Principal Investigator

profile photo of Dr. Dimitroff .jpg

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

Charles Dimitroff, Ph.D., is a global leader in the study of sugars, known as glycobiology, and is highly motivated to translate glycobiological findings to help cure diseases and improve the overall health of humans. His 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. As a principal investigator for over 26 years, his efforts have helped identify the nature and impact of glycans on inflammation and cancer, while operating one of the most reputable translational glycobiology programs in the US.  

Dr. Dimitroff’s administrative duties and laboratory is grounded within the Department of Translational Medicine in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) at Florida International University (FIU). His laboratory is located in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF), in which he serves as its Founding Director. At the TGIF, he fosters collaborative glycoscience activities in medicine while training the next generation of basic and clinical research scientists in glycosciences.



Headshot of Kimberly Justin

Kimberly Justin
Senior Executive Assistant

Kimberly Justin has been with FIU HWCOM for over 5 years and is a recent graduate of FIU’s Leadership Education Advancement Program. Justin joined the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in 2014, where she began her career as an Administrative Assistant in the Department of immunology and Nano-Medicine. Justin plans and directs the day-to-day office operations for Charles Dimitroff, the Director of the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU.

headshot of carlos pavan

Carlos Pavan, Ph.D.
Research Specialist II

Carlos Pavan is a Research Specialist II in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at HWCOM. After graduating from Buenos Aires University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Pharmacy, he joined the National Laboratory for Research and Service in Peptides and Proteins and Mass Spectrometry, LANAIS PROEM, where he became the Technical Manager in 2013. In 2019, Pavan got his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science and Biochemistry working with mass spectrometry techniques to study nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. He is proficient in Mass Spectrometry, HPLC, and protein sequencing by Edman degradation. Pavan was an instructor in Pharmacology for almost 20 years, teaching undergraduate and graduate students.


Norhan Mohammed, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D.
Post Doctoral Associate

Norhan Mohammed is a postdoctoral associate whose research focuses on understanding how glycome-related molecules contribute to cancer metastasis. She aims to develop a novel biomarker capable of early detection of melanoma and discover new targets for melanoma therapy.

Mohammed recently received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from FIU under the mentorship of Charles Dimitroff. She also has an M.D. degree from Assiut University, Egypt, where she worked as a resident physician in the Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology Department. She later completed a Master’s degree in medical biochemistry at South Valley University, Egypt, where she served as an instructor of biochemistry for medical students.


Medical Students


Ally Firek headshot

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 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.

PhD Students

Lee Seng Lau headshot

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.

Joseph Souchak headshot

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.

Rajib Kumar Shil

Rajib Kumar Shil
Research Assistant

Rajib Kumar Shil is a Presidential Fellow pursuing a Ph.D.  in Biomedical Sciences at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. As part of his doctoral work, he is studying the role of galectin-9 in multiple myeloma in the Dimitroff Lab. Shil completed his Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

Undergraduate Students

Headshot of Kelanny Triana

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.   

Gabriella Santos

Gabriella Santos
Research Assistant

Gabriella Santos assists in analyzing the surface glycan signature of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy to improve the efficacy for Diffuse B cell lymphoma. She is currently a junior in the Honors College at FIU majoring in biology and natural and applied sciences. Santos is also a pre-med and QBIC scholar aspiring to become a future physician.

Maria Suarez

Maria Suarez
Research Assistant

Maria Suarez is a senior majoring in biology who plans to pursue a career in the medical field. In the Dimitroff Lab, Maria will help to study the regulatory role of cell surface glycosylation on anti-tumor CAR-T cells.


Brandon Fernandez
Research Assistant

Brandon Fernandez is a senior at Florida International University majoring in biology education. After graduating, he plans to pursue a doctoral program to further his career in research and teaching.

alexis berdalinova image

Aiza Berdalinova
Research Assistant

Aiza Berdalinova is a junior at FIU Honors College majoring in biochemistry. She assists the lab in studying cell surface glycans on leukemia cells and their prospective role as targets of cancer immunotherapy Berdalinova aspires to pursue M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, combining her passions for medicine and scientific discovery.

ashley munoz photo

Ashley Muñoz
Research Assistant

Ashley Muñoz is an undergraduate student majoring in biological sciences. In the Dimitroff Lab, she assists in research focused on the impact of CAR-T cells on cancer cell responses, particularly in lymphoma, melanoma, and leukemia, as well as the influences of Galectin proteins on cancer cell growth. After graduation, Ashley aspires to attend medical school and become a physician specializing in oncology.

Past Members

Angela Bernasconi
Research Technician I

Asmi Chakraborty, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate

Liettel Ortega
Research Specialist

Mariana Perez
Research Assistant (Medical Student)

Monalisa Bruno
Research Assistant


Nicole Izhakoff
Research Assistant (Medical Student)

Zia Imtiaz, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate

Frances Clemente
Research Specialist I

Patience Paul
2020 Ph.D. Lab Rotation 

Emily Flores
Research Assistant

Caleb Staudinger
Lab Manager

Jordan Carroll
Research Assistant

Basilio Garcia
Research Assistant

Raquel Battifora
Research Assistant

Alexis Carmona
Research Assistant