Our Team

Kyuson Yun, PhD -Principal Investigator
Dr. Yun began her independent research career at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, where she built a research program focused on brain cancer stem cells (CSCs). She utilizes her expertise in developmental and stem cell biology, genetics/genomics, and mouse modeling to elucidate fundamental properties of cancer stem cells at the molecular and cellular levels and to identify their unique vulnerability to target them for eradication. Her general strategy has been to exploit the power of mouse genetics to gain novel insights into cancer biology and to validate the clinical relevance of her findings using primary human samples.

Dr. Yun joined the Peak Center for Brain tumors/Department of Neurosurgery/Houston Methodist Research Institute in the fall of 2016 to translate her findings by developing novel therapies and technologies that will benefit cancer patients. In addition to projects aimed at elucidating fundamental properties of CSCs, Dr. Yun’s laboratory works on multiple highly translational projects, including development of a new diagnostic device and small molecule and antibody-based therapeutics to target CSCs.

She serves as an Editorial Board member for Scientific Reports and a reviewer for top journals in her field. She also reviews grants for US and international government agencies (NIH, DoD, MRC (UK), Italian Ministry) as well as many foundations. Outside of the lab, she can be found battling Tyranitars with her husband or traveling to either coast to visit her children.

Yaohui Chen, PHD -Research Associate
Dr. Chen received his Ph.D. in Fudan University where he studied how calorie restriction helps cells against aging. Then he joined the Neurosurgery Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a postdoctoral fellow, and studied regulation of Wnt pathway in brain tumor. He joined the Yun laboratory as a Research Associate in Feb 2017. In the Yun lab, he is studying the crosstalk between the Hippo and Hedgehog pathways in Medulloblastoma, using genetically engineered mouse models and PDX models. He is also studying novel mechanisms of therapy resistance to targeted therapies in cancer stem cells. Yaohui serves a reviewer for many journals in his field. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing badminton, or fishing.

Bikesh Nirala, PhD -Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Nirala’s research areas of interest include vascular biology, aging associated diseases, diabetes, cancer, signal transduction, and protein glycation. Dr. Nirala, obtained his doctoral degree in Biomedical Engineering from IIT Delhi, India.  His doctoral thesis was focused on understanding vascular changes in diabetes and phyto-medicine. After a short postdoctoral training in Germany, he joined the Yun laboratory in Houston Methodist Research Institute in June 2017. The main focus of his current research is to elucidate molecular mechanisms of S100A4 function in glioma stem cells and to develop therapeutic antibodies against S100A4.  Outside of the lab, he enjoys playing badminton and performing classical Indian music.

Stephanie Wood, B.S. -Research Assistant
Stephanie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Maine. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved in research on cancer cells and angiogenesis. She began working under Dr. Yun at the Jackson Laboratory in Jan 2016 and moved to HMRI in the fall of 2016.

Oluwatomi Hassan -University of Houston

Sofia Yi -Rice University