested in developing smart therapeutic delivery and diagnostic systems exhibiting high and selective responses to the tumor extracellular environment. Glycosylation on mammalian cell surfaces plays pivotal roles in cell adhesion, migration, and proliferation. Aberrant glycosylation is associated with malignant transformation and cancer progression. Many cancer cells with different origins have shown overexpression of the sialic acid epitope on membrane glycoproteins and glycolipids. Degradable nanoparticles at the tumor microenvironment are currently developed to selectively deliver therapeutic agents. The newly developed guanylurea functional groups on nanoparticles are also expected to enhance stability, blood circulation time, and cellular entry of nanoparticles or therapeutics, resulting in substantially improved therapeutic efficacy.

Anthony McGoron, PhD
Dean, College of Engineering and Computing
Interim Director, School of biomedical, Mechanical, and Materials Engineering
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Florida International University

Anthony McGoron’s primary area of research focuses on biosensing and image guided therapy of cancer using polymer and inorganic nanoparticles and small molecules. Imaging modalities include nuclear (PET/SPECT), near-infrared fluorescence, and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. Nanoparticles and polymer-drug complexes can be used to target various diseases based on the glycobiology features of the diseases.

Lidia Kos, PhD
Associate Dean, University Graduate School
Associate Vice President, Office of Research and Economic Development
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Florida International University

Lidia Kos’ expertise in mouse molecular genetics in the areas of neural crest/melanocyte development and melanoma will be beneficial for the research initiatives in TGIF. She is very interested in determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the process of melanoma metastasis, in particular identifying the local environmental cues that maintain melanoma metastatic cells in a dormant phenotype. Kos and her team would like to explore the idea that glycosylation patterns in the receptors that mediate melanoma cell/extracellular matrix interactions are critical in this process.

Robert J. Poppiti, Jr., MD
Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Pathology
Florida International University
Chairman, Department of Pathology
Mount Sinai Medical Center

Robert Poppiti is currently studying a novel antibody, (GCNT2), in Malignant Melanoma progression. In addition, he is working alongside the Mount Sinai Medical Center to supply the Institute with fresh adipose tissue and blood on demand for stem cell research.

Guenther Koehne, MD, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief of Blood & Marrow Transplant
Hematologic Oncology and Benign Hematology
Miami Cancer Institute

Guenther Koehne is regarded in the medical community as a pioneer in developing specific donor-derived immune cells (T lymphocytes) to treat both the viral complications of transplantation and disease relapse following transplantation. This treatment approach has been termed “adoptive immunotherapy” and is being administered in several active clinical trials. Dr. Koehne’s clinical focus is treating patients with hematologic malignancies. He is an expert in allogeneic (donor-derived) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, and multiple myeloma.

Dr. Koehne is the principle investigator and leader of clinical trials to study the effectiveness of T cell-depleted transplants from related and unrelated donors in patients with high-risk and relapsed multiple myeloma. His research has focused on ways to reduce rates and to treat viral complications and disease recurrence following allogeneic stem cell transplantations.

Gregory A. Hudalla, PhD
Associate Professor
Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering
Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
University of Florida

Gregory Hudalla’s research program develops biotherapeutics and biomaterials with new or improved functional properties via molecular engineering and self-assembly.

Lianchun Wang, MD
Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology
Bryd Alzheimer`s Research Institute
Morsani College of Medicine
University of South Florida

Lianchun Wang's research focuses on understanding the functions and related structure of heparan sulfate in leukocyte trafficking/inflammation, vascular development, stem cell biology, cancer and Alzheimer`s disease, and further elucidating the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms with ab ultimate goal is to apply novel research findings to develop effective therapeutics to fight human diseases.

Joshua Hutcheson, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Florida International University

Joshua Hutcheson’s research seeks to discover novel mechanical and molecular contributors to cardiovascular disease with particular emphasis on aortic stenosis, atherosclerosis, and medial calcification. Altered glycosylation patterns are recognized as an important contributor to cardiovascular remodeling and represent potential targets for therapeutic regeneration of diseased cardiovascular tissues.

Ananda M. Mondal, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Computing and Information Sciences
Florida International University

Ananda Mondal’s research interest is at the intersection of Machine Learning and Bioinformatics. His domains of research are epigenetics and cancer genomics. As part of glyco-bioinformatics and cancer, Mondal’s focus is to develop a hybrid computational model including causal network, machine learning, and mechanistic modeling to better understand the role of glycosylation in cancer. His recent work showed that expression profiles of glycome-related genes can differentiate 33 different cancer types with an accuracy greater than 90%.

Jennifer Arcuri, PhD Student
Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine

Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons in the optic nerve transmit information from the eye to the brain. The membranes of RGCs are uniquely enriched in glycosphingolipids and their metabolic products, such as gangliosides. The aim of her research is to manipulate the ganglioside pathway to regenerate the optic nerve after damage.


Sanjoy K. Bhattacharya, MTech, PhD
Professor of Ophthalmology
Graduate Program Director (MVSIO and Translational Track PhD Programs)

View Dr. Bhattacharya's University of Miami profile

The Bhattacharya laboratory is focused on restoration of visual function in glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. His group utilizes cell culture, experimental models and multiomics mass spectrometry,   imaging mass spectrometry, high-resolution imaging,  electrophysiology, and computer natural language processing combined with usual bioinformatics tools.

Maré Cudic, PhD
Associate Professor; Director Honors in Chemistry Program
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Florida Atlantic University

The main emphasis in Mare Cudic's Glycosciences Laboratory is on protein-carbohydrate interactions that play a role in many important biological processes. They use chemical and chemoenzymatic approaches to synthesize model glycopeptides and glycopeptide libraries as tools for probing glycan biology and elucidating the mechanisms of low affinity and selectivity of glycan-lectin interactions. This research may have implications for the development of vaccine-based strategies for cancer treatment and prevention, and novel carbohydrate-recognition based therapeutics for targeting broad range of disease.

Jorge Galvez-Silva, MD
Medical Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program
Nicklaus Children's Hospital

Jorge Galvez's interest is in adoptive cell therapies and graft manipulation for the treatment of non-malignant conditions including inherited Bone Marrow Failure syndromes. While at The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, he researched ways to improve homing in adoptative cell therapies. He conducted research to develop a xenogeneic-Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD) model to test novel glycosylation technologies to improve homing to sites of inflammation. This approach was used for the prevention or treatment of xenogeneic-GVHD with modified mesenchymal stromal cells. While at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Galvez introduced the use of fucosylation of the mesenchymal cell in preclinical work and the xenogeneic wound model in attempts to cure Epidermolysis Bullosa in children. From a clinical standpoint, Dr. Galvez Silva is one of the founding members of the newly created Florida Pediatric Bone marrow and Cellular therapy consortium, which leads clinical research in pediatric transplant in Florida along with other pediatric transplant institutions.
Jessica Siltberg-Liberles
Jessica Siltberg-Liberles
Assistant Professor
Biological Sciences; Biomolecular Sciences Institute
Florida International University

Jessica Siltberg-Liberles uses a computational approach to elucidate and prevent the molecular actions of viral pathogens. Viral infections depend on virus-host interactions mediated by molecular mimicry. The Siltberg-Liberles lab investigates evolutionary dynamics of molecular mimicry including glycosylation across virus protein families to identify their role in divergence of virus pathogenicity. Siltberg-Liberles is also focusing on identifying fitness-critical sites in viral proteins that can be utilized as broadly neutralizing antiviral targets with robustness against current and future population-wide variants.
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Erika Moore
Rhines Rising Star Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
University of Florida

Erika Moore has been a leader in the field of immunology-focused biomedical engineering for over 10 years. Dr. Moore's lab has been focused on the discovery and development of models to better understand health disparity contribution to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) through monocyte immune cell characterization. In partnership with Dr. Karen Abott, we will apply glycoproteomics for monocyte characterization in SLE. This research has the potential to lead to a new understanding of the pathogenesis and ancestral contribution of SLE disparities in the United States given that women of African ancestry are 3X as likely to be diagnosed and die as a result of SLE when compared to women of European ancestry. Visit Moore's lab website.

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Holly Ryan
GS3, MD-PhD Student
J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Florida

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that affects patients of different ancestral backgrounds to different degrees. Holly Ryan's research investigates inflammatory glycoproteins on the monocytes of SLE patients.

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Daniel Morales
Ph.D. Student in Biology
Transdisciplinary Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences (TBBS) Doctoral Fellow
Siltberg-Liberles Lab
Department of Biological Sciences
Florida International University

Daniel Morales’ research centers on bioinformatics and the glycobiology of emerging viruses. Morales' research aims to investigate how glycosylation along with other post-translational modifications may serve as vehicles for rapid evolutionary diversification and adaptation in viruses. Morales is particularly interested in the evolutionary dynamics at the host-virus interface and how glycosylation patterns at this interface may drive changes in viral transmission, infectivity, and pathogenesis. Identifying glycosylation sites and understanding molecular mechanisms of the glycosylations, critical for virus fitness, may elucidate novel methods for the prevention and treatment of these infectious agents. Additionally, Morales is interested in investigating how connections between the glycosylation machinery in the host cell and viruses depend on extrinsic factors and, ultimately, the outcome on the disease state.

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Adam D. Grieper, MBA
MS Student
Lianchun Wang Lab
Morsani College of Medicine
University of South Florida

Adam Grieper's research in Dr. Lianchun Wang’s lab focuses on utilizing bioinformatics to better understand the functions and related structure of heparan sulfate in leukocyte trafficking/inflammation, vascular development, stem cell biology, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.


M.D./Ph.D. Student

headshot of evan ales

Evan Ales
Research Assistant
M.D./Ph.D. student

Evan Ales is HWCOM’s first combined M.D./Ph.D. student. He received his undergraduate degree from USF and as a medical student has completed the entire preclinical and a majority of the clinical curriculum at HWCOM. Now enrolled in the biomedical sciences Ph.D. program in the Robert Sackstein Laboratory, Ales' is fascinated by the ubiquity of clinically relevant glycobiological insights and sugar’s tragic absence from medical education. Inspired by Dr. Sackstein, Ales' motivation to study glycoscience is inextricably tied to translational medicine, with all efforts designed to ultimately improve the human condition. Ales' doctoral research surrounds leukocyte trafficking - a fundamental arm of glycobiology as extravasation critically hinges on the discrete action of sugar structures.

M.D. Students

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Alexandra Firek
Research Assistant

Alexandra Firek is a medical student at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida where she studied mouse models using cryosectioning and immunofluorescence analysis. As a research intern in the Dimitroff Lab for the Summer Research Fellowship Program (SFRP), she worked with other lab members to analyze the effects of a specific galectin on multiple myeloma cells as well as the upregulation of a promising immunotherapeutic antibody target.

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Hannah G. Cotto Aparicio
Research Assistant

Hannah G. Cotto Aparicio is an intern in Kevin Brown Chandler’s, Ph.D., Laboratory at FIU’s Glycobiology Institute and a second-year medical student at Ponce Health Sciences University. Aparicio is an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Medical Student 2022 Rotation Award Recipient. She is seeking to complement her knowledge with research on glycobiology for the treatment of cancer and rare diseases. During the summer, Aparicio will be using proteolytic and tandem mass spectrometry methods for the identification and analysis of O-glycoproteins in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. As a future physician, Aparicio hopes to become a Mohs surgeon to help patients beat cancer and to close the health gap by making medical interventions more accessible to disadvantaged and minority populations.

Aparicio earned her bachelor’s of science in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience at Penn State University. There she examined resilience factors that moderate the negative influence of discrimination, prejudice, and racism on Latino youth’s development.

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Hani Samarah
Research Fellow

Hani Samarah is a medical student at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. In 2014, Hani earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of South Florida. Hani worked with various organizations aimed at health promotion and disease prevention before earning another Bachelor of Science with honors in Biological Sciences from FIU in 2020. During his undergraduate training at FIU, he studied symbiosis using a Drosophila-Wolbachia model. As a research fellow for the Summer Research Fellowship Program (SFRP), Hani studies under Dr. Kevin Chandler to analyze the effects of glycosylation on signaling pathways in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Ph.D. Students

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Norhan Mohammed
Research Assistant 

Norhan Mohammed, M.D., MSc, is a Biochemistry Ph.D. student at FIU and a research assistant in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at HWCOM. Her research project in Dr. Dimitroff’s lab focuses on studying the structure of melanoma cell surface glycans (sugars) and their binding proteins, namely Galectin-3, and identifying their role in melanoma progression.  She aims to develop a novel biomarker capable of early detection of melanoma and discover new targets for melanoma therapy.

Norhan obtained her medical degree from Assiut University, Egypt. She worked as a resident physician in the Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology Department at Assiut University Hospital. Afterward, Norhan completed her Master’s in Medical Biochemistry from South Valley University (SVU), Egypt.

Contact Norhan Mohammed at nmoha027@fiu.edu

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Lee Seng Lau
Research Assistant

Lee Seng Lau was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, Florida, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida International University. She is an FEF McKnight Fellow and is currently pursuing graduate studies in Biomedical Science at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, working under the supervision of Dr. Dimitroff. Lau is presently studying the role of glycans in adaptive immunity.

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Joseph Souchak
Research Assistant

Joseph Souchak is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Dimitroff’s lab at the Translational Glycobiology Institute (TGIF) at FIU. He joined Dr. Dimitroff’s lab at FIU in May of 2020. Before joining the CD laboratory, Mr. Souchak served in the United States Marine Corps and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology at Miami-Dade College. His research will be working on the Novel glycobiological mechanisms of melanoma metastasis and melanoma glycan-probing-surveillance (GPS) treatment.

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Rajib Shil
Research Assistant

Rajib Kumar Shil is a Presidential fellow, doing his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. He has completed his MS majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Now he is working in Dr. Abbott’s lab to study the functions of the GPI anchored protein Thy-1 in ovarian cancer progression.

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Rhyisa Armbrister
Research Assistant

Armbrister is a biochemistry Ph.D. student in Dr. Abbott's lab and part of the translational glycobiology Institute at FIU. Her research focuses on the development of a new form of therapeutic for ovarian cancer and the study of the role of Notch O-fucose modifications on ovarian cancer progression.

Undergraduate Students

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Kelanny Triana
Research Assistant

Kelanny Triana is currently a Senior in the Honors College with the aspiration of becoming a future physician. She majoring in Biology and Natural and Applied Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. In the Dimitroff Lab, she will assist in in vivo experimentation exploring the role of cancer cell surface glycans and their glycan-binding partners in disease progression.  These cancer-associated glycans provide novel therapeutic targets or biomarkers of disease.   

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Monalisa Bruno
Research Assistant

Monalisa Bruno is currently a senior at Florida International University majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. After her undergrad, she plans on attending medical school with the ambition of becoming a future doctor. Her role in the Dimitroff Lab is to help conduct in vivo experimentation exploring how leukemia cell surface glycans and their glycan-binding partners promote growth and metastasis.

Daniel Marrero

Daniel Marrero
Research Assistant

Daniel Marrero is an FIU undergraduate student (senior) determined to become a physician-scientist. Under the mentorship of Kevin Chandler, Ph.D., he is exploring the application of High Field Asymmetric Waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry and mass spectrometry for the analysis of glycopeptides.

Marrero is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences in the Quantifying Biology in the Classroom track at the College of Arts, Sciences, & Education.