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Principal Investigator

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

Charles Dimitroff, PhD, 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 the glycosciences.




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Caleb Staudinger
Lab Manager II

Caleb Staudinger is the Lab Manager for the Dimitroff lab in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF). In joining the Dimitroff lab at TGIF, Mr. Staudinger brings his experience in mouse modeling of inflammation and in cell biochemical methods to study the role of glycans and glycan-forming enzymes in adaptive immunity and in cancer progression. 

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Angela Bernasconi
Research Technician I

Angela Bernasconi is a Research Technician in the Dimitroff lab assisting on new directions in cancer research and in studies on the fundamentals of a functional immune system. Bernasconi brings her diverse knowledge and positive outlook to ongoing studies of melanoma research and lymphocyte biology in the Dimitroff lab.

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Liettel Ortega
Research Specialist I

Liettel Ortega is Research Assistant for the Dimitroff lab in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF) at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, FIU. In joining the Dimitroff lab, she brings the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU professional skills to help study the impact of glycome on T cell and/or B cell function.

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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.  Today, Justin plans and directs the day-to-day office operations for the Executive Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU, Dr. Charles J. Dimitroff. 

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Jordan Carroll
Research Assistant

Jordan Carroll is a Research Assistant for the Dimitroff Lab in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF). As part of the team, she assists with various ongoing research projects related to the role of glycome-proteome interactions in predicting and modulating cancer progression. Jordan recently earned her Bachelor's degree from FIU and plans to further develop her scientific career by becoming a physician.




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Asmi Chakraborty, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate

Asmi Chakraborty is a PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dimitroff Lab. After receiving her M. Tech in biotechnology from D.Y Patil University in Mumbai, India, Chakraborty joined the Bellis Lab at University of Alabama at Birmingham to pursue her doctoral studies in cancer biology. Her research in the Bellis Lab identified cancer associated glycosyltransferase ST6Gal-I as a key driver of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma progression and therapy resistance. Following the completion of her Ph.D. thesis, Chakraborty joined the Dimitroff Lab in 2019 as a postdoctoral associate to investigate the novel glycosylation signatures in metastatic melanoma and the consequences of the metastatic melanoma glycome on the immune microenvironment.

Contact Chakraborty at or visit her website.

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Zia Imtiaz, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Zia Imtiaz is an international medical graduate from Pakistan. He practiced Internal Medicine in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for 6 years. Zia moved to the United States to further his interest in the field of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He is currently working in Translational Glycobiology Institute at Florida, HWCOM as a researcher to assess the link between melanoma and carbohydrate-binding ligands. Dimitroff Lab has recently identified GCNT2 as a novel biomarker in cancer and Dr. Imtiaz is assessing the expression of GCNT2 in various stages of metastatic melanoma as well as standardizing a staining protocol that will be utilized routinely in pathology laboratories.


Medical Students


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Nicole Izhakoff
Research Assistant

Nicole Izhakoff is a Medical Student at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and a Research Assistant for the Dimitroff Lab in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF). She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. As a part of the Dimitroff Lab team, she brings her passion for research to study distinct glycans and their potential to predict melanoma metastasis. 

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Mariana Perez
Research Fellow

Mariana Perez is a medical student at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Duke University. She brings her passion for dermatology and cutaneous oncology to the Dimitroff lab, where she will work as a part of a group studying the role of cell surface carbohydrates in melanoma progression. 

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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 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


Norhan Mohammed

Norhan Mohammed
Research Assistant 

Norhan Mohammed, MD, MSc, is a Biochemistry PhD 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


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Lee Seng Lau
2020 PhD Lab Rotation

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
PhD Lab Rotation

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.

Undergraduate Students

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Emily Flores
Research Assistant

In the Dimitroff Lab, Emily Flores will be studying the glycobiological influences, namely lectins and their glycan-binding partners, impacting the adaptive immune system. She is currently attending FIU, majoring in Biomedical engineering. Flores plans to further develop her career in Medical school when she graduates in 2022. 

Past Members

Frances Clemente
Research Specialist I

Patience Paul
2020 PhD Lab Rotation